Besides the miles of family-friendly beaches we have in Los Angeles, we also have the best splash pads, water playgrounds, spraygrounds and parks with water features (whatever you call these cool, H20-based refreshing spots). Check out these free puddle parks guaranteed to give your SoCal kids hours of wet-astic fun.
Alondra Community Regional Park
At 53 acres, and located halfway between Hawthorne and Torrance in Lawndale, this park features a duck pond, scooter paths, a playground, the occasional visit from an ice cream man, and a splash pad that is full of entertainment for the entire family. If you have a big kid in tow, they may even enjoy the skate park or the full size swimming pool. But if parents are simply looking for easy (and free!) enjoyment, stick to the splash pad — it’s hours of soaking wet fun. This park's water play area is open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. all summer long.
3850 W. Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Annenberg Community Beach House
Okay, okay, we know we just said that splash pads are great in lieu of the beach but hear us out about this spot first. This oceanside facility is open to the public and has a great sandy play area and splash pad (limited shade here but lots of tables and chairs which is great for picnicking). And while there is easy beach access is well (with easy access to your car), there is something to be said for relaxing with an ocean view while your water babies splash and play all day (without worrying about undertow or riptides amiright?).
If you’re craving a pool experience, you can buy day passes for the historical beach house pool (half off on Mon.) but if you don’t feel like the extra work, just lay low at the pad. Offseason hours vary but the splash pad is officially open May through Sept. from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
415 Pacific Coast Highway
Santa Monica, CA 90402
Rio De Los Angeles State Park
The LA River’s popularity has experienced a renaissance as of late, and there are hidden gems tucked throughout. One of those is the Rio De Los Angeles State Park. This park, once a facility for repairing and maintaining railroad cars, was recently transformed into a beautiful space surrounded by restored river wetlands and returning native wildlife.
Rio De Los Angeles has great sports fields, a playground, hiking trails with views of the river and, of course, the splash pad. Don’t forget your picnic lunch and blanket because there are plenty of shaded grassy areas to get comfortable and enjoy a lazy summer day. This cool down spot is open from mid-Jun. through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
1900 N. San Fernando Rd.
Rancho Tapo Community Park
All of LA can get hot, but places like Simi Valley really sizzle, so it’s not surprising that one of the city’s best splash pads is located there. Affectionately known by locals as "Lemon Park," this exceptionally well-maintained (read: clean!) spot also offers a playground, sports courts (they have bocce ball!), fitness equipment and 1/2 mile of trails for little hikers.
After you’ve sampled all the park’s amenities, take your brood under the giant mushroom sprinkler to cool down. Beating the heat has never been more peaceful. The pad is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
3700 Avenida Simi
Coldwater Canyon Park
More stream than splash pad, this adorable grassy area in Beverly Hills has a gentle man-made creek for the littles to splash around in making it a popular hot spot for cooling off. The playground side of this park will be closed for a couple months beginning in May due to equipment upgrades but the river side will be flowing and open for picnics and lounging during the hot summer months. Don’t mistake this place for the Coldwater Canyon Park up Mulholland — this one is right across from the fire station where Beverly Dr. and Coldwater Canyon meet. Open daily.
1100 N. Beverly Dr.
Pacific Park Community Center
Hot time, summer in the valley! Take the bambinos to Pacific Park’s water play area for splash pad shenanigans that will keep the whole family cool as a cucumber. Once everyone is sufficiently water-logged, dry off and head over to the Pacific Park library for some air-conditioned book browsing. This pad is open mid-Jun. through mid-Sept., 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily.
501 S. Pacific Ave.
Stoner Park Splash Pool
If your older fish want more out of a cool-down experience than just a few misters, this spot has a pool with a splash pad attached so there’s a little something for everyone. The splash pad has fountains, sprays and water walls that line the front edge of the gradual entry pool providing non-stop fun.
Once the more adventurous of the bunch have acclimated to the cooler water temperatures (ideal for a hot day), they can shift to the pool (or the twisty water slide for ages 7 and up!), which is 4 1/2 feet deep and allows for safe swimming.
Because of the pool, this splash pad has an admission fee of $3.50 for adults and $1 for kids. There’s a 1-1 ratio of adults to kids in the pool for kids under 7 and everyone must have a bathing suit to enter. Pool and water slide hours vary, so be sure to check the website.
1835 Stoner Ave.
Panorama Recreation Center
Dump buckets, waterfalls, and bubbling fountains make this seasonal splash pad a huge hit with the locals and beyond. There is a playground right next to the water play area so chances are your little frogs will be nicely worn out after hopping around this place for a while! There is limited shade so be sure to bring lots of sunscreen along with (required) bathing suits. Opens 2nd week in Jun. through the rest of the summer from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily.
8600 Hazeltine Ave.
Virginia Avenue Park
This 9.5-acre park in the heart of Santa Monica is a beauty and a great place to bring a group of friends to spend the day. The park boasts two modern playgrounds, basketball courts, ample parking, a “patio” for picnicking and, of course, the splash pad.
Splashing is paramount here with water shooting from the walls and ground at alternating intervals accompanied by several water “cannons” that will be sure to keep everyone nice and wet. The park is also adjacent to the Pico Branch Library with a Whole Foods across the street (perfect place to pick up some picnic items) and hosts a weekly Farmer’s Market on Sat. The hours of operation are subject to change due to drought restrictions, so call ahead before suiting up! Otherwise, this splash pad is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
2200 Virginia Ave.
Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain at Grand Park
A sparkling oasis in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, this public fountain with an interactive splash pad is virtually irresistible to kids of all ages. This wide open space puts the “slick” in “city-slickers” providing a refreshing space to move freely and jump through the multitude of spouts that give way to mini fountains springing from the ground.
There is plenty of outdoor pink furniture which you’re welcome to move into the shade as you sip your iced coffee from Starbucks (located right next to the fountain). Lunchtime usually opens the park up to delicious food trucks so you and your hungry hippos will have plenty of options. Grand Park also has a ridiculously fun and sunny playground so it’s best to hit it up at off-peak heat hours either early or late in the day. Open daily but closed Wed. May 24 through Tues. May 30th for maintenance.
210 N. Grand Ave.
La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center
As far as full-blown water parks go, this pirate-themed one is just the right size to navigate with little ones and older kids alike and will keep everyone entertained for hours. Buccaneer Bay features three water slides for daredevils (height restrictions apply) and a lazy river for those who prefer to float. There is also a children’s play area and two spray and splash pad spots where your soaked sprouts can wallow in water ‘til their heart’s content.
Weekends at this park can quickly become overcrowded so best to plan your visit during the week. Kids tickets are $14.95 for the day and adults are $19.95. Check the website calendar for specific hours on specific dates. Otherwise, the park is open daily in the summer beginning Memorial Day weekend.
13806 La Mirada Blvd.
Tips to Know Before You Go:
- As with most of the splash pads and water play areas listed above, it’s always a good idea to call first before heading over to confirm they are operational as things can change from week to week based on drought regulations.
- Along with bathing suits and sunscreen, it’s advisable to pack water shoes for little feet as wet surfaces generally equate to slippery situations.
- Parking options will vary from place to place (some have free lots and street parking where others charge to park) so again, it’s best to check the websites or call ahead to sort out parking before you leave.
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—LeTania Kirkland Smith & Jenifer Scott