The Best Sandboxes for Kids in 2022

A child’s sandbox is a place where imagination and motor skills develop, where kids can play with friends and spend hours of their childhood getting their hands dirty and making memories.

By Kat Hodgins and Tiffany Lewis | Updated Dec 20, 2021 11:20 AM

BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

The Best Sandbox

Photo: amazon.com

The best sandbox is, first and foremost, one that kids gravitate toward during playtime. A quality sandbox must be able to withstand wear, so look for a sandbox frame that’s made of wood or tough plastic.

Outdoor sandboxes also need a cover in order to keep out animals, insects, moisture, and outdoor materials. Some outdoor sandboxes have no bottom; this helps with drainage and allows you to adjust the sand depth.

Some sandboxes also require a canopy for sun protection if your yard has a lot of UV exposure. This list shares what you need to know to choose the best sandbox for kids for long-lasting backyard play.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Creative Cedar Designs Octagon Wooden Sand box
  2. BEST BUDGET: Step2 Play and Store Sandbox With Cover
  3. BEST VALUE: Best Choice Products Kids Large Wooden Sandbox
  4. BEST CANOPY: KidKraft Outdoor Covered Wooden Sandbox
  5. BEST WITH WATER: Step2 CASCADING COVE SAND & WATER TABLE
  6. BEST WITH KINETIC SAND: ​​CoolSand 3D Sandbox – Dino Discovery Edition
  7. BEST INTERACTIVE: KidKraft Wooden Pirate Sandbox with Canopy
The Best Sandbox Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Sandbox for Kids

Your child’s age, the number of children using it, the sandbox’s location, accessories, features, type, and material are all determining factors in picking the right sandbox for you and your child.

Type

Sandboxes come in different shapes and styles:

  • Standard outdoor sandboxes or sit-in sandboxes are square and allow your child to play inside the box as though they were at the beach. Some have room for children to sit on the sides or on the corners.
  • Sandboxes with canopies protect children from the sun, providing shade and preventing sunburns.
  • Sand tables encourage standing instead of sitting. Children stand beside the table and play. These sandboxes are generally made smaller than other boxes.
  • Kinetic sandboxes have kinetic sand instead of regular sand. It has a silky feel, and children can mold the sand into any conceivable shape. The sand comes coated in silicone oil and is less messy than regular sand. It also comes in different colors for even more imaginative play.
  • Specialty sandboxes shaped like animals, pirate ships, fruits, flowers, and more add more fun to the overall experience. Children get to pick their favorite form and possibly color to personalize it to their tastes.

Size and Capacity

Before purchasing a sandbox, it’s vital to know where in the yard or inside the house the sandbox will take up space and how much room that location allows. A large yard can likely accommodate an oversize sandbox fit for multiple children, while a sand table might make an ideal selection for inside a home or apartment.

Once you know how much room you have to play with and the approximate size of the sandbox, you also need to consider the amount of sand required to fill the box. You can use an online calculator, the product information for the sandbox, or you can contact the manufacturer if you’re still unsure.

Material

Sandboxes come in two primary materials: wood and plastic.

Cedar and fir make durable, water-resistant choices for wood sandboxes, especially when buying something for the outdoors. Because most people keep wood sandboxes outside all year round, adding a coat of sealant at the end of the year can help extend the life of the sandbox. One downfall of a wood sandbox is that it’s pricier than a plastic one.

A plastic sandbox tends to weigh less, making it easier to move and requiring less work to clean—you can simply wipe it down with a damp cloth. One downfall of plastic is that it can get hot to the touch on sunnier days, and some colors may fade over time. On the plus side, they’re usually less expensive than wood sandboxes.

Additional Features

Some sandboxes come with extras to add to playtime and protect the sand and your children.

  • Sand toys just make everything more fun. Shovels, buckets, rakes, animal shapes, cars, etc., provide different activities and help develop fine motor skills. Kids can also use these toys to combine water play with sand play.
  • Lids and covers help keep your child protected by preventing animals, debris, and moisture from getting in when playtime is over.
  • Ground liners prevent things from getting into the sand from below the sandbox—especially if the frame is installed directly on the grass or dirt. Creepy crawlers, soil, weeds and grass, and other undesirables can make their way up the sand if you don’t lay something below the sand first.
  • Bench seating opens up the sandbox for more kids to play. Some can sit on the bench, and some can sit in the sandbox. The benches are also comfortable for adults who want to join in the fun.

Our Top Picks

The following sandboxes were selected according to the criteria detailed above. They include products in a variety of categories, so you should be able to find the best sandbox for your home and child.

Best Overall

The Best Sandbox Option: Creative Cedar Designs Octagon Wooden Sand box
Photo: amazon.com

For homes with ample space in the yard, this octagon-shaped, stained cedar sandbox is a simple design that ages well. Measuring 84 inches by 78 inches by 9 inches, this sandbox is large enough for several kids to play in, with wide board seating on four of the sides, where kids can hang out or parents can supervise comfortably.

With a capacity of up to 800 pounds of sand, this outdoor sandbox gives children a sturdy and safe place to play for many years. This bottomless sandbox comes with 0.75-inch timber panels, hardware for assembly, a ground liner (if needed), and a protective cover. Constructed from eco-friendly polyethylene, the sandbox cover goes on quickly when playtime is over to keep moisture and animals out.

Product Specs

  • Suggested Age Range: 18+ months
  • Dimensions: 84 by 78 by 9 inches
  • Capacity: 800 pounds of sand
  • Cover Included: Yes

Pros

  • Attractive octagon design
  • Durable, water-resistant cedar
  • Board seating on all four sides
  • Ground liner included

Cons

  • Assembly required
  • Difficult to move once installed

Best Budget

The Best Sandbox for Kids Step2 Play and Store
Photo: amazon.com

Nothing in the rule book says a sandbox needs to break the bank. This affordable sandbox by Step2 proves it. With four rotomolded seats, a group of little ones can sit at the corners of the box for hours of fun. Measuring 28 by 42 by 11 inches, this compact sandbox is ideal for kids ages 2 to 5.

The plastic box has a neutral color palette and won’t look like an eyesore in the yard. An included cover keeps the sand safe from unwanted debris when playtime is over. The budget-friendly Step2 holds up to 200 pounds of sand, and there’s no assembly required. This play setup weighs only 13 pounds (without sand), so it’s easy to move around and store in the off season.

Product Specs

  • Suggested Age Range: 2 to 5 years
  • Dimensions: 28 by 42 by 11 inches
  • Capacity: 200 pounds of sand
  • Cover Included: Yes

Pros

  • Affordable sandbox for younger kids
  • Four built-in seats
  • Lightweight at 13 pounds
  • No assembly required

Cons

  • Limited size

Best Value

The Best Sandboxes for Kid Option: Best Choice Products Kids Large Wooden Sandbox
Photo: amazon.com

For those who want to find their inner child and get down and dirty with their kids, this Best Choice Products large cedar sandbox provides loads of room for everyone. The open sandbox measures 47.25 inches long by 49 inches wide by 8.5 inches high. It has two benches on either side that hold up to four children or two adults.

When not in use, the benches double as a cover, folding down to protect the sand from animals, debris, and the weather. Users can place the liner in the bottomless design before adding the sand (not included) to ensure nothing unwanted makes its way up to the top.

The heat-treated cedar wood provides a durable solution that lasts for years. The sandbox holds a total of 200 pounds of sand and requires assembly.

Product Specs

  • Suggested Age Range: 3+ years
  • Dimensions: 47.25 by 47 by 8.5 inches (folded); 47.25 by 49 by 8.5 inches (open)
  • Capacity: 200 pounds of sand
  • Cover Included: Yes

Pros

  • Cover features folding seats
  • Seating for two adults or four children
  • Durable, heat-treated cedar

Cons

  • Assembly required
  • Once installed, it’s not easily moved

Best Canopy

The Best Sandbox Option: KidKraft Activity Sandbox with Canopy
Photo: amazon.com

This bottomless wooden sandbox by KidKraft makes playtime safe, fun, and organized for little ones 24 months and up. A large, striped canvas canopy covers the entire sandpit, providing shade for the sensitive skin of little diggers and sculptors.

The canopy stands up to rain but should be taken down if strong winds occur. A play area of 64.25 inches by 60.25 inches by 51 inches is large enough to host several explorers. Two built-in plastic bins can hold toys, water, sand, or other belongings. When playtime ends, use the included mesh cover to protect the sandbox so it’s clean and ready for next time.

The weather-treated wood material keeps the structure standing securely for a long time. For kids who want to stick to the sidelines, the box offers comfortable wide board seating. An enjoyable place to play and hang out, this sandbox is a fun addition to the backyard.

Product Specs

  • Suggested Age Range: 2 to 8 years
  • Dimensions: 64.25 by 60.25 by 51 inches
  • Capacity: Not specified
  • Cover Included: No

Pros

  • Attractive cabana-style sandbox
  • Canopy protects from the sun
  • Features water and sand play
  • Liner included

Cons

  • Assembly required
  • Once installed, it’s not easily moved

Best with Water

The Best Sandboxes for Kid Option: Step2 CASCADING COVE SAND & WATER TABLE
Photo: walmart.com

This sand and water table by Step2 promotes all sorts of imaginative play: pirate ships and buried treasure, castles, royalty, and voyages on the ocean. No matter what kids come up with, they’ll enjoy hours of sensory play fun.

The activity table comes with a sand cover to protect the water and sand from unwanted debris and a 42-inch umbrella that shades kids from the sun. This playstation weighs only 21.75 pounds and can be moved easily around the deck or patio. With the included drainage hole, removing the sand and water is a simple process.

The weather-resistant plastic table comes in eight pieces and requires assembly. It measures 49 inches high to the top of the umbrella, 21 inches high to the top of the table, 43 inches long, and 24 inches wide.

Product Specs

  • Suggested Age Range: 1.5+ years
  • Dimensions: 21 by 43 by 24 inches
  • Capacity: 10 pounds of sand and 3 gallons of water
  • Cover Included: Yes

Pros

  • Umbrella protects kids from the sun
  • Features water and sand stations
  • Weather-resistant plastic
  • Lightweight at 21.75 pounds
  • Includes drain plug

Cons

  • Assembly required

Best with Kinetic Sand

The Best Sandboxes for Kid Option: CoolSand 3D Sandbox - Dino Discovery Edition
Photo: amazon.com

Bring the “Age of Dinosaurs” to life with this 3D sandbox by CoolSand. The sandbox uses kinetic sand so kids can mold and stretch the sand into any shape they can imagine. And the sand stays stuck to itself—no more sand in their hair, on their clothes, or on the floor. It’s like bringing the beach inside but without the mess.

The sandbox comes with 1.1 pounds of kinetic sand. It also has 10 molds for making dinosaur shapes and dinosaur figures they can use to play in the sand. This model measures 9.5 inches high by 11 inches wide by 2 inches high and is made from the packaging.

Product Specs

  • Suggested Age Range: 3+ years
  • Dimensions: 9.5 by 11 by 2 inches
  • Capacity: Includes 1.1 pounds of sand
  • Cover Included: No

Pros

  • Fun dinosaur theme
  • Includes sand, molds, and dinosaur figures
  • Mess-free; kinetic sand sticks to itself
  • Sand doesn’t dry out or harden

Cons

  • Unclear how durable the box is
  • Limited size

Best Interactive

The Best Sandboxes for Kid Option: KidKraft Wooden Pirate Sandbox with Canopy
Photo: amazon.com

The KidKraft Pirate Sandbox inspires children to play pretend and imagine themselves as pirates (flag and ship wheel included!). The front of the ship hosts the bottomless sandbox, which holds 300 pounds of sand and comes with a clear plastic liner that’s placed under the sand during assembly.

Conveniently shaded by a canopy made to look like the ship’s sail, the design helps protect kids from the sun. The sandbox measures 78.5 inches by 44.25 inches by 59.5 inches and is roomy enough for multiple little pirates to play inside. Constructed from weather-resistant Sanmu wood, this KidKraft sandbox can last for years.

When not in the sandbox, children can hang out on the bench seating or lift the benches to retrieve toys from the built-in storage areas. When playtime ends, a mesh cover snaps over the sandbox, keeping it clean until next time.

Product Specs

  • Suggested Age Range: 3 to 8 years
  • Dimensions: 78.5 by 44.25 by 59.5 inches
  • Capacity: 300 pounds of sand
  • Cover Included: Yes

Pros

  • Engaging pirate ship design
  • Durable, weather-resistant wood
  • Bench stores toys
  • Canopy included

Cons

  • Assembly required
  • Once installed, it’s not easily moved

Our Verdict

For those looking for a sandbox that allows children to come together for a playdate, the Creative Cedar Designs Octagon sandbox makes an excellent choice. The 500 pounds of sand, benches, and spacious design provide enough room for playtime with friends. For a more budget-friendly option geared toward younger kids, consider the Step2 Play and Store sandbox for kids ages 2 to 5.

How We Chose the Best Sandboxes for Kids

These recommendations for the best sandboxes cover various sandboxes made of different materials, covering various themes, using alternative sand, and made for kids of all ages. The list of products curated was developed from extensive product research.

Our favorite models are those that allow for imaginations to run wild using both water and sand play to develop fine motor skills and creativity. And don’t forget the social play: Sandboxes big enough for siblings and friends to come together at playtime. And a kids’ sandbox with a cover is always ideal. Some also have hidden compartments for storing sand toys.

Tips for Maintaining a Sandbox

Sandboxes, especially ones located outside, can host parasites, mold, yeast, germs, and bugs. Yuck! It’s essential to keep sandboxes clean and free of such rubbish to keep children healthy and safe. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

  • Keep the sandbox covered to prevent animals, debris, and moisture from getting in.
  • Search through the sand to take out anything unwanted.
  • Change sand at least once a year, and disinfect the sandbox.
  • Use the correct sand.
  • Make sure babies’ diapers aren’t leaking.
  • If you get wet sand, spread it out and allow it to dry before covering.

FAQs

There are many factors to consider when purchasing a sandbox for your children, and some questions may pop up. For more information about sandboxes, check out these answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If additional concerns arise about a specific product, contact the manufacturer.

Q: Why is a sandbox good for kids?

First, kids have fun while their creativity blossoms. Second, it enhances problem-solving skills and fine motor skills. Finally, social skills increase when playing with friends.

Q: How old should a child be to use a sandbox?

Children as young as 12 months can enjoy playing in the sand as long as they do not eat the sand and are closely monitored.

Q: What kind of sand is safe for sandboxes?

Several options are available, and play sand or kinetic sand are both good choices.

Q: Does a sandbox need drainage?

Drainage holes can prevent water from accumulating in the sandbox—eliminating breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Q: Where do you put a sandbox?

Outdoor sandboxes can be placed in an area of the yard or on the deck that provides a little more shade and where you can easily keep an eye on the kids while they play.