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DCR Spray Decks 2023

Free

DCR Spray Decks

Family-Friendly

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May 27 - Sep 17

8:00am - 8:00pm

Boston

Yearly

Locals call them sprinklers, but the state calls them spray decks. Other common names are spray parks, splash pads, and water playgrounds. Whichever name you choose, kids love water play and a day at the sprinklers is a super fun way to stay cool during the summer. The following spray decks are managed by the state and close for the season on September 17th.



What's The Difference Between A Spray Deck And A Pool?


Spray decks are play areas designed to shoot water. The water often comes from water lines underground, but they can also spray from colorful poles, overhead buckets, and other play features. Children can get pretty wet over time, which allows them to slowly get comfortable with water. However, entering a pool requires stepping into a body of water. This means that spray decks are perfect for water enthusiasts that don’t necessarily want to sit, soak, or go under water, but enjoy exploring or interacting with it.


How Can A Spray Deck Be More Convenient Than A Pool?


Pools are purposely chlorinated -- to keep them clean and hygienic, but spray decks are not. Spray deck water typically comes from the city main pipes. So if you have a child with chlorine-sensitive skin or periods of sensitivity, you may prefer the sprinklers over a pool.


Many pools also require proper swim attire. This is because bathing suits are often made from non-absorbent materials (like lycra and nylon). They’re also form-fitting which is less likely to get caught on things. This keeps the swimmer safe while they move through the water. Street clothes (like cotton or denim) absorb the chemicals in the pool that keep it clean. Their fibers can also breakdown in the water and clog pool equipment. Certain materials also bleed dyes and transport contaminants into the water. When you visit a spray deck — bathing suits are not required. You'll often see little ones running around in their diapers or kids in shorts and t-shirts.


Some pools consider toys a safety concern - and won’t allow them in the pool. If your little one enjoys watching rubber duckies float and filling up toy trucks, a spray deck may be a better option. If you’re curious which toys we love bringing to our local spray deck, you can check them out here, here, and here.  


Lastly, spray decks may be a better option if your child wants to play in water, but you don't. For example, if it's your time of the month, you just did your hair, you have an open wound, or you're just not in the mood to be in water. Spray decks allow your child to freely and safely explore without you being arms-length away. There are often shaded areas for you to relax while your child has a blast.


When Are Spray Decks The Busiest?


Spray decks open as early as May and close in September. They hit peak season around July and August. These are the months that school is out and the city reaches its hottest temperatures. Spray decks are also frequently used to host birthday parties, and other summer events. If you prefer to avoid crowds, consider visiting spray decks earlier in the day and during the week (not on the weekends).


Do Spray Decks Have Restrooms?


We used the following symbol 🚻 to indicate which spray decks have restrooms. While having a restroom onsite is super convenient, you shouldn't let that stop you from visiting bathroom-less ones. Consider carrying a designated cup in your car. Some families prefer portable potties or urinals. They're super helpful if public restrooms are not clean; if you little one is afraid of public restrooms (for example, the flush is too loud and the toilet bowl isn’t kid-sized); or if a parent feels uncomfortable bringing a child into their gender-specific bathroom (for example, a dad doesn't want to bring his daughters into a men's restroom).


Which Spray Decks Have The Best Parking?


We used the following symbol 🅿️ to indicate which spray decks have free parking lots. Please know, although the lots offer ample parking, finding a spot on the weekends or other busy times can be challenging. The other spray decks have street parking, paid parking, or limited free parking.


Did You Intentionally Exclude Some Spray Decks?


The spray decks listed above are managed by the state. Boston has many more spray decks which they call tot sprays. Tot sprays are geared towards toddlers and often located at local playgrounds. We hope to compile a list of city-run tot sprays soon. In the meantime, if you want to check out our list of Boston playgrounds, you can do so here.


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About FamilyFun

We're collecting cool experiences in (and around) the city -- and sharing them with you! Think of us as matchmakers between awesome programming and young families looking to create sweet memories! 

If you're ever looking for kid-friendly events — we’ll be here!! You can visit our calendar anytime to find tons of free (and close to free) things to do in Boston.


While we try our best to update content, information changes faster than we can keep up. For example, events have been cancelled or postponed due to weather and/or other emergencies. We may also unintentionally make a mistake. Please confirm details before heading out with your little one(s). You can do so by clicking on the "source" button below the map above. If you choose to sign up for different events, the organizations will often reach out to you directly.

Event images belong to their respective owners and are used under CC BY-SA 3.0. If you know of an event you think our visitors will love, please let us know here.  And if we listed your event and you would like it removed, please reach out here.

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