It’s hotter than…well, it’s pretty dang hot out there.
My husband says that summer sneaked up on us this year. After the rain and the surprisingly mild spring days, it seems like everyone is feeling the heat, literally.
Between my three-year-old and my newborn, I’m always looking for outdoor options that:
- Let my oldest run a lot and get tired.
- Give me an opportunity to keep an eye on my baby while she (hopefully) snoozes the morning away in her stroller.
But, as we all know, it’s too freakishly hot to just play outside. So, where does that leave us? For our family, we look for any way possible to jump, run, roll, whatever, in the water. My three-year-old isn’t a swimmer yet, so pools are out, but thank goodness, San Antonio has some of the best and most fun water play spots around.
Here are a few of our favorite splash pads and water play areas in San Antonio and the surrounding communities:
Free Splash Pads/Water Play Areas
Fischer Park (1820 McQueeney Rd., New Braunfels, TX 78130; open daily from the Friday before Spring Break through November 1st, 9:00 A.M.–9:00 P.M.)—My first-ever splash pad experience was at Fischer Park, and I spent the whole summer making the quick trek up 35 to New Braunfels. Tons of space, playground equipment, picnic and party pavilions—what more could you ask for? Oh, well, if you said a giant bucket that periodically floods the spraygrounds with a spectacular splash and a chorus of gleeful shrieks, then you’re right on the money. My favorite moment? Seeing my toddler innocently playing, then noticing the bucket was about to spill, and seeing her book it out of there, Baby Usain Bolt-style. Take a look at Dawn’s Fischer Park write-up for more details; the only thing that’s changed is the party pavilion fees (now $25/hour).
The Pearl (303 Pearl Pkwy., San Antonio, TX 78215, one mile north of downtown San Antonio; check website for hours)—Could The Pearl get any more perfect? I love the plaza feeling at The Pearl, as well as the convenience of being able to access almost anything you could ever desire within the span of one city complex. The splash pad at The Pearl is basic in the best way: plenty of water geysers spraying and lots of open space for kids to run and play between sprays. You can bring a picnic basket for a picturesque lunch or pick up food from any of the nearby restaurants, including amazing doughnuts from Maybelle’s, macarons from Bakery Lorraine, or ice cream from Lick Honest Ice Creams. (Can you tell I’m in the mood for dessert?!)
Yanaguana Garden (434 S. Alamo St., San Antonio, TX 78205; open daily from 7:00–12:00 A.M.)—This downtown revitalization project just keeps getting better. It seems like every time I drive past Yanaguana, there’s something new and fun to enjoy, like Dough Pizzeria or a giant chess board, for starters. The splash pad is a perennial favorite for park-goers, though, and I’ll admit I’ve even let my daughter play in it in her regular clothes when we’ve taken a downtown walk that just got a little longer and hotter than expected. Waterfalls, spraying fountains, and paletas just around the corner—what’s not to love?
Pearsall Park (4700 Old Pearsall Park, San Antonio, TX 78242; open M-F, 9:00 A.M.–9:00 P.M.)—OK, Northsiders, if there’s one thing that you should drive across town for, it’s this park. Pearsall Park is all about fitness and getting outside, with trails, fitness challenge zones, and a skate park. The splash pad and playground are the top draw for families with little ones—the splash pad is billed as the largest in the city, and it’s surrounded by the largest playground. “Everything’s bigger in Texas” types, meet your new favorite play destination!
Bulverde Community Park (29815 Bulverde Ln., Bulverde, TX 78163; open daily from 6:00 A.M.–11:00 P.M.)—This park is a great setting for birthdays, with party pavilions for rent, sports fields, a playground, and, of course, the splash pad!
Voigt Park (700 El Portal Dr., Hollywood Park, TX 78232; open Tuesday–Sunday, 8:00 A.M.–10:00 P.M.)—This little sprayground is a hidden gem. It’s nestled in the City of Hollywood Park, and it’s a great area for toddlers and little ones who want to run around and have fun—simplicity at its best! If you’re up for a dip in the pool, you can swim right next door for a small fee.
Lincoln Park (2915 E. Commerce, San Antonio, TX 78202; hours not yet available at time of publication)—This is hot off the presses, but Lincoln Park’s first phase revitalization efforts are now complete! The new park held its grand opening on June 16 and includes a gorgeous splash pad with tons of room to play.
Elmendorf Lake Park (3700 W. Commerce St., San Antonio, TX 78207; open daily from 9:00 A.M.–9:00 P.M.)—Water fun isn’t ALL about splash pads at this park, but they’re definitely included. Aside from the gorgeous setting with the OLLU campus in the background, the park also has its namesake lake, where fishing and kayaking are allowed. The splash pad and playground are gorgeous, and—bonus!—the playground is covered, so you can enjoy a little respite from the scorching San Antonio sun.
Pay-to-Play Splash Pads/Water Play Areas:
These fun San Antonio destinations also include opportunities for water play. An admission fee or membership is required at each.
San Antonio Botanical Garden (555 Funston Pl, San Antonio, TX 78209; open daily from 9:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M.; water feature closes at 4:00 P.M.)—Hands down, the Botanical Garden’s No Name Creek is our favorite place to play this summer. With spraying geysers, a waterfall, plenty of room for kicking and splashing, and what my daughter likes to call “the mermaid pool,” there’s plenty of room for dozens of kids to play without feeling too crowded. And, when you’ve gotten your fill of water fun, you have the entire Family Adventure Garden to explore until you’re ready to splash again. In my opinion, it’s highly worth the price of admission. (Check out all the SABOT has to offer in this ACMB post too!)
Morgan’s Wonderland Inspiration Island (5223 David Edwards, San Antonio, TX 78233; check website for operating hours, as these vary by date)—Inspiration Island is the water play area at Morgan’s Wonderland, and it has plenty of room for splashy fun. With five themed splash pad areas and a river boat water ride, your whole family will love it. Fan favorite? According to fellow ACMB writer Shanti, the pirate ship and the waterfall kept her kids entertained for hours. (Check out her full review here.)
San Antonio Zoo (3903 N. Saint Mary’s St., San Antonio, TX 78212; open daily from 9:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M.)—Let’s face it: if you’re going to the zoo, you’re probably not headed there JUST for the water features. You might want to see a few furry and/or feathered friends during your trip. However, the waterworks do help if you want to extend your time outside the house. Little ones can stay busy for hours in the Kronkosky Tiny Tot Nature Spot, which, fortuitously, includes a small stream for wading.
The DoSeum (2800 Broadway St., San Antonio, TX 78209; check website for hours, as these vary by date)—The first few times we went to The Doseum, my daughter was so enthralled with Tiny Town that we couldn’t pry her away to go anywhere else in the complex. Now that she’s a little older, she’s all about the outdoor water area. Boats and streams and the opportunity to give an impromptu science lesson—what’s not to love? And, between the overhead misters and the fact that you can easily duck back into The DoSeum to play, even the hottest day is no match for you!
We can’t promise you tropical breezes and temperate weather, but I hope these splash pads, playgrounds, and water fun spots will help keep you and your family cool this summer. If you have a favorite spot we missed, please comment and let us know so we can add it to our list. Happy splashing!