1) I have to start in my hometown of Stoughton at the Nordic Ridge Splash Pad. It's primary color theme is bright and inviting as it's really a "neighborhood" park it's NEVER crowded (still!)/ There's an awesome accessible playground right next to it with two covered areas for parents to enjoy the shade and keep an eye on the kiddos. The huge green space is wonderful to run around and roll down the hill too! This summer the Stoughton Public Library and Stoughton Parks & Rec are putting on free family Movies in the Park 2 Friday nights each in July, August, and September. Check the Parks & Rec website for dates & more details!
2) Wetmore Park is a new (completed in 2021) splash pad in Sun Prairie that we discovered last summer. Its darling garden-themed splash pad has lots of fun features and there are plenty of mature trees for shade and a playground right next door as well.
3) Another continual favorite splash pad is the farm-themed Splash Pad at McKee Farms Park in Fitchburg. Tractors, windmill, roasters, chickens, this pad has the most creative water features IMO. This splash pad is nearly always pretty busy, so just plan on it and bring lawn chairs and umbrellas for a guaranteed shady viewing spot. There are picnic tables that are both covered and in the sun, but they can get pretty crowded. Even so, it's such a fun splash pad for the kids, and if you get your fill of the water, you can head over to Kids Crossing playground or just take a walk on the nice paved trails through the park.
4) Pool pick number one is of course Goodman Pool in Madison. It's regularly quite busy as it's often an afternoon stop for MSCR camps. It features a huge zero-entry area with water features perfect for the littles. There is a clear division between the shallow area and the "deep end." The infamous water slides are there for the big kids, there are lap swim lanes, and lots of shaded areas and seating. If your kids are not 100% comfortable swimming on their own, plan to be in the pool with them or keep a steady eye on them, as it can get crowded and the lifeguards while present have a lot of kids to follow.
5) Another new-to-us spot this summer is the Edgerton City Pool. This is a great lesser-known pool because of it's distance from Madison, but it's less than 20 minutes from us in Stoughton! It has TWO pools - one with a wide zero-entry pool and little duck slide for the toddlers and a second pool with lap lanes and diving boards. There's a nice water slide from the upper deck into the shallower pool - children have to be "as tall as the raccoon" to slide (about 46"). Both pools are surrounded by grass for picnicking, with some lounge chairs and picnic tables provided. You can bring your own food and drink or purchase food & drink at the concession stand. There's also a little playground to keep the kids entertained during safety breaks.
There are so many other wonderful splash pads and pools, not to mention the beaches and water parks, in Madison and the surrounding communities. These are just a sample, and the ones I most frequent with a five-year-old. Do you have a favorite that didn't make my list? Tell me about it! I'd love to check it out and add it to the list next year!
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