As summer heats up, keeping the kids entertained presents challenges aplenty, but finding the right swim spots is simple. These five Orange County swimming holes will keep the kids cool and entertained every time, so slap on the sunblock and head out to the area’s best places to get wet and wild.
Irvine Spectrum Splash Pads
71 Fortune Dr.
Irvine, CA 92618
Price: free fountains/$5 The Giant Wheel/$3 The Carousel/$2 The Kiddie Train
Irvine Spectrum features two areas that are great for water play. The bigger splash play zone, by the food court and movie theater, has a large fountain as well as three tortoises that spray water. The smaller water play area near the Target is best for cooling off the teeniest little ones. Come armed with swimsuits, water shoes (to prevent slipping), towels, and snacks and drinks if you don’t want to pay food court prices.
Related: Best Swim Lessons in Orange County
Harry M. Dotson Park
10350 Fern Ave.
Stanton, CA 90680
(714) 379-9222 ext. 270
Harry M. Dotson Park is one of the nicer parks in this area of town. Parents will be grateful that there is only one entrance and exit to the park, so it’s easier to keep the kids in check. In addition to the interactive water play area, this park also features two fun playground structures and a covered picnic area with tables, so pack a picnic to make a day of it. A rare treat during summer months, the city provides free lunch to the kids who are playing at the park. If they get bored of the water park and play structure, there’s also a wonderful open green play space for kids and a walking path for moms to get in a little exercise while the kids play.
Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatic Center & Buccaneer Bay
13806 La Mirada Blvd.
La Mirada, CA 90638
Price: $17.95 adults/$12.95 juniors shorter than 48 inches and seniors age 60 and older
Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatic Center provides a variety of options for water play and is great for kids of all ages. Bucaneer Bay is the highlight of the park, and features three two-story waterslides, a lazy river, a zero-depth play structure and spa. No outside food is permitted inside Splash, but parents may bring sealed water bottles. Insider tip: bring food from home in your cooler and keep it stashed in your car, then eat lunch at the picnic area located directly outside of the park.
Aliso Viejo Aquatic Center
29 Santa Barbara Drive
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
Price: $7 adults/$5 youth ages 2 to 13/seniors ages 60 and older/$2 discount for residents
A newer facility in town, the Aliso Viejo Aquatic Center has something for everyone: a recreation pool, 25-yard pool, toddler wading pool and splash pad. In addition to relaxed water fun, this center offers fee-based swimming programs, parties and scheduled recreational activities. Additional amenities including lockers, restrooms and an outdoor patio with a toasty fireplace make this spot wonderful for an afternoon out with family and friends. The Oasis Café is also open in the summer. Outside food and beverages are not permitted, and no alcohol is allowed on premises.
Brenner Park Tiny Tot Wading Pool
7373 San Rafael Dr.
Buena Park, CA 90620
Price: free ages 6 and younger
Sometimes it’s nice for parents to have a place where only younger children are allowed so they have an opportunity to play freely without fear being roughed up by the big kids. Buena Park’s Tiny Tot Wading Pool is open only to parents with children ages 6 years and younger. The wading pool is only one to two feet deep, so it’s perfect for letting younger children cool off on a hot summer day, and for giving mom a little reprieve from entertaining small children. Pools are open Father’s Day to Labor Day.
Born and raised in San Diego, Chrystal Johnson currently resides in Big Bear with her husband and two children where they enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, snowboarding and everything the mountain has to offer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.