It’s hotter than… well, it’s pretty dang hot out there.
Summer showed up with a “go big or go home” attitude this year; gifting all of us triple-digit temperatures in May. Now that the school year has wrapped up, it seems like everyone is feeling the heat, literally.
With three kiddos ranging from seven months to seven years, I’m always looking for outdoor options that:
- Let my older two run a lot and get tired.
- Give baby a space to play or nap (depending on the time of day, his mood, the length of the car ride… you get it).
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. Though sometimes we need a break from the pool to preserve my sanity and provide a change of scenery for the munchkins. 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
Emmitt Park (2477 N Loop 1604, San Antonio, TX 78232) Located on the Community Bible Church Campus and built as “a gift to the city” in 2020, Emmitt Park is ideal for family outings. The splash pad is perfectly simple with tons of water geysers to cool everyone off! And you’ll need it with all the different play options at this park. There’s a huge playground, a toddler-friendly play area, a circular swing, and an in-ground merry-go-round. All of this is enclosed by a sturdy fence with gates most easily opened by adult hands (yay for containing the crazies). Outside the fence, you’ll find a shaded seating area, restrooms, and a pavilion of basketball courts. Believe it or not, this is all just part of phase one at Emmitt Park. In February, CBC announced phase two, which will include picnic tables, tennis courts, volleyball courts, cornhole, and more.
Northview Splash Pad (100 Randolph Plaza, Universal City, TX 78148) The Northview Splash Pad in Universal City has everything summer dreams are made of. Its 16 water features are divided into three levels or “bays.” Toddler Bay’s equipment has a more gentle spray. Family Bay showcases a 23-foot spider with different water effects. And the highlight of Teen Bay is the infamous 15-gallon dump bucket. A few other things that make this a great spot are pavilion picnic areas, restrooms, and a nearby playground.
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 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?
Stage Stop Splash Pad (9374 Valhalla Drive, Selma, TX 78154) You really can’t go wrong with the playground/splash pad combo! Stage Stop Park in Selma is proof. Kids can enjoy the two shaded playgrounds until they need to cool off. Then they’ll love getting soaked in the colorful splash pad. The nearby soccer field, basketball court, and walking trails add to the fun. Parents will also appreciate that there is seating as well as real, not-port-o-potty, restrooms.
Benavides Park (1500 Saltillo Street, San Antonio, TX 78207) Good things come in small packages. The modest splash pad at Benavides Park is perfect for littles on those hot summer days! Benavides Park also provides a shaded playground, softball field, pavilion, and basketball court.
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!
Park West (N. Vaughn Ave, Seguin, TX 78155) Park West offers 47 acres of fun including a skate park, athletic fields, nature trails, a playground, and, of course, a splash pad. The splash pad gives kiddos the chance to be squirted, sprayed, and soaked with its variety of water features. The pavilions give parents the chance to sit and stay dry, so everyone wins.
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 splash pad’s grand opening is 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 ACM 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 ACM 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!
Parts of this post were originally published in July 2018 by Natalie.