No need to sweat the rising temperatures: Your next kid-tastic adventure is just a fountain away. That's right, the Denver metro area boasts some of the coolest, child-friendly fountains known to man, most adjacent to day-trip-worthy family attractions -- and all free. What are you waiting for? Grab the kids, suits and swim diapers, and start splashing.
10) H2Odyssey City Park, 1700 York Street
Prepare to get wet -- really, really wet -- at H2Odyssey, a water jet fountain located just west of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Operating from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, this big, mysterious spray pad will keep kids guessing where the water will shoot up next. H2Odyssey is so fantastic, in fact, that the Leaping Laminar Fountain, part of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science's new Discovery Zone exhibit, is modeled after it. Of course, you'll have to pay to see DMNS's newest addition -- $13 for adult general admission; $8 for kids 3-18 -- or wait until the next free day, on September 8.
9) Great Plains Park Spray Park 20100 East Jewell Avenue, Aurora
It's a little tricky finding the spray-ground lurking on the south side of Jewell -- but the colorful, inviting water feature, open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through early October, is worth the hunt. This spray park is huge, produces immense puddles, and draws large crowds. The fifty-acre park also houses a playground -- complete with pint-sized toddler structures for little guys -- as well as shade shelters and a well-groomed baseball field. Make a day of it: The nearby Plains Conservation Center, with its bygone pioneer nostalgia and massive educational and conversational efforts, is a family must-see. (The spray-ground will be closed on Tuesday, August 26 while public works crews resurface the adjacent parking lot.)
8) The Fountains on Martin Plaza 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway
Tucked between the Denver Art Museum's Hamilton building and Mad Greens you'll find a simple -- and super-fun -- spray pad that's owned and maintained by the DAM. The water's turned on daily at 7:15 a.m. and keeps spouting until 10 p.m.. Really adventurous kiddos might even be tempted to dip a toe in the fountains in front of the museum. After you've dried off, peruse the halls of the DAM; first Saturdays are free, and the museum offers an array of ever-changing kid-friendly games, stations and interactive exhibits. General admission is $10 for adults, $3 for youth 6-18, and free for those 5 and under.
7) The Pop Jet Fountain Pearl Street Mall in Boulder This spray pad, where water shoots up from the ground, runs every day on the Pearl Street Mall, a spot where families can also shop or grab a bite to eat. Street performers and bands are visible from the Pop Jet Fountain, which means parents can sit, relax and be entertained while the kids cool off. Other fun features for adventurous kids include animal statues perfect for climbing, and the big rocks on the bricks between 13th and Broadway. Keep reading for six more of the best free fountains.
6) Ralston-Central Spray Park 5850 Garrison Street, Arvada
The splash fountain in the Olde Town Arvada City Center, open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., is plenty fun. But last month, the City of Arvada opened an even bigger water feature in its newly improved Ralston Central Park. Thanks to a large-scale drainage project, everything in this park -- two playgrounds, a custom picnic pavilion and the water feature -- is new, fabulous and bright! With colorful padding that's carried through the entire playground and vibrant metal arches and poles, the spray park is modern, cheerful and very inviting.
5) Westlands Park Water Sculpture 5701 South Quebec Street, Greenwood Village
What pairs well with one of the most beautiful, nature-based playgrounds in Denver? Water, that's what. Westlands Park, featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine and renowned for a gigantic slide built into the natural landscape, has three large and age-segregated play structures. In an adjacent covered pavilion, there's also a natural water sculpture where kiddos are encouraged to play when they need a break from the heat. Beyond the main play area, you can enjoy multi-use playing fields, an in-line hockey rink, a pond and a hiking and biking trail.
4) Irving Street Park Interactive Water Feature 7392 Irving Street in Westminster
Open daily, this modest brass water sculpture boasts a big pedigree: It was designed by Loveland artist George Lundeen. The fountain squirts intermittently from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and is next to the Irving Street Library, home to a kid room that's a fun place for kids to read books, make puzzles, and play games.
3) Stapleton Central Park Splash Pad East 29th Avenue and Roslyn Street
Central Park at Stapleton boasts an interactive water feature open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Monday, where kids can merrily splash in side-by-side fountains. One fountain is sunken and shallow with wide stones, ideal for tiny waterbugs, and the other rises, pyramid-like, offering opportunities for more series splashers. The accompanying playground, designed by Doug Lamson, is equally entertaining. Make a morning of it on Sunday and hit the farmers' market across the street before getting wet.
2) Parkfield Lake Park Spray-Ground 555 East 53rd Avenue
Parkfield Lake Park has a wonderful, nature-inspired design scheme extending from the playground's giant boulders to its skate arena to the wildly amusing water spray-ground that's open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Beyond the spray-ground, you'll see multi-use fields, and softball, baseball, basketball and tennis facilities. There's also a climbing wall, and a dog park for the four-legged children.
1) Wynkoop Plaza Pop-Up Fountains 1701 Wynkoop Street
One big benefit of the $54 million Denver Union Station project is the addition of several new public spaces to downtown Denver. The southern portion of Wynkoop Plaza now features an engaging series of pop-up fountains where kids and adults -- even dogs! -- can keep cool on warm days. The linear layout, with dozens of arching water streams, is as pleasing to watch as it is to use, and has been a huge success since opening on July 12. There are no official operating hours just yet, but we've seen plenty of kids -- and some adults -- romping around during the day. From Rockies games to exploring Tattered Cover Bookstore, there's no shortage of kid-friendly adventures awaiting in LoDo; after you dry off, make a day of exploring one of Denver's most entertaining, historic areas.
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