Know what a “sprayground” is? Until recently, we didn’t! A sprayground is a playground with a water element. Spraygrounds give your kids all the fun of a sprinkler in front of the house, without letting them turn your yard into a mudpit. Last weekend, we took the kids to explore Durham’s spraygrounds. The kids had fun getting wet and several of the spraygrounds we visited are a great destination on a hot day when traditional playgrounds are unappealing. There are none in Chapel Hill or Carrboro (there should be!), but there are four listed on the Durham Parks and Recreation website. The North KIDolina team recently visited all of them.
Our favorite was Forest Hills Sprayground (1639 University Drive, Durham, NC 27707). The kids thought the water element was more fun at this sprayground was the best because it was better for running through. There are six swings, including two baby swings and a high-back chair swing. We hadn’t been to Forest Hills park before, but we will definitely go back. It has a pleasant atmosphere, a public pool facility (closed when we were there), and access to a greenway. Also, the other parents and kids were very friendly. The park has a large umbrella structure next to the sprayground, but water had created a deep puddle so you couldn’t stand under it. There is a cute gazebo nearby, some benches in the shade by the playground, and a large picnic shelter a little further off.
We also enjoyed the Edison Johnson Sprayground (500 W Murray Avenue, Durham, NC 27701). We have driven right by it dozens of times on the way to the Life and Science Museum and never realized it was there. There were geysers and water coming out of arcs that were fun, but the playground was mostly metal and uncomfortably hot. This may be a better spot for young kids because there is a sandbox area with a play structure for little ones. There are only two swings (neither bucket-type). There was a nice large umbrella structure that provided a shady spot in sight of the sprayground area and playground.
Unlike Forest Hills and Edison Johnson, the Hillside Park Sprayground (1221 Sawyer Street, Durham, NC 27707) is not free. It is included in the price of admission to the pool. For city residents, the admission fee for adults (19+) is $3 and children get in free. The fees for non-residents are $8 for adults an $5 for children. Although it did not seem to be very crowded, we were told that it was at capacity and couldn’t get in. We visited for the sprayground and I expect it would have been our favorite, but it was not operational when we were there. If you plan to go, it is best to call ahead to make sure you can get in (919-560-4783). There is a nice, large playground at the park outside the sprayground/pool area.
East End Park (1200 N Alston Avenue, Durham, NC 27701) is listed on the Durham Parks and Recreation list so we visited, but calling this a sprayground is overly generous. There is just one little geyser that shot up only about a foot. Since our purpose was the sprayground, we did not stay to play. The playground was not as well-maintained as the others.