Splish Splash: The Ultimate Summer Spray Ground Guide

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We’ve been waiting for this reunion! DC’s best water fountains, spray grounds and spray pads are open again (woot, woot! ).  With just a few months to splash and play this summer, make it memorable with this list. We rounded up the very best places to stay cool at a spray park. Grab your water shoes and sun block and scroll down for where to go in the DMV.

Georgetown Waterfront Park

The water arcs above little ones’ heads, drenching the 50-foot space and anyone in it at the Georgetown Waterfront. Pass the time on a nearby bench, spread out a picnic blanket on the grass or join your kids as they play. All the while, enjoy views of water activities and boats on the Potomac or dry off on the River Steps with a perfect view.

Cost: Free 
Hours: Daily (Memorial Day-Labor Day)
Where: Georgetown Waterfront Park, Wisconsin Ave. & K St. NW
Online: georgetownwaterfrontpark.org


Fountains at The Plaza

Just a 35 minute drive from downtown DC, the Fountains at The Plaza are THE place to be on Mondays during summer months. That's when Rocknoceros, the beloved DMV kid-friendly band, hits the stage at 11 a.m. Bonus: these performances are free! There is plenty of seating and picnic tables surrounding this splash pad. And for those looking for something to do post-splash, the plaza has a number of interactive, high-tech games. Need more reasons to make the trip to One Loudoun? The Yard Milkshake Bar should be opening any day now!  

Cost: Free
Open: Daily, 8 a.m.- 10 p.m. 
Where: One Loudoun, 20626 Easthampton Plaza, Ashburn, VA 
Online: downtownoneloudoun.com

Our Special Harbor Spray Park

This spacious sprayground will feel like a staycation for your little one. The fully accessible complex features Chesapeake Bay-themed attractions including a spraying osprey nest, Chessie the sea serpent, misting sunflowers and a lighthouse. The beach area is quieter with softer bubblers and interactive water tables.

Cost: Free 
Open: Memorial Day-Labor Day: Wed., 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri., 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sat/Sun, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. 
Where: 6601 Telegraph Rd., Franconia, VA 
Online: fairfaxcounty.gov

Virginia Highlands Park

Virginia Highlands Park

Many say this addition to Arlington County's string of splash zones (that includes Hayes Park, Drew Park, and Lyon Village Park) is the best, featuring water cannons, mini-waterfalls, bucket dumps and more. And with a water recirculation system in place that saves 82,000 gallons of water a month, it's also eco-friendly.

Cost: Free 
Open: Daily (Memorial Day-Labor Day), 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 
Where: Virginia Highlands Park, 1600 South Hayes St., Arlington, VA 
Online: parks.arlingtonva.us

Ocean Dunes

Ocean Dunes Waterpark

Want to try a water version of Disney World’s Space Mountain? You can do it at Ocean Dunes Waterpark, a feature of Arlington’s Upton Hill Regional Park, where you can slip down a 170-foot closed slide in complete darkness! Upton offers a nice mix of pristine wooded parkland and wild water fun, plus mini-golf and batting cages. Mix in a little civil war history to make this outing fun and educational!

Cost: $7,50-11
Open: Daily (Memorial Day-Labor Day), 11 a.m.- 7 p.m. 
Where: Ocean Dunes Waterpark, 6060 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 
Online: novaparks.com

The Wharf

Wharf Kids Water Park

If you want to sit and enjoy a view while your kids splash and play, head to The Wharf. This splash pad sits waterside so you (and your wee one) can watch the boats glide in and out of the harbor while you cool off. This splash park has water jets with changing color lights (ooohhh) and plastic ride on rocking horses (ahhhh). Restaurants, shops and, yes!, ice cream are all just steps away. 

Editor's Note: At the time of publication, the fountain was temporarily closed due to COVID. 

Cost: Free
Open: Temporarily closed
Where: The Wharf 760 Maine Ave SW
Online: wharfdc.com/things-to-do/kids-activities/

Great Waves Cameron Run Park

Great Waves Cameron Run Park

If you’re looking to entertain both older kids and tiny tots, this might be the answer. Let the older kids loose to zip down the speed slides or body surf in the massive wave pool, while you relax with your toddler at Minnow Bay. Here you’ll find a shallow play pool, eight bubblers, a light cascading waterfall and a giant splash pad with a variety of colorful sprayers. There’s also flowing water, dumping bowls, twisting pipes and water tables. Whatever your water speed, there’s something here for everyone. It’s a win/win.

Cost: $ 9.50-16.50
Open: Daily (Memorial Day-Labor Day), 11 a.m.-7 p.m. 
Where: Great Waves Cameron Run Park, 4001 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria, VA 
Online: novaparks.com

Water Mine Family Swimmin' Hole

Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole

This cool spot has more than an acre of slides, flumes, sprays, showers, floatables, and interactive play features, circled by a river with a 2.5 mile per hour current that gently nudges tubes along. It’s also a short drive to a mini-golf course called Woody’s.

Cost: $13-17
Open: Daily (Memorial Day-Labor Day), 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 
Where: Water Mine Family Swimmin' Hole, 1400 Lake Fairfax Dr., Reston, VA 
Online: fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/watermine

South Germantown Splash Ground

On summer’s hottest days when you just wish someone would dump a bucket of cold water onto your head, try the Splash Ground at South Germantown Recreational Park. The large outdoor spray ground boasts a 280-jet water maze, mist-spraying faux rock formations; a waterfall-enclosed cave; and, yes, buckets brimming with cold water that randomly dump. You’ll also find smaller fountains for the less enthusiastic kiddos. There’s also tables with umbrellas for shade and a mini-golf area.

Insider's Tip: Grandparents get in free on Mondays.  

Cost: $5.50
Open: Open weekends (May 31-June 18), 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Daily (June 19 -Sept.6), 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 
Where: South Germantown Splash Ground, 18056 Central Park Circle, Boyds, ME 
Online: montgomeryparks.org

Downtown Silver Spring Fountain

This fountain is located amid the bustle of Silver Spring’s popular downtown plaza. Its beautiful mosaic basin beacons little ones to spin through randomly spouting water jets. Surrounded by shops, restaurants and theaters, this is the place to make it an all-day affair. 

Cost: Free
Open: Daily (Memorial Day-Labor Day), 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 
Where: 916 Ellsworth Dr., Silver Spring, MD
Online: silverspringdowntown.com

14th and Girard Street Spray Fountains

It’s nothing fancy, but it does the trick. A large concrete area surrounded by water sprays will quickly cool off the kids. There’s also basketball, soccer, picnic tables, chess tables, and clean bathrooms (always a plus). It’s just a short walk from the Columbia Heights metro stop on the yellow/green line. Hop on, hop off, get wet, cool down. Who could argue with that?

Cost: Free
Open: Daily (Memorial Day-Labor Day), 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 
Where: 14th and Girard St. NW, Columbia Heights
Online: dpr.dc.gov

Yards Park

Fun, free and fantastically beautiful, that’s what we say about this 5.5 acre treasure tucked along the banks of the Anacostia river in DC’s Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. Yards Park pulls out all the stops for a family-friendly summer outing with plenty of space to spread out, peaceful garden spaces, incredible views, and, oh yes, there’s water to play in! A fountain pours into a large canal where kids are free to splash and plunge. At 11 inches deep, the water is just high enough to keep kids safe and help parents stay relatively dry. A few blocks down from the popular Yards Park fountain, two more fountains dances at Canal Park on the Capital Riverfront for more splashing and water stompoing. 

Insider tip: though there are some shaded areas with benches, the canal is open and sunny so bring a hat and extra sunscreen.

Cost: Free
Open: Daily (Memorial Day-Labor Day), 7 a.m.-10 p.m. 
Where: Yards, Park, 355 Water St. SE 
Online: capitolriverfront.org

Petworth Spray Park

The Petworth Spray Park is a popular spot in DC’s Petworth neighborhood. A nice-sized concrete space (renovated spring 2021) is jam-packed with a combo of small and large fountains that manage to drench you from both above and below. The kids can’t seem to get enough, and parents can join in or sit back and listen to the laughter. Definitely think about bringing an umbrella, however, because shade is hard to come by here.

Cost: Free
Hours: Daily (Memorial Day-Labor Day), 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. 
Where: 801 Taylor St. NW, Petworth
Online: dpr.dc.gov

—Meghan Yudes Meyers and Ayren Jackson-Cannady



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