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Best Overall: Step2 Play & Store Sandbox
Though relatively simple, this sandbox has a variety of features that make it our overall pick. Perhaps most importantly, this play area is large enough for a group of kids to play comfortably together, making it the perfect accompaniment to playdates or backyard family barbecues. Four molded seats, one in each corner, also make it a more comfortable spot for kids to play—they can sit, rather than crouch down.
Parents love the fact that this sandbox has a cover that fits securely over the top of the play area to keep animals, bugs, dirt, and debris from contaminating the sand when it’s not in use. It also provides the necessary protection from adverse weather conditions, including rain and wind. If there’s any downside, it’s that although the lid snaps on tightly, it doesn’t have added security in the event of very high winds. Some ingenious parents have solved this problem for you though: just add luggage straps or bungee cords!
Best for Toddlers: Step2 Crabbie Sand Table
The youngest set doesn’t need anything fancy. In fact, a sandbox that’s too big may be overwhelming and overstimulating for children under the age of two. If you're looking for a sandbox that's the perfect size for toddlers, this low-profile table is large enough to provide plenty of entertainment but small enough to be appropriate for tiny hands.
The red, "crabbie" design of this table will delight youngsters even though it doesn't have any frills. Even so, many parents find it’s plenty to keep kids busy for quite some time. At such a young age, kids are just looking for a small place to explore and get their hands dirty. Another big advantage is that this sandbox is small enough to be portable. When filled to capacity with sand, it weighs just 35 pounds. You can clean it out and move it indoors for the winter, or store it in the shed until it gets warmer out.
It comes with two pails, two shovels, and a lid for storage when not in use.
Best Elevated: Step2 Naturally Playful Sand Table
A raised sandbox has many advantages over the more common ground-level varieties. Kids can walk right up to elevated sandboxes—there’s no crouching down or sitting in the sand, which many parents find makes cleanup easier (no sand in their pants!). Raised boxes are also preferable for many pet parents since dogs and cats won’t accidentally wander in to do their business.
This particular sandbox is an ideal height for toddlers of all ages and sizes, plus its rectangular shape means it can accommodate a group of up to four kids at a time. It also comes with a cover that secures tightly to the base via a set of bungee cords to keep the kids play area clean. As an added bonus, the cover doubles as a racetrack for trucks, cars, and other toys—a great way to easily switch gears if kids become restless.
Best with Water: Step2 Dino Dig Sand & Water Table
Kids love playing in the water and sand, so bring the beach to them with this interactive two-sided table. Plus, a dinosaur-themed table is a perfect way to encourage sensory development and creative play.
The elevated indoor/outdoor table has a small sandbox on one side and a larger water basin on the other. There’s enough fun to be had on both sides of the table, as both areas come complete with added entertainment features. Kids can dig for dino bones in the sand or pour water into the top of the volcano and watch it rush down into the pond below. And because of its tapered rectangular shape, this table is great for a big family—it can comfortably accommodate four children at play.
"My children love playing in the water...it's pure fun!" said one online reviewer. "The table is a nice height, and deep enough to bury toys." For a fun and educational sandbox that includes water, this fits the bill.
Best Splurge: KidKraft Pirate Sandboat
If you have the extra money to invest in a large sandbox, the KidKraft Pirate Sandboat rivals a full-size play-set and is perfect for imaginative play. As the name suggests, the sandbox is shaped like a pirate ship and constructed from weather-resistant wood. A pirate flag and pirate-themed artwork adorn the ship and make it feel authentic. Kids will love pretending they’re sailing the seven seas while digging in the sand!
The boat is large enough to fit several children, so if you have more than one youngster at home you won't have to worry about them fighting for their turn. In addition to the ample room, parents love the bright blue canopy that provides ample protection from the sun on blue sky days. The one downside? Every kid in the neighborhood will want to be at your house on sunny afternoons!