Okay, so summer is practically tomorrow. Let's pretend, just for second, that this summer is going to be as miserable as last summer was, with the 90 degree days stretching into 90 degree weeks burning into 90 degree months...AGONY. Now let's take a moment to collectively wish all of our happy thoughts into willing this summer to be much, much cooler. Mmkay? I hope you put your entire effort into that. Just in case a nice mild summer doesn't pan out for us, here's a little spot you can rely on to rescue you from the heat (or from the rain for that matter): Splash!
Splash! is technically called Splash! at Lively Park, but will henceforth for the purposes of this blog be referred to just as Splash! It's one of Willamalane's facilities, and is located out in Thurston. It is filled with fun ways to forget how horrible the wather is outside. There are three different pools: a wave pool, a lap pool, and a kiddie pool. I've only ever personally used the kiddie pool, because I am a pool wimp. But before you quit reading, I've seen other people use the other pools, and they always look like they're enjoying themselves very much. :) (Slightly random side note: when I was a bazillion weeks pregnant with my first kiddo, and teaching 4th grade, my water broke during math class shortly after getting back to school from swim lessons at Splash! I give Splash! full credit - and the bouncy bus too.) :)
Kiddie pool first: It's just lovely. The water is 92 degrees, and it ranges in depth from 8 to 12 inches. My 10 month old and my 4 year old can splash happily for at least 2 hours. It's way big enough to not feel crowded, and there are even some toys that float around. And a neat little waterfall thing!
My recommendation is that you wear a suit even if you're hoping not to get in. You don't want to be in jeans when your preschooler throws a toy at another kid and you have to wade in and intervene. Also, if you have a baby, it's really nice to be able to just sit in the pool and let them splash around on your legs. I tried to sit on the edge while bending over and holding my baby in once, and it was NOT a success.
As for the bigger pools, we've never been brave enough to try them, but they sure look fun. The Splash! website has detailed info on pricing and hours and stuff, and luckily for me, the big pools are never open when we go to play in the kiddie pool. I feel like my preschooler wouldn't be as excited about the kiddie pool if the big pools were open, and he definitely couldn't navigate those on his own, and I definitely couldn't navigate the big pools with both a baby and a preschooler.
Here's how the big pools work: They have more limited hours than the kiddie pool does. These hours are listed under "Wave and Slide Play Swims" on the website. If you go during those hours, ALL of the pools are open, so you'll pay the higher entry fee, even if you're just using the kiddie pool. If you go during the "Kiddie Pool Play Swims", you'll pay just the smaller fee. Also, supervising adults are free in the kiddie pool, but only during "Kiddie Pool Play Swims" hours. Make sense?
Other fun details: Splash! also has rental options, including birthday party packages. The changing rooms are super family friendly and spacious, but they also have private changing rooms that are nice for corralling wandering toddlers while you're half dressed. Oh, and there's a big concession stand, although it's only open during big pool hours. :)
As for the Lively Park - it is awesome! There is a great pirate ship play structure for the littlest littles and a truly gigantic structure for the bigs and braves. There are swings, a water fountain (disclaimer: it wasn't really useful because the water shot literally seven feet up in the air, which of course, my kid thought was a hoot, but also made a huge mess), and FLUSH TOILETS. Oh, and a fun sand/water feature area, which is super cool. Plenty of benches, beautiful landscaping, and a good distance from the parking lots surrounding it all help to make this park super family friendly.
So. Here's what you're going to do: you're going to hit the kiddie pool mid morning and swim for a good long chunk of time. Then you're going to head outside to the park and eat the picnic lunch that you packed. Then you're going to play on the playground for another good long chunk of time. Then you're going to load your littles up in your van, haul them home, put them in bed, and watch Netflix for a good long chunk of time. Boom! Perfect day. You're welcome.
Address: 6100 Thurston Road Springfield, OR 97478
Parking: Giant free lot
Cost: Varies - see website. Also! There are sometimes coupons for $2 off admission in the "Oregon Family" newspaper that you can pick up at rec centers, public libraries, etc.
Food: The concession stand is open during the "Wave and Slide Play Swims" hours
Resting/Nursing Spots: Lots of chairs along the perimeter of the pool
Time Frame: Oh my word. A long time.
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