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Splash Pads: Fun, Safe, Developmentally Enriching and Usually Free!

Child playing in water

Find the most convenient location with our directory of Boulder and Weld county splash pads.

As you’ve undoubtedly been told by your McLellan Homecare therapist, we firmly believe that play is the ideal vehicle for skills development in children. For many families, splash pads offer a summertime water play experience that is flexible enough to work for their childrens’ particular needs in ways that traditional pools might fall short. In addition, splash pads are safe, convenient, and usually free. So if you’re concerned about your child’s language, social, or motor development, get out there and make a splash!

What is a splash pad?

Kids playing on splash padA splash pad is a specially designed water play area that offers interactive features such as fountains, sprayers, and water jets. Unlike traditional swimming pools, splash pads have a zero-depth entry, which means that there is no increase in water depth. Instead, children can enter the splash pad directly onto a flat surface where water is sprayed or jetted, providing a safe and accessible water play experience for children of all ages and swimming abilities. They have gained immense popularity among parents due to their numerous benefits, including providing a safe and controlled environment for water play, offering a convenient and inexpensive way to beat the summer heat, promoting sensory stimulation and social interaction, and allowing children to engage in imaginative play. Splash pads are increasingly popular for families seeking a fun, inclusive, and developmentally enriching water play experience for their children.

Why a splash pad might be a good fit for your child and your family

Splash pads are indeed popular, but you might be wondering if they are a good fit for your child.  Luckily, these play spaces combine the openness of a playground with the fun of water, allowing families to create an experience tailored to their child. Below are some ways splash pads can be used for a variety of needs:

If your child is reluctant to interact with peers, they can experience being near others with the option of moving away if they get overwhelmed or uncomfortable.

Child with feet in sprinkler

As your child develops more confidence in interacting, they can experiment with imitating peers, or even asking them to interact.

If your child is anxious about their personal space, they can experiment by moving closer to or farther away from peers without seeming “antisocial” or “aloof” — terms often used to describe kids with sensory issues.

If your child has trouble controlling their voice volume, it’s the perfect spot.  Splash pads provide an open and lively environment where kids can express themselves freely. They can play and have fun while exploring different voice volumes without feeling self-conscious. Outside voices are encouraged!

If your child prefers a milder water experience, splash pads offer a more manageable water play option compared to swimming pools. And the child can move toward or away from the water features as they feel comfortable, helping them to gain confidence and providing them with a sense of control over their environment.

If your child has sensitive skin, you’ll appreciate that most splash pads use fresh water without swimming pool chemicals. 

If your child has an abundance of energy and loves to be active, a splash pad can be a perfect outlet. Running, jumping, and playing in the water features not only provide a fun experience but also promote physical exercise and gross motor skill development.

If your child tires easily, you’ll appreciate the ease of a splash pad visit compared to a swimming pool, and be less frustrated if your child wants to leave after a short amount of time.

If your child has sensory sensitivities, they can engage with water at their own pace, explore different textures, and regulate their exposure to water in a manageable and enjoyable way.

If you are worried about the hygiene of a swimming pool, splash pads have no standing water which makes cleaning and disinfecting much simpler than a swimming pool. In addition, they can use fresh water so it’s cleaner without needing to use pool chemicals.

How visiting a splash pad can benefit your child

Sensory Stimulation

Splash pads provide a range of sensory experiences through water play, including tactile sensations, auditory stimulation, and visual engagement. The various water features, textures, and sounds can enhance sensory development and provide a stimulating experience for children. You can encourage your child to touch and play with the water while also providing a sense of control by allowing them to take it at their own pace.

Child with parent putting hand in water

Social Interaction

Splash pads offer opportunities for social interaction and peer-to-peer engagement. Children can play, interact, and collaborate with others, fostering social skills, communication, and cooperation in a fun and relaxed water play environment. Parents can suggest interacting with other children but look for progress in very small steps and don’t show disapproval if your child wants to play alone. Even playing alongside a peer is a significant step in social interaction.

Imagination play

Splash pads with their colorful designs and interactive water features inspire imaginative play. Children can invent stories, role-play, and use their creativity to explore and interact with the water elements, fostering imaginative thinking and storytelling abilities. Parents can model imaginative play by pretending to be pirates, explorers, or sea creatures.

Outdoor Play and Gross Motor Skill Development

Running, jumping, and moving through water features encourage coordination, balance, and overall physical development. The water provides relief from the heat, helping children stay comfortable and refreshed while engaging in outdoor play. Rather than watch from the sidelines, parents can encourage their children by playing with or alongside them.

List of splash pads in Boulder and Weld Counties

If you’d like to try visiting a splash pad with your child, here’s a list of options we’ve assembled to help you get started. The details provided are based on the websites listed with each splash pad, but please double check details such as the hours, in case anything has changed since May 2023 when our research was conducted.

Child playing in water

Boulder County


Scott Carpenter ParkCost: $6-12 per person (includes other pool amenities)
Season: May 27-September 4
Hours: 11:00AM-6:00PM
Pearl Street Mall Pop Jet FountainCost: Free
Season: June 1-September 30
Hours: 10am-7pm
No website available


Great Outdoors Water ParkCost: Cost: $5-10 per person (includes other pool amenities)
Season: Until Aug 13 (daily), August 12-September 4 (weekends)
Hours: 11am-6pm (Open until 8pm on specific dates)


Sandstone Ranch Adventure PlaygroundCost: Free
Season: Memorial Day to Labor Day
Hours: 8am-8pm
Stephen Day ParkCost: Free
Season: May 27-September 4
Hours: Sunrise-Sunset (water is button activated)


Louisville Community ParkCost: Free
Season: May 27-Aug 12
Hours: Sunrise-Sunset (water is button activated)


LaVern M Johnson ParkCost: Free
Season: May 27-September 4
Hours: Sunrise-Sunset (water is button activated)

Weld County


Crist ParkCost: Free
Season: June 1-August 31 (weather dependent)
Hours: Sunrise-Sunset (water is button activated)


Discovery BayCost: Free
Season: May 27-August 11 (daily), August 11-September 4 (weekends)
Hours: 12pm-6pm (wednesdays: open until 8pm)
Sunrise Splash ParkCost: Free
Season: May 27-Aug 12
Hours: Weekends only, 11am-7pm
Island Grove Regional ParkCost: Free
Season: May 27-Aug 12
Hours: Weekends only, 11am-7pm


Fairgrounds ParkCost: Free
Season: May 27-September 4
Hours: 10:00AM-6:00PM

Other nearby


Westminster Center ParkCost: Free
Season: May 27-Aug 12
Hours: 9:00AM-8:00PM

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