MANATEE -- It’s been about 10 years since county commissioners decided to build Bradenton’s first public splash park to augment the kiddie pool area at G.T. Bray Park in West Bradenton. Now Manatee County has three splash parks, with one more under construction and another planned for Bradenton’s Riverwalk project.
The mini-water parks offer a fun, inexpensive way to keeps kids entertained when the summer doldrums strike. And as the temperatures and humidity continue to rise, they’re also a great way to cool off -- for both kids and adults.
The park-style benches that project a steady stream of water onto the neck and shoulders are a favorite with parents at the G.T. Bray Aquatic Center.
The newest Splash Park at Pride Park in Oneco is free to the public, but does not have a swimming area. The other two, at the G.T. Bray Aquatic Center and the East Bradenton Aquatic Center, charge a nominal fee. G.T. Bray charges from $3.50 to $5.50 per person based on age, and the East Bradenton center charges a daily fee of $2 per person.
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Dozens of day-campers use the park at G.T. Bray during the week, so parents may want to call ahead to find out the best times to arrive. The other two parks can also get busy, but usually between noon and 3pm.
Be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat, because despite all the water flying around everywhere, it can still get quite hot.
G.T. Bray and Pride Park have shaded picnic areas right next to their splash parks, which make it a convenient destination for parents juggling multiple kids. For more information about Manatee County’s splash parks and for hours of operation, visit http://www.mymanatee.org and visit the Parks and Recreation Department home page.