The dog-days of summer are upon us and with the economy the way it is, free splash parks are a great way to save a few greenbacks without compromising the fun factor. I’ve asked parents around the country for the best free and low-cost splash parks and community aquatic centers. Thanks to them, here is a great list of affordable family outings to get wet and stay cool! (Please keep it growing with your favorites in the comments below. I’ll update this page often to include your suggestions!) All of these are free or low-cost (one fee per car for parking, etc.), and all have at least a zero-entry area for non-swimmers to safely play in the water. Many of these are quite elaborate with dancing fountains, aquatic playgrounds, dump buckets and lazy rivers… some are simply dozens of heat-quenching fountains and sprays. All are affordable, family-friendly ways to beat the heat. I have also included some low-fee ($10 or less) waterparks and aquatic centers for families wanting more adventure without theme park prices. (All prices and offers were correct when writing this article, but please check the website or call ahead to ensure no surprises.)
SAFETY NOTE: Splash pads are SLIPPERY. Please have your child wear water shoes when enjoying these parks.
- The Splash Pad: Delano Park, 825 Gordon Dr. SE, Decatur, AL 35601 Public park: FREE. Dozens of water jets shoot through the air onto a floor featuring a large scale map of Alabama. Nearby is a playground designed to accomodate children of all abilities.
- J. Gilmer Blackburn Aquatic Center: at Point Mallard Park, 2901 Point Mallard Dr., Decatur, AL 35601 Water park: Admission: $11-16; half-price days: Mondays & Wednesdays from 10am -6pm. America’s first wave pool also has slides, sandy beach, squirt factory, duck pond, and more.
- Fountain at Desert Ridge Marketplace: 21001 N. Tatum Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050 FREE Shopping center fountain that kids can splash in, and run through the dancing water. (recommended by local mom and life coach, Dianne Sikel)
- Hole In The Wall River Ranch water park at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, Phoenix, AZ 85020 Resort water park is open to public for $15 per person over 42″ tall, FREE to persons under, resort guests receive 4 passes per day of stay.
- Fountain Hills Splash Park at Fountain Park: 17004 E El Lago Blvd, Fountain Hills, AZ (Phoenix suburb E) Public Park: FREE (recommended by Dave Murrow)
- Kierland Commons Fountain: 15205 Kierland Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 FREE Shopping center fountain that kids can splash in, and run through the dancing water. (recommended by local mom and life coach, Dianne Sikel)
- A great list of Phoenix areaand Scottsdale area splash parks on About.com (recommended by Dave Murrow)
- Cox Splash Playground at Tempe Beach Park: 54 W Rio Salado, Tempe, AZ 85281 (near Phoenix) Public park: FREE (recommended by Dean Wrightand his 4 year old daughter Kierstyn)
- Jaycee Park Splash Pad: 817 W. 5th St., Tempe, AZ 85281 Public park: FREE.
- Esquer Park: 2407 E. McArthur Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281 Public park: FREE
- Hudson Park: 1430 S. Cedar St., Tempe, AZ 85281 Public park: FREE (Kiwanis Wave Pool, Jaycee, Esquer, & Hudson Parks recommended by Toni Smith, mother of a water-loving 1 yr old and Communications Mgr for the Tempe Convention & Visitors Bureau)
- Kiwanis Wave Pool: 6111 S. All American Way, Tempe, AZ 85283 Community pool: Admission: $3-6 for wave pool, $1.25 – 2.25 for lap pool. Wave pool has zero entry, 3′ waves in varying patterns, slides, and more.
- Splash Pad at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park: 3482 East River Rd,Tucson, AZ 85718 Public park: FREE (recommended by Lisa M. Cottrell-Bentley, author of www.WrightOnTimeBooks.comabout an RV living family, and mother of two homeschoooled daughters)
- Fountain at Plaza de Cesar Chaves Park: Market St. and Park Ave , San Jose, CA . Public park: FREE Also has free concerts by national acts.
- Great Plains Park: S Genoa Way & E. Jewell Ave, Aurora, CO 80017 Public park: FREE shade structures next to sprayground, overlooks the Air Force military base runway so in the afternoon you can watch the jets take off from the base. (recommended by Suzanne Bastien, mom of seven children, living a busy life in Centennial, Colorado and runs Crunchy Green Mom)
- Uncle Wilber Fountain: Acacia Park in Downtown NE corner of Bijou and Tejon streets, Colorado Springs, CO 80903 Public Park: FREE
- Deerfield Hills Spray Ground, 4290 Deerfield Hills Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80916 Public Park: FREE 16 different water spray features; foaming geysers, soak stations, water wall and more (recommended by Suzanne Bastien, mom of seven children, living a busy life in Centennial, Colorado and runs Crunchy Green Mom)
- Julie Penrose Fountain: America the Beautiful Park, 126 Cimino Dr. Colorado Springs, CO 80903 Public park: FREE picnic area, farmers market, and concerts are routinely held in this park.
- Aquatic Fitness Center – Memorial Park: 280 S. Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80910 Community Pool: Admission: $4-7 zero-entry beach, spiral slides, bubble couches, and more.
- Fairgrounds Park: 700 S. Railroad Ave, Loveland, CO 80537 Public park: FREE design is based on “The Wonderful World of OZ” by L. Frank Baum with whimsical structures. (recommended by Suzanne Bastien, mom of seven children, living a busy life in Centennial, Colorado and runs Crunchy Green Mom)
- Kathryn Abby Hannah Park: 500 Wonderwood, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233 Public park: Admission: $1 per person or $3 per car, water playground is located on the lakeshore, wooded park is near the ocean/beach
- Riverfront Park: downtown historic Cocoa Village, 430 Delannoy Ave, Cocoa, FL 32922 Public park: FREE, fountains along the Indian River, playground, concerts, boardwalk, picnic areas (recommended by Mary Davis, Cocoa resident, business owner, motivational speaker and author of The Entrepreneurial Mom)
- Sun Splash Park: 611 S. Atlantic Dr., Daytona Beach, FL 32118 Public park: FREE interactive fountains right off the beach, shaded playground, nearby parking (Recommended by: Jan Cullinane, co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life(Rodale))
- Lakes Regional Park: 7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Meyers, FL 33908 State park, FREE admission, $5 all-day parking… Showering palm trees, water guns, fountains. Bike surrey rentals, train rides, beach, etc. (recommended by Laurel Egan Kenny, married mother of 3, owner of Turningpoint Communications)
- Kids Kampus: 1410 Gator Bowl Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32202 Public park: FREE splash park with mini-replicas of Jacksonville landmarks
- Downtown Disney Marketplace, Walt Disney World, N Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista (Orlando), FL 32830 The one area of Disney where admission and parking are both FREE. Kids can spend hours trying to catch the jumping water jets. Plenty of dining and shopping options nearby, there’s also a train ride for $2, a carousel, and occasional FREE live shows. Disney Quest is nearby (not cheap, but a fun indoor arcade/theme park for kids 10 and up). (recommended by Orlando local mom and travel agency owner, Allison Jones)
- Interactive Fountain: Laishley Park, 100 Nesbit St., 200 Harbor Walk Drive(to parking lot), Punta Gorda, FL 33950 Public park: FREE. Activated by a motion sensor, kids can run through the filtered-water spouts. Restrooms and pavillions for shade nearby.
- Fountain of Rings: Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta GA (parking on Luckie St NW between Spring St NW and Centennial Olympic Park Dr. NW) Public park: FREE, local kids love to run through the fountains ; fountains are near All Children’s Playground and the Georgia Aquarium
- Crown Fountainin Millenium Park, 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL Public Park: FREE two towers display video of faces appearing to spout water from their mouths into a shallow reflecting pool.
- Atlantis Waterpark: Holiday Inn Lakeview, 515 Marriott Dr., Clarksville, IN 47129 (across the bridge from Louisville, KY) Waterpark: Admission: $8 weekday, $10 weekends, passes often free to hotel guests, check website for coupons. Wave pool, slides, kiddie pool, beach volleyball, and more. Hotel guests of the Holiday Inn Lakeview – Louisville North (812-283-4411 for reservations) get $1 off Atlantis Admission. Please Check out our website for more info! http://www.atlantiswaterpark.net
- Pella Aquatics Center: 602 E 8th St., Pella, IA 50219 Community pool: $5 kids, $5.50 adults; zero depth toddler area with fountains, mushroom waterfall, and family slide; adventure river, large water slides, waterfalls and more. (recommended by Kristin Hiemstra of The Art of Potential)
- Waterplay: at Waterfront Park, (driveway to Waterplay area at 1200 E. River Rd.), Louisville, KY 40202 Public park: FREE. Located on the Ohio River, the park has multiple spray features and splash fountains and is walking distance to the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum and other kid-friendly museums.
- Atlantis Waterpark: Holiday Inn Lakeview, 515 Marriott Dr., Clarksville, IN 47129 (across the bridge from Louisville, KY) Waterpark: Admission: $8 weekday, $10 weekends, hotel guests get $1 off, check Atlantis website for coupons. Wave pool, slides, kiddie pool, beach volleyball, and more.
- Calistoga Splash Park at Glacier Run: at Louisville Zoo, 1100 Trevilion Way, Louisville, KY 40213, Zoo: Splash park FREE with paid zoo admission of $8.50 -11.95 (check your home zoo membership for reciprocity). Nautically themed splash park with sprays, dump buckets, separate toddler area, and more.
- Look Park: in Northampton, 300 North Main St, Florence (Northampton), MA 01062 FREE admission, parking is $4-5 per car
- The Park at Water’s Edge: part of Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa, Thompsonville, MI Admission: $10 pp ($35 for a family of 4) (FREE for resort guests) 1-acre water playground with a zero-depth entry pool.
- Full Blast: 35 Hamblin Ave, Battle Creek, MI 49017 Water Park: Admission: $9 Flash Flood, $12 Superblast* (*unlimited use of water parks, ticketed attractions, one free tube rental and one water wars) Year-round fun with indoor & outdoor water parks, 3 gyms, trampoline, mini-golf, etc.
- Oak Hill Park: 3201 Rhode Island Ave, St. Louis Park, MN 55426 (Mpls suburb) Neighborhood park: FREE playground is shaded, splash area is fenced in.
- Grove Cove Aquatic Center: Maple Grove Community Center, 12951 Weaver Lake Rd, Maple Grove, MN 55369 (Mpls suburb) Community pool: $6.50 pp, also has indoor pool and indoor playground.
- Chutes & Ladders: Hyland Play Area 10145 Bush Lake Rd, Bloomington, MN 55438 (Mpls suburb) Public Park: FREE
- McCoy Park Water Playground: 800 N. Bess Truman Pkwy, Independence, (near Kansas City) MO 64050 Neighborhood park: FREE (recommended by local mom of 4 Janeen Aggen)
- Rotary Park Water Playground: 10615 E. 24th St., Independence (near Kansas City), MO 64052 Neighborhood park: FREE (recommended by local mom of 4 Janeen Aggen)
- Adventure Oasis: 2100 Hub Dr., Independence (near Kansas City), MO 64055 Admission: $9 adults & $7 kids (non-residents) 900ft lazy river, water sprays, zero-depth beach (recommended by local mom of 4 Janeen Aggen)
- Vlasis Park: Seven Trails Drive and Kehrs Mill Road, Ballwin (suburb of St. Louis), MO 63011 Public park: FREE fountains are on from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
- North Pointe Family Aquatic Center: 335 Holloway Rd, Ballwin (suburb of St. Louis), MO 63011 Community pool: $7 pp for non-residents Splash area for toddlers, lazy river, and a bucket that dumps water on the kids, competition pool and diving area
- Loose Park Sprayground (52nd & Wornall area, west side of Loose Park, behind the tennis courts). Kansas City. It’s not big, but it’s lots of fun, with tables in a smallish shelter and lots of fountains and water cannons. (added from comment below by reader Elizabeth)
- Schouler Park Splash Park near the community center at 2638 White Mountain Hwy, North Conway, NH 03860 Public Park: FREE
- Dorbrook Recreation Area: 209 County Route 537, Colts Neck, NJ 07722 (< 30min from Long Branch) Public park: FREE, shaded, gated sprayground with playground nearby.
- The Sprayground: Seneca Lake Park, 1 Lakefront Dr., Geneva, NY 14456 (THISlooks like the right map and coincides with the directions, not the address they give) State park: $7 per car. Located on the shore of Lake Seneca (in the Fingerlakes Region), with over 100 water jets spontaneously spraying water. Playground nearby also.
- Meadowmont Pool: Meadowmont YMCA, 301 Old Barn Lane, Chapel Hill, NC 27517 YMCA Guest Pass: $5 kids, $10 adults. zero depth entry pool, water slides. (recommended by Kristin Hiemstra of The Art of Potential)
- Activity Center Park: 221 N. Main St., Centerville, OH 45459 (suburb of Dayton) Neighborhood park: FREE surprise spray jets, dump buckets, and frog ‘guns’ (water shooting out of their mouth)
- Splash! Lively Park Swim Center: 6100 Thurston Rd, Springfield (near Eugene), OR 97478 Indoor Community pool: Kiddie Pool: $3.25 kids, parent FREE; General admission: $4.25 kids under 3, $6.25 ages 3 and up. Wave pool, zero depth area, kiddie pool, water slide and more.
- Til Taylor Park Wading Pool:map: 700 SE Dorion, Pendleton, OR 97801, Public park: FREE
- Pendleton Family Aquatic Center: map: 1901 NW Carden, Pendleton, OR 97801 Community pool: $3 kids over 3, $4 adult, kids 2 and under FREE
- North Clackamas Aquatic Park: 7300 SE Harmony Rd Milwaukie, OR 97222 (Portland suburb) Community Pool: $3.99-$6.99 for kids. Wave pool, huge water slides, tube rentals.
- Hood River Aquatic Center: 1601 May Ave, Hood River, OR (1hr E of Portland) Community pool: $2 for kids, $3 for adults. Indoor/outdoor facitlity. Kayak rentals available. Two other splash fountains in are located at 2nd & State St, and 3rd & Oak; both in historic downtown Hood River.
- Rivercrest Spraypark: 131 Park Dr. Oregon City, OR 97045 (< 30min S of Portland) Public park: FREE spray nozzles, water cannons, splash buckets
- Foothills Park: 199 Foothills Dr., Lake Oswego, OR 97034 (< 30min S of Portland) Public park: FREE park runs along Willamette River, nature trails nearby
- Jamison Square: 810 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209 Public park: FREE water comes out of rock wall and at its deepest is only about one foot deep. (recommended by Portland nanny to 2, Meghan Corbin)
- Salmon Street Springs Fountain: in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, SW Salmon St & SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97205 Public fountain: FREE water cycles through 3 patterns keeping kids & adults guessing where they’ll come out next. (recommended by Portland nanny to 2, Meghan Corbin)
- East Portland Community Aquatic Center: 740 SE 106th Ave, Portland, OR 97216 Community Pool: $3-5 Indoor pool with slides, vortex, current channel, and more.
- For even more parks in Portland with splash pads and/or wading pools, check the Portland Park & Recreations website.
- Knoebels Amusement Resort: 391 Knoebels Blvd, Elysburg, PA 17824 (1.75 hrs N of Harrisburg) Admission: FREE, pay-for-play rides: Water park fee is $6 for adults, $4 for kids, extra for slides.
- Splash Island Water Park: Palmetto Islands County Park, 444 Needlerush Pkwy, Mount Pleasant (Charleston), SC 29464 Rates: $7.99 general admission, $6.99 for kids under 48″, Kids 2 and under FREE.
- Splash Zone Water Park and Spray Play Fountain: James Island County Park, 871 Riverland Dr., Charleston, SC 29412 Rates: General admission $11.99, kids under 48″ $8.99, kids 2 and under FREE Caribbean feel with island-style play structures and slides
- Sprinker Water Play Area at Wannamaker Park, 8888 University Blvd, North Charleston, SC 29406 Public park: FREE
- Waterfront Park Fountain, 34 Prioleau St., Charlston, SC Public park: FREE fountain several water jets shoot into a central spout. The park includes a long pier that overlooks Mount Pleasant, Fort Sumter, the USS Yorktown and the Cooper River Bridge.
- Drew Park Splash Pad and Fountain: 2101 Walker Solomon Way, Columbia, SC 29203 Public park: FREE
- Saluda Splash: Saluda Shoals Park, 5605 Bush River Rd., Columbia, SC 29212 State park: Parking: $5 per car/minivan, wristband for Splash: $3 Interactive zero depth water playground.
- Palmetto Falls Water Park: Fort Jackson Military Base, 3381 Marion Dr., Columbia, SC Water Park: Admission: $9.50 Open to the public Tuesday -Friday, weekends are for military families only. Spray park, baby pool, lazy river, water slides and more.
- Lynches River County Park Splash Pad: 1110 Ben Grause Rd, Coward, SC 29530 (about halfway between Columbia and Myrtle Beach) State park: admission to splash pad: $3 per child, adults free with paid child. Beautiful, natural setting. Nearby is Environmental Discovery Center and canopy boardwalk free of charge. Canoe, kayak, and cabin rentals available.
- Coca Cola Cool Zone: Barefoot Landing, 4898 Hwy 17 S, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582 (#123 on the map, near the carousel) Misting Machine: FREE Barefoot Landing is a shopping and entertainment complex with plenty of kid-friendly activities and restaurants.
- Discovery Island Waterpark: at Southside Park, 417 N. Baldwin Rd. Simpsonville (near Greenville), SC 29680 Admission: all under $10 Water slides, lazy river, FlowRider, children’s play structure.
- Children’s Fountains: outside Hampton Inn & Suites Riverplace, 171 River Place, Greenville, SC 29601 Admission: FREE Children will love splashing around in this railroad-themed attraction, with colored tracks running throughout. Sounds of the train ring loud as the fountain’s water jets explode.
- River Fountains at Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park: 600 James Robertson Pkwy, Nashville, TN 37243 Public Park: FREE
- For more splash parks in Nashville, check this blog post: http://nashville.savvysource.com/blogpost477_1_splash-parks-and-spray-play-for-preschoolers-in-nashville (recommended by local mom Melissa K.)
- Family Aquatic Center, Sevierville City Park, 1005 Park Rd., Sevierville, TN 37862 Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park foothills, this newly renovated area includes a 25 meter pool, splash pad, 2 slides with plunge pool and a kiddy pool. (it was closed for maintenance 7/14/09, so check before going)
- Hayes Park: 1516 N. Lincoln St., Arlington, VA 22201 Public spray park: FREE
- Lyon Village Park: 1800 N. Highland St., Arlington, VA 22201 Public spray park: FREE
- Atlantis Waterpark at Bull Run: 7700 Bull Run Dr., Centreville (W of Arlington), VA 20121 Waterpark: $5-8 Ancient Greece-themed.
- Great Waves at Cameron Run: 4001 Eisenhower Ave, Alexandria, VA 22304 Waterpark: $8-10.95 Wave-pool, 4-story water slides, & more.
- Pirate’s Cove Waterpark at Pohick Way: 6501 Pohick Bay Dr., Lorton (S of Alexandria), VA 22079 Waterpark: $4-7 Pirate-themed waterpark
- The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole: 1400 Lake Fairfax Dr., Reston (NW of Arlington), VA 20190 Waterpark: $8.25-13.50 Slides, flumes, sprays, showers, floatables, and more.
- Downpoar at Algonkian Regional Park: 47001 Fairway Dr., Sterling (NW of Arlington), VA 20165 Waterpark: $5-8 Slides, dump buckets, fountains, and more.
- Heritage Park Fountain: 330 5th Ave SW, Olympia, WA 98501 Public park: FREE. the fountain turns off for an hour at noon and 5pm each day. Kids love to chase the 47 dancing water spouts that spring up in random patterns.
- Tukwila Aquatic Playground: Tukwila Community Center 12424 42nd Ave S, Tukwila (Seattle suburb), WA 98168 Public park: FREE variety of splash fountains, spin ‘n spray fish, and surprise fountains
- Water Spray Playground: Crossroads Park, 16000 NE 10th St., Bellevue (near Seattle), WA 98008 Public park: FREE, Ocean themed with orca, whales, shipwreck and more.
- Splash Park: Grass Land Park, 7031 148 Ave NE, Redmond (near Seattle), WA 98052 Public park: FREE surprise fountains near a nice playground
- Mount Vernon – Kiwanis Spray Park, 18th & Broadway at Kiwanis Park. Interactive spray park with frog water cannons, random jets, misters and fountains. Free. Picnic shelter, playground, baseball field and basketball hoops also.
Don’t see your hometown favorites? Keep this list growing by adding your favorites in the comments below! Try to include an address and/or website link if you can. I will update the post to include your comments periodically. And please share your experience with any of these parks by leaving a comment.