Best Kids’ Play Tents for Your Zestful Young Ones in 2017

The best kids play tents aren’t just tents where kids can play with their friends or by themselves, crawl about, and take their naps. These are also educational tools that contribute to their physical, mental and social development, especially in the development of important life skills. These are places for imaginative play – and that in itself is a good reason to buy one of these play tents!

Keep in mind, nonetheless, that choosing the right play tents for your kids is a must. While these products are designed with optimum kid safety in mind, there are also risks associated with its use. Parents are well-advised to exercise adult supervision when younger kids use their play tents so as to reduce the risk of injury.

Best Play Tents for Kids - Cool Tents to Play With

Here’s our buying guide and short-reviews of 11 of the best play tents in the market today.

1. Pacific Play Tents' Me Too Tent​

Suitable for: 2 to 10 years old

The Me Too play tent can comfortably accommodate thee children, thanks to its 16 square feet area and its 4-feet height. You can easily assemble and disassemble it within minutes for indoor and outdoor fun for the kids, too. You can rely on the sturdy shock-corded, PE-coated fiberglass poles to hold the play tent up even when playtime becomes a little too rough.

The high-grade, flame-retardant 70-denier polyester taffeta walls are easy on the eyes and easy enough to clean. Emphasis must be made that kids shouldn’t be allowed to experiment with its flame-retardant property. The fabric also makes it so lightweight that even when fully assembled, it can be picked up off the floor and transferred to another location.

The flooring has a soft and cushiony feel for added comfort. You may want to place a foam play mat underneath, especially in outdoor areas like the park or yard. Your kids can then sit, crawl and lie down on its floor while still protected from the hard ground.

What's Great About It: We like the compatibility with other Pacific Play tents, which means that it can be expanded as the kids grow bigger in size or in number. The mesh window is also a nice touch since it promotes better ventilation inside the tent and provides parents with a way to see into the interiors.

2. Playhut's Thomas the Train

Suitable for: 3 to 9 years old

Kids love Thomas the Train, a beloved blue train character who goes on adventures. The play tent resembles Thomas the Train, especially in terms of its locomotive design with the train’s smiling face in front. There are two entrances – a slit door at its side and a tunnel port at its back – so even four kids can get in and out of it easily.

Aside from these two entrances, the play tent also features portholes at the front so whoever is playing conductor has a great view of the make-believe tracks ahead. You can also see through the sunroof to check on the kids’ activities, perhaps even pretend to be part of their imaginative play.

Unlike many play tents, the Thomas the Train tent has a unique feature. Instead of dealing with poles, pegs and sticks in setting it up, it has the EZ twist mechanism. Just take it out of its carrying bag, activate the mechanism by twisting it, and voila! Your kids already have a play tent, which can be expanded by connecting to other Thomas the Train systems.

What's Great About It: Parents agree that the creative Thomas the Train automotive design and easy twist-to-set-up mechanism makes it one of the best kids play tents. The easy-to-clean fabric and easy-to-carry design also adds to its appeal. Besides, what child doesn’t like to imagine being on a train?

3. Truedays' Playhouse - Kids Fun Play Tent

Suitable for: 1 year old and up

The Kids Fun Play Tent is among the largest of its kind – four feet on its four sides with a 55-inch height. As many as 6 children can be accommodated in its interiors without everybody pushing up against the others.

The cubical house design adds to the feeling of spaciousness, too. Your kids can roll up and down the flaps on the tunnel ports (i.e., windows) to simulate the opening and closing of windows. You must be careful about placing the play tent in a well-ventilated area to ensure the kids’ comfort, especially when they want the flaps down most times of the day.

You will also have an easy time assembling and disassembling this play tent because of its twist-to-assemble mechanism, too. Be sure to read the instructions before setting up so as to get it right the first time. You may also watch a YouTube video about its setup and fold-up.

Despite its large size, the play tent can be easily carried around even in its fully assembled form. Adults or teenagers, however, should ideally transfer it from one place to another for safety purposes.

What's Great About It: This is a great option since it can grow with the kids, so to speak. Its large size means that even as the kids grow older (i.e., taller and larger), they can still use it, especially when it’s connected to other play tents. It’s compatible with the Truedays tubes and tunnels so an entire network can be created in the backyard.

​4. Playhut's Shell Raiser Vehicle - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

Suitable for: 4 to 15 years old

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is popular for good reasons. The four turtles are cool, sassy and skillful in the ninja arts who defend the world from evil – just the kind of heroes that kids like!

Such love for sword-wielding ninja turtles makes the Shell Raiser Vehicle, a play tent for children as old as 15 years old, popular. As many as four small children can fit inside the play tent, not to mention that it can be expanded by connecting it to more similar Playhut structures so that more kids can be accommodated. There are plenty of passageways and openings for kids to imagine that, indeed, they are navigating the sewer system where the ninja turtles live.

The green-dominated structure is made of flame-retardant material. But this doesn’t mean that it can be placed near heat sources or under the hot sun since there’s always the risk of fire in these cases.

What Great About It: The pop-up design makes it easy to assemble and disassemble while its light weight allows it to be carried between two areas – unless, of course, there are already a few connecting tents and tunnels. This is a great tool for physical exercise (i.e., crawling) and for mental stimulation (i.e., imaging scenarios as ninja turtles).

​5. Wenzel's Sprout Kids Tent

Suitable for: 3 years old and up

The Sprout Kids Tent may be smaller than the others on this list but it can still accommodate up to four kids, thanks to its 6×5 feet size and 3.2 feet height. Adult supervision for setting it up may be necessary as it involves inserting the shock-corded fiberglass poles into their appropriate slots.

Once assembled, it’s light enough to pull across the floor or pull off the floor to transfer to another place. When not in use, it can be folded flat for easy transportation and storage. The polyester fabric can also be cleaned in the washing machine when it gets too dirty – just remove the poles first.

While the polyester fabric has Weather Armor Technology, keep in mind that it isn’t as durable as in camping tents. Your kids can use it for their weekend camping trips but preferably in fair weather. In many other ways, it’s similar to a camping tent with its zippered mesh door, back window with flap, and roof vents with mesh covering for ventilation.

What's Great About It: We like that it can be utilized for actual camping trips, even in the backyard or park, instead of just being a play tent. Its light weight coupled with its durable materials and sturdy construction make it ideal for such use.

​6. Pacific Play Tents' Club House Tent

Suitable for: 3 to 15 years old

Even toddlers know the importance of belonging to a group, thus, their desire to make friends with kids the same age. With the Club House Tent, your younger kids can make their own group and make it their home base, so to speak. A many as four small kids can fit inside the tent with room for pillows and toys, too.

The wooden kiddie clubhouse design makes it immediately attractive to the eyes. Setting it up is easy as pie, too, although older kids or adults should do the job – put the G3 poles into their connectors in building the frame and place the polyester fabric over it. The 70-denier polyester fabric is as sturdy as can be while the G3 poles can hold the tent together.

Aside from the zippered door, the play also has mesh panels on the sides (i.e., windows) and top (sun roof), nice touches since these allow for more air circulation inside. The round tunnel port is both another entrance point and a connecting point when more play tents are added to it.

What's Great About It: We like that it has a wooden clubhouse design so kids can feel like they have a place of their own. This can be used as an indoor fort, too, when kids can’t play outside.

7. Petra's Kids Play Tent

Suitable for: 2 years old and up

The Petra kids play tent is the largest in our list because there are three main components, each one of which will take up a considerable amount of space. Unless you have a large living room or play room, it’s best to install it in your backyard.

The three components are a playground, a tunnel, and a playhouse – truly, a 3-in-1 product! The total length of these parts is close to 10 feet, thus, the need for a large space. But since kids will have a larger place for playing, it is worth it, even when you also have to pay more dollars for it.

You obviously can’t pick up off the floor to transfer it to another place. But this is also an advantage since your kids will have a permanent place to play in so there can be less mess in the house.

What's Great About It: We like that it’s a 3-in-1 play set so there’s no need to make separate purchases. Despite its large size, you can easily fold it into a 1-inch circle for fast and easy transport and storage. Its large size also means more kids can play so your kids have more opportunities to enjoy fun times and develop their skills.

​8. Children’s Tent Game & Playhouse by BATTOP

Suitable for: 1 to 7 years old

Parents have little time to set up complicated play tents so the Battop is a great choice. The pop-up style of assembly makes it so easy to set up indoors and outdoors, usually within 5 minutes. The fold-up process is relatively easy, too – close the tents, push the tent downward and the two sides squeeze, and push it downside.

When fully set up, the play tent can accommodate one to two children. Inside, a pillow for reading and sleeping as well as a few toys can be placed without making it feel too crowded.

The nylon-and-polyester fabric isn’t just soft – it’s also strong and sturdy, easy to clean, and even water-resistant to a certain degree. While this can be theoretically placed outside, you may want to reconsider it, especially during rainy weather.

The play tent has a see-through window with a roll-up curtain and a Velcro strap while the door can be locked by a Velcro strap, too. You may think that it’s a simpler design than the others in our list of the top play tents but its easy assembly and disassembly coupled with its easy-to-carry nature are pluses.

What's Great About It: We like that it’s an affordable play tent for a child who wants a place of his own. The see-through mesh panel allows for ventilation and peeking into your child while he’s inside the tent.

​9. Cubby-Tube-Teepee Kids Adventure Station

Suitable for: 3 years old and up

This is another 3-in-1 play set, thus, its inclusion in our list. When the three parts – teepee playhouse, cubby playhouse, and tube tunnel – are connected to each other, the entire play set stretches for more than 10 feet. Every part is made from sturdy materials including polyester and spring steel so it can withstand a few years of use from rowdy kids.

Each part of the play set encourages imaginative play such that every part can be anything the kids want it to be! The teepee playhouse can obviously be an Indian teepee while the tube tunnel can be an escape route from the cowboys. Every part can also be used on its own, such as when the teepee playhouse is at opposite end of the room from the cubby playhouse in an Indian-and-cowboy play.

When not in use, you can easily fold and carry the three components. The overall weight of 2.2 pounds can even be carried by the kids.

What's Great About It: The 3-in-1 play tent is great for everyday use and for get-togethers with others kids. Each of the components can be used for imaginative play, which results in the development of their physical and mental skills.

​10. POCO DIVO's Crown Princess Castle

Suitable for: 3 years old and up

This is an excellent choice for the girls who imagine themselves to be princesses. The attractive bright pink tent with a crown-like tower print can be the center of attraction in your little princess’ playroom or bedroom. You don’t have to worry about its size – 41-inch diameter and 53-inch height – since it can fit in a compact space.

At just 2 pounds in weight, it’s also easy to carry, especially when it’s placed inside its zippered carry bag. This is still true even when it’s fully assembled. But assembly is required since it uses a sturdy plastic pole for its rigid framework.

The 100% polyester fabric can also be cleaned quickly with mild soap and a damp cloth. The roll-up door and mesh windows allow for good ventilation, access and peeking through to check on the little princess.

What's Great About It: We like its princess design that complements a little girl’s imaginative dress-up plays. Role-playing is important since it reinforces good decision-making skills among little girls.

​11. POCO DIVO's Knight Castle Prince House

Suitable for: 3 years old and up

Little boys also like to pretend as royalty particularly as princes and knights. The Knight castle play tent is a great counterpart to the crown princess castle for this reason.

Your little boy will love its majestic castle with a tower design, too. You will soon find him pretending to be a knight rescuing a damsel in distress or fighting off a dragon.

The mesh windows allow for better air circulation and prevent insects from coming inside the play tent. The polyester fabric is also easy to clean with a soft cloth and mild water-soap solution so your prince will always have a clean place of his own.

No tools are required for assembly and disassembly although adult supervision may be required for younger kids.

What's Great About It: The castle-themed play tent encourages imaginative play as knights or princes among little boys. This is important, too, since the values of chivalry can be learned in the process.

Our Criteria for Choosing these Play Tents

We chose the best kids play tents based on the following criteria:

  • The materials must be easy to clean, as well as sturdy and strong enough to withstand a few years of use by kids who can become rowdy when playing.
  • The assembly and disassembly process must be fast and easy, too, so that kids can quickly dive into their playtime. The pop-up design is favored but we also included play tents with poles since these only involved a few steps to set up.
  • The design must also allow for good ventilation with mesh windows, zippered or Velco doors, and ports. The play tent must also be placed in an area with good air circulation to avoid overheating in its interior.

The connector feature for expansion of the play tent is a bonus. We chose several play tents that can be connected to other play tents and tunnels for kids to enjoy a larger play area. Your choice, of course, will be influenced by your budget for the play tent, your child’s own preferences in imaginative play (e.g., princess or cowboys-and-Indians), and your available space for it, among others.

Benefits of Imaginative Play for Kids

Child’s play may look like, well, child’s play but it’s more than just fun and games for them. Child development experts strongly encourage imaginative play for kids because of its close association with physical, mental and social skills development.

This is because imaginative play including role playing helps kids in learning and exploring the world around them, as well as their roles, responsibilities and rights in it. Children also learn the cause-and-effect relationships of their actions on themselves and on others, thus, allowing them to develop their social skills. Kids also learn to communicate their own sense of self and, in the process, reinforce their growing sense of independence from their parents.

Play tents are great tools in encouraging imaginative play among kids. Everybody’s a winner when you have a play tent or a 3-in-1 play tent in your home – your kids have a place to call their own where mess is allowed and you, the parents, can keep your home more organized. You don’t have to tolerate their make-believe fort of blankets and pillows in the living room, for example.

Less mess aside, kids enjoy several benefits when they play in a play tent although they may not actually know it.

  • Their physical skills can be developed. Your kids will be moving around, crawling, and even running around their play tents, which will develop their gross motor skills including their coordination, balance and flexibility.
  • Their cognitive skills are also being developed as they play. You will find them playing with their toys, such as dolls and action figures, puzzles and building blocks, and kitchen sets, when they’re inside their make-believe castle, clubhouse, or teepee.
  • Their social skills are being polished when they play by themselves or with others, especially when role playing. You may even find them communicating their needs and wants in a more constructive manner, negotiating with others in a better way, and interacting in a nicer manner, too.

Conclusion

We hope that our guide to finding the best kids play tent was helpful in your search for it. You may even find that you learned more about the benefits of imaginative play for your kids, no matter their age.

    Sandra Cobain
     

    Mum of two. Child psychologist. Ardent admirer of art, crafts and cooking. She is the head of content for BestForTheKids. When she's not busy crafting posts & researching about compelling content ideas, she can be spotted playing outdoors with her two adorable children.

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