In LA summers are hot and getting hotter. Not very-warm hot, but surface-of-the-sun hot. Just the thought of summer’s upcoming heat makes you throw the air conditioning into overdrive. And with the drought, you don’t want to waste water in the backyard kiddie pool.  Rescue your melting family with a much needed cool-down at Casitas Water Adventure and they’ll be gurgling your praises.

photo credit: Lake Casitas Water Adventure via facebook

Water, Water Everywhere
Hop in the car early in the morning, and head towards Ojai.  An hour and a half later (and a turn onto Casitas Vista Rd.), you’re at water nirvana where you can stay for the whole day.  As soon as you park, the kids will take off.  The first thing they’ll do is beeline for the zero-depth pool. The lagoon is 18 inches in depth, so even the youngest water babies can delight in the spraying water, tunnels, climbing structures, and slides. Join the fun as you pretend your new pirate ship needs defending. Help the wee ones navigate the “ship” and secure the leaking schooner. Insider Tip #1: Bring sand pails (rinsed to remove leftover sand) to add another layer of fun.

photo credit: yelp

Relax and Stay Awhile
After your dread pirates have defeated you, they’re ready for more adventures, but you’re ready for a rest.  Choose perfect seats from the abundance of lounge chairs situated around the site. Opt for a shady or sunnier spot. Be mindful of the signs since some areas (shady deck) are reserved for large groups. Insider Tip #2: Weekends get very busy; arrive early for better seating options or drop anchor during the week.

photo credit: Sandi D via yelp

A Lazy Trip Around a Lazy River
Ensure all first mates find their way to the crystal clear, 1,200 foot-long, lazy river. Capture one of the multitude of free inner tubes floating by. Found your ride? Great! Now get comfy and close your eyes as your cares drift away…until you are spurted awake in the jet spray zone, which will give the kids a case of the giggles. Another section has a small overhang that provides a fun waterfall to float under, but be prepared for a chill as it is very cold water! (Which will feel like extra heaven by August and the dog days.)  Turn this trip into a learning experience when you travel under the fog-filled area and explain about clouds, mist, and water droplets. Want to add an extra layer of entertainment? Try maneuvering your older ones, or have them angle you, through the waterfall or direct them into the eye of the jet spray.

Certified life guards abound around the river and the splash pool. Insider Tip #3: The water is amazingly clear, but not heated, so be prepared for a cold shock. Inner tubes are available all along the river, so don’t fret about giving one up for a while; you’ll get it back.

 photo credit: Sandi D via yelp

Only baby food and water (no glass containers) are allowed inside the park, but don’t despair; bring a picnic lunch and leave it in a cooler in your car. When hunger hits, receive the return hand-stamp and eat lunch at one of the picnic tables outside the park. If you don’t want to pack a lunch or only want dessert, grab a grilled item from the snack shack or choose from a variety of ice cream delights that are offered. Plan to hang at the park until dinner? Dry off and head to Boccali’s Pizza and Pasta for a yummy meal. Insider Tip #4: Leave room for dessert, Boccali’s Strawberry Shortcake is not to be missed.

photo credit: Erica Groten

Know Before You Go
Ages: Open to everyone.

Parking: Parking outside the park is free, but is slim pickings and a short walk to the Casitas Water Adventure entrance. Not fun if you are carrying tots and supplies. Splurge and park inside the recreation center. Parking costs $10 during the week and $15 on weekends and holidays.

Life Vests: Free and located by the locker rooms. They are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Potties: You’ll find them in the locker rooms, by the gated entrance inside the park, which also house the bathrooms and showers. A changing table is available.

Lockers: Are available, for a fee.

Reservations & Cost: Single day pass is $12. Children under 12 months are free. A 2-day pass is $22. Reservations are $7.50 and are recommended for holidays or if you plan on arriving late on a weekend.

Hours: Opens May 23-September 19. Some weekdays in June, August, and September are closed; check the website for a full listing.  Some weekends sell out, so call ahead if you plan to arrive late. Daily hours are Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 11a.m.-7p.m

Weekending: Ojai is 15 minutes down the road, so make this your first stop on your way to a weekend getaway!

Casitas Water Adventure
11311 Santa Ana Road
Lake Casitas

Give a shout out to your favorite local water park. We’d love to hear about the coolest (literally and figuratively) spots in the comments below.

—Erica Groten

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