Send Off Summer With a Splash
Friday, August 25, 2006
The summer has been so hot, even the toddlers have wanted to stay inside. Parents' usual bad-weather fallbacks -- the shopping mall and kiddie movies -- have grown stale.
But before the area's spraygrounds and public water parks close for the season, head outdoors. Think of how your children love dashing through the sprinkler at home and add your pleasure with a change of scenery, which is what you'll find at these water playgrounds, all suitable for small children.
Note that most parks forbid bringing toys, require swimsuits on all visitors and swim diapers or rubber training pants on youngsters who aren't toilet-trained. Labor Day is the final day of seasonal operation unless otherwise noted.
FREE NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS
This list, though not comprehensive, contains noteworthy spots where kids can get a no-cost sprinkle and play with other children.
FRIENDSHIP PARK 45th and Van Ness streets NW; 202-282-2198; www.turtlepark.org . Regulars know this park off Massachusetts Avenue by its nickname, Turtle Park, derived from the hard-shelled concrete turtle at the center of its big, toy-filled sandbox. Its sprayground consists of a fenced concrete area with a few geysers. Even if you don't get wet, Turtle Park makes a pleasing hot-day destination thanks to the trees that shade almost the entire park.
LAFAYETTE PARK 5701 Broad Branch Rd. NW. The Lafayette Elementary School playground features spinning-flower sprinklers. Other highlights include a toddler area with plenty of toys, a roomy sandbox and an enticing fire-engine climbing apparatus.
PALISADES COMMUNITY CENTER 5200 Sherrier Pl. NW; 202-282-2186; http:/
GOOD HOPE SPRAYGROUND 14715 Good Hope Rd., Silver Spring. Water sprays from six fountains onto a flat-surface sprayground. A simple and effective play area.
SILVER SPRING FOUNTAIN Silver Plaza between Fenton Street and Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring. 301-587-0867. Located amid the bustle of the newly regentrified downtown, this mosaic basin invites little dippers to test its randomly spouting fountains. Closed for repair; scheduled to reopen sometime in September.
HAYES PARK 1516 N. Lincoln St., Arlington. 703-228-3000. Across from Science Focus Elementary School. A shaded sprayground with a fountain and spinning toys. The play area has a big sandbox, swings and picnic tables.
LYON VILLAGE PARK 1800 N. Highland St., Arlington. 703-228-3000. http:/
PUBLIC WATER PARKS
These locations guarantee a good time for sweaty toddlers, bored big kids and adults who can sit back and supervise. Call for admission fees. Prices average $4 to $6, except at Great Waves, which charges $10 to $13.
BOHRER PARK 512 S. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg; 301-258-6445. A 250-foot double water slide (for kids 48 inches or taller) twists into a splash pool, where shorter children can wade near animal sprinklers and enjoy mini slides. Open 11 to 7:30 Friday and Saturday; 11 to 7 Sunday-Thursday and Sept. 2 and 3; and 11 to 5 Sept. 4.
GLENN DALE SPLASH PARK 11901 Glenn Dale Blvd., Glenn Dale; 301-352-8980. Next to a community center, this outdoor pool includes slides and interactive play areas. Open noon to 8 Monday-Saturday, noon to 7 Sundays.
LANE MANOR SPLASH PARK 7601 West Park Dr. Hyattsville; 301-422-7284. Slides, lily pads and a spouting snake and alligator enliven this local swimming hole. Open noon to 7 daily.
SPLASH PLAYGROUND AT SOUTH GERMANTOWN RECREATIONAL PARK 18056 Central Park Cir., Boyds; 301-601-3580. Part of a public athletic facility that includes an indoor pool and miniature golf, this large outdoor sprayground features a randomly spouting maze; brimming pails that dump water onto children's heads; mist-spraying faux rock formations; a waterfall-enclosed cave; and gentle animal-shaped fountains for more timid visitors. Open 10 to 7 daily through Labor Day. Open weekends only until Sept. 26.
DOWNPOUR AT ALGONKIAN REGIONAL PARK IN STERLING 47001 Fairway Dr., Sterling; 703-430-7683. http:/
GREAT WAVES AT CAMERON RUN REGIONAL PARK 4001 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria; 703-960-0767; http:/
SIGNAL BAY WATERPARK 9300 Signal View Dr., Manassas Park; 703-335-8872. This pool includes sloping entrance, water cannons, slides and a lazy river. Open daily 11 to 8.