Local Arizona Splash Pads: Tips for Fun in the Sun


splash padIt’s late spring!  You know what that means here in Arizona, don’t you?  That’s right – our kids are already hitting the water while most of our friends around the country are still thawing out from winter – whatever that feels like. 

When the temps rise, take advantage of the East Valley’s gazillion splash pad options and use our tips for a guaranteed good time!



Tip 1: PREP 

Think about logistics ahead of time. As soon as your kids see water, they’re going to want to be in it. This is not the time to try and wrestle your little alligators to put on bathing suits and sunscreen. 

Are your kids potty trained?  Perfect – get them in their suits before you even get in the car. 

Still in diapers?  No worries – boys are an easy diaper change away from being ready and two-piece suits are made for little girls’ diaper bums. 

I’m a big fan of reusable swim diapers – they’re more economical and better for the environment.  H O W E V E R, take it from me, there is nothing like the ease of a disposable swim diaper that you can toss and go when needed when you’re at a public water “situation” and there’s not necessarily a bathroom handy.

It goes without saying that your cuties will need sunscreen… and rash guards/long sleeve suits/hats/literally anything that protects their sweet cheeks from burning. 

I’m one of those weird people that doesn’t love spray sunscreens.  I never feel like the spray is thick enough to really cover my kiddos’ skin. 

But nagging then cajoling then begging then screaming to reapply “real” sunscreen is my version of hell.  

My compromise is always a first coat of the thick stuff at home when we aren’t already sweating our tushies off then reapply with spray.  Much easier and faster for on-the-go playtime reapplication.

Know what I do love?  Crocs.  No, they’re not cute but man are they ever FUNCTIONAL. 

A pair for you and a pair for your cutie and you’ve got durable and convenient water shoes.  My older kiddo lived in them in the summer and her little sis is carrying on the tradition. 

Even after two cycles of kids, their Crocs are still alive and kicking and able to be handed down to friends (‘cause we are dooooonnnnnneeee at two kids). 

They’re way more secure-to-the-feet than flipflops, they dry quickly, are able to be washed easily, and they have traction on the bottom (good gravy I sound like my dad who never let me wear “impractical” shoes… I still want jellies…). 

Putting on my Crocs when it’s water time is basically the only time you’ll see me out of my Birks.

Tip 2: Bring (and Be) the Fun

Water is an amazing sensory experience for little ones. 

That said, sometimes the water pressure or water temperature isn’t every little’s cup of tea.  Be ready with fun-makers.  And, of course, by fun-makers I really mean dollar store plastic bowls, cups, measuring spoons/cups, sand toys, etc. 

Timid kiddos can use the water as they want in play while the ready-for-action kiddos can use the toys to enhance their play. 

Be ready to share whatever you bring and don’t bring anything you care about getting lost or broken.  Playtime becomes very community-oriented on the ‘pad.

Plan to get wet!  I know, I know… sometimes we hit a splash pad instead of the pool because getting in the water ourselves sounds like way too much effort and frankly, we need a break from being the fun-makers ourselves. 

That’s legit – no judgment here. 

BUT getting in the water with your kids helps them get comfortable with it and, of course, you are your kiddos’ favorite play-friend!  You’ll usually find me at a splash pad in water shorts and a t-shirt as opposed to a full bathing suit. 

It’s a lewk to be sure but it makes for flexible decisions and easy transitions.  Also bring a camp chair with a clip-on umbrella in case your kids literally couldn’t care less about you being there and you can lounge in comfort.*

Tip 3: Be Ready for Action

This area is crawling with splash pads and they’re not always well advertised… or sometimes the day just takes you to unexpected places! 

There is nothing worse than the sound of a nagging kiddo who wants to go in the water but you don’t have any water gear.  Keep a ready bag in the trunk. 

Stuff it with a spare bathing suit, a couple swim diapers, hat, towel, etc., so you can be ready at a moment’s notice. 

Major Cool Mom points for the easy and unexpected yes.  Just…… don’t leave sunscreen in the car.  Trust me on that one.


I mean… obviously.  You’ll get those little… blessings… totally ready for the water and they’ll just want to snack.  No worries, mama. 

You read this article and you know you packed a light-weight soft-sided cooler with frozen popsicles that help keep the strawberries and cheese cold. 

Assuming they actually get in the water, they’ll be burning calories faster than UV rays.  Take a lesson from my gestational diabetes days – a good snack includes both a carb for energy and a protein to sustain it… and a popsicle is just *chef’s kiss* for a water day.

Mamas!  Go forth and splash pad!  And let me know your favorite tips and tricks for making the ‘pad a fun and (*cough cough*) pain free experience!

*But please remember this is not the time to “check out” and let your kids run free.  There are serious dangers around any amount of water so your eyes should stay on your kiddos.  Not to be a drag or anything.

Need help finding a splash pad? No worries momma! Check out our guide here! 


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