Opening Day is here, and we couldn’t be more excited. And no, I’m not talking about baseball. I am talking about the other game-changer… SPLASH PAD OPENING DAY!
When I hear ‘splash pad,’ my heart smiles, my sunscreen leaps out to play, and I repeatedly thank the genius behind these mini-wonderlands that keep us all from melting in the hot summer months. And lucky for this water-obsessed mother and her two minnows, Austin is chalk-full of dozens of them.
So you may be asking yourself, ‘Well, which one is best for me and my family?’ No worries. Myself and my two trusty sidekicks are here to help. Our entire May – September consists of meeting with Trotting with Tots, walking/running/panting somewhere in or around Austin, and ending at a splash pad. It is fair to say we think we’ve explored them all — the outstanding, the meh, and the ‘Melanie Griffiths’ (stop trying so hard to improve it and just let it be).
Because there are so many stupendous pads to choose from, let’s work our way from the North (including Leander and Cedar Park) to South, shall we?
Here are the Best Splash Pads in and around Austin:
Robin Bledsoe Splash Plop (601 S Bagdad Rd, Leander): Open daily beginning 5.15, 9a-8p FREE
Shade: Not so much. There are 3-4 long tables under canopies, but the splash area itself is completely exposed.
Bathrooms: Just outside the fence
Side note(s): This splash area is perfect for little ones. It’s completely fenced in and in the center of the splash area, puddles form so that you can sit and wade in the water on extra hot days. Just be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and brimmed hats. And heads-up, there are water cannons, but luckily they don’t swing far enough to soak innocent spectators.
The Quarry Splash City (3005 County Road 175, Leander): Open daily beginning 5.20, 10a-7p $
Shade: Is a hot commodity here. Those that come early claim the shadiest portions of the astroturf. With that being said, if you get there when it opens, you’ll have plenty of shade.
Bathrooms: Yes, and very clean.
Parking: There is a large lot near the entrance, and if that’s full, there is a back-up lot.
Side note(s): Costs a couple bucks for everyone over 3, but it’s well worth the drive for this incredible splash city! And something my inner Country Girl likes? The park still uses an honesty policy for payment. *CASH ONLY*
And if you get sick of splashing around this awesome space (unlikely), there is a train depot nearby that runs on the :15 and :45 of every hour. The commentary on the train is a hoot. The train takes both cash and card and costs a couple bucks.
Elizabeth Milburn Tot Time (1901 Sun Chase Blvd, Cedar Park): Open M-F beginning 6.6-8.19, 10a-12p $
*This is not actually a splash pad, but rather a very shallow pool that opens just for wee ones from 0-5 years of age.
Shade: There are large canopies over the seating areas, but the kiddie pool is wide open.
Bathrooms: Not far from the swimming area
Side note(s): Waterslide. Boom. Attentive lifeguards, and plenty of them. The pool supplies lifejackets, so if you forget yours for Tot Time, they have you covered.
Lake Park @ Brushy Creek Splash Pad (3300 Brushy Creek Rd, Cedar Park): Open Daily 6a-8p FREE
Shade: Not over the splash site directly, but definitely in the surrounding areas.
Bathrooms: Newly renovated and spacious
Parking: Limited space so it can get a bit crowded, especially on the weekends.
Side note(s): There is a huge lake here (hence the name of the park) in which you can fish and/or rent kayaks to go boating. In addition to the water activities, there are sand volleyball courts, a bocce ball court and a pretty sweet playscape. Lots of pavilions available for rent as well, so there are often parties going on while you’re splashing. The park sits along Brushy Creek Regional Trail, so the scenery is quite breathtaking.
Champion Park @ Brushy Creek Mini Splashery (3830 Brushy Creek Rd, Cedar Park): Open F, Sa, Su 10a-7p FREE
Shade: It’s hit and miss at this park. The small splash pad is not covered, but the neighboring picnic tables stay very cool thanks to a large canopy.
Bathrooms: A bit far from the splash pad, but they’re nice and clean.
Parking: Has never appeared to be a problem.
Side note(s): Not only does Champion have it’s quaint splash pad, but there is also a dinosaur dig, huge sand pit with toys left from other friends and large rock structures that are fun to climb.
Prete Plaza Main Street Splash Pad (221 E Main St, Round Rock): Currently open, 7:30a-10p FREE
Bathrooms: Last summer there were plenty of Johnny on the Spots nearby, but if that doesn’t suit you, there is rumor that a public restroom is now available to splashers.
Parking: There is only street-lined parking available, so depending on the time of day, it can get tricky. Perhaps pack an umbrella stroller just incase you need to walk a few extra blocks?
Side note(s): The Round Rock public library is just across the street and they offer story time a couple times a week. Might be something worth looking into pre-splash.
Falcon Pointe Slippery Splash (1813 Tranquility Ln, Pflugerville): Currently open, 10a-9p FREE
Shade: There are several tables under a large canopy as well as some shade surrounding the pad thanks to the trees, but not much happening over the water features.
Bathrooms: Very close and very clean.
Parking: Street parking only.
Side note(s): The splash pad is in a residential neighborhood, so please be courteous of residents and their mailboxes, driveways, etc. Also, we found the splash pad to be a bit slick last year. This may or may not have been due to excessive amounts of pollen on the ground when we were there. Splash or slip with caution.
NE Metro Hidden Splash Gem (15500 Sun Light Near Way, Pflugerville): Currently open, 10a-7p FREE
Shade: There are large canopies that cover the playscape, but not a whole lot elsewhere.
Bathrooms: Very clean and very close to the splashing and playing area.
Parking: Finding a spot shouldn’t be a problem.
Side note(s): We consider this splash pad a gem because there are often no other people around when we visit here. That could be due to the fact that it’s a bit hard to find. When you enter the park, follow signs to the skate park which is located in the Southern most point of the park. Just past the skaters, you will see large blue canopies and a pair of restrooms. You have found the treasure.
Bartholomew Soak Pad (1800 E. 51st St.): Open daily beginning 5.15, 9a-8p FREE
Shade: Yes, and lots of it!
Bathrooms: We have honestly not been back to check them out since the renovation, but they were pretty clean even back in the day.
Parking: The parking lot is brand new, and it will accommodate a lot of patrons.
Side note(s): The playground and park have recently been renovated and there is a super sweet municipal pool nearby. It costs a few bucks, and you’ll need to double check their hours of operation, but it looks to be something worth checking out.
Bailey Park Drench Pad (North Central): Open daily beginning 5.15, 9a-8p FREE
Shade: Large trees surrounding the area, but when you’re in the water, you are glistening in the sun.
Bathrooms: Very near the fun, but be warned that they are often not the most delightful. Let’s just say that they don’t discriminate and are loved by all—people, animal sand bugs alike. Parking: Can be tricky. With a school and hospital nearby, street parking is available, but it is limited.
Side note(s): You will get SOAKED here. Come prepared with a towel and a change of clothes. Dump buckets, waterfalls, ground poppers… Bailey has it all!
Chestnut Splash Pad (1404 E 16th St): Open daily starting 5.15, 9a-8p FREE
Shade: There is a large covered picnic area and a tree-covered playground, but the pad itself is out in the sunshine.
Bathrooms: Last year there was 1 portable toilet for use, and it was quite clean.
Parking: street parking, and being that it’s in a residential area, it is somewhat hard to come by.
Side note(s): With each passing year, the young trees will grow and this park will provide more and more shade. It’s a fairly unknown splash pad, so often it’s not as busy as some of the others. Lots of open space as well, so it’s fun to fly a kite or just plain frolic.
Pease Park Splash Pad (1100 Kingsbury Street): Open daily starting 5.15, 9a-8p FREE
Shade: As a participant, lacking. As an onlooker, findable.
Bathrooms: not too far, and they’re exceptionally well maintained. (A big ‘Thank You!’ to Austin Parks and Rec.)
Parking: If you’re lucky enough to get one of the spots at the bottom of the hill, you should buy a lotto ticket. And if you’re like me, prepare to use your parking brake San Francisco-style.
Side note(s): The park has multiple playgrounds and fields. There are loads of stone picnic tables perfect for snacking. Pease Park is located along Shoal Creek Trail which means you can get down to Ladybird Lake from here or travel North on a beautiful dog-filled trail.
Rosewood Secret Splashery (1182 Pleasant Valley): Open daily starting 5.15, 9a-8p FREE
Shade: If you want it, Rosewood has it. But if you’d prefer sun, you can find that here too. In my mind, the perfect mix.
Bathrooms: There are two handicap (aka more spacious) port-a-potties super close, or official plumbed-toilets in the community center just up the hill.
Parking: There are two lots so if one is full, venture on over to the other one.
Side note(s): There is hardly ever anyone else here and the amount of water features is spot-on. There are enough squirters that no two kids are fighting, and it isn’t so elaborate that you’re afraid the kiddos (or you) will be overwhelmed.
Eastwoods Spankin’ New Splash (3001 Harris Park Blvd): Open daily starting 5.15, 9a-8p FREE
Shade: There are some really great trees throughout Eastwoods Park itself, but I do not believe the new splash pad will be covered.
Bathrooms: Across the park, but usually in decent shape.
Parking: This park would be frequented so much more if it weren’t for the parking. You must pay for parking, and that’s IF you can find a spot that isn’t reserved for local residents.
Side note(s): This park is huge, and it has a ton of space to play. The city worked very hard to revive this beautiful park, so bring a kite or a picnic and enjoy the sounds of the city.
Metz Splash Pad (2400 Canterbury St): Open daily starting 5.15, 9a-8p FREE
Shade: yes, yes, yes!
Bathrooms: Are located in the community center, so please be kind and dry off before wandering in. And if you don’t want to go in there, you can mosey down the hill and use the public restrooms there.
Parking: One large parking lot.
Sidenote(s): This park is located just off the Eastern tip of Ladybird Lake Hike and Bike Trail so if you’re up for a nice jaunt, go check out Longhorn Dam. On Fridays, the community center assembles a FREE lunch to any visiting guest (and it’s always yummy in the tummy).
Clarksville Shady Splashing (1811 W 11th St): Open daily starting 5.15, 9a-8p FREE
Shade: Oh indeed.
Bathrooms: Connected to the splash area, and in decent shape.
Parking: Street parking only, so it can get a bit congested.
Side note(s): This splash pad often has a lot of resident kids, but it never feels overcrowded. Be weary when sitting on the South bench, you will get wet. Some human, whether intentional or not, will stand on that one sprayer and POW. Consider this an adequate warning–I’m using this as a reminder for myself as well since I seem to always forget. (Sprayer – 4, Me – 0)
Liz Carpenter Splashapalooza (1000 Barton Springs Rd): Open Mon 12noon-9:45p, T-Su 8a-9:45p FREE
Shade: Not so much.
Bathrooms: Just a ways from the splash pad, but new and exceptionally clean.
Parking: Nearly impossible unless you pay the fee to park in the Parmer Events Center. Your best bet? Try to find parallel parking somewhere along Riverside Drive.
Sidenote(s): This is a popular splash pad because of it’s central location so be prepared to constantly lean in and out to find the location of your child as they hop from watering hole to watering hole. On the upside, because of it’s Central location, there are so many fun places to grab a bite to eat after you’re done playing. Try The Picnic Food Truck Park for a nice variety all in one spot!
Ricky Guerrero Sopping Splashscape (1100 Brodie St): Open daily starting 5.15, 9a-8p FREE
Shade: Yes, and we are SO appreciate it in August!
Bathrooms: Right next to the splashing, but they tend to need a little TLC. In any case, they get the job done.
Parking: A very small parking lot that fills quickly, however, there is street parking. You may have to walk a block or two, but sometimes that’s OK so you don’t have to deal with the traffic when you are trying to leave.
Side note(s): This splash pad is in the Southern heart of downtown and it is so FUN! It’s not a very well kept secret, so be prepared for a busy pad. And be prepared to get drenched!
Dick Nichols Splash Fountain (8011 Beckett Rd): Currently open, 9a-8p FREE
Shade: With newly installed canopies and big towering Live Oaks, this park throws some nice shade.
Bathrooms: Adjacent to the playscape and relatively well maintained.
Side note(s): If you’re looking for a splash pad that won’t leave you wringing out your kid’s clothes, this one if for you! It’s more of an oversized whale/dolphin fountain. Quite a bit of seating nearby so you can watch your minions from the shade, while eating your bonbons. There is also a 1.2 mile loop around the property that is great for scooters or beginning bikers–fairly flat and completely paved.
Bee Cave Galleria Splash Dance (12700 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave): Currently under repair so no hours have been posted as of yet.
Shade: Since last year, the wooden arbor has been taken down so the pad is in direct sunlight.
Bathrooms: There are several sets nearby.
Parking: Mall parking, so you may have to walk a bit, but you are sure to find a spot somewhere.
Side note(s): Right next to the splash pad is a library, so you can make two super fun trips in one! New jets were added to the splashing fun, and its a few feet from it’s old location to add more lawn space and seating for us Moms while we socialize and watch out kiddos play in the water. Call for status updates before heading that way: 512-263-0001
What is your favorite Austin splash pad?