Our Special Harbor at Lee District Recreation Center6601 Telegraph Road
Website ~ Map Link
Bottom Line: The "Clemyjontri" of spray parks! Large, accessible, lots of fun! Can get crowded, not a lot of shade. 5/5 stars.
The park operates daily 11am - 7pm during the summer through Labor Day. Check the OSH website for full details.
Note: As of the 2012 season, water shoes are required.
It’s taken all summer, but I finally got the gang to the brand new spray park built at Lee District Recreation Center in Franconia (Alexandria), VA. I’m glad we went because it is a wonderful facility — it’s hard to believe it’s free!
When the park first opened, it was decided that the surface (a sprayed concrete) was too slick, and a policy was introduced that water shoes were required. That policy has since been reversed. Water shoes are now strongly recommended, but not a requirement to play. If you wear water suitable shoes into the park, they will ask you to rinse your feet at the entrance to knock off any outside dirt and grime. Most folks (including my kids) were barefoot the day we went. Running is strictly prohibited.
Accessible for All
This park was built with funds raised by the Joey Pizzano Memorial Fund, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of children with special needs and their families. The park is fully accessible and even has wheelchairs available for water use. It also has a water fountain and 4 single use bathrooms (fully accessible and changing table equipped).
The park features all kinds of sprayers, dumpers and water jets.
The far end of the park seems better suited to younger kids as it features smaller bubblers and two water tables.
There are some shade structures set up around the perimeter, but the water area is full sun so be sure to lather up the sunscreen. Food and drink (besides water) is prohibited within the spray park, but there is a nice picnic pavilion just outside the spray area, perfect for a picnic lunch. They even included bathrooms and a couple of vending machines on this side of the facility.
The day we visited, the park was unseasonably cool and breezy for August. My kids declared it “freezing” and tried to heat up on the warm pavement.
I think the cooler temps and end of August timing worked in our favor as the park was not crowded at all when we went. It has a posted capacity of 247, and I have heard it has been busy enough at times to limit entrance. I’m sure it’s busier on weekends.
Speaking of busy, this is one of those parks that can be challenging for moms with more than one little kid. The park is fully enclosed, although the entrance gate is open. There are park staff who monitor the entrance — they are there to keep track of numbers and make sure new arrivals know the rules. Because of it’s size, you can’t see all areas of the park in any one place, so you have to keep sharp eyes if you have little ones that roam.
All in all, I found this to be a wonderful FREE destination and encourage anyone who hasn’t been to check it out! If you’ve already been, what’s your opinion?
Find more parks by visiting my main Arlington Parks & Playgrounds page.