Summer is here, which means all I want to do is play in water. But sometimes getting all geared up to go to the pool is more than I have the time or energy for. And if I had little ones, I can imagine that it would be nice to have a fun (and free!) alternative to the constant monitoring required at a swimming pool. Enter: DC’s splash parks! These are fantastic mini-waterparks scattered throughout the city that feature jets of water spraying up out of the ground.
14th and Park Road Spray Park – 14th Street and Park Road, NW. This fountain has a mosaic tile surface with multiple jets of water. There is seating along the low perimeter wall.
Pros: Easily accessible via public transportation and parking, close to shopping and restaurants
Cons: Very crowded at all times, no shade
Chevy Chase Spray Park (aka Livingston Park) – 5500 41st Street, NW. The spray area has a concrete surface and is within the same fenced area as the playground.
Pros: Large park with a nice playground, shaded
Cons: Can be crowded
Friendship Spray Park (aka Turtle Park) – 4500 Van Ness Street, NW. There are several ground-level fountains that wet most of the 20’ x 20’ enclosed area. There are a couple of benches that are not guaranteed to be out of the spray zone.
Pros: Large park with nice playground and sandbox, shaded, communal toys and tricycles
Cons: Small and basic spray area, tile surface broken, not convenient to public transportation
Palisades Spray Park – 5200 Sherier Place, NW. Ground-level jets, dumping buckets, and a small water slide are on a rubberized surface. There are shaded picnic tables nearby.
Pros: Brand new facility with adjacent playground, shaded, dedicated parking
Cons: Crowded, mixed ages in the same play area can result in roughhousing and little ones not being able to use some features
Petworth Spray Park – 801 Taylor Street, NW. The spray area is enclosed but separate from the playground. The spray area features ground-level jets, dumping buckets, and carwash-style run-throughs. There are several benches.
Pros: Elaborate and large spray area, adjacent playground
Cons: Not shaded
Downtown Silver Spring fountain – 916 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring, MD. There are many ground-level jets on a mosaic surface about 20’ across. There is shaded makeshift seating along the perimeter wall.
Pros: Easily accessible by public transportation and parking, nearby shops and restaurants
Cons: Unenclosed area with many passersby
Westminster Park – 911 Westminster Street NW. Ground-level jets shoot across the area at the center of the park. The water area is in the same fenced area as the playground.
Pros: Shaded, communal toys and tricycles, rubber surface
Cons: Small park
Georgetown Waterfront – 3000 K Street, NW. The waterfront fountain is both pretty and fun. The water on the rubberized surface gets gradually deeper to about 8”.
Pros: Large water area where kids can wade and splash, duck feeding nearby
Cons: Can be difficult or expensive to park
National Zoo American Trail Exhibit – 3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Ground-level jets spray at alternating intervals, and a periodic “high tide” washes over the entire area.
Pros: Kids can splash along side the sea lions
Cons: Small area can get congested, no seating
Yards Park – 355 Water Street, SE. A new waterfront facility. The spray/water play area includes a shallow pool, waterfall, and ground-level jets.
Pros: Large pool doesn’t get too crowded, shaded areas with tables and chairs available
Cons: Driving and parking can be a hassle.