When my oldest son and daughter were very young, we did not have a pool.
I remember coming up with all kinds of inventive ways to try to stay cool. And, then, I discovered splash pads. These glorious spots provided the perfect place to chat with a girlfriend, enjoy an iced coffee or tea and watch the kids have a blast in water that was neither deep nor dangerous.
These days, we have a pool, but the splash pad retains its allure. Our 16-month-old son needs to be watched carefully poolside, but at the splash pad, we can relax enough to take a sip of that iced tea. The older kids can amuse themselves with the sand toys we bring, fun snacks, and of course, their friends in tow.
Here are some of our summer favorites (updated as of 2017):
Desert Ridge Marketplace
This beauty opens at 8:00 a.m., which works out great when your little one rises with the Arizona sun. I love meeting a girlfriend here first thing on a Saturday or Sunday, grabbing a coffee and some breakfast from Paradise Bakery and letting the kids have a ball.
There is nothing better than visiting Zinburger for lunch with the littles, and then heading out to this splash pad. They have an amazing kids’ menu for just $5, which includes choice of hamburger, turkey sloppy joe, grilled cheese or chicken strips, and also a drink and fries. For $2 more, you can treat the kids to a homemade milk shake. The splash pads has lots of shade from the towering palm trees, so it often can work even later in the day.
This is a spot tucked away on the Chaparral Church campus on Shea Blvd. It opens on weekdays at 7:30 am, grab yourself a wonderful cup of coffee and enjoy the patio while kids can cool off in the small splash pad.
McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic Center
While not technically a splash pad, this spot has a great shallow entry pool with water features, perfect for younger ones not yet able to swim on their own. Go as a team, and one or two adults can can take the older children on the slides or lazy river, while the others stick to the shallow end. Most days in the summer, public swim is offered from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., making this a great after-lunch outing.
Scottsdale Parks with Spray Poles and/or Splash Pads:
Agua Linda Park: 8732 E. McDonald Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 8525
Chestnutt Park: 4565 N. Granite Reef Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Paiute Park: 3210 N. 66th St., Scottsdale, AZ 85257
No matter the location, we always pack extra towels, a change of clothes for each child, plenty of sunscreen, water, snacks and sand toys to play with in the water. Make sure to label the sand toys with a permanent marker, as there is nothing more confusing than sorting these out as you are trying to leave.
What are some of your favorite spots and tips for hitting the splash pad?