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Here’s how to cool off at Tampa Bay pools, water parks and splash pads

Take a dip in a hotel pool or explore a free splash pad with the kids.
 
You can buy a day pass to swim in the Don CeSar pool.
You can buy a day pass to swim in the Don CeSar pool. [ SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times ]
Published June 10, 2023|Updated June 30, 2023

It’s hot. And when it gets this hot in Florida, there really is only one thing to be done: Take to the water. If the beach is too warm for you this time of year, try one of these refreshing ways to cool down.

HOTEL POOLS

Guests lounge by the pool at the historic Fenway Hotel in Dunedin in 2019.
Guests lounge by the pool at the historic Fenway Hotel in Dunedin in 2019.

You don’t need to be staying at some of Tampa Bay’s most luxurious hotels to enjoy their amenities — in this case, their pools. Lots of local spots offer day passes, a worthy purchase if you want to spend the weekend floating around in a pool you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

Fenway Hotel

Take a dip in the historic Fenway Hotel’s outdoor pool. A day pass at Dunedin’s Jazz Age artifact starts at $20 and includes access to a rooftop bar and a restaurant overlooking the pool that serves brunch and dinner. You can swim and lounge all day, as the pool is open from dawn to dusk. 453 Edgewater Drive, Dunedin. 844-569-9879.

The Don CeSar

You’ll have to act fast if you want to take advantage of the two pools at the iconic Don CeSar right on St. Pete Beach. Day passes sell out fast and start at $75, with perks like access to the hotel’s private beach — though chairs and umbrellas have to be rented for extra — an indoor jacuzzi and free Wi-Fi, to name a few. A spa pass starting at $50 is also available for those not looking to sunbathe but who still want to kick back and relax. It includes access to a sauna, jacuzzi, showers and the hotel’s beach. Hours for the pool are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the spa is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 3400 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. 727-360-1881.

Tampa Marriott Water Street

Conveniently located along the Tampa Riverwalk, the Tampa Marriott Water Street is within walking distance of several downtown hot spots. A day pass, which starts at $20, can get you access to the hotel’s rooftop pool along with poolside food and beverage service, discounted valet parking and more. Daybeds and cabanas can also be rented out, respectively starting at $75 and $150. The pool’s hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. 505 Water St., Tampa. 813-221-4900.

JW Marriott Water Street

Stay on Water Street and you’ll hit another place to unwind in the sun. Tampa’s JW Marriott promises “modern luxury” with its views of downtown and amenities. Make use of the resort-style pool and spa with a day pass starting at $40. If you have the cash to spare, rent out a private cabana starting at $200 while you’re there. The pool is open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 510 Water St., Tampa. 813-221-4950.

WATER PARKS

You can spend a day at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park at the paradise-themed water park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista and, on certain evenings, enjoy the H2O Glow After Hours party.
You can spend a day at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park at the paradise-themed water park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista and, on certain evenings, enjoy the H2O Glow After Hours party. [ Courtesy of Walt Disney World ]

There are plenty of free splash pads to enjoy in the Tampa Bay area, but if you’re looking for ways to celebrate a special occasion or make an entire day of it, try one of these Central Florida water parks.

Typhoon Lagoon

If you grew up in or near Central Florida, you may have gone to this water park, one of two on Walt Disney World property. Cheaper and more accessible than a regular Disney park (there’s even free parking!), it’s an ideal destination for families in the summer. Now through June 30, you can get two days for the price of one ticket ($69 for ages 10 and up). The park is sprawling, with a large wave pool and beach in the center anchoring other attractions like a family raft ride, a water coaster and an entire play area for young kids (specifically, those under 48 inches). If you’d prefer to go once the sun is down, the new H2O Glow After Hours party runs from 7-11 p.m. on certain days. Your ticket gets you access to the attractions (and less crowds) while the park is lit up with colors that glow in the dark, plus special drinks and food made specifically for the event and snacks to nosh on all night. 407-939-5277. disneyworld.com.

Adventure Island

The water park next to Busch Gardens is also offering a special nighttime event for the summer. Through June, Adventure Island Nights will offer extended park hours, a dance party and other entertainment in the evening. A new draw for this water park is Shaka-Laka Shores, an interactive splash and play zone for little ones that debuted earlier this year. Parents can take on the more thrilling attractions, like the Rapids Racer and Wahoo Remix slides, and the 17,000-square-foot wave pool. 10001 McKinley Drive, Tampa. 813-884-4386. adventureisland.com.

SPLASH PADS

Judah Maxim, 3, of Wesley Chapel, cools down at the splash pad at the St. Pete Pier in 2022.
Judah Maxim, 3, of Wesley Chapel, cools down at the splash pad at the St. Pete Pier in 2022. [ ANGELICA EDWARDS | Times ]

St. Pete Pier: It has a fun splash pad located near the St. Petersburg Museum of History and Spa Beach, which both front Second Avenue NE. The wide-open water area has fountains that kids can play in, and at night, there are lights and music. For parents there are free lounge chairs and umbrellas next to the fountains and a nearby concession stand.

Tampa’s newer riverfront parks: Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, 1001 North Blvd., and WaterWorks Park on the Riverwalk came with fun splash pads, joining the sprayground of dancing fountains at Curtis Hixon Park along the riverfront. The WaterWorks feature is particularly fun to watch as kids gather under a giant yellow bucket that fills and tips over to soak them so they can scream.

Carrollwood Village Park: Located at 4680 W Village Drive in Tampa, this spot was completed at the end of 2019. In addition to picnic shelters, a dog park and outdoor chess boards and pingpong tables, there’s a skate park and splash pad for kids.

Dell Holmes Park: The terrific sprayground at Dell Holmes Park in St. Petersburg is open through September. Note that the sprayers are motion activated, so don’t think it’s not open if you don’t see water going. You’ll find the park tucked into a shady, tree-covered neighborhood at 2741 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg.

WaterPlay at Zephyr Park: Located at 38116 Fifth Ave. in Zephyrhills, this park has fountain jets, soaker cannons, falling buckets of water and arches shooting water. The 34-acre sprayground is downtown and is the site of the Alice Hall Community Center. The water play area is open 9 a.m. to dusk.