Sandboxes have been a much-loved children’s toy for decades – whether you had one in your backyard or at your school, most of us can remember the fun we had building sandcastles and generally making a mess at play time! They may have been around for years, but this very traditional toy remains as popular ever with kids (and even parents are beginning to take an interest in ‘mini’ sandboxes for the relaxation benefits!).
If you’re looking for the perfect sandbox for your kids to play in, cute styles like the Activity Sandbox by KidKraft are a good way to go. As well as being made of tough yet stylish wood that will fare well in the elements, this sandbox has a sturdy canopy to shade your little ones from the sun and rain, so they can play out for even longer.
It’s important that children’s sandboxes have enough features to keep them entertained, but most essential of all – it should give them a safe place to play in time after time. Thankfully, we’ve made a little easier for you to decide on the best overall sandbox for your kids with this handy guide. We’ll take a look at everything from maintenance to safety and later on, we’ll review several sandboxes before picking the best one for the job.
- Activity Sandbox with Canopy
- Costzon Kids Foldable Cabana Sandbox with 2 Convertible Benches & 1 Piece Black Non-Woven Fabric Cloth (55-Inch with Canopy)
- KidKraft Pirate Sandboat
- Tierra Garden G31001 Large Children’s Wooden Sandbox With Roof
- CREATIVE CEDAR DESIGNS Octagon Wooden Sandbox
- Best Choice Products 47x47in Kids Large Square Wooden Outdoor Play Cedar Sandbox w/ Sand Screen, 2 Foldable Bench Seats – Brown
- Badger Basket Covered Convertible Cedar Sandbox with Canopy and Bench Seats
- KidKraft Wooden Backyard Sandbox with Built-in Corner Seating and Mesh Cover – Honey
- KidKraft 00 Cabana Sandbox, Oatmeal and White Stripes
- Naomi Home Kids Canopy Cedar Sandbox with Benches
- Step2 Crabbie Sandbox
- Executive Sandbox – A Day at the Beach
- Step2 Play and Store Sandbox With Cover
- Step2 Naturally Playful Sand & Water Activity Center | Kids Sand & Water Table with Umbrella
- Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox
- Little Tikes Turtle Sandbox
- BrookStone Sand Box 9.5″ x 9.5
17 Best Sandbox Reviews
This super sized Activity Sandbox by KidKraft is perfect for families with multiple kids or for whenever your kids like to bring a friend over for a play date. With the interior sand pit measuring a generous 46.5 by 43.5 inches, siblings can enjoy hours of comfortable play without any elbow-shoving or complaints since there’s plenty of space. One of the sandbox panels features two plastic bins for your little ones to experiment with sand and water to their heart’s content and perfect their sand sculpture skills! Each of the four panels make for a comfy resting place for your kids and one side even features rope handles to help little kids get safely in and out of the sand pit.
These reinforced wooden panels certainly offer incredible protection against the elements too – in fact, some customers remarked that their Activity Sandbox was still standing strong and unharmed after a hurricane! The other great safety feature is of course is the cute striped canopy to keep your kids shaded from the sun. This sandbox may not be able to compete with the longevity of higher-priced styles, but for the cost, this is an incredible value sandbox in many ways.
- Large size, perfect for multiple children
- Holds up well in extreme weather
- Attractive canopy shade
- Easy step-by-step assembly instructions
- Sand may get in between the tarp and the wood
This Costzon Foldable Cabana sandbox is a versatile all in one design and is sure to be a hit with your kids and their friends when they come on play dates. When fully set up, the Costzon Cabana wooden covers open up to create two spacious and comfortable bench seats – so no more crowding for youngsters who may have to share with siblings or the neighbor kids! And since each bench seat has an impressive weight capacity of 200 lbs, even Mom and Dad can join in without it collapsing!Not only is this sandbox well designed in terms of space, but the premium quality fir wood construction will see you through many seasons of harsh weather without warping or showing other heavy signs of wear. The sandbox itself is also coated in non-toxic paint to keep your little ones safe. We also love that the floor of the sand pit is bottomless so you can adjust the sand depth to your liking – the bottomless base also allows water to drain moisture and rainwater through. All we’d suggest to improve the Costzon is that the included canopy was a little larger – at 55 inches, it offers decent shade, but it is small enough that a group of kids could be at risk of sun exposure.
- Heavy duty fir wood construction
- Cover folds into seating
- Coated with non-toxic paint
- Quick and simple to assemble
- Cute UV protection canopy
- Canopy could be bigger
What child doesn’t love to pretend they are a pirate at one time or another? Well now they can while playing in their sandbox if they get this cute pirate ‘sandboat’ from KidKraft. This adorable little pirate ship sandboat will have your little boy or girl believe they’re sailing the treacherous seven seas in their backyard! Your little ones can take turns steering the ship out of harm’s way while the other crew member can keep a lookout for enemies at the bow (whilst making the occasional sand castle).Those are all the reasons your kids will love their KidKraft sandboat, now how about Mom and Dad? Well for starters, this sandboat is made from quality weather-resistant wood and a protective canopy shade to keep your kids safe on sunny days in the sand pit.The sandboat also comes with a protective mesh cover that snaps easily into place over the sand pit and the bench seats are removable to let you store all your kids sand toys and buried treasure! This is a little on the pricier side, but owing to the fun detailed pirate theme and spacious designs, this would make a great sandbox to upgrade to once your kids have outgrown a smaller, baby-ish looking sandbox.
- Fun pirate theme
- Accommodates multiple kids
- Protective canopy shade
- Mesh sand pit cover included
- Tricky to assemble
This Tierra Garden wooden sandbox is a tad pricey compared to some of its competitors, but if you’re looking for a stylish minimalist design sandbox that won’t overwhelm a small backyard – and that your kids will still love – then this could be ideal for you. The 56 by 56 inch dimensions and wide panel edges make this a comfortable and decently sized sandbox for up to 2 children at a time, and though small, this is made from very sturdy stuff.The sandbox frame itself is made from an ultra durable carbon neutral wood construction which ensures a long-lasting waterproof design. The care put into designing the included canopy may be enough to justify its relatively high price tag. Not only is this Tierra Garden vinyl awning made with the highest available UV rating (90) to ensure your kids are well protected on hot summer days, but the vinyl roof itself acts as both a protective canopy and the sand pit lid when you lower it by a crank pulley system. A pricey but attractive and impressive sandbox unit.
- Vinyl awning has highest possible UV protection
- Roof retracts downward to double up as sand pit lid
- Tough and weather-resistant carbon neutral wood
- Sandbox is made from 100% recyclable materials
- Quite expensive
Offering something a little different to set up in your backyard is this attractive Octagon Wooden sandbox by CREATIVE CEDAR DESIGNS. The unique Octagon shaped sandbox has a stylish yet timeless feel to it and offers a spacious, no nonsense sand pit for multiple kids to enjoy. Made from tough cedar wood, this sandbox will see you through many years of harsh weather and won’t show signs of wear anytime soon thanks to its high quality construction. Speaking of harsh weather, the tarp top cover that is included with this sandbox is unfortunately pretty flimsy and won’t be too reliable during heavy winds.Due to its unique octagonal shape, it may be tricky to find a solid cover to fit this sandbox in lieu of the ineffective tarp cover, but a regular mesh covering or section of tarp should be sufficient for protecting the sand against pets and large pests. Unfortunately the ground liner that comes with this sandbox does not attach to the base, so this will need to be secured with wood glue or a staple gun to prevent leaks
- Easy assembly
- Durable cedar wood construction
- Attractive design
- Flimsy tarp cover, hard to attach
- Ground liner doesn’t attach to sandbox
Very similar in its design to the Badger Basket sandbox as reviewed below (only without the canopy), this Best Choice sandbox features foldable benches that also double up as the sand pit covering once it’s not in use. This is a very helpful feature for the budget price tag, especially considering more expensive sandbox styles on the market only provide a mesh covering for the sand. At 47 by 47 inches, this is a really spacious sandbox for siblings and friends to share comfortably – and thanks to the super sturdy 200 lbs weight capacity, parents can join in the sandcastle making too with no risk of it breaking!
Not only is the attractive cedar wood construction easy on the eye, it also does a pretty good job at staying shielded from the elements. Thanks to its heat-treated weather-resistant constriction, this cheap but super durable sandbox frame won’t warp on you anytime soon and should last for many play times to come. A particularly nifty feature is the sand screen built into the base which will help keep the sand dry in the box whilst draining out any moisture into the ground – perfect for preventing wet sand clumps that can harbor mold and other contaminants.
- Heat-treated cedar wood for weather protection
- Foldable bench seats that convert into cover
- Sand screen bottom helps drain out moisture
- 200 lb weight capacity to hold adults and kids
- Poor assembly instructions
This ultra versatile sandbox design by Badger Basket is brimming with features that are lacking in some of the more expensive sandbox styles out there. Let’s start with the cool main feature as hinted at in its name – this is a ‘convertible’ sandbox, and just like a convertible car, you can take the top cover down whenever you need to. The canopy is attached to the top of the frame by Velcro and can be easily removed on cool spring days or kept on when your little ones need protecting against the sun’s harsh rays.The next cool feature that makes this sandbox truly convertible is the fact that the bench seating actually folds back down to form the sandbox cover when not in use, so your sand pit will stay protected by solid wood instead of a basic mesh tarp. If this wasn’t impressive enough, this Badger Basket Cedar sandbox quite literally has a bottomless pit, allowing you to customize the depth of your sand pit so you can keep it at a safe, shallow depth for toddlers or add more layers for older kids who want to play at treasure hunting! For a mid-price sandbox, we’re really impressed with the array of versatile features on show.
- Convertible, removable canopy
- Bench seating folds away to protect sand
- bottomless design makes
- Waterproof canopy cover
- Hinges may need replacing after harsh weather seasons
Your little ones can have hours of fun playing in this generously sized sandbox from KidKraft. The sheer size of this one (59 by 59 inches) and the gorgeous honey toned wood design makes this budget option sandbox look far more expensive than it actually is. Retailing at around half the price of similar sandboxes on the market, this KidKraft backyard sandbox is amazing value for money for many reasons.First off, it is made from super durable reinforced wood panels to ensure this sandbox won’t become warped and weather-damaged after repeated use and a an overall robust construction that will ensure this sandbox lasts a little longer than some of its fellow budget priced designs. While it lacks a solid cover for when you need to keep it safe in storage, it does come with a mesh cover to keep pets and other wandering animals from getting into the sand pit, but you will need to get a solid cover to protect the sand from rain which may risk mold and mildew forming. Overall though, we’re really impressed with this budget backyard sandbox!
- Great value budget option
- Includes protective mesh cover for sand
- Generous size for price
- Four corner seats built in
- Size may make it hard to find a solid cover
- Won’t last as long as pricier sandboxes
This cute circus-tent like Cabana Sandbox by KidKraft brings a spacious and protective sandbox for your kids (and their friends) to play in. The entrance wall is a roll down mesh panel and there are also two mesh windows sewn into the striped canvas walls so that you can still keep an eye on your little ones, even when they’re playing with the tent closed up.As cute as the beach hut design of this cabana sandbox is, the canvas walls were only really designed for shelter and so will not do a good job of keeping animals and pests out of the sandbox. If you’re concerned about sealing the sandbox tight so that critters can’t get in and contaminate the sand, you will unfortunately need to buy a sand cover separately, as this KidKraft cabana sandbox doesn’t include one. This is the only real downside though – for a sandbox with generous space in a cute vintage beach hut design that offers sun protection, this still makes for a great addition to your backyard.
- Very spacious (ideal for 2+ kids)
- Roof protects against UV rays
- Shady cabana design
- Roll-down mesh panel
- Made from weather-resistant wood
- No cover provided to protect the sand
- Animals/pests can still find their way in when closed
This Naomi Home Canopy sandbox has many good features going for it that you might not expect from the budget price tag. Right off the bat, it is constructed from super sturdy and weather-resistant cedar wood which has also been heat-treated and stained to provide a little extra protection from the elements (unfortunately, the same can’t be said for its included canopy, which we’ll get to later). Additionally, the hardware is rust-resistant and both the wood and metal finishes are non-toxic.Like many more expensive sandboxes on the list, the Naomi Home sandbox features the 2 in 1 foldable bench/cover feature which is always handy. As is to be expected for kids sandboxes at the lower end of the range, the canopy fabric is unfortunately not of the greatest quality we’ve seen on the market. Some customers have noted it becoming easily frayed after short use and that it doesn’t stay put. If this is your first kid’s sandbox and you don’t mind replacing the canopy, then this is a great starter sandbox. But be aware that this will not last you as long as some of its other budget-range rivals.
- Affordable option
- Durable construction
- Sand pit cover converts to benches
- Canopy feels cheap
- Quite small
This Step2 Crabbie sandbox is too adorable and all you could really ask for in a young child’s sandbox. Your little ones will love the bright red color and cute googly eyes on their Crabbie sand pit (and Mom and Dad will love how easy it is to maintain too!) Due to its plastic construction, cleaning this thing between uses and replacing old sand is super easy, and its molded shell lid will ensure you don’t have to clean too often since this will help keep dirt and rainwater out of your child’s sand pit.Though small, the Step2 Crabbie sandbox can hold up to 300lbs of sand and parents may be thankful for the small compact design after all, since unlike most other sandbox designs on this list, this won’t seem overbearing on your patio if you like to leave your lawn space free of clutter. We also love that the crab’s ‘claws’ form the 2 molded seats for your little ones to stay comfortable while they play. A great choice for their first ever sandbox.
- Cute and compact design
- Protective shell lid
- Easy to clean
- Simple to assemble
- 2 ‘claw’ seats for shared play
- Shell lid isn’t completely sealed when closed
For young kids (and big kids alike!), this tabletop Executive Sandbox brings all the fun and mess of a classic sandbox with a fraction of the maintenance. Admittedly, this may be too small and unsuitable for toddlers and little ones who still want to play about in full-sized sandbox, but for older kids and teens, this Day at the Beach compact sandbox is a great source of fun, not to mention an effective stress reliever too!Hats off to the Be Good Company who designed a toy that kids and grown-ups can enjoy equally, as many customers have reported this to be a success with their kids on boring rainy days and for helping kids and adults de-stress at school and in the workplace. This cute little desktop beach experience lets you sift through pristine pearl white sand and create a relaxing beach scene with the movable beach accessories. And for those who simply want to create a minimal Zen garden, there’s a rake included for just that purpose. This is a great little stress-relieving accessory/toy for kids and grown-ups!
- Quality hardwood sandbox
- Includes cute beach accessories to arrange
- Ultra fine pearl white sand
- Great as both a kid’s toy and adult stress reliever
- Some of the accessories feel cheap
Step2 always make their sandboxes and sand tables to the highest quality, and this Play and Store stone colored sandbox does not disappoint. Busy parents will be stoked to know that this thing comes fully assembled, so all that’s left for you to do is pour in the sand and watch your little explorer play sand castles to their heart’s content! While on the small side, the 4 corner seats means this can accommodate your child’s friends or siblings (assuming they are all between one and six years old, otherwise weight may be an issue).Because of its natural stone-like appearance – as opposed to the brightly colored kiddy styles of so many other sandboxes around – parents can get away with repurposing this as a cute outdoor planter once your kids have outgrown their sandbox phase. As the name Play and Store suggests, you could also use it for general storage throughout the year when it’s not in use as their sand pit, to keep small lawn toys and other accessories in over winter.
- Comes fully assembled
- 4 corner seats for comfy play
- Ample storage space when not in use
- Useful as outdoor planter after sandbox use
- Quite small
The table design of this sandbox – and the fact that it is super easy to clean – makes this an ideal sandbox to play both indoors and outdoors. Good news for Mom and Dad who will be left with a lot less mess, but also exciting news for your little ones who aren’t going to let a rainy day spoil their sand and water fun!Like so many of their products, The Step2 Naturally Sand and Water Activity Center boasts cool features that will keep your kids amused again and again. The table is split into two sections, one for sand and the other for water so your kids can take turns in each activity. The Step2 Naturally Playful comes with an 8 piece accessory kit to get them started, including buckets, boats and bridges and when they’re not making messy sand and water experiments, the secure close lid lets this double up as a desk. We love how easy this is to clean too – once play time is over, simply pull the plug at the base to drain the water (replacing old unsanitary sand is easier than ever thanks to this method too).
- Split activity center for sand and water
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
- Doubles up as desk when not in use
- Drain plug for easy cleaning and maintenance
- Much smaller than traditional sandboxes
This adorable Big Digger sandbox by Little Likes is perfect for the toddler in your life. Though a lot smaller than other sandbox tables on the list, this is packed with many fun accessories and features that will keep your little one amused every time they play. As the name suggests, the Big Digger sandbox allows your kid to play construction worker for the day by using the working excavator to pick up sand, move it and load it into the dump truck. Since there’s a lot to do on the construction site, the Big Digger sandbox is best played with others, so this would make a great gift for similarly aged siblings or on play dates with friends.To add to the experience for your little ones, this Little Tikes sandbox also comes with fun accessories like the dump truck, sand shovels and sifters and two cute little characters to put in the driver’s seat of the truck and digger. Cleverly, the dump track ramp also doubles up as the lid to keep the sand dry after each use.
- The excavator lets kids dig and move sand
- Includes many fun accessories
- Sandbox lid doubles up as truck ramp
- Ideal for toddlers
- Affordable option
- Sandbox is quite small
This Little Tikes take on the classic green turtle sandbox is something every toddler will love. Right out the gate, the bright green colors and cute turtle smile is so inviting (plus, the green will match perfectly with your backyard lawn!). Just like the turtle sandbox designs of years gone by, this Little Tikes design features the turtle’s shell that doubles up as a protective lid and a spacious sand pit that can hold up to 150 lbs worth of sand, so your own little tikes can enjoy digging for treasure!Unlike many of the wooden high paneled sandboxes, the walls of the Turtle Sandbox sit fairly low to the ground, meaning your little ones can still sit on the grass beside the sandbox and play comfortably without needing to be in the sand pit, For when they want to play inside the sandbox, the cute turtle’s two front flippers act as two seats for your kid to play with others. This may not be of the greatest quality, but if you’re on a tight budget, you can’t go wrong in making this your child’s first ever sandbox.
- Cute and classic design
- Holds up to 150 lbs of sand
- 2 molded seats for comfortable play
- Molded lid protects against rainwater and dirt
- Lid does not close securely on the box
The BrookStone desk top sandbox can make a great gift for kids and adults alike. This might appear to be aimed more at adults, but BrookStone themselves suggest an age range of 5 years and up for this 9.5 by 9.5 inch sandbox, so there’s no reason why your child can’t get creative and hone their cognitive skills by playing around with the cylindrical mold and shaping tool to create all sorts of sand art!Due to the small and simple nature of this desktop sandbox, young kids may not have the chance to get as messy and crazy as they’d like to with this one, but for the creativity and well-being benefits, this compact sand pit will make an awesome gift as they get older. Customer reviews have testified to both young and old falling in love with this portable and inexpensive sandbox, so whether you want to introduce your child to a mindful tech-free pastime or want to get your teen a unique desk top stress reliever for exam season, then the BrookStone sandbox will make an awesome gift.
- Compact tabletop design
- Comes with cylindrical mold and shaping tool
- Attractive polished natural wood box
- Endless creative potential
- Perfect mindfulness tool
- Sand isn’t included
Things to Consider Before Buy
Size – Kids sandboxes come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s ultimately up to you to decide what will be best suited to the size of your backyard and how many children will use it. Many of the classic styles of sandbox (such as the timeless green turtle design) are no bigger than a small paddling pool (perfect for 2 kids to share) but there are other larger styles such as sandboxes in the shape of pirate ships with masts and large canopies that are perfect for 3 kids or more, but could overwhelm a small backyard.
Material – Sandboxes are normally made from either a wooden or plastic construction, and both types can be long-lasting if you look for the right kinds. Many wooden sandboxes are made using outdoor weather-resistant wood and some feature reinforced panels, which can help them hold up well against the elements over time. Plastic sandboxes, meanwhile are more lightweight, making them easier to transport around the backyard, and they’re much easier to clean than wooden types. However, the color of plastic sandboxes can fade over the years and they will not be as durable in extreme weather.
Cover – Finding a sandbox with a protective cover is ideal for not only keeping the sand in good condition, but it can prevent pets from doing their business in it and contaminating the contents (after all, it can resemble one big litter tray to animals!). These covers either come in the form of a separate mesh covering or a solid shell-like cover – as seen with most of the plastic sandboxes on the market – that will keep the sand clean and dry for the next day.
Canopy – Sandboxes with a canopy included will help protect your child against the sun’s rays and will also keep them dry if they can’t help wanting to play a little longer once it starts to rain. Canopies also make the sandbox itself look more attractive, like having a vintage beach hut in your own backyard! Cheaper sandboxes may only have basic fabric canopies that offer little UV protection, so it’s always worth spending more to get a sandbox with a good quality canopy cover.
Built-in seats – As fun as sandbox play is for kiddies, hours spent standing and crouching over a sand pit will quickly wear them out and make play time a pain, which is why the best sandbox designs should have a space for them to sit down comfortably (and allow them to get even messier!). Sandbox seats are usually built into the construction in the form of molded grooves on the edge of plastic designs or wide edges on wooden sandboxes that act as bench seats.
Safety – As well as making sure you use the correct sand and that it is cleaned regularly (more on this below), there are safety factors to consider about the sandbox itself. With plastic sandboxes, for instance, it is important that these are made from certified non-toxic and non-chemical materials and equally, wooden sandboxes should be coated with non-toxic paints or treatments.
Once you have your child’s sandbox set up, it should be checked regularly for signs of splinters or loose nails in wooden boxes whilst plastic sandboxes should be checked for any cracks or sharp seams that could catch on your child’s clothes or skin. Most sandboxes in the mid to high price range are designed with child safety in mind, but it pays to be extra vigilant once you get their sandbox assembled and make sure it is well maintained.
Types of Sand
There’s a reason sandbox sand felt so smooth and immaculate when we were little – the sand used is specific for sandboxes. When it comes to filling your child’s sandbox, make sure you use ‘play-grade sand’ – unlike regular bagged sand from your local DIY store, play-grade sand will have been thoroughly cleaned and sifted through to make it safer for your children and kinder to their skin.
As smooth and refined as play-grade sand is, it will act like beach sand once you add water to it, allowing your kids to create sandcastles and other shapes easily. Bags of play-grade sand can be bought at your local garden center and online. Other types of sandbox sand can include:
Jurassic sand – no, this isn’t sand from the dinosaur age! Jurassic sand is a great choice for kids with allergies since they are dust and dye-free, making them perfectly safe for kids with asthma. The dye-free mixture also makes Jurassic sand an eco-friendly choice of filling for your sandbox.
You’ll spot Jurassic sand from its attractive terracotta shade – which is sure to make your kids sandcastles and sculptures will look extra fancy!
Kinetic sand – Kinetic sand has a squeezy consistency that can be molded into shape when pressed together, much like play dough. This type of sand may be more suitable for slightly older kids (ages 5 and above) who are keen to get more creative and artistic with the sand. Kinetic sand is free from gluten, wheat and casen and comes in a whole host of colors. Because of the nature and cost of Kinetic sand compared to regular play-grade or Jurassic sand, this may be more appropriate for filling a smaller sandbox, i.e. a tabletop box that your child can use indoors at their desk.
Can I Put Something Other Than Sand in a Sandbox?
Of course! Think back to the sandboxes you played in as a kid (like the classic green turtle styles), these were often either filled with sand or water. For more variety, you can also fill your child’s sandbox with pea gravel and rocks – this would be best suited to older children as they could construct little rock sculptures and waterfalls or pretend to dig for treasure!
Do Sandboxes Need to be Cleaned Regularly?
Sandboxes are never guaranteed to be 100% clean, but it’s a good rule of thumb to replace the sand at least once a year to keep them as sanitary as possible. Throughout the year, always check the sand for signs of pet feces or large clumps as mold can grow where moisture has found its way in. Cleaning the toys in your child’s sandbox regularly will also help to keep germs at bay. Make sure you find a sandbox with a cover, as this will help it stay fresher for longer!
Having sifted (excuse the pun) through all the above sandboxes, we’ve decided on the KidKraft Activity Sandbox with Canopy as the overall winner of the best children’s sandbox currently on the market. Not only do the generous dimensions of this low-cost sandbox make it outshine many of its competitors, but it is also far more durable than you might expect to see in this price range.
Not many homeowners would expect their kids sandbox to survive extreme weather conditions like hurricanes, but according to many happy customers online, this budget KidKraft sandbox did exactly that! So if you want a great quality sandbox that will stand the test of time, provide hours of fun and protect your kids with a pretty classic striped canopy shade, then this won’t disappoint.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare