Spend the Rest of Your Summer in the Best Inflatable Pools
We’ll be in the Moroccan-tile design.
Published Jul 17, 2021 1:00 AM
Oh Joy! founder and creative director—and our Summer issue’s cover star—Joy Cho loves a good inflatable pool: It’s an easy way for her kids to cool off during the hot summer months, not to mention more satisfying than cranking up the AC. For too long inflatable pools have been relegated to the realm of tacky backyard addition, but no more. (Just look at Minnidip’s sweet and swirly collaboration with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams for proof.) “There are so many great options these days, and they don’t have to be so kiddie-looking anymore,” says Cho. “I try to find something that feels not only fun for kids but has as chic a design as possible.”
We followed her lead and rounded up eight of our favorite design-forward pools to be enjoyed by all ages. Whether you’re splashing around with the family or sipping Aperol Spritzes with friends, the best inflatable pools trade in Popsicle-colored plastic for Moroccan tile–inspired diamonds and pink Art Deco scallops.
- Best for adults: The Blushing Palms Luxe Inflatable Pool, Minnidip
- Best for little kids: Savannah Pool, Liewood
- Best value: Crystal Blue Inflatable Pool, Intex
- Best pattern: Moroccan Dream Pool, Funboy
- Best understated design: Inflatable Pool, Mylle
- Best new release: Food52 x Kate Roebuck Swimming Pool, Mylle
- Best rectangular: Mandarin Swim Center Family Pool, Intex
- Best (pool) party: Glitter Pool, Sunnylife
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
Material: Durable enough to withstand hours of play without leaking, every pool on this list is made from some form of soft PVC, also known as vinyl, which allows them to easily blow up (ideally with an air pump, but a hair dryer works in a pinch), deflate, and fold away. This level of flexibility means the material isn’t as tough as your typical in-ground liner—it’s why grass makes for the best base—so be mindful of pointy toys and other sharp objects like pet claws, especially while storing during the colder months.
Safety: Whether you’re looking to entertain the kids for a few hours or catch some rays with friends, safety should always come first. Young children can drown in less than 2 inches of water, so even the shallowest inflatable pools present hazards. “Pools of any size should never be left unattended,” says Blake Barrett, cofounder of Funboy. That’s why the company attaches a water-watcher tag to every inflation plug. “We encourage everyone to wear it when they’re with their kids,” he adds. “It’s a friendly reminder to hang from your wrist or neck.”
Filtration and drainage: Unlike a permanent above- or in-ground pool, a standard inflatable doesn’t come with a filtration system, so there’s no need to worry about routine maintenance or adding chlorine. Instead, just fill it up with fresh water each time you use it, and don’t let it sit after you’ve finished splashing (that’s where things can get a little murky). “You’re supposed to drain a kiddie pool after every use,” stresses Barrett, both to prevent bacterial buildup and to practice safe water play. “You never want to leave standing water in your yard where a kid could wander out and jump in unattended,” he adds.
Our Top Picks
Best for Adults: The Blushing Palms Luxe Inflatable Pool, Minnidip
Channel your inner Botticelli babe with this pale pink clamshell, which will no doubt match the glass of rosé in your hand. Though a touch smaller than other adult-friendly finds on this list, the Blushing Palms is perfect for grown-up get-togethers because you can really lean into its depth-defying 21-inch sides. “It’s really big and feels way more substantial than any inflatable pool I’ve come across,” shares Cat Dash, Domino’s go-to market insider. “Plus its minimal design and fun scalloped edge makes it seem more special than a standard-issue kiddie pool.”
Best for Little Kids: Savannah Pool, Liewood
This pool by Liewood features the shortest sides on this list at less than 10 inches, keeping water height at an absolute minimum and ensuring safe splashing for the youngest of swimmers. The simple cabana stripes—you can choose from mustard, Tuscany rose, and sea blue—look like something you’d find at a chic Hamptons cocktail party, but the pool’s 59-inch diameter means adults would likely have to sit uncomfortably with their legs crossed in order to fit. Save this Scandi-inspired inflatable for the toddlers in your life.
Best Value: Crystal Blue Inflatable Pool, Intex
Guaranteed to entertain your kids for as long as a new Lego set, this backyard basic provides instant relief from the heat in a classic ocean hue that delivers quintessential pool vibes. And with a teeny 6.5-inch water depth, all you need is a strong pair of lungs to fully inflate it. Though it costs just under $12, it’s sure to outlive pricier models thanks to the included repair patch. But don’t take our word for it—10,000-plus positive reviews are nothing to scoff at.
Best Pattern: Moroccan Dream Kiddie Pool, Funboy
Set up Funboy’s latest in a shady corner of your backyard and you’ll feel as though you’ve stumbled upon your own private oasis. With its diamond-patterned exterior, mosaic-inspired floor lining, and surprise palm motif, the Moroccan Dream transports you to the courtyard of a stylish Marrakech riad—no passport required. Matching towels, floats, and chairs complete the scene, and a 24-hour-tested inflation means you never have to worry about that flat-air-mattress feeling at the end of the day.
Best Understated Design: Inflatable Pool, Mylle
If you’re looking to simulate the Museum of Modern Art in all aspects of your life, then this inflatable icon—the brainchild of fashion stylist Kristin Myllenbeck—is for you. From terrazzo to watercolor to squiggly-lined prints, these modern updates in a phthalate-, BPA-, and lead-free material up the aesthetic ante no matter where they pop up. (And pop up they do courtesy of a foldable matching envelope that snaps closed for puncture-proof protection on the go.)
Best New Release: Food52 x Kate Roebuck Swimming Pool, Mylle
Like the ubiquitous banana and monstera leaf prints before them, Chattanooga, Tennessee–based artist Kate Roebuck’s sea branches feel like a visual trip to the tropics. The collaboration between Food52 and inflatables darling Mylle is the priciest pool on our list for good reason: The pools are composed of a high-quality, heavyweight vinyl in a swimmingly large 65-inch diameter.
Best Rectangular: Mandarin Swim Center Family Pool, Intex
Cool as a Creamsicle—but without the sticky mess—Intex’s mandarin orange rectangular pool screams “summer.” At 9 feet long by 58 inches wide, it’s large enough to accommodate the whole family but comes with a price tag you’d expect for something half its size. And thanks to the sturdy 13-gauge vinyl walls, there’s a good chance you won’t ever need the complementary repair patch.
Best (Pool) Party: Glitter Pool, Sunnylife
When the mercury rises, there’s no better backdrop for the glitterati in your life than this sparkly disco ball of a pool with a built-in confetti drop. At roughly 5 feet in diameter and with a three-ring height of 15 inches, it fits a few adults snugly (or kids ages 6 and up), so no one feels left out of the cold. Really want to make a statement? The pool is part of a matching line that includes an inflatable chaise, noodle, and floats to turn your backyard bash into the ultimate Insta-fever dream.
How can I tell what size pool I need?
Don’t let the “kiddie” label confuse you. Though generally no bigger than 6 feet in diameter, most inflatable pools are roomy enough to fit two lounging adults. “I’m over 6 feet tall and can sit in there comfortably with my wife,” says Barrett of Funboy’s 66-inch pools. He notes that identifying your ideal dimensions depends on how many people plan to hang out in the pool at the same time or how old your children are. Anything smaller than 4 feet in diameter or shorter than 10 inches is probably best left to the kids.
What’s the deepest inflatable pool available?
Most inflatable pools are pretty shallow, with depths no greater than 1 foot. If you’re on the lookout for something bigger than a footbath, pay attention to the number of rings: The greater the side height, the more you can fill it. Two- and three-ring pools make up our list, but there are four-ring pools available as well.
What are some creative ways I can use an inflatable pool, beyond filling it with water?
Team Domino has swapped coolers for inflatables filled with ice and canned wine for office parties, but we really love Cho’s clever take on transforming her kids’ pool into a mini ball pit. “I then added my children’s Christmas presents,” she says. “They loved seeing the gifts in a fun way.”
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