Animal Crossing Terraforming ideas: Best island layouts in New Horizons

Nintendo (via Twitter: @triforcemeg)

Animal Crossing New Horizons gives players lots of methods for terraforming their island into whatever ideas pop into their heads. If you’re struggling for inspiration, we’ve got the best Animal Crossing terraforming ideas for your next layout, from gardens to Zoos, Marketplaces, and Valleys. 

New Horizons added a brand new element to Animal Crossing in terraforming when it was released in 2020, giving players a fresh way to make their town unique. While the series has always had some form of customization, this feature takes that one step further.

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As with any unfamiliar addition, it might seem daunting and overwhelming at first, especially if you don’t have any good island ideas. Worry not, though – we’ve got you covered with 10 genius terraforming ideas to make your venture into landscaping a whole lot easier.


An Animal of a character fishing at a river in Animal Crossing New HorizonsNintendo
New Horizons features lots of methods to put your island at a cut above the rest, whether it’s a simple river or something more elaborate.

Best island terraforming ideas in Animal Crossing

Before you get started on trying to recreate the below methods, it’s worth mentioning that terraforming isn’t unlocked until after K.K. Slider visits your island.

Make sure to complete that step first before you attempt to go ahead and transform your town and island.

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Clifftop museum

An image of a character standing at the bottom of some stairs overlooking a waterfall in Animal Crossing new horizonsNintendo (via Twitter: @triforcemeg)
Take your museum to new heights.

Collecting bugs and catching fish is one of the main elements of the Animal Crossing series, so why not make a spectacle of your museum to make it stand out above the rest? 

Using your Waterscaping tool to carve out the land and surround the building with water really adds to the effect of making visitors know that it’s a place that’s worth visiting – especially if it’s swarming with critters.

Adding in waterfalls also makes it a sight to behold, and once done, you can fill out the landscape with trees, flowers, and outdoor furniture to make the area look even more beautiful.

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If this isn’t one of the most creative terraforming ideas you’ve ever seen, we don’t know what is. While players will obviously want to make their own houses one of the best on the entire island, having an entire valley filled with waterfalls and different-sized cliffs leading up to it truly does take the cake.

With even the walkway surrounded by its own body of water, the stroll up to your house will make you feel majestic – after all, you are the town’s Resident Representative, so why not reflect that in your design?

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For added effect, you could even place flowers and items on the cliffs themselves to really jazz up the space and make it your own.


An image of a character standing on a bridge in a town island layout in Animal Crossing new horizonsNintendo (via Animal Crossing: New Horizons group, Facebook)
You could add some City Folk marketplace vibes to your island.

City Folk for the Nintendo Wii added the Marketplace, which was only accessible by bus, and took players to a plaza with a plethora of shops. Now, you can have something similar on your Switch, if you so desire.

Using the Cliffscaping tool to flesh out some hills and adding in a waterfall and river makes for a beautiful divider between your Nook’s Cranny and Able Sisters shops. Go one step further by connecting the two with a gorgeous bridge – or even a stepping stone.

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Add in some scenery like street lamps and other outdoor furniture and you’ll have yourself a fully-fledged Marketplace where you can shop until you drop, in style.


While making your own house look dazzling is a top priority for many players, ensuring everyone else’s abode is also stylish will also pull the design of your town together perfectly.

New Horizons finally introduced the ability to move villagers’ houses wherever you want them, so grouping them together in a neighborhood is a great way of sectioning off your island and leaving the rest of it house-free for endless creations.

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You can also spruce up your residential area with fences and furniture, and can go that one step further by customizing the outside of their houses to give everyone their own personalized front yards.


An image of a character in the middle of a zoo Reddit: Lanky_Bank
Turn your town into the ultimate attraction by creating a zoo.

If you’re on an island getaway, you’d half expect there to be some kind of attraction for tourists to go to.

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Using the various furniture items in the game can be used to replicate animals, such as baby and mama pandas, Mr. and Mrs. Flamingo, papa bears, and more.

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If you’ve fished up a Snapping Turtle or two, you can also place them on the ground for a more ‘real’ vibe to your menagerie. Don’t forget to fence them in!


An image of a character standing in a garden Animal Crossing new horizonsReddit: alibby
Decorate your island with gardens you and your villagers can escape to.

One of the most relaxing ideas on this list is adding a garden to your Animal Crossing island! Everybody needs somewhere they can escape to when they need a little respite – even on an island getaway. Provide a space for villagers and visitors to unwind in by creating a relaxing garden.

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Using many types of plants, such as trees, bushes, and flowers will create a peaceful area that people can escape to for some tranquility.

Outdoor furniture can jazz the space up, too. Especially if you add benches for visitors to sit and wind down in, and a record player with some calming music. You could use the terraforming tool to make some cliffs to close the area in for that ‘secret’ vibe.


An image of a park island layout in Animal Crossing new horizons featuring fruit trees, flowers, a lake and a fountainReddit: Owen-Gaynondorf
A cute park provides somewhere for villagers to chill out in.

Along the same vein of relaxing spaces, making a park is another way of creating a place for everyone to unwind at. Placing down some benches for people to sit on and decorating beautifully with trees, flowers, and bushes is a must.

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You could even make a playground by using outdoor furniture like a slide, climbing frame, and colorful springy rides!

Don’t forget the park clock – after all, you need to be able to tell the time wherever you are.

Island entrance

An image of a character standing on a walkway on either side of a waterfall Nintendo / Reddit: SailorKelsey_
Make visitors jealous by creating an epic entry into your town.

Having friends visit your island is a staple for many when playing Animal Crossing, whether it’s to trade or catalog items, pick fruits, or simply hang out together. So why not make a legendary entryway and wow them as soon as they step out of your airport?

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Reddit user ‘SailorKelsey_‘ did just this, and it’s something that people can take some serious inspiration from. They opened their town with an epic set of waterfalls and a fountain plaza to really make a great first impression on guests.

You could also add in a bridge instead of a pathway across the water, and even craft an archway for an extra special effect.


An image of a character walking towards a lighthouse in animal crossing new horizonsReddit: u/screelord
Building a platform for your lighthouse looks really cute.

We’ve all got a lighthouse on our Animal Crossing island, right? Something needs to help guide the ships (unless you’re Gulliver, there’s no helping him), and in any case, it just looks neat.

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Redditor ‘screelord‘ took their lighthouse game to the next level with their genius terraforming idea. Instead of just plonking it on the beach, they opted to create a seaside cliff just for the building. It’s one of those simple but unique island ideas that will add some extra flair to your Animal Crossing island.

Surrounding it with pretty flowers and bushes adds a Studio Ghibli-esque feel to it, and makes an already-cool feature look even better.

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Natural ramp

An image of a player editing the placement of a ramp on their island layout in Animal Crossing new horizonsReddit: u/ajdude9
This makes ramps look like a part of the cliff.

This is a simple one, but it looks really cute – especially if your town has a forest or Cottagecore theme. Stairs do look nice, but they don’t fit in with every type of layout or island design.

User ‘ajdude9‘ shared their tip for making ramps part of the actual cliffside rather than having them stick out. Simply terraform enough space into the side of the cliff to place a ramp there, and it’ll look like it’s part of the rock.

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The outcome is reminiscent of the GameCube days with Population Growing where ramps would be built into the cliff naturally.

So, there you have it – everything you need to know about the best island ideas for terraforming in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. For more tips on how best to enjoy your Island life, check out our guides below:

Animal Crossing flower guide | How to get Gold Roses in New Horizons | How to get Gayle in Animal Crossing | ACNH art guide | How to get Ruby in Animal Crossing New Horizons | How to get a villager to move out | Funny catchphrases in New Horizons | How to time travel | How to restart your New Horizons island | Stop villagers moving out | Villager gift guide

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