This is how we do it living in the city.
We have a tiny patio with plants, as well as a small table and chairs (that hardly seem to get used these days). My son has been really into the sandboxes at the playgrounds lately and I really wanted to give him a sandbox to play in at home. One of those fancy ones from Target would be too big for our small space.
My husband bought some nice sandbox sand from Home Depot, and we filled a Rubbermaid kitchen sink tub with the sand.
We added the kids' beach toys and voila! Our City Livin' Sandbox!
My kids love it! Especially my son! He doesn't care one iota that it's a sink tub or that it's tiny. He has had so much fun playing in his sandbox this weekend. What he says to me is, "Can we go into the garden and play in my sandbox?" Awww.
My daughter digs it too. But, as you might notice, she's not allowed to get too close to the sand. A little bit of extra dare-devil action this past week has put her in a cast with a broken arm.
But as far as she's concerned, it's no big deal. And here they are having lots of fun!