Here come the dog days of summer…where’s a mom to go to keep their kids cool? Connecticut is blessed to be a coastal state and has many beaches. All state beaches are free with a valid CT registration and license plate. Personally, I love a good day trip to Rocky Neck State Park (exit 72 off of I-95) and Hammonasset Beach State Park (exit 62 off of I-95). However, some days I’m just not in the mood to deal with sand, and my kids want water play and the park simultaneously.
When those days hit, we can be found at one of the following splash pads our state has to offer.
Eisenhower Park (Milford)
It’s well-maintained, and there are two separate playgrounds suitable — one suitable for teeny kids and one geared towards bigger kids. It’s all fenced-in for peace of mind, and there are enough shady spots and seating to take a break. The pavilion has picnic tables.
This is the LARGEST splash pad in New England! Located at 1650 Hartford-New London Turnpike in Oakdale, CT, the splash pad is open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. While you’re there, the kids can play on one of the playgrounds, go on a hike to find the dinosaurs, and have lunch.
This splash pad is open 10-8 p.m. and has a fee, but it’s located near the Beardsley Zoo. It’s an easy on and off from I-95 or the Merritt and is a convenient stop if you need a cool off after a road trip and happen to be caught in traffic.
While access to the swimming beach requires a Fairfield permit, anyone can use the open space area. There’s an off-leash dog area, which is a rarity. If hiking is your jam, there are trails, and you can use the splash pad and lake as your reward.
This gem has the best of both dry and wet playgrounds. With a $10 drop-in fee per person (under 2 years is free with a paying adult), Spray Bay has a 2,800 square foot, zero-entry water playground that’s fenced in! There’s enough room for you to bring your stroller, but food is not allowed in the area. If you need a water/snack break, you can go outside to the playground or even bike or walk the path.
This splash pad requires advanced reservations and a fee, whether you are a Chelsea Piers member. Equipped with slides and three different levels of water play, this is an excellent choice even in the winter months when you want the feel of being on a tropical vacation.
Beaches Pool is open daily and offers a zero-depth entry. The sprinkler lot is located adjacent to Beach Memorial Pool. There’s a snack bar, picnic area, and playground too.
BONUS: Water Parks in CT
This is a family favorite of ours. My boys love hitting up the park area as soon as it opens, having a quick lunch, and then spending the afternoon at the splash pad. There are two different splash pads next to each other with lifeguards watching. If you want, you can even rent a cabana for the day and hang by the water area!
Again, this splash pad is inside the park, but the fee for the park covers the splash pad, so it’s a 2 for 1 deal. There are cabanas to change near the splash pad and lockers to leave your stuff, so it doesn’t get wet. This splash area is in a central location so that you can splash easily. Also, a benefit here is it isn’t a long haul to the parking lot.
This is not only a splash pad but also a beach and boardwalk! Located in New London, right off of I-95, you could easily do a staycation here. There’s a free splash pad for kiddos 8 years or younger, a waterslide for the daredevils, and a pool. In addition, they have mini-golf, amusement rides, arcade, and nature trails. It’s a hidden gem begging to be explored!