Splash pads are the coolest thing to happen to kids since Otter Pops. They’re almost magical places where water jets from the ground, with slides, splash pools and structures to climb. They’re also great for parents, places where your kids can play safely while you chill in the shade. Here’s a look at some of the best in the Valley.
Splash Park at Tempe Town Lake
This popular 1-acre splash park actually is an interactive lesson for children, teaching them how rainfall winds up in the ocean or the city water supply. Children start their learning adventure under a metal circle of clouds, where “rain” falls and collects into streams. The water then leads to the “ocean,” where there are toy whales to ride. Only about 2 inches of water actually collects at any given time, and it’s cleaned and recycled to be circulated over and over. An attendant is always on duty during operating hours, and visitors can reserve picnic tables nearby to enjoy a to-go lunch from Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches or a frozen treat from MoJo Frozen Yogurt.
Details: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday after May 4, daily after Memorial Day. Tempe Beach Park, Mill Avenue and RioSalado Parkway. 480-350-8625, tempe.gov.
Several outdoor malls have areas to cool off and get a little wet after a day of shopping.
Here are six we love:
Tempe Marketplace (McClintock Road and Loop 202) and Desert Ridge Marketplace (Tatum Boulevard and Loop 101, Phoenix), have splash areas for the kids and free Wi-Fi for Mom and Dad. Kierland Commons (Greenway Parkway and Scottsdale Road, Phoenix) and, right across the road, Scottsdale Quarter (Greenway Parkway and Scottsdale Road) also provide splash pads. Westgate City Center (Loop 101 and Glendale Ave, Glendale) and SanTan Village (Williams Field Road and Loop 202, Gilbert) also have wide-open fountain areas. Children should wear bathing suits at all of these water features.
There are a few splash pads in the Chandler area, including an awesome one at Desert Breeze Park. Kids can sit atop three dolphins and an elephant, which spout water as three ground fountains add to the fun. At Espee Park, the giant primary-colored splash pad has a tower that pours water on kids below. Three candy-cane-shaped fountains, spray rings and ground sprays also keep children cool.
Details: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. May through August, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April, September and October; closed November-March. Desert Breeze Park, 660 N. Desert Breeze Blvd. Espee Park, 450 E. Knox Road. 50 E. Knox Road. Chandleraz.gov
Yakulla Caverns offers a waterfall, splash pad with a stream and intermittent flash floods, water slides and a realistic cave experience with stalactites and stalagmites. Kids also can enjoy the Leapin’ Lagoon splash pad with plenty of sprays and a pirate ship for the little ones to explore. Both splash play areas are free with paid admission to the zoo.
Details: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. through Aug. 31. Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Parkway. $10-$20, free for age 2 or younger. 602-273-1341, phxzoo.org
Thanks to azcenteral.com by Robyn Siroky