12 Best Kids’ Play Tents to Inspire Open-Ended Play

Spark creativity and imagination during playtime with a stand-out kids’ play tent.
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By Emma O'Regan-Reidy, Associate E-Commerce Editor
Updated May 29, 2023
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Kiddos have a lot of toys, but when it comes to staples your child won’t quickly tire of, a top-notch play tent is among the best. Not to be confused with a play house (which is typically a solid outdoor structure made from plastic or wood), a kids’ play tent is an indoor toy that generally pops up and is made from fabric. They come in all sorts of shapes, colors and themes, meaning there are plenty of options out there for even the most discerning tots. Not sure where to begin when it comes to kids’ play tents? We’ve got you covered. Here, check out our top picks—plus, read on to understand the benefits of children’s play tents and how they can encourage open-ended play.

Benefits of a Kids’ Play Tent

Wondering how a kids’ play tent could have a positive impact on your kiddo? According to Jana Sarno, BCBA, a board-certified behavior analyst and the chief clinical officer of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers, “play tents offer a range of developmental benefits, from gross motor play to imaginary play to sensory regulation.” To make the most out of these fun structures, Sarno suggests parents incorporate different elements during play time. For example, the interior could be made into a ball pit to prompt gross motor skills and language development. Even without additional toys, “tents offer a wealth of open-ended play options and can be beneficial in encouraging peer play with others,” explains Sarno.

Another advantage: Play tents for kids can offer a calming space. Sarno recommends adding lights and a sound machine to create a soothing atmosphere where little ones can retreat to when they need a break.

Kids’ Play Tent Safety Tips

When it comes to play tent safety precautions, Sarno reminds parents that adult supervision is necessary, especially for infants and toddlers. During playtime, ensure that the tent stays upright so that your child receives proper airflow. By keeping a watchful eye on your little one, you’ll reduce the chance of the tent’s parts (like poles, for instance) from becoming hazardous, adds Sarno.

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What To Look For in a Kids’ Play Tent

Children’s play tents are mostly all fun and games. However, there are a few key aspects to keep in mind as you shop. Here, find expert-backed advice on what to look for in a kids’ play tent:

  • Age rating. The first thing to consider when shopping for a kids’ play tent is age-appropriateness. Sarno advises parents to be aware of a product’s age guidelines before purchasing.
  • Versatility. “I like to look for tents that have multiple purposes and can engage children in a variety of ways,” says Sarno. For instance, you could opt for a play tent with a tunnel feature to keep playtime stimulating for your kiddo.
  • Unique designs. “Kids may get more use out of their play tent if it is designed in a way that appeals to their interests,” explains Sarno. If your little one is fascinated by space, consider choosing a rocketship-themed play tent—or, if your child loves pretending to be a knight, opt for a castle-shaped structure. There are also plenty of character-inspired designs out there to choose from.
  • Durability. Last but not least, Sarno recommends that parents choose a children’s play tent that’s sturdy and durable to withstand wear and tear during playtime.

Best Play Tents for Toddlers and Kids

Whether your child is a mini astronaut in the making, loves to play house or is still an infant, there’s a play tent out there for them. Below, shop our favorite options on the market, from mushroom-shaped delights to Montessori-inspired designs.

Overall best kids’ play tent

Tiny Land Eco-Friendly Teepee
Image: Amazon

First up on our list of the best play tents for kids is this stand-out design from Tiny Land. Its simple design offers a blank canvas for tons of future fun; it could easily be transformed into an indoor camp setup, a cozy home, a dragon’s den or whatever else your kiddo has in mind! The indoor play tent features cute window—plus, it has two interior pockets where stuffed animals, books or other treasured playthings can be stored. It’s even big enough for multiple children to sit in at once, making it a great option for sibling bonding or playdates.

Dimensions: 47.2” (L) x 47.2” (W) x 59” (H) | Weight: 8.4 lbs. | Materials: Polyester, pinewood and cotton | Age rating: 3+ years

What We Love
  • Folds and comes with a carry bag for easy portability
  • Features two interior storage pockets
  • Can be used inside or outside
  • Machine-washable tent cover
Things To Consider
  • Some reviewers say they wish the poles were more sturdy
  • Assembly required

Best pop-up play tent for kids

Kiddie Play Ice Cream Truck Pop Up Kids Play Tent
Image: Amazon
Buying Options

Pop-up play tents for kids are perfect for families looking for a structure that can be easily put away when playtime is over. Take this design, for instance. Just unfold it and pop it open; at the end of the day, it can be folded back into a compact shape for simple storage. We love the ice cream truck-theme of this children’s play tent and the too-cute takeout window. Better yet, it’s less than $30—score! Several other options are also available, including a fire truck, a police car and a school bus.

Dimensions: 45” (L) x 28” (W) x 28” (H) | Weight: 1.8 lbs. | Materials: Polyester and steel | Age rating: 2+ years

What We Love
  • Features two ceiling openings, a velcro backdoor and a pop-out takeout window
  • Easily folds flat and compact for simple storage
  • Affordable price point
Things To Consider
  • No assembly required

Best mushroom play tent for kids

MindWare Mushroom Shaped Kids Playhouse Tent
Image: Amazon
Buying Options

Creating a boho-inspired nursery or playspace for your little one? Then you can’t go wrong with a mushroom play tent. The whimsical abode features a roll-up door, two windows and, of course, a polka-dot mushroom cap-shaped roof. And if juice gets spilled or sticky fingers mark the walls—don’t fret. This play house tent easily wipes clean with a damp cloth.

Dimensions: 32.5” (L) x 32.5” (W) x 61.5” (H) | Weight: N/A | Materials: Cotton and PVC | Age rating: 3+ years

What We Love
  • Boho-chic aesthetic
  • No assembly required
Things To Consider
  • Reviewers say it’s bigger than they anticipated

Best toddler play tent

Melissa & Doug Cozy Cottage Play Tent
Image: Melissa & Doug

This play tent house is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers alike. The cozy cottage is suitable for indoor and outdoor use for year-round fun. Your little one is sure to have heart eyes for the vibrant exterior artwork, and they’ll love all of the realistic details, like the roll-up front door, the mail slot and the working window shutters. It’s roomy enough for multiple kids to play in at once, nurturing your little one’s blossoming social skills and imagination.

Dimensions: 37.25” (L) x 31” (W) x 46.5” (H) | Weight: 3.5 lbs. | Materials: Polyester, metal and plastic | Age rating: 3 to 5 years old

What We Love
  • Colorful exterior with realistic details
  • Roomy enough for several kids
  • Features a doorway, mail slot and windows with shutters
  • Can be used inside or outside
Things To Consider
  • Best suited for older tots
  • Assembly required

Best baby play tent

Searching for a baby play tent for the infant in your life? Look no further than this jungle-themed design from Wonder & Wise. The activity center will grow with your child; first use it as a play mat, then add the cotton cover and hanging toys as they get older for age-appropriate stimulation. Your little one is sure to be fascinated by the adorable animal graphics—plus, it’s made from a durable cotton to last for many playtimes to come.

Dimensions: 35” (L) x 35” (W) x 43” (H) | Weight: N/A | Materials: Cotton | Age rating: 6+ months

What We Love
  • Versatile design grows with babies
  • Comes with removable cover and hanging animal toys
Things To Consider
  • Not suitable for newborns

Best play tent and tunnel for kids

UTEX 3 in 1 Pop Up Play Tent with Tunnel
Image: Amazon
Buying Options

Some of the most engaging play tents for kids are those that have tunnels. Case in point: This pop-up play tent from UTEX. The set includes two houses (complete with mesh windows, of course) and a long tunnel that can be set up between them. You can count on it to endure many adventures to come, and it can even be turned into a ball pit for more sensory-driven fun. Better yet, the collapsible design makes assembly and storage a piece of cake. This colorful kids’ play tent would make a great gift for a three-year-old!

Dimensions: 31.5” (L) x 119” (W) x 34” (H) | Weight: 3 lbs. | Materials: Polyester and steel | Age rating: 3+ years

What We Love
  • Set includes two houses and a tunnel
  • Collapsible design for simple storage and assembly
  • Available in two colorways
Things To Consider
  • Some reviewers say it isn’t as sturdy as they expected it to be

Best kids’ play tent house

My Very Own Playhouse
Image: Pottery Barn Kids

This kids’ play tent is so chic, you may even want one for yourself. The minimalist design is made from sturdy, lightweight canvas, and includes a roll-up door and two windows. Inside, you can set up a comfy chair for your tot, along with a few books, stuffed animals and even a dollhouse. With this blank slate of an indoor play tent, the possibilities are truly endless. To spark your little one’s imagination and nurture learning opportunities, Sarno suggests stocking the tiny abode with play food—how fun!

Dimensions: 49.25” (L) x 38” (W) x 56” (H) | Weight: 9 lbs. | Materials: Cotton, velcro and PVC | Age rating: 3+ years

What We Love
  • Roomy, tall interior can fit a table, chairs and other toys
  • Features a roll-up door and two windows
  • Minimalist design
Things To Consider
  • Fabric is dry clean only
  • Assembly required

Best castle play tent for kids

Next up is a children’s play tent that offers an ideal backdrop for plenty of inventive, make-believe stories to come. Fit for pint-sized royalty, the castle-shaped structure features a drawstring bridge for a doorway and a fabric moat that borders the perimeter, complete with shark fins, of course! Your kiddo will love lowering and raising the entryway, and thinking up magical tales to match their fairytale-like play tent house.

Dimensions: 75.4” (L) x 75.4” (W) | Weight: 18.6 lbs. | Materials: Polyester and metal | Age rating: 3+ years

What We Love
  • Unique design, complete with a moat and drawstring bridge entryway
  • Features several circular windows
Things To Consider
  • Heavier than other options on our list
  • High price point

Best extra-large kids’ play tent

Tiny Land Large Playhouse Play Tent for Kids
Image: Tiny Land
Buying Options
Tiny Land|$64.95

If you’re on the hunt for an extra-large play tent for kids, this design from Tiny Land has got you covered. The spacious structure is hexagonal for added room, and features dreamy curtains that can be tied to the side. Use it inside or out; it would even work as an aesthetically pleasing backdrop for birthday photos! Better yet, this kids’ play tent is big enough for grown-ups to fit in, so you can easily take part in your little one’s next tea party, house game or any other adventure they have in mind.

Dimensions: 55” (L) x 35” (W) x 56” (H) | Weight: 9 lbs. | Materials: Polyester | Age rating: 2 to 8 years old

What We Love
  • Spacious enough for multiple kids and adults to fit in
  • Features sheer curtains that can be tied back
  • Parents say it’s easy to assemble
  • Comes with a non-slip floor mat
Things To Consider
  • Assembly required

Best canvas kids’ play tent

LALO The Play Tent
Image: LALO
Buying Options

Versatile, durable and aesthetically pleasing, canvas play tents check a lot of boxes on our list. We’re fans of this option from LALO which is made from sustainably sourced beechwood and paired with a natural canvas cover. Your little one will love transforming it into a cozy play space—plus, it can be used by tots from their first birthday on. Another highlight: The play tent cover is machine washable so you can pop it in the washing machine when messes (inevitably) occur.

Dimensions: 44.5” (L) x 25” (W) x 40” (H) | Weight: 6 lbs. | Materials: Beechwood and cotton | Age rating: 12+ months

What We Love
  • Canvas is machine-washable
  • Versatile, minimalist design
  • Meets ATSM safety standards
Things To Consider
  • Do not iron, bleach or dry clean

Best spaceship play tent for kids

JOYIN Rocket Ship Play Tent
Image: Amazon
Buying Options

Have a pint-sized space explorer at home? Captivate them with a spaceship-style play tent for kids. This lightweight design folds flat for simple storage, and features a roll-up door and a mesh ventilation window. What’s more, it can be used inside or outside for endless imaginative play opportunities. Sarno recommends pairing this plaything with a toy toolbox to foster pretend play and fine motor skills.

Dimensions: 41.5” (L) x 41.5” (W) x 54” (H) | Weight: 2 lbs. | Materials: N/A | Age rating: 3+ years

What We Love
  • Unique design
  • Folds flat into carrier bag for easy storage and portability
  • Features a roll-up doorway and mesh ventilation window
Things To Consider
  • Assembly required

Best Montessori kids’ play tent

Cassarokids Jumbo Foldable Pikler Triangle with Tent & Pillow
Image: Cassarokids
Buying Options
Cassarokids |$559.00

Curating a Montessori living space for your kiddo? Then this kids’ play tent will fit right in. This jumbo pikler triangle is given a fun update, thanks to the canvas tent cover and plush floor pillow. Just imagine how cozy your little one will be as they read, make-believe or socialize in this structure. Features we love include the window cutouts, the solid birchwood design and, of course, the climbing elements. The best part? It easily folds so you can put it away when playtime is over.

Dimensions: 48” (L) x 28” (W) x 40” (H) | Weight: N/A | Materials: Birchwood, beechwood, cotton, velvet | Age rating: 1 to 5 years old

What We Love
  • 2-in-1 play tent and pikler triangle design
  • Comes with a plush floor pillow
  • Meets ATSM standards
Things To Consider
  • High price point
  • Climbing structure holds a maximum of 200 lbs.

How We Chose the Best Kids’ Play Tents

To help you pick out the best kids’ play tent for your family, we browsed products from an array of trusted toy brands and online retailers. We considered a list of criteria when sourcing products, including value, design, size, durability, versatility and, of course, safety. What’s more, we read user reviews to get the lowdown on how these play tents worked for real families, and didn’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating. Lastly, to make sure we’re highlighting products that are safe and effective, we chatted with a child behavior analyst to understand essential features and safety considerations to keep top of mind when you’re shopping. Where applicable, we also looked for seals of approval from ATSM International.

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

Expert sources:

Jana Sarno, BCBA, is a board-certified behavior analyst and the chief clinical officer of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers. She has worked as the vice president of applied behavior analysis at North Shore Pediatric Therapy and as an infant development program administrator at Coyne & Associates Education Corp.

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