Rising temperatures need not take a toll on your wallet. The City of Boston offers an array of free spray decks run by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. It conducts periodic cleanings of the decks. Find one near you.
A nice spray deck; lots of free parking, and a playground too.
Neponset Landing II Spray Deck, Boston // 72 Hill Top St.
Last time we visited there were children up to age 12 splashing on the flat surface with intermittent jets. The deck is part of a large green space next to the Neponset River. It includes a shaded area with picnic tables where you can eat lunch. The ice cream truck stops here too with cold treats. Benches line the deck so parents can easily watch their children. This deck isn’t the fanciest, but it will do the trick on a hot day.
Artesani Playground Wading Pool and Spray Deck, Brighton // 1255 Soldiers Field Rd.
This one, with a giant parking lot, sandwiched between Soldiers Field Road and the Charles River, is my personal favorite. There’s a large wading pool, and cascading over it, intermittent sprays come from above. The water is very clean; the water element is fenced. There are some shady benches around the edges to sit, and there’s a playground on the grounds. Nearby restrooms and lifeguards on duty.
Ryan Wading Pool, Mattapan // 350 River St.
In addition to the wading pool, there are several animal-shaped spray features.
Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston
Boston Rings Fountain // Greenway at Central Street
64 nozzles shoot up in the air and create circles of vertical water at the Rings Fountain.
The Canal Fountains North End Parks // Greenway at Salem St. and North St.
These run along the North and South lawns of the Parks. Smaller children can get their feet wet and splash around.
River Stream Fountain, Chinatown Park // Surface Road and Beach Street
Along the edge of the Chinatown neighborhood. Lined in bamboo, it’s suited to older children, offering a rocky stream to explore.
The Corporal Joseph E. Johnson Playground and Spray Deck, Jamaica Plain // Lamartine and Green St.
Unlike many DCR spots, there’s no free parking lot at this location. However, it’s not too tough to find street parking on a side street. The Green Street T stop on the Orange Line is just across the street, and you could also bike over: the Southwest Corridor Bike Path passes by the Johnson Spray Deck. This spot was renovated recently. Soft padding replaced the hard concrete by the spray fountains. Tall trees provide a shaded area perfect for a picnic.Many playgrounds offer smaller spray elements that are just as satisfying. Brookline town playgrounds are well maintained.
The Clark Playground, Brookline // 195 Cypress St.
This spot has a small cement area with sprays that jet from the ground. Next to it a feature that’s a series of bubbling containers of water gives toddlers a place to dip their hands and toys, fill and empty cups, or simply enjoy splashing around. Winthrop Square, Brookline is a large area with a round sprinkler area. Next to it is the Minot Rose Garden and an extensive playground.