Friday, September 12, 2014

Best Playground Water Features/Splash Pads in the South Bay

Enjoying the spray at John D. Morgan
Best Playground Water Features/Splash Pads

The following parks have one or both of the following: (i) a "major" spray feature, with water coming up from the ground and/or down from overhead sprayers, or (ii) a "waterfall" feature, where water comes out of a spigot and courses down a concrete path into a sandy bog below. The former get kids more wet, the latter more dirty. Toddlers love both.

2017 Update: Campbell and Sunnyvale parks' water features are generally ON, while San Jose's are still OFF.

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Here are our favorite features:

Ortega Park
  1. Ortega Park (Sunnyvale): 2017 status: ON! Coolest design for a "major" feature, with a huge flower showering kids from above while additional spray comes up from below. Very big and very fun. Shady grass area for parents to sit while their kids splash. 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. daily.

    Seven Seas Park
  2. Seven Seas Park (Sunnyvale): 2017 status: ON! Fun, wide-open design with water coming from ground and poles. Be careful of the slowly-filling cup that will dump a ton of water on unsuspecting kids (and parents!) underneath. 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. daily.

    Serra Park
  3. Serra Park (Sunnyvale): 2017 status: ON! Lots of light sprays coming from strange cement and metal posts -- an interesting and unique set up that kids really love. 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. daily.

    Lakewood Park
  4. Lakewood Park (Sunnyvale): 2017 status: ON! A nice spiral feature, with a few additional sprays off to the side. Plenty of shaded seating nearby for parents. 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. daily.

    Lincoln Glen Park
  5. Lincoln Glen Park (SJ -- Willow Glen): 2017 status: OFF. The best for sheer volume -- kids get truly drenched by the overhead shower, while water sprays up from below around the perimeter.

    John D. Morgan Splash Pad
    John D. Morgan Waterfall
  6. John D. Morgan Park (Campbell): 2017 status: ON! The most options -- a major water feature with a spiral effect and water shooting from the ground, plus a waterfall and a second random spigot in the sand area. 12 - 5 p.m. on weekdays, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. on weekends.

    Jack Fischer Splash Pad
    Jack Fischer Waterfall/Bog
  7. Jack Fischer Park (Campbell): 2017 status: ON! A small spiral feature, plus the best secondary feature -- a waterfall that leads to a delightful muddy bog.  12 - 5 p.m. on weekdays, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. on weekends.
  8. Fowler Creek Park (SJ -- Evergreen): 2017 status: OFF. A nice wide-open feature, with spray coming up from below and nice benches around the perimeter for parents.

    Parma Park
  9. Parma Park (SJ -- Almaden): 2017 status: OFF. A nice, wide-open spray up from the ground feature. The park has the only fenced-in water feature I've found -- a waterfall in the toddler area -- but it wasn't working last time we were there. It would rank a lot higher if it did.
  10. Almaden Lake Park (SJ -- Almaden): 2017 status: OFF. A large feature, with overhead and underfoot sprayers.

    Central Park
  11. Central Park (Santa Clara): 2017 status: Off. A different type of offering -- more a water table than anything, but with a bunch of special spouts, drains and pools -- this feature fills with a mucky mixture of sand and water that toddlers love.

    There is also a major water feature at Mitchell Park in Palo Alto, but I've never been when it was operational, so I haven't had the chance to see it in action. (2016 note: Mitchell Park is currently OFF.) Campbell Park has a basic water feature that is ON in 2016 (12 - 5 p.m. on weekdays, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. on weekends), but I'm not listing it because it's definitely not one of our favorites.

    Please note that Las Palmas Park's feature, though awesome, is only turned on if you call and pay a hefty sum in advance.
Happy splashing!

Please note that these reviews are based on my observations or experiences on the day(s) I visited the park in question, with my own particular toddler. Park conditions can change, the clientele may vary day to day, and things that are safe and fun for one child may not be for another. I do not vouch for the safety or security of any of the parks or playgrounds listed here, and I recommend that you use your own best judgment when determining whether to visit or stay at a park, and whether that park is appropriate for your toddler.

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