Y'all. It is hawt. But I still need a sizable daily dose of fresh air, and so do the kids. Which is why I can tell you about every Mecklenburg County Park and Rec sprayground
in town. All of them, with their playful, bubbling fountains, offer sweet relief from the oppressive heat. That goes for grown-ups as well as kids. (Go on, you have permission to peel off your sweaty socks and wet your toes, at least!)
Our favorite Charlotte sprayground is at Veteran's Park
in East Charlotte. Here's why we love it:
: The Veteran's Park sprayground is large -- about the size of a baseball infield -- and offers a bunch of different fountain options. A raining tower, some tall geysers, some arching jets, some gurgling spouts. But it it is also contained by a fence, which is bordered on the inside with some benches for observing or taking a break.
The sprayground is 100% shaded thanks to a large, permanent cover. This might be the greatest feature for me. No broiling in the sun and much less concern about reapplying sunscreen.
: If the kids get tired of running through the water, there are two large playground sets right next to the sprayground. One for bigger kids, and one for littles. There are also two swing sets. Other park features include tennis courts, baseball and softball fields, basketball courts, picnic shelters and a paved walking trail. Here's a park map
: Conveniently located right next to the sprayground, the restroom facilities are relatively new and usually clean. Good for potty breaks and changing in and out of bathing suits.
: Veteran's Park is located between the Commonwealth and Plaza Midwood neighborhoods, in walking distance to plenty of restaurants for rest and refueling after a day of play. There's also a Harris Teeter, a public library, a great used book store, and two ice cream options (Rita's and Dairy Queen) a few short blocks away at the corner of Central Ave. and The Plaza. All are good options for another stop on that side of town before or after the park.
Something to keep in mind: The sprayground is on a timer and operates from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. -- not a minute before or after. And it can definitely get crowded at times. But next time you're feeling trapped indoors by the heat, consider the Veteran's Park sprayground an effective antidote for summertime cabin fever.
How to get there
Veteran's Park is located at 2136 Central Ave., Charlotte, NC, 20205.
Don't forget to pack:
- Water shoes and swimsuits: Unless you're fine with getting your clothes wet, which is also ok.
- Towel and change of clothes: For the ride home.
- Water: Even under the shady cover, you'll need to stay hydrated. Refill at the restroom facilities.
- Snacks or a picnic lunch: There are plenty of picnic tables for a refueling break.
- Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses: The rest of the park, including the playground equipment, courts and fields are only partially shaded, at best.