Bounce houses! Kids love ’em, parents who feel silly love ’em, and rental companies love taking lots of your money for ’em.
If you have lots of birthdays to deal with, host sleepovers and play dates, or just have a kid who loves to bounce, it can actually make pretty good sense to buy your own instead of renting.
But even a small inflatable can run you a few hundred dollars — a big purchase. Fear not, we’ve spent many hours researching the market and are confident that the following list contains the best bounce houses your money can buy.
Things to consider before purchasing a bounce house
Residential vs. commercial?
Commercial-grade inflatables are intended for businesses, such as rental companies or play centers, and are usually made of heavier-grade PVC-coated vinyl for longer wear.
Residential-grade inflatables, like those on this list, are made of lighter fabrics, though many of them use commercial-grade vinyl on their bounce and slide surfaces. These inflatables usually come with less powerful blowers.
Of course, commercial-grade inflatables are, naturally, far more expensive. Even the simplest commercial-grade bounce castle can cost over $1,000, and more elaborate models can quickly run into the multiple thousand dollar range.
If you’re buying a bounce house just for your kids’ (and possibly your own!) personal use, consider whether you need to go to the extra expense.
Indoor or outdoor?
Most bounce houses on this list are suitable for either indoor or outdoor play. Just keep an eye on the dimensions of the house to make sure it can fit into the desired space before you start inflating.
Bounce houses need a continuous flow of air to remain inflated, which means the blower will have to stay plugged in for the duration of playtime. You’ll need an outlet nearby or run an extension cord.
Be warned that running a blower for long periods of time can noticeably affect your power bill! Most run fairly quietly, though we suggest that you check your local noise laws, just to be on the safe side.
Take note, also, that bounce houses must be anchored for safety’s sake. Most houses come with a set of stakes to secure them to the ground outdoors, although these aren’t much use indoors unless you’re reading this in 1850 and have dirt floors!
If your inflatable comes with plastic spikes, replace them with metal ones, as these last longer and keep the kids safer.
For indoor stability, replace the spikes with sandbags, which could require a separate purchase. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer.
Roof or no roof?
Roofless residential-grade bounce houses can be more economical and won’t prove a safety hazard as your kids are unlikely to bounce that high!
If using a roofless bounce house outdoors, unshaded PVC can become unpleasantly hot in direct sun, even on cool days. Erecting the bounce house in a shady area, or covering it with a canopy, can help solve this problem.
Will you need a tarp?
If you’re putting a bounce house outdoors, it’s wise to lay down a tarp that’s at least a foot larger than the house in all directions. This will protect the underside of your inflatable while providing kids with a place to stash their shoes and keep their socks clean from occasional muddy ground.
Where to store it?
Most inflatables can roll up surprisingly small once deflated (pro tip: a reversible blower can make this easier than trying to squeeze every air pocket out by hand).
Prepare a dry, cool area to keep the inflatable when not being used. This will extend its fabric life considerably. If it includes a ball pit, remember to consider ball storage as well.
Our picks of the best bounce houses.
The Blast Zone Magic Castle (check price on Amazon) inflatable bouncer features safety netting on all four sides, so there will be no kids trying to use this to launch themselves across the room. The manufacturer doesn’t recommend this house for kids over 8 yrs.
However, the construction of this house is tough enough to accommodate adult bouncers, so no matter how crazy your kids are, you can expect years of use out of this bounce house.
While this isn’t the biggest house on our list, the convenient design, combined with durability, color, and fun, make this our Editor’s Choice.
What we love
- Doesn’t take up much room; easy to store; well made and durable
- Small size makes it less suitable for older kids or large parties; no roof
If you like the Ball Pit Bopper but it’s too small for your purposes, look no further. The Blast Zone Sidekick (check price on Amazon) features a combination bounce house and inflatable ball pit, only much larger — 14′ x 14′ x 7.5′.
With this extra space, the Sidekick can accommodate six kids at once — four in the bounce area and two in the ball pit. The Sidekick is a colorful, eye-catching addition to any backyard or, if your house is big enough, a playroom.
Like the Inflatable HQ house above, it features a commercial-grade PVC bounce floor, while the remainder of the framework is made of lighter material. And, like the My Bouncer Little Castle, it includes full safety netting and a ball hoop in the bounce area.
This is not a cheap set, even before you factor in the cost of the balls, but is a high-quality product that will bring years of fun and pay for itself several times over. Accordingly, this is our Upgrade Choice.
What we love
- Provides entertainment for lots of kids simultaneously
- No roof and, yes, the balls will cost you extra. Expect to buy about 1,000 balls (depending on size) to fill the pit to a playable depth
Best budget buy
From the Hummer of bounce houses, we go to the Mini Cooper. Measuring in at 12′ x 9′ x 4′, the Little Tikes Inflatable Jump ‘n Slide (check price on Amazon) is designed for smaller kids. It can hold up to 3 children (up to 250 lbs.) and grownups thinking of trying it out should forget it!
However, for small kids who want a bounce house of their own, this is a fun starter. It includes meshing on three sides to keep kids contained, as well as mesh side pockets for holding shoes, snacks, etc. The small footprint makes it easy to find room for, and its lightweight construction means you can take it anywhere.
It probably will not be as durable as some of the other houses on this list, but will still provide your kids with hours of fun at an extremely low cost, so we nominate this as our Best Budget Buy.
What we love
- The perfect size for smaller kids to have fun with. Lightweight, convenient and inexpensive.
- They may outgrow it faster than you expect
Best bounce house for older kids
While the Blast Zone Big Ol Bouncer (check price on Walmart) is also suitable for indoor use (7′ tall), its 12′ x 15′ footprint might make it more difficult to fit inside the average home.
However, that space means that 5 or 6 kids can play in it all together (weight capacity: 600 lbs.) This makes it an excellent choice for parties and sleepovers. Like the Magic Castle, the Big Ol Bouncer includes safety nets on all four sides and comes with a blower that inflates the bouncer in minutes.
When deflated, it’s still easy to roll up, store, and transport so can be a fun addition to picnics, cookouts, and other outings. Note that this bouncer has no roof, so be careful with it on hot days. Based on its size and durability, we’re naming this our Best Bounce House for Older Kids.
What we love
- Tough construction -- plenty of space -- easy to set up and dismantle
- Without roof
Best commercial grade bounce house
If the Big Ol Bouncer isn’t enough for you, then it’s time to go extra big with the Inflatable Jumper Castle Commercial Bounce House (check price on Amazon) a massive 13′ x 13′ x 14′, fully-enclosed bounce castle.
Unless you have a big family or enjoy hosting lots of parties, this pick may seem over-the-top. On the other hand, it’s an excellent choice for adding fun to school, church, or block parties, or other large social events.
Despite its name, this isn’t a completely commercial-grade product. The base and slide are heavy-duty PVC, but the remainder of the castle is made with lighter, sturdy material.
It easily holds a dozen kids at a time, though older (12+) kids may challenge its containment abilities. It also includes a corner-mounted basketball hoop, though you’ll have to supply your own ball.
Even if it isn’t as solidly made as a rental house would be, this bounce house is our Best Commercial Grade Bounce House because it’s the closest to commercial grade that most families can afford.
What we love
- All the space you’re going to need unless you have an army of kids to entertain
- Ouch, your wallet! And, ouch, your back, when it comes time to deflate and move it
Best princess castle bounce house
If your daughter is a part of the princess-industrial complex, the Blast Zone Princess Dreamland (check price on Amazon) will be just the bounce house she wants.
This castle is large enough (8.5′ x 11′ x 8′) to accommodate three kids, and reasonably sized enough for indoor or outdoor play. Is easily portable when deflated.
Like the other Blast Zone products on this list, the Princess Dreamland Castle is both comfortable and solidly constructed, with all-round safety netting. It features fun castle styling and princess decorations, making it useful for pretend play and tea parties as well as simply bouncing.
This attractive design makes the Princess Dreamland Castle our Best Castle Bounce House.
What we love
- A simple, fun little bounce castle that girls will love
- Not for people with an allergy to pink; without roof
Best bounce house for toddlers
The My Bouncer Little Castle Bounce House (check price on Amazon) is almost exactly the same as the Ball Pit Bopper listed above — a small (118″ x 78″ x 72″) indoor combo ball pit and bounce house with just enough space for a couple of kids.
However, we’re calling this one our Best Bounce House for Toddlers based on a simple design difference. Where the Ball Pit Bopper has a slide entrance that can be difficult for toddlers to navigate, this model has a simple step for entering the bounce area.
While it does mean missing out on the fun of sliding, it’s easier for less coordinated little kids to manage. Kids as young as 2 yrs. will be able to get inside and play with minimal hand-holding required from you.
Like the Ball Pit Bopper, this is one of the best bounce houses for indoor areas because it’s easy to find room for, and the multiple play options make it sure to keep your kid occupied.
What we love
- For once, balls are included!
- Without roof
Best bounce house with slide
At 13′ x 12′ x 9′, the Bounceland Royal Palace Inflatable Bounce House (check price on eBay) is one of the biggest inflatables on this list, and undoubtedly the tallest. The extra height is to accommodate a ten-foot-long slide accessed through the bounce house.
The bouncing area can hold up to five kids (up to 500 lbs.) so there’s no shortage of play space. The castle has complete safety netting, and there’s also a net over the top of the slide in case kids get the bright idea to use it as a diving platform!
Another feature is that the slide has an extra layer of fabric attached to its surface, which can be removed and replaced when worn out. This ensures that when the slide wears out (and it will, with all the friction it will receive!) it doesn’t make the house redundant.
This thoughtful design, combined with a slide that no other house on this list can match, makes it a cinch to name this our Best Bounce House with Slide.
What we love
- Comes with a (removable) roof; a great alternative to a more expensive permanent playset
- Probably won’t fit indoors
And the winner is…
All the inflatables on this list have their strong points, and one or the other may, indeed, be the perfect bounce house for your kid.
However, all bells and whistles, balls and slides aside, there’s something to be said for the classic bounce castle. That’s why we’ve picked the Blast Zone Magic Castle (check price on Amazon) as our Editor’s Choice.
It’s well-made, has room for several kids, and is suitable for use both indoors and outdoors. A more complex inflatable may better suit your needs, but it’s hard to beat simplicity.