[Editor's note: This story has been updated for the 2019 summer season.]
Nothing can bring out a smile, and a happy squeal, like a splash of cool water on a hot day. As temperatures rise -- and just in time for the official beginning of summer -- we've rounded up splash parks, spraygrounds, splash pads and play fountains (many of them free) for your watery fun. Note that sometimes spots are closed for maintenance or during inclement weather.
Water parks and other paid attractions
APEX CENTRE Located in Gabe Nesbitt Park, the Apex Centre has four pools including an outside water park with slides, spray features and a shallow-water kiddie pool. $9-$14 for a daily pass. 3003 Alma Road, McKinney.
BAHAMA BEACH This southern Dallas water park houses slides and numerous other aquatic attractions, such as a winding lazy river and an interactive rain playground. $11-$15 for ages 3 and older. 1895 Campfire Circle, Dallas.
DALLAS AQUATIC CENTERS Several new aquatic centers have opened across Dallas, including the Cove at Samuell-Grand, Fretz and Crawford parks. These large city-run water parks feature eight-lane lap pools, slides, climbing walls, lazy rivers and children's pools. New, smaller aquatic parks are open for the season at Tietze Park, Lake Highlands North Park and Kidd Springs. Check the website for details.
EPIC WATERS Grand Prairie's 800,000 square foot, indoor-outdoor water playground has a UV-protected retractable roof, a 600-foot lazy river, a FlowRider surfing simulator, a Lasso Loop body slide, the Aquanaut inner tube ride and Rascal's Roundup, a special area for little ones. For more adventure, step into the recently opened Epic Waves, a 10,000-square-foot outdoor pool that surges 4-foot waves at 10-minute intervals throughout the day. Epic Waters is open year-round, and Epic Waves is open through Labor Day. 2970 Epic Place, Grand Prairie. $17-$34 for ages 4 and older.
FRISCO WATER PARK You’ll find a 45-foot-tall, four-lane mat racer called The Preston Plunge as well as The Fort, a multilevel water playground bursting with 85 water features and three slides. A Lazy River is a pleasant place to bob along. $10-$112 for ages 2 and older. At Frisco Athletic Center, 5828 Nancy Jane Lane, Frisco.
HAWAIIAN FALLS Rides and attractions at the Hawaiian-themed water parks vary slightly among locations in Garland, Mansfield , Roanoke, The Colony and Waco. All include a lazy river, wave pool, slides, thrill rides, kiddie pools, cabanas, shaved ice and other concessions. Check the website for Dive-In Movie and Summer Concert dates at the water parks. $20.99-$28.99 or ages 3 and older.
HURRICANE HARBOR There are about 25 attractions at Hurricane Harbor -- including the Geronimo, which drops screaming visitors six stories into a shallow pool of water. In addition, the park features attractions such as the Dive Bomber, the Tornado and the painfully honestly named Mega Wedgie. There are also options for the little ones, including the kid-focused Hook's Lagoon Treehouse, a high-climbing aquatic jungle gym. The Friday Night Dive-In Movies series through Aug. 9. 1800 E. Lamar Blvd., Arlington. $34.99-$41.99 for ages 3 and older.
LEWISVILLE SPLASH PARKS Sun Valley Aquatic Centeris tucked behind Lewisville High School, with amenities such as two double-loop slides, a lazy river and a toddler pool. Old Town Aquatic Park offers three spraygrounds, a double-loop slide and two leisure pool areas with play features. $2-$5 for ages 4 and older.
NRH20 North Richland Hills’ NRH20 is the perfect park for the suburban family looking for a smaller setting. Single and multirider slides, a wave pool and the Endless River are among the highlights. NRH20 also offers cabanas to reserve. 9001 Boulevard 26, North Richland Hills. $15.99-$32.99 for ages 3 and older.
PIRATES COVE Burleson's water park accommodates big and little pirates with fun slides, pools, rope crossings and beaches. The park also offers an indoor Fun Zone with arcade, video and prize redemption games, laser maze and a safe-for-toddlers play structure. 2461 S. Burleson Road, Burleson. $18.99-$24.99 for ages 3 and older.
PLANO SPLASH PARKS You'll find an outdoor splash park and an indoor pool at Plano Aquatic Center, which has a $3 entry fee for those 3 and up. At Tom Muehlenbeck Recreation Center, expect three large slides, water volleyball, a play structure for toddlers and spray features ($3 for ages 3-15, $6 for 16 and up). Outdoor swimming options at Jack Carter Pool include a shallow-water pool with a dual-rider tube slide, a lazy river, climbing wall, a surf simulator and spray features. ($3 for ages 3-15, $6 for 16 and older.)
SAFARI SPLASH The Fort Worth Zoo's 14,000-square-foot splash park features water slides, animal-shaped water cannons and a play area for younger children. There's even a fill wall for your water toys. Safari Splash is open daily through Sept. 2, then on weekends only through Sept. 29. 1989 Colonial Parkway, Fort Worth. $5 in addition to zoo admission.
SURF AND SWIM Ride the surf in the popular wave pool, floats provided, at this water park located in Garland's Audubon Park. There's a play area for little kids, a splash pad, a snack bar and shaded tables. 440 W. Oates Road, Garland. $6-$8 for ages 3 and older.
WATER WORKS PARK Denton's splashiest spot features a new wave pool, four big slides, a kiddie play pool, a continuously flowing river, a sand volleyball court, an outdoor amphitheater and more. Also cool: The ice cream at the Hula Hut concession spot is from local fave Beth Marie's. 2400 Long Road, Denton. $10-$14 for ages 3 and older.
WET ZONE Nestled in Rowlett, Wet Zone offers three water slides, a lap pool, a lazy river and kid-friendly play areas. In keeping with its community feel, the water park also offers swimming lessons as well as Junior Lifeguard training. 5304 Main St., Rowlett. $5.50-$10.50 for ages 3 and older.
Hotel or spa parks
GAYLORD TEXAN RESORT The Paradise Springs seasonal park for the hotel's overnight guests boasts a Texas-themed, multilevel water play structure with three slides and interactive water features. There's also a 600-square-foot lazy river, 6,000-square-foot family lagoon with a 27-foot waterslide and zip line, toddler pool and private cabanas. 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine.
GREAT WOLF LODGE Only lodge guests can enjoy the impressive water attraction as part of their stay. Slides range from a six-story funnel to a kiddie version, and there's a wave pool, a lazy river and more. Not staying overnight? Day passes to the water park can be purchased, if available. 100 Great Wolf Drive, Grapevine.
JADEWATERS AT HILTON ANATOLE This attraction for hotel guests features a 4,000 square foot leisure pool, an activity pool with a play area, a lazy river, two slides, a swim-up bar and a restaurant. 2201 N. Stemmons, Dallas.
KING SPA This eclectic 24-hour Korean-inspired spa and waterpark has attractions ranging from a slide to a swim-up bar, hot tubs to a shallow area for little splashers. Important note for those unfamiliar with King Spa: There are select gender-specific spa and locker room areas where there is communal nudity. $20-$45 for ages 3 and older. 2154 Royal Lane, Dallas.
Free splash parks
ANNA SPLASH PAD The splash pad at Slayter Creek Park offers spray tunnels and raining buckets. The park also is home to a playground, skateboard park, horsehoe pit and more. Note: The splash pad is closed on Mondays, except for Labor Day, Sept. 2. 425 Rosamond, Allen.
CARROLLTON SPLASH PARKS Oak Hills Splash Park at 1225 Royal Palm Lane and W.J. Thomas Splash Park at 1955 N. Perry Road both have free water playgrounds. Water features run automatically at Oak Hills; at W.J. Thomas, tap the silver sensor on the fire hydrant to start the water.
CELEBRATION PARK (ALLEN) Allen's big-and-bustling splash park with water jets, buckets and more is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., except for Wednesdays. Bonus: It's next to the big KidMania playground for extra fun. 701 Angel Parkway, Allen.
DALLAS SPRAYGROUNDS There are 16 city-operated spray parks that are open every day, mostly from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., through late September. Note: Pemberton Hill and Danieldale spraygrounds have been upgraded this year with a new, cool deck-type surface. dallasaquatics.org
EULESS SPLASH PAD The splash pad -- which includes a raining bucket, spray fountain, a misting arch and geysers -- is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 2 to 6 p.m. Touch the top of the yellow cylinder to turn on the water. 600 S. Main St., Euless.
FORNEY SPLASH PAD Cool off at the splash pad at Forney's Community Park with a water tower and other spray features. It's open daily from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. 541 S. FM548, Forney.
THE FOUNTAIN AT FAIRVIEW TOWN CENTER The free-to-splash-in fountain at this shopping center is for those 12 and younger, and it's a great end to a shopping trip. The fountain is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are shows at 7 and 8 p.m. where the water movement is choreographed to pop music and lights. Note: All splashers must exit the fountain during shows. Good news if you're hungry: It's right by the patios for Gloria's and Bistro 115. 329 Town Place, Fairview.
FRISCO SPRAY PARKS There are three free water playground options in Frisco. Frisco Commons is one of the best spray parks in town, plus it's close to the sprawling playground at Hope Park. There are also spray parks at J.R. Newman Park and Shepherds Glen.
GALATYN PARK URBAN CENTER The plaza features a kid-magnet fountain that sends up bursts of water that’ll get everyone soaked quickly. It’s often lighted at night, and during special events the water show is sometimes choreographed to music. The fountain is across from the Eisemann Center, and there’s a DART station nearby. Near 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson.
HALTOM CITY SPRAYGROUNDS Both Broadway Park at 4839 Broadway Ave. and Whites Branch Park at 5290 Western Center Blvd. are open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., through Labor Day. No water balloons are allowed on the spraygrounds.
HILLSIDE VILLAGE (CEDAR HILL) The centerpiece of this shopping center is the free interactive fountain, which sends water shooting up at delighted kids (it's for ages 10 and younger and 48 inches tall and shorter). Near Barnes & Noble, at 305 W. FM1382, Cedar Hill.
IRVING SPRAY PARKS At both Northwest Spray Park at 2800 Cheyenne St. and Southwest Spray Park at 2800 Shady Grove in Irving, fountains, picnic areas and grills make for a refreshing summer field trip for the kids and a relaxing barbeque for the adults. Both locations are open through Labor Day.
KLYDE WARREN PARK In the Children's Park, a shallow splash pool reminiscent of a giant saucer and the caterpillar fountain (the arcs of water turn it into a "butterfly") in the play area are kid magnets. There are also interactive fountains at Hart Boulevard and Moody Plaza. 2012 Woodall Rogers Freeway, Dallas.
MAIN STREET GARDEN The park on Main Street in Dallas has a flowing layer of water on the bottom of its fountain, which keeps feet nice and cool as you walk around. There are also smooth stone benches within the fountain space, so you can have a seat and cool your toes. Main Street Garden also features a mini playground, a lawn and a dog run. 1902 Main Street, between St. Paul and Harwood streets, Dallas.
PROSPER SPLASH PAD Located in Frontier Park, near a playground and shaded pavilion, the splash pad is open through Labor Day. 1551 Frontier Parkway, Prosper.
ROCKWALL SPRAYGROUNDS The city of Rockwall has three free spraygrounds. They're at Harry Myers Park, the Park at Foxchase and the Park at Hickory Ridge. To activate the water features, touch the top of the white tube.
WAYNE FERGUSON PLAZA SPLASH PAD The interactive splash pad is in Wayne Ferguson Plaza, across from City Hall, in Old Town Lewisville. Note: The plaza is also home to a number of festivals and the Sounds of Lewisville summer concert series. 150 W. Church St., Lewisville.
Former Guide editor Ann Pinson contributed to this story.