The midsummer heat may have you and your kids itching for something to do. Getting wet is the only way to enjoy the outdoors this time of year. Our Tampa Bay area beaches are great, but here are some local spots that may be right in your own neighborhood. Slather on the sunscreen and cool off at one of these Tampa area parks or pools.
free or cheap
Kate Jackson Park
821 S Rome Ave., Tampa
Let the kids run through the fountains at this shady park and playground in Hyde Park.
Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa
If you haven't checked out this new park downtown alongside the soon-to-open Glazer Children's Museum, it's worth a visit for the beautiful view of the Hillsborough River and the playground. While it's not necessarily a spray park, there are fountains and misting sprays where the kids can cool off.
Cypress Forest Park
650 Pine Ave. N, Oldsmar
This park, with lots of spraying colorful sculptures, is great fun for preschoolers, and Mom and Dad can certainly get their feet wet, too. Get there early, as swarms of playgroups lay claim to the covered picnic tables.
Zephyrhills Water Park
Corner of Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue, Zephyrhills
Kids, and moms or dads if you dare, run through shooting water at this 7,000-square-foot splash park.
Sulphur Springs Pool
713 E Bird St., Tampa
With a view of the natural springs, this large city of Tampa pool includes a zero-depth entry so toddlers can wade in.
Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for juniors/seniors. City of Tampa recreation card is required ($25 individual, $75 Family Swim Pass).
pay to play
Bob Sierra Youth & Family Center
4015 Ragg Road, Tampa
This YMCA family aquatics center in the Northdale area is a flurry of activity, with a kiddie pool that includes lots of spraying and shooting water, and a larger pool with a slide for older kids. YMCA membership is required. Individuals are $50/month, family memberships are $82/month
Lowry Park Zoo
1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa
The Manatee Fountains in the front of the zoo are an old favorite, but the newer Wallaroo Station water play zone with geysers and sprays boasts the adjacent playground, snack bar and shady spots for moms and dads to park. Kids also love getting splashed by the Gator Falls flume ride.
Admission (not including rides) is $20.95 for adults, $15.95 for children ages 3-11 and free for children age 2 and under. Annual passes and summer ride wristband specials are available.
701 Channelside Drive, Tampa
You may be attracted to the aquarium for the air conditioning, but after you visit the animals, let the kids romp around the outdoor water adventure zone. The aquarium's Explore-A-Shore lets parents relax at the cantina while kids jump through geysers and climb on sea creatures.
Admission is $19.95 for adults, $14.95 for children under 12 and free for children age 2 and under. Annual passes available.
Temple Terrace Family Recreation Complex
6610 E Whiteway Drive, Temple Terrace
Whether you want to do laps or let the kids play, this complex has it all, including a heated main pool, a fun pool with a waterslide, a kiddie pool and a water playground.
Membership is required. Daily guest passes for aquatics cost $8 for adults and $6 for children. Annual passes available.