Most of my happiest memories of childhood revolve around water play. Raised by a mom who had a love of the water, I learned early on just how much fun could be had while splashing in a lake, river, or pool. While other moms slathered on tanning oil and sought out the perfect spot on the beach to bake in the sun, my mom tossed her towel in a heap with mine and ran towards the water, shouting “I’ll race you!” on the way.
I’ve carried that deep love for the water into my adult years, and I married a guy who’s nearly as much of a water baby as me. So it’s probably not that surprising that Runt took to the water very early on, too. When life starts to feel crazy and chaotic, we most often answer back by packing up our suits and towels and heading for the water. And as the temps climb higher and hotter, so does my need for a dip in the water.
So, where do we head when the need hits for some great splashing fun? These are some of our top picks, as well as places that are on my list to check out:
Carson Valley Swim Center – Year Round: Mon-Fri 9am-8pm and Sat-Sun 11am-6pm ~ One of my brood’s favorite places for swimming fun! Located in Minden, it’s a bit of a drive for us, but the budget-friendly admission price (our family of three swims all day for just $7!) more than makes up for the little bit of gas we use driving from Reno. And the variety of indoor options, including a tot-sized activity pool and two water slides, means my fair-skinned bunch can keep having fun long after the outdoor pool would have left us scorched.
Carson Hot Springs – Year Round: 7am-10pm ~ This place is a special treat when the weather starts to cool off a bit. In addition to their private spa rooms, the resort has a hot springs-fed swimming pool that is open to all ages.
There also are a handful of parks in the Reno/Sparks area that have pools, which offer open-swim hours.
- Traner Pool – Summer Hours: Daily 1-4pm
- Idlewild Pool – Summer Hours: Mon-Fri 1-3:45pm and Sat-Sun 1-5pm
- Deer Park Pool – Summer Hours: Mon-Fri 12-4:30pm and Sat-Sun 11-4:30pm ~ Be sure to check out the $1 Fridays Jessica shared about in 7 Summer Activities on a Dime
- Bowers Pool – Summer Hours: Daily 12-5pm ~ I’m really excited this place has reopened! I’ve heard great things about Bowers Pool, and I plan to make our first trip there in the next few weeks.
Lakes & Rivers
Whether you’re looking for a quick road trip or to stay right in the Reno/Sparks area there is an abundance of options available for water play in local lakes and rivers. Admittedly, this is an area of local water fun that has been sadly neglected by our family so far. I’ve been slowly pulling together a list of places to check out and explore over the next couple of summers. Some of these include:
Lake Tahoe – While our family LOVES Tahoe in general, we’ve spent very little time actually in the water. So many beaches there to explore for the perfect family-friendly beach! Which one is your favorite?
Donner Lake – All it took was a few photos on fellow RMB contributor Vanessa S.’s Instagram account for me to be sold on the idea that we simply MUST make a trip to Donner Lake ASAP.
Truckee River – We’ve waded a bit in the river last fall, and that was just enough to have me eager for more river fun. Just as soon as Runt seems a little more ready (he was pretty unsure of it all at the time). I think we’re almost ready to give it another try. Wingfield Park in Downtown Reno and Whitewater Park in Sparks both look like they’d offer up a great afternoon of fantastic fun.
Splash & Water Parks
I love that so many neighborhood parks in our area are starting to have splash pads. Our local park has a fairly awesome one that was often the perfect way to spend a couple hours on a hot, hot, hot summer day during my years as a stay at home mom. You can check out this printable list on the City of Reno’s Parks & Rec web site for information on parks near you that have water play features.
The Melio Gaspari Water Play Park at Lazy 5 Regional Park is a big hit for many young families. At only $3/person, many of my friends swear by it as an awesome budget-friendly way to beat the heat. And (much to my great excitement!), North Valleys Regional Park will soon boast a splash park similar to the one at Lazy 5. The artist rendition in this video looks pretty awesomely fantastic, doesn’t it?
This list probably couldn’t be called complete without including Wild Island, the granddaddy of water play in our area. Kids of all ages will find areas perfectly designed to guarantee they have a blast, and Mom and Dad can even take turns sneaking away for some grown up fun on the big kid slides. If you’re looking for a budget- and family-friendly option, consider taking advantage of their after 3pm admission. It will save you a few bucks per person, allow time earlier in the day for naps so that your little ones will be well-rested, and you’ll still have a few good hours of play time before the park closes. One potential added benefit that we’ve found is that the crowds seem to start to die out in the later afternoon.
For most of the two years while I was at home with Runt, we were a single-car family. I learned quickly that there are a lot of ways you can still have a grand time while hanging out at home, even in the hottest months. For just a bit of money, we invested in a couple of pools and some other fun water toys (you can find tons of DIY inspiration on Pinterest), and we frequently had pool parties right in our front yard. The great thing about being at home is there’s immediate access to snacks, drinks, and potties. And you’re in full control of the size of the crowd. Then, while the little one naps, you can lounge for a bit all by yourself, if you wish. Despite their name, “kiddie” pools don’t have to be just for the kiddos.
Wherever you head for water fun with your kiddos, make yourself a promise that you’ll get in there and be part of the fun with them. Splash each other, dunk under the water together, jump off the side, just have fun. These are the memories that they’ll carry with them for years to come, bringing a smile to their face each time they dip a toe in the water.
We’re always on the lookout for new places to check out for playing in the water. What are some of your favorite places getting wet and cooling off?