The 7 Best Children’s Playhouses and Tents of 2021

Let your child's imagination run wild

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Childhood is a magical time, and a playhouse is a wonderful toy that lets your kids step into their very own fantasy world from the comfort of your home. From princess castles to teepees, children’s playhouses have come a long way over the years—and there’s no better place to have fun and make-believe than a playhouse. If you’re looking for a little retreat for your child, a playhouse can be a wonderful gift that will help them use their imagination and build social skills during playdates. 

The right playhouse or tent is age-appropriate and fits your space just right. Look for indoor or outdoor features, depending on where. you will store it. Consider add-on features like built-in play kitchens or doors and bring your child into the decision by asking them what type of playhouse they'd love to own.

Whether you’re hunting for an indoor or outdoor playhouse, there are many options you can buy that fit any need and any size home.

Here are seven of our favorite playhouses.

Our Top Picks
A versatile playhouse with fun details like a working doorbell.
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This IKEA playhouse is perfect for pop-up play no matter where you go.
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This tent provides the perfect space to encourage imaginative play.
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Large enough for two kids and the perfect accessory for sleepovers.
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A great way to entice your kid to spend more time outside.
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Create a cozy sleep space for kids to read, dream, and more.
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Transforms from a French coffee shop to a bustling BBQ shack.
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In This Article

Best Overall: Step2 Neat and Tidy Cottage II Brown Playhouse

step2-playhouse

If you’re looking for an affordable, durable, and fun playhouse that works inside and out, you’ll love the Step2 Charming Cottage. This country cottage measures 50 x 58.8 x 58 inches so it's the perfect size for children up to 6 years old. It features plenty of fun details, like a working electric doorbell, a removable flower box that can be used to plant real (check out the best plants for kids to grow) or fake flowers, and indoor storage shelves for their toys. It also has an outdoor table and bench, so your child can sit down and enjoy a snack after a long day in the kitchen. The large, open design allows for social play and is perfect for houses with multiple children.

Reviewers say the Step 2 Charming Cottage is easy to assemble and a delight for children of all ages. Even older children enjoy the interactive features! The waterproof design helps it stand up to the elements (if placed outside), and it's not too big for indoor playrooms if there's no room outdoors.

Best Budget: IKEA CIRKUSTÄLT Children's tent

CIRKUSTÄLT Children's tent

Ikea’s CIRKUSTÄLT playhouse is perfect for pop-up play no matter where you go. This circus-themed polyester tent is incredibly lightweight and easy to move from room to room. The circular interior measures 47 ¼ inches tall and 39 ¼ inches in diameter. It's the perfect hideaway to read a book, take a nap, or pretend to be the star of a circus. Owners say it’s perfect for children 18 months and older—just add a few circus animal friends or toys and you’ll have a party your child will never want to leave. It can be hand-washed and requires minimal assembly.

Best Princess: FoxPrint Princess Castle Play Tent

FoxPrint Princess Castle Play Tent

Let your child channel their inner princess with this FoxPrint Princess Castle Play Tent. This lightweight pink tent measures 41.5 x 41.5 x 54 inches and it folds down flat into a portable carrying case for fun on-the-go. Made from polyester with sock-corded fiberglass poles to give it shape, this FoxPrint tent can be used inside or out and provides the perfect space for kids to use their imagination and create magical adventures! It even works as a creative reading spot for kids. Youngsters are sure the love hearts and glow-in-the-dark stars that adorn the walls of the tent, but more critical reviewers point out that the stars are somewhat dim and underwhelming.

While it's not the most elaborate tent on our list, customers like that it's affordable, large enough for multiple children, and has a peep-through window for checking in during playtime.

Best Teepee: Turtleplay Indoor Kid’s Play Teepee

Indoor Kid’s Play Teepee

Looking for the perfect accessory for a playroom or bedroom? We love this modern-looking teepee from Turtleplay Products. Made from canvas and Canadian Hemlock wood, this teepee measures 53.74 x 41.33 x 45.47 inches and can accommodate two children. The inside is quite spacious, despite the two-child limit, so there's plenty of room for books, stuffed animals, and more. The size also makes it great for sleepover and playdates. Other notable features include a roll-down window on the side of the teepee, an entrance flap, and a beautiful Chevron pattern that can be wiped clean.

Reviewers say the Turtleplay Teepee is incredibly charming (some owners even suggest adding string lights for added coziness) and can be assembled in one hour or less. While it's meant for indoor use only, children can pretend they're in the great outdoors with a little help from their imagination!

Best Wooden: Backyard Discovery Columbus All Cedar Wood Playhouse

Backyard Discovery Columbus All Cedar Wood Playhouse

The Backyard Discovery Columbus All Cedar Wood Playhouse is the perfect addition to your backyard. With large windows and realistic-looking appliances, this playhouse is a great way to entice children to spend more time outside.

While most wooden structures have the tendency to warp and rot, cedar is naturally more resistant to these conditions, which is why this type of wood is great for outdoor structures. Even though this cedar house is naturally resistant, a chemical-free wood stain gives this playhouse as an added layer of durability. Other notable features include doors and windows that open and close, flower pot holders for gardening, and a plastic sink and stove (the plastic is UV-resistant). 

This playhouse takes a little extra time to put together (most customers estimate about five hours), but it’s definitely worth the effort. Not only does it look great in any backyard, but it provides shade and shelter for endless hours of outdoor play.

Best Bed Tent: Pottery Barn Camden House Bed

Tent Fantasy Bed

If you want to create a dream bedroom for your child, check out the Tent Fantasy Bed from Pottery Barn Kids. This bed takes forts to the next level and creates a cozy sleep space for kids to read, learn, dream, and play. Made from solid poplar wood and engineered wood, the bed frame fits a full-size mattress and is designed to be used without a box spring. The canopy is 100 percent cotton and has two windows and a tent-style opening that little ones will enjoy using. For an extra special touch, string lights around the canopy for a magical glow that kids are sure to love.

Customers report that while the bed does have to be assembled, it's simple enough to do on your own. Place the mattress on the bed frame (the wood slats are durable and strong), and then attach the canopy to the frame using the ties.

Best Design: Crate & Barrel Snack Shack Playhouse

Snack Shack Playhouse

Delight the aspiring chef in your life with this adorable playhouse from Crate & Barrel. With an authentic black and white awning, the Snack Shack Playhouse transforms from a French coffee shop to a bustling BBQ shack right in your own living room! The cotton canvas structure comes with two banner sets, so there are eight signs total that affix to the structure with velcro. The restaurant sign attaches to the roof, so kids might need a little help getting that up, but the other signs can be changed out with little to no help from adults. As an added bonus, the Daily Special sign is made from a special black chalkboard cloth so it can be changed as much as your child’s heart desires.

Reviewers praise the Snack Shack Playhouse for being easy to assemble, lightweight, and loads of fun. It is a bit deeper than other playhouses, though, so be sure that your playroom can accommodate it.

Final Verdict

Our top pick for the best playhouse is Step2 Charming Cottage because it offers a lot of fun extras like a working doorbell and a door that opens and closes. It's easy to put together and lasts for years to come. If you want a cheaper option, Ikea’s CIRKUSTÄLT is our choice for a fun, aesthetically pleasing play tent that is easy on the wallet.

What to Look for When Buying Playhouses

Size

When considering what playhouse is perfect for your kids, first consider how large it should be. Most playhouses can hold two to three kids at a time, but others are only large enough for a single child. Decide whether your kid will often play alone or with friends. Opt for a larger outdoor playhouse if you need space for multiple kids.

Material

Some playhouses are perfect for backyard settings while others are only suitable for the indoors. If you have enough space for an indoor playhouse, you may not need to think about weather-proof materials. If your playhouse is going to live outside, look for mold and bacteria-resistant materials so your playhouse looks new for years to come.

Price

Price should always be a consideration with any large purchase, but when it comes to picking the perfect playhouse for your kid, you may want to think about how long he or she will use it. A playhouse that will grow with your kid may be worth a splurge more than one where your kid will only get a year or two out of it.

Extras

Playhouses and play tents come in many sizes and shapes. Pay close attention to the "extras" if that's important to you or your kid. For example, a real, working doorbell can help your imaginative child play house for hours. A built-in "kitchen" or lights or additional features that can take your playhouse to the next level.

FAQ
  • Where can you buy kids' playhouses?

    Kids' playhouses can be purchased online and sent directly to your door for ease and convenience. Check out hardware stores, home goods stores or marketplaces such as Amazon for the most selection. Some retailers offer samples in store so you can see the size for yourself and ensure that it fits your needs. Always check the store's return policy in case there's a chance you may want to return it later.

  • At what age do kids lose interest in playhouses?

    There is no set age at which a child may lose interest in his or her playhouse, but you will likely get the most use out of it from age two to five. This is when your child's imagination is most active, so a playhouse is a great option to keep your kid entertained. At some point, depending on how large your playhouse is, your child may physically outgrow their playhouse or tent but typically this coincides with when they may move on to other types of play.

  • Why are kids' playhouses so expensive?

    Some playhouses are made from very strong and durable materials that can withstand years of weather and wear. It's important to find a house that fits your needs and won't peel or flake unsafely as it ages. If your playhouse is going indoors, you may be able to save a little money and opt for a playhouse that is indoor-friendly instead.

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