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By: Jennifer Agress

We all need a fun way to cool down during the summer months. Luckily, water parks and splash pads can be found all over Greater Miami & Miami Beach. Some are even free and open to the public, while others are tucked away in local neighborhoods. So be sure to grab your towels and apply that waterproof sunscreen; it’s time to have some fun in the sun.

Grapeland Waterpark
Enjoy fun for all ages at Grapeland Water Park

Water Parks

Grapeland Water Park, Miami

Grapeland Water Park has fun for all ages. If you have kids under four feet tall, take them to Shipwreck Island. Here, they have two slides, a shallow water play area, splash fountains, cannons that shoot water, and a fun-filled wave pool designed just for small children. Thrill seekers, on the other hand, can hop on one of three fast-paced slides at Pirate’s Plunge before getting drenched at Black Beard’s Springs. For a more relaxing afternoon, Captain's Lagoon has a large, heated pool where families can swim or sunbathe. Equally serene is the Buccaneer River Ride, Grapeland’s lazy river. Admission fees for children are $7 (1 year and younger get in free of charge), $12 for Miami-Dade County resident adults and $15 for non-residents. 1550 NW 37th Ave., Miami, FL 33125

Helen Sands Pool, Homestead

Part of the 8.61-acre South Dade Park, this neighborhood aquatic complex has a 25-yard swimming pool with eight lanes, a beach-style shallow entry and a water slide tower, as well as a splash pad with dancing waterspouts, waterfall palm trees and other water features. Helen Sands Pool caters to both recreational and competitive swimmers, and has a weekday Learn2Swim program, water exercise classes, and splash and play activities. The splash pad is free and open to the public, while swim fees range from $3 for children/adults and $2 for seniors. Children must be at least 1+ year old to enter the splash pad. 28151 SW 164th Ave., Miami, FL 33033

Pool Baby
Choose from the many water parks & splash pads in Miami

McDonald Aquatic Center, Hialeah

Part of the 17-acre McDonald Park, McDonald Aquatic Center invites Hialeah residents and visitors to play in a wave pool, float through idyllic waterfalls on a lazy river, jump across a children’s splash pad or get some shade under a large “funbrella.” This water park is only open seasonally, from March to October. Admission rates range from $5 to $10, depending on age and whether you’re a resident or non-resident (children 2 years old and under get in for free). 7505 W. 12th Ave., Hialeah, FL 33014

Miami Shores Aquatic Center, Miami Shores

As far as neighborhood aquatic centers go, this is one of Miami’s best. In addition to the eight-lane competition lap pool, Miami Shores Aquatic Center hosts open swims, “dive-in” movie nights, lifeguarding courses, beginner swim classes and swim lessons for all ages. Its most popular attraction is the Wild Waters Aquatic Park (open seasonally, starting in the spring) – featuring five water slides, more than 30 interactive water features and the locally famous “Water Bucket Drop,” which regularly dumps more than 300 gallons of water on anyone who plays beneath it. Apart from the lap pool, Miami Shores Aquatic Center is only open to residents of Miami Shores and Bay Harbor Islands and their guests. 10200 Biscayne Blvd., Miami Shores, FL 33138

Normandy Isle Park and Pool, Miami Beach

This spacious water playground on Normandy Isles, the island between North Bay Village and Miami Beach, has a four-lane lap pool for adults and a separate play pool for young children. The zero-entry play pool at Normandy Isle Park and Pool gets no more than 15 inches deep in some areas, and has an in-water playground and a giant waterfall mushroom where children can play. The water is heated to a temperature between 79°F and 89°F during the winter months, and the pool hosts daily swim lessons, summer camps, water aerobics classes and even a free infant and toddler water safety program. When you need a break from the water, grab a seat on a lounge chair or under a shade umbrella and buy yourself a snack from the onsite concession stand. 7030 Trouville Esplanade, Miami Beach, FL 33141

Flowrider
Test your surfing skills on FlowRider

Tidal Cove Waterpark, Aventura

Added in 2019 as part of a multimillion-dollar renovation and expansion of the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, the five-acre Tidal Cove Waterpark is an amazing tropical water playground. Perfect for families and friends of all ages, it has a 60-foot tower with seven water slides, a 4,000-square-foot kids pool with a water play installation, a gravity-defying raft ride, a lazy river, a dedicated Kids Cove, private VIP cabanas, an adults-only VIP pool and a FlowRider® Triple surf simulation pool – the very first in the nation. This water park was listed on USA Today’s 10 Best “Readers’ Choice” list in 2020. Pricing ranges on weekdays and weekends from $55 to $500 (children 3 and under get in for free). 19999 W. Country Club Drive, Aventura, FL 33180

Pinecrest Gardens Splash Snake
Cool off at a splash pad

Splash Pads

James Archer Smith Park Splash Pad, Homestead

With a children’s playground, BBQ and picnic area, walking trails, fitness stations and multiple dog parks, James Archer Smith Park has something for everyone, including a splash pad that was designed so it has no standing water. The flat splash pad, with 11 nozzles that spray water straight up, gives visitors of all ages a fun way to cool off on a hot day. Only 10 guests are allowed on the splash pad at once. It’s free and open to the public. 300 NW 12th St., Homestead, FL 33030

Murray Park Aquatic Center, South Miami

Open since 2014, this local aquatic center has a zero-entry pool and a splash pad. Centrally located in South Miami, locals and visitors alike can come here to swim freely or take swim lessons through iSwim Academy. The pool at Murray Park Aquatic Center is only open seasonally, from March to September. 6701 SW 58th Place, South Miami, FL 33143

Family fun at South Pointe Park
Run through South Pointe Park's motion-activated splash pad

South Pointe Park Splash Pad, Miami Beach

Fitting with the Art Deco motif of its surrounding park and South Beach neighborhood, the splash pad at South Pointe Park looks more like a sculpture than a water feature. Located in the picnic and BBQ area, the splash pad is motion-activated, shooting water like water cannons as people of all ages run through it. Both the splash pad and the park are free and open to the public. 1 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139

Splash N’ Play at Pinecrest Gardens, Pinecrest

Just steps from its colorful botanical gardens, Pinecrest Gardens invites children to laugh and play in its whimsical Splash N’ Play water playground. Open every day of the week, this splash zone comes alive with waterspouts, giant misting palms, squirting fire hydrants and even a large mushroom waterfall tree. The Splash N’ Play is designed for children between the ages of 2 and 12. Entry is free with park admission. 11000 SW 57th Ave., Pinecrest, FL 33156

Kids at Zoo Miami's Cypress Playground
Try out the different splash pads at Zoo Miami

Splash Pads at Zoo Miami, South Dade

The splash pads at Zoo Miami give fun-loving adults and children plenty of ways to cool down. The largest water play area is Ocean Voyage Splashpad, which is covered in glossy shells and colorful starfish. This splash pad has more than 20 water features, from shooting water cannons and a whale tail waterfall to touch-activated spraying rods. In the Amazon & Beyond Waterplay area, kids will find a small fountain mushroom by the hyena exhibit and a water-shooting play area by the entrance to the Children's Zoo. Entry to the splash pad is free with Zoo Miami admission. 12400 SW 152nd St., Miami, FL 33177

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