Anybody who’s ever dealt with kids, especially little ones, during the summer months knows that the only thing worse than a hungry kid is a hot kid. And while it’s easy enough to keep some snacks on hand when you’re out and about, it’s not always so easy to find a place where the whole family can keep cool – and have fun. That’s where water play comes in!
While pools are great for older kids, taking a toddler to the pool can be a little nerve racking. So, we thought it would be nice to offer some fun water play options that are good for a range of ages. From local parks to some of Richmond’s most popular family attractions, we’ve found some fantastic spots that will let your kids enjoy water play in a way that is refreshing and relaxing for everyone involved.
To pick our top five water play areas, we looked for some particular features, including:
- Water play features that are good for little ones
- Available activities other than just water
- Affordable (or free) admission (i.e., no memberships required)
The following five spots hit the mark, offering great way to keep cool and have fun all summer long. Take a look at our list of water play areas here in Richmond, and if you have a favorite we’ve left off the list, let us know! You can reach us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Short Pump Park Spray Park
This beautiful Henrico County Park is a family favorite for many reasons. Not only are there great playgrounds, ample shaded picnic areas, walking trails, athletic fields, and a restored 1902 schoolhouse, it’s also a perfect place to bring your furry family members thanks to the park’s two designated dog parks. But to really make this a summer hot spot (no pun intended), the park’s splash pad seals the deal. Featuring 18 spray fountains and water jets, the splash pad (or spray park) is perfect for kids of all ages. Whether you want to play in the sun then cool down, or start your day at the park with a splash, the spray park provides fun for all. Best of all – it’s completely free!
Location: 3329 Pump Road, Henrico, VA 23233
Phone: (804) 501-7275
Hours: Spray Park is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, 9am-7pm
4. Twin Hickory Park Sprayground
With its walking trails, open play areas, multi-purpose field, and picnic areas, this park in Henrico makes for an ideal summer outing. To make it even better, the park offers two playgrounds – one for kids ages 2-5 and one for ages 6-12. But what really sets it apart is the sprayground. This fountain-filled area offers bouncing jets of water, spraying fountains, and tons of other kid-friendly features. Plus, the park’s recreation center offers great family programs all year long, making Twin Hickory a perfect place to beat the summer heat. And just like Short Pump Park, it’s completely free!
Location: 5011 Twin Hickory Road. Glen Allen, VA 23059
Phone: (804) 652-1430
Hours: Sprayground is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, 9am-7pm
3. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Water Play
Named one of the top botanical gardens in the nation, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is truly a Richmond treasure. With year-round events, displays, and special exhibits, it has long been a favorite family destination. The Children’s Garden, in particular, provides an incredible space for kids where they can observe wildlife, dig in the dirt, climb a 100-year-old tree, discover flora and fauna, explore a tree house, or simply just play. However, in the summer, kids can cool down with the garden’s water play feature. With sprays and jets aplenty, water play at the garden is a perfect way to beat the heat.
Location: 1800 Lakeside Avenue. Richmond, Virginia 23228
Phone: (804) 262-9887
Cost: $13/adults; $11/seniors (55+); $8/kids (3-12); Free for kids under 3; Free for members. Water play is included with general admission.
Water Play Hours: Water Play is available from April 13 – September 30 and is available on weekends from 9am – 4:45pm. For weekdays, seasonal hours are Spring (April 15 through June 7) 1pm – 4:45pm; Summer (June 10 – September 13), 9am – 4:45pm; and Fall (September 16 – 30), 1pm – 4:45pm. Extended Hours for Flowers after 5, Thursdays, June – August; 5pm – 8pm.
Regular garden hours: daily 9am – 5pm
*Please note, water play is only available when the outside temperature is over 70 degrees.
2. Children’s Museum “Front Yard” Water Play Exhibit
If you love the Children’s Museum as much as we do, then you already know about it’s incredible features. This fully immersive museum provides countless opportunities for kids to play, create, learn, and have hands-on fun all day. But during the summer months, the museum becomes an even greater family destination thanks to the “Front Yard” water play exhibit. The Front Yard features dancing water spray fountains surrounded by a beautiful green space with trees from all around Virginia, as well as a shaded picnic area. Whether you choose to cool down inside or splash and play, the Children’s Museum is sure to be a go-to destination all summer long.
Note: While the Children’s Museum offers four locations, the Front Yard Water Play exhibit is only available at the downtown location.
Location: 2626 West Broad St. Richmond, VA 23220
Phone: (804) 474-7062
Cost: $9/general admission all ages (water play is included in general admission); free for kids under 1; Family Annual Membership Pass, $140 or $125 for a renewal
Hours: Open daily, 9:30am – 5pm
1. Pocahontas State Park Aquatic Center
Pocahontas State Park is located just 20 miles outside of Richmond in Chesterfield County. This beautiful state park offers boating, picnicking, camping, camping cabins, and 64+ miles of trails, as well as year-round nature and history programs. But for summer, the aquatic center is a true gem. More like a mini-water park, the aquatic center offers a toddler pool, three-foot and five-foot-deep leisure pools, an activity pool complete with climbing equipment, and two tubular water slides. However, in addition to the pools, the aquatics area offers a “wet deck” with fountains and spray features that kids will absolutely love. For little ones who aren’t quite pool ready, the wet deck is perfect for cooling down in a safe, kid-friendly environment.
Location: 10301 State Park Road, Chesterfield, VA 23832
Cost: Weekdays – $5/ages 3-12, $6/ages 13 and up, free for kids under 2; Weekends – $7/ages 3-12; $8/ages 13 and up; free for kids under 2; Seasonal Swimming Permits – $66/ages 3-12, $77/ages 13 and up; Swimming Coupon Books (all ages) – $99/20 passes, $50/10 passes
Hours: The aquatic center opens for the season on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and remains open through Labor Day. Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm; Weekends and Holidays, 10am – 7pm
For more amazing amenities, resources, and family-friendly fun, be sure to check out our entire Best of Richmond series – only on Richmond Mom!