The best inflatable kiddie pools for backyard fun

Creative ways to beat the heat.

When the weather heats up, people—especially kids—will find any way possible to cool down. Water balloons, a neighbor’s sprinkler, even just a no-frills blast from a garden hose will do. But the strive to refresh can also be fun, thanks to the right inflatable pool.

From simple pools to elaborate activity centers, here are some of the best ways to easily turn your backyard into an epic play space.

Almost a beach. Amazon

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Pools of any size are always a little fraught when it comes to child safety. That’s why this Sable inflatable play center is a great way to relieve parental anxiety. Designed with safety in mind, this mini-water park features a shallow wading area, angle adjustable sprinklers, and a small slide with fixed handrails and sponge cushion padding. The PVC construction is BPA-free and thick enough to resist easy puncture or tear—durability is key, as the play center is perfect for very small kids up to about 6 or 7.

Double the fun. Amazon

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The worst part of an inflatable pool is waiting to fill it up while impatient kids tap dance in their floaties. The EpochAir Splash Pad ingeniously combines the best of lawn sprinklers and inflatable pools into one quick and easy cool down center. This 67-inch-square pad has a small lip around the edge that collects the water spouting out from the sprinkler holes, creating a wall of water spray and a mini pool all in one. The inflation time is minimal (not being an entire pool) and all you have to do is attach a garden hose. It’s safe for small kids (the water collected is essentially puddle depth) and it’s an efficient way to get cool quickly.

A taste of the tropics. Amazon

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If you are looking for a way to go above and beyond in turning your backyard into a theme park, then check out this elaborate Intex offering. Fully committed to its jungle theme, the pool features inflatable animals (which are detachable—the giraffe also doubles as a basketball hoop), palm trees, and a rainforest water slide. The added parts increase your inflation time a bit, but overall it works as a standalone pool (deep enough to splash around in but not a problem for toddlers) and provides additional play options.

Games on! Amazon

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If everything you and your family do revolves around sports, don’t let wading in the backyard be any different. The “sports arena” gives you the ability to play basketball, soccer, volleyball, or water polo while sitting in about 6 inches of water. The volleyball net is detachable, and the inflatable balls are included. It’s small (it’s meant for very tiny kids, or the understanding that this is a “sit and play” scenario and not a full court experience), but gives kids lots of bonus activities besides just sitting and soaking.