With most public swimming pools in North Texas due to close, at least during weekdays, August 18, my daughter is on a mission to explore every remaining watery play venue for her elementary school aged twins. Here are the first round results. All free, but remember, these come without changing rooms. Nearby restrooms or food service may also be limited.
Addison Circle Park -- Fountains and water features adjoin the park at Addison Circle Drive. Hard but pleasantly-textured surface in the fountains minimizes the chance for falls (although when kids sprint as fast these guys, a skinned knee or two becomes inevitable); attractive lighting for evening cool offs. Adjacent shaded area provides seating. No closing hours listed, but signs prohibit parking between 2 - 6 a.m. Really, the kids should be in bed by then anyway. There are also canal-like waterways at the foot of the fountains which may be hazardous for smallest kids. As always, supervision needed.
Belo Garden -- 1014 Main Street in Dallas, between Griffin and Field streets. We had high hopes for this newest downtown Dallas park, whose site advertises interactive fountains (meaning, kids can play in them) . Unfortunately, even though we came during a time the fountains were scheduled to run -- they weren’t. The Belo’s site states fountains are turned off automatically if wind velocity exceeds 15 mph. It didn’t feel windy when we were there this week, but there was no water. And while I find the park’s landscaping with artificial hill and native plants very attractive, its claims of shade from the still small trees are probably several years in the future. With luck, you’ll find the fountains operating weekdays 7-9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., 3:30-11 p.m.; weekends, 9 a.m. - 11 p.m. Open 5 a.m. - 11 p.m. See www.belogarden.com/.
Eisemann Center -- Richardson, slightly south of I-75 and Bush Turnpike (Highway 190). Lovely fountains surrounded by bleak convention center parking lot, with no amenities. They looked so bare, the boys asked if it was all right to play in them. There was a fall or so from the too-smooth surface. Still, the boys will play happily in almost anything wet.
Fountain Place -- 1445 Ross Avenue, Dallas. Just so you’ll know -- no human is allowed to so much as wet a toe in the lovely dancing fountains at Fountain Place. A security guard warned us away “because of chemicals in the water,” and staff in general looked askance at the presence of actual children in this elegant garden. At least, the boys enjoyed “conducting” the dance of the fountains.
Main Street Garden Park -- 1900 Main Street in Dallas, between South St. Paul and Harwood streets. My favorite so far. Once you master actually getting into downtown Dallas, a few blocks’ walk gets you to several surprisingly pleasant locations. The water feature here is shallow enough to be safe for all but the tiniest tots. Even the boys didn’t manage to fall on the gently textured surface even the boys didn’t manage to fall, especially since the presence of raised stones oddly shaped, to my eyes, like coffins, helped deter running. The adjacent Lily Pad pavilion provides welcome shade, seating, restroom and snack service even in mid-afternoon, although its misters were placed so high the water vapor evaporated before cooling us. There’s a tiny lending library so you can read while cooling your heels. Miniature playground looks good, but suffers from lack of shade. I have no information about hours, since neither the park’s website nor Facebook page appear to have been updated in the past year. Don’t let that keep you away.
(Next Friday -- more fountains, including some private alternatives)