17 Splash Pads and Spray Grounds to Beat the DC Summer Heat
DC isn't called a swamp just because it was built in a flood-heavy area. Anyone who lives in or has visited the DC area during the summer months knows that DC weather is hot, humid, and sticky! And while heading indoors to explore the area's many museums or indoor play spaces is a great option on those swampy days, jumping into some water is the best way to keep cool. But time doesn't always permit for a daylong excursion to one of DC's many public pools so splash pads and spraygrounds offer a welcome and quick cool down and some summer fun.
To help you locate one in your area, we've put together a list of our favorite splash pads and spraygrounds in DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland. Check out our picks and escape the swamp-like temps and enjoy outdoor fun with the entire family!
Remember: Unless noted, all splash pads listed are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and are free. Always check venue website for additional information, such as rules of play and closures.
1. Canal Basin at Yards Park - Washington, DC
355 Water St., SE
Whether families are looking to just get their feet wet or completely drenched, this spot has something for everyone. The multi level fountain, has water flowing from the upper level to the lower, creating a waterfall effect into a splash pool. No worries though, the water is less than a foot deep and safe for the youngest of splashers. Kids staying up past bedtime can enjoy the fountain which doubles as a light show when it gets dark. Visit the Yards Park website for opening times and rules of play.
Canal Basins Yard Park. Photo courtesy of Captial Riverfront BID
2. Georgetown Waterfront - Washington, DC
Corner of Wisconsin Ave. and K St. NW
Georgetown isn't just for college kids. From its beautiful labyrinth, and gorgeous rain garden, the focal point of this park is definitely the fountain. Families can enjoy the large arching fountain that reaches from the Wisconsin Avenue end to the Potomac river front. Kids can enjoy splashing around the iconic fountain while parents enjoy the scene of the Georgetown Waterfront. For those looking to enjoy after the sun goes down, the fountain is lit in the evenings.
3. Petworth Spray Park- Washington, DC
801 Taylor Street, NW
Set in the area of a traditional park, this splash pad is perfect for the smallest of splashers. Plenty of fountains large and small adorn the concrete space which is enclosed to prevent little ones from wandering off. Not a lot of shade is offered among the colorful sculptures spewing water so an umbrella is advised. Open daily, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
4. Canal Park Fountain- Washington, DC
200 M Street, SE
Not to be confused with the aforementioned Canal Basin at Yards Park, the Canal Park Fountain is the perfect place for little ones during the summer. In addition to the two fountains to splash in, this destination offers a unique summer program for kids. Every Wednesday morning starting June 12, kids can enjoy a Kids in the Canal. The program runs from 10:30am to 11:30am and offer a different theme each week ranging from music, to science demonstrations to magic shows.
5. Turkey Thickett -Washington, DC
1100 Michigan Avenue, NE
This playground splash pad is so much more than meets the eye. The design focuses on two themes: a mini village with mountains, play houses and a farmers market, as well as transportation theme with trains, cars, and boats. The splash pad itself offers a lighthouse and boat, a climbing hill, musical instruments, shade structures and so much more. Children love the sensory equipment, and with a picnic area and bathrooms inside the recreation center, this summer spot is not to be missed.
6. Palisades Playground and Splash Park - Washington, DC
5200 Sherier Place, NW
Leave it to the Nation's Capital to turn everything into a history lesson. This park’s theme is centered around the Potomac and the American Indians that once lived in the area. From a mountain climbing wall, to slides and swaying bridges the park is perfect for pre school aged children. The splash pad offers a water slide, fountain and three raised fish that dump water onto the children. With a shaded pavilion, restrooms and free parking it is a fantastic spot to learn while cooling off.
Photo courtesy of South Germantown Splash Park and Mini Golf
7. Joseph Cole Recreation Center - Washington, DC
1299 Neal Street, NE
The splash pad at this recreation center is simple but large. Four large colorful bands spray kids that can also enjoy the large park that offers two sections, separated by age groups. With two entrances offered at this city spot, the parking lot is located on the Neal Street side, while street parking is available on the Montello Avenue side of the park. Note this park is open from 3:30pm-9:00pm during the week, and from 10:00am-4:00pm on the weekends.
8. 14th and Girard Street Spray Fountains - Washington, DC
14th and Girard St., NW
This cool down spot is perfect for those traveling by Metro. A quick stroll from the Columbia Heights metro stop and families can enjoy all this great park has to offer. In addition to the spray area the facility offers picnic tables, chess tables, and most importantly clean bathrooms. While not as fancy as some of the others listed this easily accessible place provides quick relief from the hot city.
9. Interactive Fountain - Silver Spring, MD
916 Ellsworth Drive
Opens April 26
Get ready to get wet! The colorful mosaic patterned fountain contains jets that shoot water during different intervals and with heights that thrill even the shortest of splashers. This fountain is a favorite in the are among shoppers, diners and theater goers in the downtown area so it can be crowded, especially on the weekends. Unlike most other fountains this one turns on mid spring and stays open through the fall, from 10am to 9pm. The plaza often hosts live music for children on Wednesdays, and in the evenings for adults. Check venue website for schedule and rules for enjoying this downtown attraction.
10. Fountain on the Square - Rockville, MD
12 N Washington Street
This fountain is located in the heart of Rockville and provides non stop fountain fun. A large circle surrounds the 20 jets that continuously shoot water into the air, at heights that are around the size of an average adult. Kids can dry off while climbing the rocks on the near by turf area, and parents can shop at the many stores that surround the square. This splash area is next to a street so parents might want to pay extra attention while visiting this splash pad. Plenty of parking, a covered pavilion and vibrant atmosphere make this one of Maryland's most accessible cool down destinations. The fountains are turned off during special events, so its best to check their website for updates.
11. South Germantown Splash Park and Mini Golf - Boyds, MD
18056 Central Park Circle
Splash park admission: Age 2 and up; $5.50
This popular splash park is not to be missed. It provides a bit more than just your average splash pad where kids can explore the 280 jet water maze with a waterfall, water bucket drops, slide, and spraying animals. There are also smaller fountains available for younger splashers. With plenty of shade and the option to pay for a round of mini golf at the adjacent course, this cool down spot provides all day fun.
12. Virginia Highlands Park - Arlington, VA
1600 S Hayes Street
This nearly 20-acre park offers fun for the entire family. The splash pad in particular has water cannon, mini waterfalls, bucket splashers and so much more. Whats even better is this splash pad was designed with the Earth in mind. A built in recirculation system saves 82,000 gallons of water a month making this spot one you can feel good about while enjoying a break from the heat.
Our Special Harbor Spray Park. Photo courtesy Kim Nguyen
13. Drew Park - Arlington, VA
1600 S Hayes Street
Located next to Charles Drew Community Center, this park includes a splash pad and other great features. The splash pad provides fun that shoots from the ground, as well as a tall flower soaker that shoots water during different intervals. Hoops also spray water at different intervals which means kids can spend their time guessing where they will get soaked from next. After children are done cooling off, they can enjoy the swings, or climbing ropes at the playground.
14. Our Special Harbor Spray Park - Alexandria, VA
6601 Telegraph Road
This fantastic spray ground is fully accessible and has something for splashers of all ages. The Chesapeake-Bay themed spray ground has fun features including a spraying osprey nest, Chessie the sea serpent, misting sunflowers and a lighthouse. For a quieter experience, the beach area offers more subdued fountains and a water table. the computerized water maze and dumping crab basket are perfect for For the older and more energetic child. The rules of this park are a little more strict, for safety, children (15 years and younger) enjoying the spray park, must wear aquatic shoes or sandals with a manufactured back strap at all times; except for non-standing, non-mobile, babies; adults may wear flip-flops. General Admission is free for families; however there is a daily fee for groups. Check website for full details.
15. Fairfax Corner Fountain - Fairfax, VA
11900 Palace Way
Opens May 17
Located near the Fair Lakes area, the Fairfax Corner fountain is very popular for families, especially ones with little children. The sprays vary from short to a bit higher, but the space is manageable for little ones, and offers some shaded spots for parents to keep a watchful eye. Wednesdays usually offer a kids concert or program, details can be found at the venues website. When its time to dry off, kids can enjoy the mini train that travels around the complex. Bring some dry clothes and make a day of it shopping or enjoying the many restaurants the area has to offer.
16. Interactive Fountain at Reston Town Center - Reston, VA
Reston Town Square Park in Reston Town Center, offers two fountains. One to just watch and the other to play in. Mercury Fountain, the big fountain which is strictly for viewing pleasure, but on the west side, at Reston Town Square Park, is an interactive fountain where the kids can splash around and cool off. Its always wise to bring an extra set of dry clothes for the fountains at shopping centers to make a day of it splashing, shopping and dining.
17. Potomac Yard Park Interactive Fountain - Alexandria, VA
Last but not least, Potomac Yard Park. Situated between two playgrounds, the splash area is so much more than just a spray ground. 36 water jets shoot water between two troughs which also feature lights for evening playtime. The fountains are programmable, with sensors controlling the height of the water taking wind speed into consideration. In addition to using fancy technology the fountain uses a water treatment system to keep things clean, and supports the Eco-City Initiative by treating and recycling the water. Summer fun and mother earth friendly? Cooling down never sounded so perfect.