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Which pop-up play tent is best?

Pop-up play tents for kids are different from traditional tents and playhouses because they are lightweight and easy to put up, take down, carry with you when you travel and store when not in use. Because they are so easy to set up, pop-up play tents are often called instant tents. 

If you are looking for a pop-up play tent that really stands out from the others, the USA Toyz Rocket Ship Pop Up Kids Tent is the top choice. It comes with a handheld projector that displays 24 different images of spacecraft, astronauts and planets.

What to know before you buy a pop-up play tent

Pop-up play tents come in many shapes, sizes and designs, so it should be easy to find one that appeals to your kids. 

Will your pop-up play tent be used indoors or outdoors?

Lightweight pop-up play tents are fine to use indoors. However, if you plan on using one outside, it will be exposed to the elements as well as pets, kids and other outdoor items, such as bicycles and muddy soccer balls. If you want an outdoor tent, make sure it comes with hardware that secures the tent to the ground so the wind doesn’t blow it over.


Princess castles are a popular choice among little kids because it allows them to combine fantasy characters with fantasy worlds. Other favorite fantasy themes include mermaids, unicorns, undersea exploration, rocket ships and dinosaurs


Canvas is the sturdiest material option for pop-up play tents. It’s more durable than other materials and also the heaviest. Canvas pop-up play tents do very well outdoors because canvas stands up better to wind and rain than tents made of cotton or polyester.

Cotton pop-up play tents are breathable and allow for the best air circulation, but they are prone to wrinkling. Polyester pop-up play tents are the lightest weight, making them the easiest to set up, take down, transport and store.


The best pop-up play tent is one that fits nicely in the space you have. Another important consideration is the number of kids who will be playing in the tent.

What to look for in a quality pop-up play tent

Windows and doors

The best pop-up play tents have several windows and doors, so kids can come and go easily, and parents can keep an eye on them. Windows and doors also let in plenty of light to illuminate your kids’ playtime.

Interior height

Smaller pop-up play tents are made for toddler heights and won’t have enough room inside to stand up, so look for tents that measure at least 4 feet tall.


Tunnels that connect two or more pop-up play tents make for super-sized extra fun with kids crawling back and forth. Some are as much as 12 feet long.


Look for pop-up play tents that come with LED lights, projectors and remote controllers. Princess castle pop-up play tents project images of glow-in-the-dark stars. Some play tents project images from safaris or outer space. Some tents include buttons to hear dinosaurs roar.

How much you can expect to spend on a pop-up play tent

Simple pop-up play tents cost as little as $15. More elaborate designs and tents with tunnels cost as much as $65.

Pop-up play tent FAQ

Is there an age limit for pop-up play tents?

A. The limitations of pop-up play tents are more about size than age. Taller kids will be limited to sitting, kneeling and crawling inside.

Do pop-up play tents with ball pits come with the balls?

A. Most do not. However, some product descriptions provide links to a number of sites that sell colorful plastic balls.

Why do so many pop-up play tents come with travel bags?

A. Travel bags do double duty and store your pop-up play tent when it is not being used. With smaller tents, it is easy to take your pop-up play tent with you when you are away from home.

What are the best pop-up play tents to buy?

Top pop-up play tent

USA Toyz Rocket Ship Pop Up Kids Tent

USA Toyz Rocket Ship Pop-Up Kids Tent

What you need to know: Covered in stars and shaped like a rocket, this indoor and outdoor pop-up play tent fits up to three small kids.

What you’ll love: Setup for the tent is easy and requires no tools, and the polyester material is easy to clean with a damp rag. The windows are made of breathable mesh, and the door unfolds and rolls down. The included handheld projector comes with three slide discs containing 24 space-themed images. 

What you should consider: The tent is shorter and smaller than some others, so it is best for small kids.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top pop-up play tent for the money

FoxPrint Princess Castle Play Tent

FoxPrint Princess Castle Play Tent

What you need to know: The stars scattered all around this pink castle glow in the dark, which is sure to put a smile on your child’s face. 

What you’ll love: In addition to the stars, this tent is also decorated with hearts. The storage bag features a zipper and handles, and it weighs less than 2.5 pounds with the tent inside.

What you should consider: The tent is small enough that only preschool kids will be able to stand up inside.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Kiddzery 4 Piece Kids Pop Up Play Tent with Tunnel and Ball Pit

Kiddzery Four-piece Kids Pop-Up Play Tent with Tunnel and Ball Pit

What you need to know: This adventure play tent and tunnel set includes a square tent, a triangular tent and two crawl tunnels.

What you’ll love: Careful thought went into the construction of this tent to ensure it would be sturdy enough for both the elements and rambunctious kids. Breathable mesh lets air and light in and keeps bugs out. The spring connectors keep all the components together, and the ground stakes keep the tent stable outdoors in light winds. The entire structure folds completely flat and weighs only 3 pounds.

What you should consider: You can turn one or both of the tent structures into a ball pit, but the balls are sold separately.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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