The Go-To Guide: Free Splash Pads and Spraygrounds

Jim Fischer
Columbus Parent
Veterans Park

It only seems like we wait forever for the summer sun and the temperatures that come with it. Now that they're here, it's time to get outside.

Fountains, waterfalls and other features of splash pads and spraygrounds make for some fine cool-down fun. And Central Ohio has no shortage of places to splash—many of them free and open to the public. We've compiled 14 of the most popular spots in a handy list you can refer to all season.

We recommend calling ahead to make sure your preferred destination isn't closed for maintenance or water testing. Also, check the forecast because most of these facilities shut down in the event of bad weather.

To suggest a location we should consider adding to our list, send an email to contact@columbusparent.com.

Ballantrae Community Park

6350 Woerner Temple Road, Dublin; 614-410-4700; dublinohiousa.gov/parks-open-space

That giant sculpture at Ballantrae is called Dancing Hares, and you'll find lots of kids dancing and frolicking at this suburban splash pad. Spray fountains built into a hillside and other water features are accompanied by a large, grassy area nearby. There are restrooms next to the parking lot.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, Memorial Day through mid-September

Barnett Community Center Sprayground

1184 Barnett Road (Linwood), Columbus; 614-645-3065; columbus.gov

Sprayers, fountains and giant plumbing pipe-style water features: Barnett has what families need to keep cool this summer. The play area is located at the community center, so there's parking, restrooms and other amenities.

Hours: noon to 7 p.m. daily, May 26 through mid-August

Bicentennial Park in the Scioto Mile

233 Civic Center Drive (Downtown), Columbus; 614-645-7995;sciotomile.com

One of Downtown's signature spots, this 15,000-square-foot interactive splash pad features 1,079 spray nozzles, 1,100 fog nozzles and a fixture that shoots water 75 feet high. Its location on the Scioto Mile means river views, green space and even easy access to COSI and the adjacent Dorrian Green park across the river. There are public restrooms.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Special events may affect operating hours. The fountain remains open through October.

Blackburn Community Center Sprayground

263 Carpenter St. (Olde Towne East), Columbus; 614-645-7670; columbus.gov

Colorful and fanciful water features make this East Side spot a perfect place to stay cool. The adjacent community center provides access to parking and restrooms.

Hours: noon to 7 p.m. daily, May 26 through mid-August

Easton

Use 3993 Easton Station, Columbus, for navigation purposes; 614-337-2200; eastontowncenter.com

Located just south of Brio Tuscan Grille, Easton's Town Square pop fountain is a great way to break up a day at the shops and restaurants. Little splashers ages 8 and younger are welcome.

Hours: same as Easton (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.Mondays through Thursdays,10 a.m. to 10 p.m.Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays). Note that the fountain is lowered from5:30-8:30 p.m.daily, and it closes at4:30 p.m. Wednesdays for the weekly Sounds on the Town Concert Series. Open through October.

Fryer Park

3899 Orders Road, Grove City; 614-277-3060; grovecityohio.gov/parks-and-recreation

This Grove City splash pad, which opened last year, includes 17 water features in its 2,800-square-foot play area. The 110-acre Fryer Park also boasts a historic area, shelters, play equipment, fishing, biking, walking trails and more. Restrooms and parking are nearby in the park.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day

Hanby Park

1115 E. Park St., Westerville; 614-901-6545; parks.westerville.org

The splash pad is a 1,000-square-foot, eyebrow-shaped in-ground fountain with 12 jets. Visitors also will find a 24-foot custom tower structure, bench swings and a plaza, complementing the existing train depot-style shelter/restroom facility.

Hours: dusk to dawn daily, through Labor Day

Hilliard's Station Park

4021 Main St., Hilliard; 614-876-5200; hilliardohio.gov/hilliards-station-park

The splash pad is nestled into the amphitheater at this city park, which sits at the beginning of the 7-mile Heritage Trail in Old Hilliard. The park, designed to evoke the site's former use as a train depot, also has seating, a restroom and a lineup of summer programming.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily until Nov. 1, weather-permitting, though it closes at 3 p.m. on special event days

Indian Mound Community Center Sprayground

3901 Parsons Ave. (South Side), Columbus; 614-645-3224; columbus.gov

Hours: noon to 7 p.m. daily, May 26 through mid-August; renovations at the community center don't affect the play area

North Bank Park in the Scioto Mile

311 W. Long St. (Arena District), Columbus; 614-645-3300; sciotomile.com/parks/north-bank-park

This Arena District city park has an interactive spray fountain adjacent to the pavilion that's designed for younger children. Parking is available in nearby lots and metered on-street spaces.

Hours: The fountain doesn't have a set operating schedule because it is closed to the public when the pavilion is rented.

Partners Park

125 E. Sixth St., Marysville; 937-645-7350; marysvilleohio.org

This 1-acre park is located in the center of Uptown Marysville. In addition to its splash pad, there is a restroom, pavilion and other park amenities.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Polaris Fashion Place

Use 8781 Lyra Drive, Columbus, for navigation purposes; 614-846-1500; polarisfashionplace.com

The Polaris Lifestyle Center section of the shopping complex has a small fountain/splash pad near the Cheesecake Factory on the east side of the mall. The KidX Club meets at the fountain most Friday mornings in the summer for free children's activities.

Hours: same as the mall (10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays)

Veterans Park

1121 S. Houk Road, Delaware; 740-203-1810; delawareohio.net

A popular dinosaur-themed “spray and play” area is offered at Delaware's Veterans Park, with spray features and a splash pad. Shaded areas and a table with benches are among the park's other amenities.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, Memorial Day through Labor Day

Village Green Park

47 Hall St., Powell; 614-885-9820; cityofpowell.us

Powell's splash pad features a complement of fountains, nozzles and other water features. The park has picnic tables, with restrooms nearby in City Hall.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, Memorial Day through Labor Day