At one time, Dallas had almost 60 public pools. Now, it has nine—plus eight aquatic centers, an indoor pool at Bachman Lake, and the Bahama Beach Waterpark near Dallas Executive Airport. But the most democratic option for summer refreshment is easily the sprayground. The 17 options spread around town are often packed with families taking advantage of the water cannons, spray arches, bucket dumps, and water wheels that blast cold water during the hottest part of every day. They’re open to all, don’t require a membership, and are easy to walk up to. I am an expert because I am 11 years old.
Back in the olden days, like 1991, kids used to run through sprinklers in their yards to cool off in the summer. I bring this up because it doesn’t surprise me that said kids (now adult editors at D Magazine) had to ask an 11-year-old (me) to tell readers about the best spraygrounds in Dallas, because these are clearly sprinkler people.
My rules were simple: they had to be free, they had to be actual spraygrounds and not some kind of fountain you can stand in, and they had to be in Dallas proper. I’m sharing my top three—rated on a scale of 10 water cannons—and a bonus hidden gem.
City spraygrounds are open daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, from 10 am to 8 pm.
5155 Bernal Dr.
Even though this sprayground is very popular, it’s still easy to find parking when you get here, and that’s a big bonus. But it doesn’t have a lot of shade, and that means your parents are going to make you leave sooner because parents shouldn’t boil. If it’s a hot day and you’re bored, it’s a great way to cool off. The trade-off is there are a lot of kids. Still, it has plenty of water hoops, water cannons, and other fun features.
9.5/10 water cannons
6818 Fisher Rd.
Feature-wise, it’s a lot like the others I visited. I found out when I was researching this that the same company, Dunaway, installed most of the spraygrounds in Dallas parks, so that’s probably why you’ll see some repetition. This place is popular, so parking is a bit of a problem, and there’s not enough shade. But the water is the coldest here, and the features are fun, even if you see them at other spraygrounds.
8/10 water cannons
16600 Hillcrest Dr.
This one has a few different items, such as a water wheel that dumps water on your head. Parents will like that there is ample shade available, so they’re not roasting while their kid yells, “Watch me, Daddy!” as they run through the water arches for the 50th time. It’s also not quite as crowded usually, which is nice, and it’s close to some soccer fields and a playground, which means you could have a great birthday party there.
10/10 water cannons
3751 Thedford Ave.
This one is my favorite hidden gem. It’s back inside a neighborhood, right next to the K.B. Polk Center for Academically Talented & Gifted, over by Love Field, and because of that, it’s really quiet. It still has all the fun things the other parks have, and plenty of kids go there, but it’s not completely overrun, which is nice when you just want to stand under a water bucket dump and live your best life without a lot of screaming going on.