If you want to give kids a safe and cozy lounge area, a play yard is your best bet. Portable play yards take convenience to the next level by doubling as travel cribs or including features that promote outdoor fun, like removable covers for protection from sun and insects. Best of all, it’s easier to set them up and fold them away than it is to figure out whether to call them a playard, play yard or playpen. Read on for some great play yards you can use indoors and outdoors.
Headed to the beach, a park or just the backyard? You can be ready for adventure as soon as you get your Veer Basecamp. This play yard comes fully assembled and opens (and folds) in one easy step. It comes with anchors for beach or grass, a UPF50 cover for sun and rain, and a moisture-resistant bottom. Kids will love the big play area (56" wide x 43" deep x 35" high), and parents will appreciate the built-in insect protection, external zipper for safety, and the storage bag. If you have the Veer Cruiser (read more about why we love the Cruiser), the Basecamp's storage bag attaches to it in a stroke of brilliance.
Available at goveer.com, $179.
KidCo TravelPod Travel Play Yard
With a sturdy steel frame and soft padded cotton twill fabric, the TravelPod is easy to set up and keep clean (just remove the fabric and pop it in the washing machine). The mesh sides lets your child see out and you see in, while letting cool breezes through. The soft foam mattress is compatible with portable play yard sheets, so it's great for naps and doubles as a travel crib. Suitable for kids up to age 3.
Available at kidco.com, $164.95.
born free nisa
The brand-new nisa from born free has a pop-open design for a quick setup and comes with a removable, oversized six-panel canopy that has three mesh panels for ventilation and three covered panels to protect kids from the elements. One panel zippers down for easy access to the inside. Big bonus: You can fold up the play yard with the canopy still attached. The play yard floor is padded and covered with machine-washable fabric. When it's time to go, just fold it up and tuck it into its carrying bag.
Available at shopbornfree.com, $179.99.
Guava Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib
This lightweight (13 pounds!) combination travel crib and play yard fits in the included backpack and can be brought on an airplane as a carry-on bag. It's certified free of harmful chemicals and features an ingenious zippered side door for crawl-friendly playtime. Because it doubles as a travel crib, there's an insulated foam mattress pad with waterproof cover so your child will be comfortable on any surface, indoors or out. When you're heading outside, bring along the separately sold mosquito net ($26.95) and UPF50+ fun shade ($36.95), which blocks the sun's rays, darkens baby's sleeping area and makes for an awesome fort.
Available at guavafamily.com, $199.95.
Regalo Eight Panel My Play Deluxe Portable Play Yard
Designed for kids between 6 and 24 months, this water-resistant play yard with removable canopy (there's also a smaller, six-panel version) can be set up or folded down in one step. The canopy, which is half mesh and half UV-protected nylon, also opens with one step. The edges of the play yard have reinforced stitching to keep kids safe, and the bottom is made of a durable nylon. There's a zippered door that lets kids in or out, and the carrying bag is included.
Available at regalo-baby.com, $119.99.
phil & ted's Traveller Travel Crib
Based on its name and ultra light weight (6 pounds), you know the Traveller is designed to make it easier to get away with baby. It's compact enough to fit in a small car trunk and unpacks into a cozy sleep spot and play area. It assembles easily and features a zippered side so parents can slide in for sleepy snuggles and kids can crawl out while playing. Pop on the mesh top accessory ($19.99) that attaches to the crib with toggles to keep baby protected from bugs and sun.
Available at philandteds.com, $149.99.
Summer Pop 'N Play Deluxe Ultimate Playard
True to the Pop 'N Play name, this lightweight (12 pounds) metal play structure can be set up in seconds. When playtime is over, it folds compactly into a storage bag with shoulder strap. It has mesh sides for visibility, a full-coverage, removable canopy with zippered sections for added airflow and easy access to kids, and a padded floor. You get 14 square feet of safe, comfortable play space and, if kids need extra entertainment, slip a tablet, smart phone or other toy into the clip-on entertainment pouch that attaches to the side.
Available at summerinfant.com, $119.99.
—Eva Ingvarson Cerise