When the heat becomes unbearable with the kids this summer, you might be yearning to bust open a fire hydrant. Before you do, consider one of New Jersey's splash pads and sprinkler parks, many of which are located in local parks and playgrounds.
We've rounded up some of our favorite water playgrounds around the state, organized by region. Remember, these are not water parks, so you won't find a ton of bells and whistles—though some do offer interactive features like dumping buckets or whimsical designs like water spouts in the shape of cattails (Van Saun Park!); animal fixtures (Bridgeton); or basketball sprayers (Manalapan). But the best part? Most of these splash zones are completely FREE.
Visit our Best NJ Water Parks article to go all in for theme park fun. Or strap on those water shoes, pack the towels, and read on for some of New Jersey's best water playgrounds and spray parks in your neighborhood.
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Northern New Jersey
Berry Lane Park – Jersey City
This brand-new, 17.5-acre park opened last summer on a former industrial site in the city’s Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood, just steps from the Garfield Light Rail station. The flat-surfaced sprayground has sprinklers that shoot water up from the concrete. Bright purple picnic tables and benches border the water area so parents can keep an eye on their kids without getting wet. The recreation area features several basketball courts, soccer and baseball fields, and a sprawling playground with rope climbers, swings and slides under big blue umbrellas, providing shade on hot sunny days. FREE
Hamilton Park Splash Pad – Jersey City
It may not be the biggest water playground, but it sure is fun! I frequently take my son to this playground during the summer months. The splash pad is fenced in and features in-ground sprinklers and buckets of water dropped from overhead. Hamilton Park is nestled in the heart of downtown Jersey City and offers a large playground, tennis courts, dog runs, a basketball court, and lots of grass on which to play. Bonus: the Hamilton Park area of Jersey City has tons of great food options. FREE
James J. Braddock North Hudson County Park – North Bergen
This Hudson County Park is a great summer destination for kids and parents alike. The children's area includes a free splash pad, with plenty of water features to keep the kids cool. The splash pad is adjacent to a large, castle-themed playground. Families can easily spend the day at this 167-acre park that also includes trails, beautiful Woodcliff Lake, and views of the Manhattan skyline. FREE
Lyndhurst Town Park – Lyndhurst
There’s something for kids of all ages at this large Bergen County park. The splash pad is fenced in, with a lifeguard always on duty. Entry costs $1 per person for a wristband that allows you to come and go as you please from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Kids can run through a tunnel of rainbow-colored sprinkler rings or stand under a large, snake-shaped sprayer. With three (yes, three!) separate playgrounds for toddlers to big kids, you’ll find plenty of swings and slides for everyone. There’s also a snack bar where you can grab a hot dog or ice cream. A picnic area between the splash pad and playground is a perfect place to set up camp for a fun-filled day.
Madison Street Park – Hoboken
This park offers a large water play area with fun, modern playground equipment nearby. The water features include dumping buckets, in-ground sprays, and more, right in the center of the playground. All of it is done in bright primary colors. FREE
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The waterfront Newport Green playground and sprinkler park includes a little beach. Photo courtesy of Newport Green.
Newport Green – Jersey City
This brand-new park, spanning four acres on the waterfront in the Newport section of Jersey City, is a fantastic place to bring the kids on a sunny day. It has everything (and more) that you could ask for in a playground. The park's water features include spraying misters, rings to run through, and dumping buckets, as well as a little beach complete with umbrellas and sand. There's even a carousel for when the kids tire of soggy pants. Parking can be a problem, so plan ahead. (Tip: Park in the parking garage—if you spend $10 at Morton Williams they will validate). FREE
Pirate’s Cove at Turkey Brook Park – Flanders
Last summer, Turkey Brook Park unveiled an exciting addition to its Mount Playmore playground, the 3,000-square-foot Pirate’s Cove splash pad. It features more than 20 interactive water features that are motion-activated to help conserve water. Three different play areas offer water elements appropriate for toddlers, big kids and tweens; in the middle of it all, a huge splash bucket dumps water every few minutes. The water area is monitored by an on-site attendant at all times, and it’s only a short walk from Mount Playmore. FREE
Randolph Park Beach – Randolph
Locals head to this lakeside beach for swimming, paddle boats, picnicking, and a water feature for the kids. You'll also find a refreshment stand, changing facilities, swimming lessons, and more. The park offers both resident and non-resident monthly and daily passes, but weekend entry is limited to members and residents. Daily weekday fees are $5 per resident or $10 for non-residents.
The modest splash pad at Van Saun Park lets kids cool off after hitting the adjacent playgrounds, carousel, or zoo. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala.
Van Saun Park – Paramus
The impressive Van Saun Park recently added a whimsical pond-themed sprayground, complete with gigantic lily pads, water creatures, and cattail misters. The mist is gentle and the size modest, so it can get crowded by the afternoon, but the kids don't seem to mind. Water pools in sections, and kids delight in stomping through it. There's plenty more to do at the park, including several adjacent playgrounds with all manner of slides, swings, climbing and hanging equipment. The 150-acre park also boasts walking trails, grills and picnic tables, a paved path great for kid bikers, beautiful gardens, a train ride, pony rides, carousel, and the popular Bergen County Zoo. There isn't much shade in the play areas here, so come early or late. The park says the water stays on 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily. FREE
Walter Lubbe Jr. Playground – Bergenfield
Walter Lubbe Jr. Playground is wildly popular in the heat of the summer months. The sprinkler park is large and open and consists of rings that kids can run through and get sprayed. The playground is partly fenced in and features swings, a rock wall, monkey bars, and bouncers. There is also a covered picnic area for those wishing to brown-bag it. FREE
Weasel Brook Park – Clifton
Cool off at this lovely neighborhood park with its namesake brook meandering through it. A large, circular sprayground is the main attraction, with a arch of rainbow-colored sprinklers surrounded by four tall sprayers. The park is also home to regulation horseshoe pits, a rarity in the area, and is often the site of professional horseshoe tournaments and championships. There are also basketball courts and softball fields, plus a nicely shaded playground with plenty of benches. FREE
Central New Jersey
Asbury Splash Park – Asbury Park
Plan a day of family fun at the Asbury Park Boardwalk, and while you're there take the kids to cool off at the splash pad, which includes a number of unique spray features like a giant tipping tea cup, an oversize garden hose nozzle, and seating for parents. It's not free ($9 for kids and $5 for adults), but this splash pad is more of a day trip destination. You can hit the beach, play 18 holes of mini-golf, grab some food truck eats, or play pinball at the Silverball museum. This Jersey Shore splash pad is open seven days a week beginning in mid-June (weekends only prior to that), though we've found the park can close suddenly when in need of repairs, so call ahead or check its Facebook page for updates.
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The recently renovated Dorbrook Sprayground is open seven days a week. Photo courtesy Monmouth County Park System.
Dorbrook Recreation Area Sprayground – Colts Neck
This large popular sprayground got a makeover in 2016, adding a cool new soft (and bright blue) surface and new water filtration system to keep things clean, plus water troughs for the kids to play with and cool "raining leaves" offering a cascading mist of water. The splash pad is open seven days a week from mid-May through early September, depending on weather. There are tons of water features, from sprayers and sprinklers to water tables and more; it feels more like a mini water park. The size of this sprayground is what makes it so much fun for the kids. Don’t forget your beach toys for the sand area! There are some picnic tables, so you can bring lunch, but you can’t take food into the sprayground area itself. FREE
The sports-themed Manalapan splash pad offers gentle misters and small water canons. Photo by Stephanie Forton.
Manalapan Recreation – Manalapan
Manalapan Township recently added a splash pad to its recreation complex. This sports-themed sprayground is great for the little ones, with gentle misters, small water canons, and mild sprayers. There is a covered pavilion with picnic tables and restrooms nearby, and the large recreation center features trails, playgrounds, and basketball courts. The sprinklers here work off of a motion sensor, so if your kids are the first ones there, have them wave their hands in front of the sensor to get the water flowing. FREE
Mattano Park – Elizabeth
Your kids will get a kick out of the sports-themed sprayground at the Union County park. The soccer field–inspired water pad centers around a large spraying soccer ball with crossbar-goal water jets at both ends. A stone’s throw away is the new inclusive playground, with an accessible merry-go-all, roller side, roller table, swing seats, and other play equipment. FREE
Michael Lepp Park – Somerville
Just a few years old, the Spray Park at Michael Lepp Park is a great place to bring young children on a hot summer day. This free spray park offers a variety of water features including canons and buckets. It's adjacent to basketball courts and a regular playground, so kids have plenty of options to keep them entertained (and parents can easily keep their eye on several kids at once). There are some nice shady spots where parents can relax and enjoy the action, so be sure to bring towels and chairs. The water playground is located near a street, so be prepared to keep an eye on very young children. In addition to the Spray Park, Michael Lepp Park also features a wading pool for registered town residents. FREE
Michael J. Tighe Park – Freehold
There’s a sprayground and splash pad at this vibrant playground, so be prepared to get wet! Little ones will love the splash pad area with lower-to-the-ground sprinklers, dumping buckets, and in-ground sprays. The adjacent sprayground provides even more water fun, with tall sprayers and sprinkler rings to run through. After splashing around in the water, have some dry fun at the playground and picnic areas. The fee is $4 for kids under 14 and $3 for adults.
Pine Street Park – Roselle
This hidden gem, formerly known as Bud Simmons Park, has a cute and colorful fenced-in sprayground. Little explorers will love running through this forest-themed water pad, with tall, flower-shaped sprayers, giant bee and frog climbers, in-ground ladybug sprayers, and a tall tree in the middle where kids can take cover from the sun and water. In addition to the water fun, there are two playgrounds, a basketball court, picnic area, and gazebo.
Ponderosa Park – Scotch Plains
This pretty park boasts a modest set of sprinklers in the playground that typically turn on at about 8 a.m. on hot days. Parents set up shop on the grass while kids cool down in the water. There are bathrooms and benches that dot the perimeter, and an ice cream truck is usually stationed there on weekends. There's not a ton of shade on the playground, but families can duck under the park's trees to escape summer's heat. There are two playgrounds: one for ages 2–5 and the other for 5 and up. Both have slides and climbing walls; there are also swings and a netted climbing structure. It's a popular spot for kid birthday parties, too. FREE
Snyder Avenue Park – Berkeley Heights
This 13-acre park includes a modest spray park next to its playground, as well as a great walking trail and more. The fenced-in playground features play equipment for children of various ages, as well as rock walls, and swings. The cute football-themed sprayground was possible because of a generous donation from the New York Jets. It's modest and lacking in shade, but the little ones and locals love it. FREE
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The Warinanco Park sprayground includes more than 100 spray jets! Photo courtesy of UCNJ.
Warinanco Park – Roselle
Union County's sprawling Warinanco Park debuted a fresh new children's area last spring that includes both a playground and sprayground. Located near the boat house, the splash pad features a giant tree fountain in the middle and more than 100 spray jets. Other family activities at the park include boating, skating, hiking, biking, and picnicking. FREE
Veterans Park Sprayground and Playground – Monroe
The generously sized sprayground at this park is fenced in, and there are many different water features, including water canons, buckets that dump from above, rings to run through, and an oversize mushroom shower. The large, clean park offers playground equipment for children of various ages and a rock wall to keep your kids busy, but not a ton of shade. Parents often set up towels along the inside of the splash pad while the kids cool off. Pack a picnic and use one of the many picnic tables available there. Open 10 a.m. to dusk. FREE
Southern New Jersey
Bridgeton City Park Splash Park – Bridgeton
The splash park in Bridgeton City Park, which opened in 2013, offers more than 2,000 square feet of cool summer fun—all fenced in! It takes inspiration from its neighbor, the Cohanzick Zoo, and includes 28 zoo-themed fixtures, including fountains, buckets, water wheels, and canons. In addition to the water deck, the site features outdoor showers, restrooms, a concession stand, benches, and two pavilions. This year marked the opening of a brand-new mini golf course. The splash park is open seven days a week in the summer (after school is out) from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., with additional hours during July and August. There is a small fee ($3) to enter the sprayground, and you can also reserve it for birthday parties.
Fasola Park – Deptford
Fasola Park opened its newly renovated playground and splash pad last year, and while the water section is small, it still does the job. Kids will love running through the sprayground's water jets, which are controlled by pushing a green button located in the middle of the splash pad. It's right next to the playground, which allows parents to easily keep an eye on more than one child. FREE
Johnson's Corner Farm Discovery Barnyard – Medford
You can easily spend an entire day at this family farm, so make sure you pack swimsuits and towels with you before heading out. Located outside of the Discovery Barnyard, the splash pad is a great place for kids to to cool off after strawberry picking, animal feeding, and hayriding around the farm. Daily passes are $9 for kids 1–12; kids 13+ and adults are $4.50. A season pass is $60 per child; $30 per adult. The Discovery Barnyard also includes go-carts, climbers, slides, and a rope maze. Dedicated bathrooms and a food service area exclusive to Discovery Barnyard guests will make your family feel like VIPs.
Tips for Visiting a Water Playground with Kids
- Don’t forget dry towels, sunscreen, and dry clothing. Remember to bring a plastic or mesh bag for wet bathing suits and towels. Do yourself a favor and place important items like cell phones in Ziploc baggies.
- Check ahead to see if there are changing facilities or restrooms available.
- Some water playgrounds prefer swim diapers for the little ones.
- Figure out what the parking situation is ahead of time, if you are traveling by car. Some playgrounds do not offer a parking lot.
- Hours: The time the water gets turned on and off can vary depending on the crowd, weather, and particular park, but hours seem to run something like 10 to dusk at most spots, with the water going on as long as it's hot out, even before Memorial Day in some cases. Daily hours typically start when school lets out; otherwise it's weekends only.
Top image: Asbury Splash Park. Photo by Ray Clark via Flickr.
This article first published in 2012 but has been updated for 2017.