Outdoors

Best Spray Parks and Water Fountains for Preschoolers in Boston

Boston has a lot of big, splashy, exciting spray parks and fountains that can be great fun for families in summer. But I've learned the hard way that not every water playground is suited for preschoolers. 

A few years back, when one of my sons was 4, I took him and his brothers to the Christian Science Plaza fountain along Huntington Avenue. To me as a parent, it was a wise selection: awesome fountain, I didn't have to walk far from the parking spot, and bathrooms were nearby in the Prudential Center. But my 4-year-old kid was horrified by the fountain and how big it was. It took him a half hour to even wander up to the where the water shot out of the ground, and soon after he got soaked and was freezing. It was not the best choice for a young child. 

With that thinking in mind, we've rounded up some gentler, preschooler-friendly local fountains and splash pads. Be sure to check out these outdoor pools with fun slide and spray features for more ways to cool off this summer, or if a climate-controlled environment is more your family's speed, consider a visit to a preschooler-friendly indoor water park. There are plenty of ways to get wet around Boston—without tears!

8 SoCal Campgrounds with Extra Entertainment To Keep Kids Happy

Camping with kids is a smorgasbord of sights and sounds, loaded with opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Hiking and biking, telling stories fireside, and unplugging from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives is good for the soul; but let’s face it, even with the whole of Mother Nature at their fingertips, kids sometimes get bored.

It’s time to up the ante on family camping, and you don’t have to ditch the tent to inject a bit of pep in your sulking teen’s step or enchant your tantrum-prone three-year-old. Southern California is home to several awesome family campgrounds that offer kids exciting alternative activities and entertainment when they tire of forest tag. Zip lining, anyone? Fishing? Rock climbing? Movies? Even ghost tours? All these and more are offered at the Southland campgrounds below. Get ready for the best of both worlds, cause we dare your kids to get bored at one of these campgrounds.

Best Water Playgrounds and Sprinklers for Kids in NYC

When we were growing up, New York City playgrounds had sprinklers. Now parks and playgrounds across the five boroughs have "water features"—fountains, geysers, rivers, pumps, and beautiful spraying statues. Kids just love them, and we parents prefer these newfangled playgrounds because they're pretty and cool, and make us feel as if our exorbitant NYC housing costs are justified.

Sprinkler season in NYC parks kicks into gear when the temps reach 80 degrees, although some parks may turn on water features earlier. There are hundreds of water features in NYC parks, and we've highlighted some favorites by borough: the best in Brooklyn, best of Queens, and best of the Bronx. Some are cooler (literally and figuratively) than others, and more amazing ones seem to open every year. When we first published this article in 2008, we had five favorite splashing spots. Now we're up to 27 fancy playgrounds where kids can get wet in NYC. See if your favorites made our list.

10 Underrated NYC Parks You (Probably) Haven't Visited Yet

Central Park, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park—even if you only just arrived in NYC, we probably don't need to tell you that these are all must-see green spaces. But did you know that according to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, 14 percent of the city is parkland? That's more than 30,000 acres!

So if you're looking for a new-to-you outdoor destination to explore, we've got 10 off-the-beaten-path parks worth putting on your NYC family bucket list. Some are massive and boast a wide array of attractions for all seasons; others are small but picturesque and host popular annual events for families. With months of outdoor play weather ahead of us, check out this list and visit some of the city's best hidden gems.

Splash Parks, Sprinklers, and Water Playgrounds in Orange County Parks

When summer finally hits, Southland families are looking for water, water everywhere. There's hanging at the beach or playing in a pool, but fun places with splash pads and water features rank pretty high on a summer bucket list. Little kids, bigger kids, and even the occasional parent (yes, you!) can cool off on a hot day without tons of planning or tons of waste. Let's face it: playing in the water is just plain fun—and if you keep an extra towel in the car, you're always ready.

Check out some of these free water play parks and sprinklers around Orange County. Most are open Memorial Day to Labor Day, though we recommend calling to confirm before heading out, as water conservation efforts may sometimes be in effect.

10 One-Mile-or-Less Hikes to Take with Your Preschooler Around Boston

Being a parent to a little one doesn't mean you need to hang up your hiking boots. Boston boasts plenty of tree-lined walking paths that accommodate strollers, and even more short, easy hiking trails to suit kids who've become a little more sure-footed. Along with the many short, winding routes that snake through Blue Hills, just outside city limits, these 10 hikes are well-maintained, close to Boston, and offer just the right amount of challenge for preschool-age trailblazers. 

Free Water Fun: Splash Pads and Sprinklers at Philly Area Parks

“If they’re crabby, put them in water.” The poem, How to Really Love a Child, offers these words of wisdom to parents of small children, and in the summer heat this couldn't be more true! But thankfully in Philadelphia, kids don’t have to be cranky to love a good splash in the summertime. In addition to being home to more public pools than any other city in the country, new spraygrounds and splash pads seem to pop up every year. These city spaces are a great way to cool off the little ones, get some exercise, and make the most of the hot weather without committing to a pool membership or water park passes.

For those splash pads and spraygrounds in Philadelphia, the official open times are 11 AM - 7 PM on weekdays and 12 Noon - 5 PM on weekends. However, these times generally vary by location and operator. Also, some of these parks made it onto our top Where Philly Families Can Play All Day list so be sure to check them out. For now, here are a few of our favorite spots (new and old) in the Philadelphia area. Go ahead, jump in, and prevent those crabby moments from creeping in!

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