The best children’s 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, as well as the development of important life skills.
These tents are places for imaginative play – and that in itself is a good reason to buy one of these play tents for your little explorer.
Keep in mind, nonetheless, that choosing the right play tents for your kid is a must. While these products are designed with optimum safety for your child in mind, there are still risks associated with their use.
Parents are well-advised to exercise adult supervision when their younger kids use their play tents to reduce the risk of injury.
Table of Contents
- Best Play Tents for Kids – Cool Tents to Play With
- 1. Pacific Play Tents’ Me Too Tent
- 2. Playhut’s Thomas the Train
- 3. Truedays’ Playhouse – Kids Fun Play Tent
- 4. Playhut’s Shell Raiser Vehicle – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
- 5. Wenzel’s Sprout Kids Tent
- 6. Pacific Play Tents’ Club House Tent
- 7. Petra’s Kids Play Tent
- 8. Children’s Tent Game & Playhouse by BATTOP
- 9. Cubby-Tube-Teepee Kids Adventure Station
- 10. POCO DIVO’s Crown Princess Castle
- 11. POCO DIVO’s Knight Castle Prince House
- Our Criteria for Choosing these Play Tents
- Benefits of Imaginative Play for Kids
Best Play Tents for Kids – Cool Tents to Play With
Here’s our buying guide and short review of 11 of the best play tents available on 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 three children thanks to its 16 square feet play area and its 4 foot height. You can easily assemble and disassemble it within minutes for indoor and outdoor fun for your kids. You can rely on the sturdy shock-corded, PE-coated fiberglass poles to hold up the play tent even when playtime becomes a little bit rough.
The high-grade, flame-retardant 70-denier polyester taffeta walls are easy on the eyes and are simple to clean. Emphasis must be made that kids shouldn’t be allowed to experiment with its flame-retardant properties. 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 with ease.
The flooring has a soft and cushioned feel for added comfort. You may want to place a foam play mat on the floor, especially in outdoor areas like the park or yard. Your kids can then sit, crawl and lie down on its floor while still being 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 on as your 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 as their kids play.
2. Playhut’s Thomas the Train
Suitable for: 3 to 9 years old
Kids adore Thomas the Train, the 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 your kid’s 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 ropes in setting it up, it has the EZ twist mechanism. Just take it out of its carry bag, activate the mechanism by twisting it, and voila. Your kids will have a play tent which can be expanded by connecting to other Thomas the Train tent 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 available. The easy-to-clean fabric and easy-to-carry design also adds to its appeal. Besides, what child doesn’t like to imagine that they are 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 long on each of its four sides with a 55 inch height. As many as 6 children can be accommodated within its interiors without everybody pushing up against the sides.
The cubical house design adds to the feeling of spaciousness too. Your kids can roll up and down the flaps on the tunnel ports to create windows. You must be careful to place the play tent in a well-ventilated area to ensure your kid’s comfort, especially when they want the flaps down most times when they are playing.
You will also have an easy time assembling and disassembling this play tent because of its twist-to-assemble mechanism. Be sure to read the instructions before setting up so as to get it right the first time. You may also want to 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. However, adults or teenagers 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 your kids, so to speak. Its large size means that as your kids get older, 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, and for a good reason. The four turtles are cool, sassy and skillful in the ninja arts and defend the world from evil, making them just the kind of heroes that kids like.
Such love for the sword-wielding ninja turtles makes the Shell Raiser Vehicle, a play tent for children as old as 15 years old, very 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 the similar Playhut structures so that more kids can be accommodated.
There are plenty of passageways and openings for kids to imagine that 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 should be placed near heat sources or in 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 like crawling, and for mental stimulation such as 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 foot size and 3.2 foot height. Adult supervision for setting it up may be necessary as it involves inserting the shock-corded fiberglass poles into their appropriate slots, but older kids shouldn’t have a problem with this.
Once assembled, it’s light enough to pull across the floor or to lift 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 with camping tents. Your kids can use it for their weekend camping trips, but preferably in fair weather. In many 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 if only in the backyard or park, instead of just being a play tent. Its light weight coupled with its durable materials and sturdy construction makes 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 as them. With the Club House Tent, your younger kids can grow their own group of friends 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 also as easy as pie, although older kids or adults should do the job. Simply put the G3 poles into their connectors in the building 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 tent also has mesh panels on the sides which serve as windows and a mesh top like a sun roof, which are nice touches since these allow for more air circulation inside. The round tunnel port is both another entrance point and a connecting point where more play tents can be 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 tent can also be used as an indoor fort when your 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 on 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 larger space. But since kids will have a larger place for playing, it is worth it, even when you also have to pay a bit more for it.
You obviously can’t pick it 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, 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 thick circle for fast and easy transport and storage. Its large size also means that more kids can play in it, 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 tent is a great choice. The pop-up style of assembly makes it so easy to set up both indoors and outdoors, all within 5 minutes. The fold-up process is relatively easy too – close the tent sides, push the tent downward while squeezing the two sides together, and voila.
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 water-resistant to a certain degree. While this tent can be placed outside in theory, you may not want to do so, 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 also be locked by a Velcro strap. You may think that it’s a simpler design than the others on our list of the top play tents, but its easy assembly and disassembly coupled with its easy-to-carry nature are big positives.
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 in on 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 on 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 your rowdy kids.
Each part of the play set encourages imaginative play because every part can be anything your 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 the 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 means that it can even be carried by your 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 your child’s physical and mental skills.
10. POCO DIVO’s Crown Princess Castle
Suitable for: 3 years old and up
This is an excellent choice for your girls who imagine themselves to be princesses. The attractive, bright pink tent with a crown-like tower print can be the central 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 by an adult is required since it uses sturdy plastic poles 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 in on your little princess.
What’s Great About It: We like its princess design that complements your little girl’s imaginative dress-up games. 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 to be royalty, particularly as princes and knights. The Knight Castle play tent is a great counterpart to the crown princess castle for this reason.
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 a mild water and soap solution so your prince will always have a clean place of his own.
No tools are required for assembly and disassembly although adult assistance may be required for younger kids.
What’s Great About It: The castle-themed play tent encourages imaginative play, as your little boy becomes a knight or a prince in his own castle. This is important 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, 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 and are very stable.
- 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, such as princess or cowboys-and-Indians, and your available space for it.
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 for 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, so parents can keep their home more organized. You don’t have to tolerate their make-believe fort of blankets and pillows in the living room, for example, because they will now have their own space.
Less mess aside, kids enjoy several benefits when they play in a play tent even though they may not actually know it. These benefits include:
- Their physical skills can be developed. Your kids will be moving around, crawling, and running around in 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, action figures, puzzles, 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 kinder manner too.
We hope that our guide to finding the best kids play tent was helpful in your search for the best one for your kids. You may even find that you learned more about the benefits of imaginative play for your kids, no matter their age.