Our Special Harbor Spray Park (Franconia, VA)

Friday August 26, 2011
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Our Special Harbor at Lee District Recreation Center

Our Special Harbor at Lee District Recreation Center

6601 Telegraph Road
Franconia, Virginia
703-922-9841
Website   ~   Map Link

Playground Rating:

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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.

The Review:

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!

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Water Shoes

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).

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The park features all kinds of sprayers, dumpers and water jets.

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The far end of the park seems better suited to younger kids as it features smaller bubblers and two water tables.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

9 Responses to Our Special Harbor Spray Park (Franconia, VA)

  1. 1
    Pam says:

    It’s been our quest this summer to find the best playground EVER, EVER, EVER (echo fades). We went to this park based on your review and it was even better than advertised. The added benefit of this spray park is the Chessie’s Play Ground next to it. My kids enjoyed getting wet in the water park and then we let them dry out while playing on the sunny side in Chessie’s. I am amazed this is free…I think we’ve found it.

  2. 2
    Pam says:

    I forgot to add…Chessie’s has the rubberized surface area so even though the kids were in the water shoes (which we saw as a requirement) there was no slipping and no mulch to stick to the wet shoes.

    • 2.1
      Kendra says:

      I’m glad you guys tried and loved the park. We haven’t been back yet this summer, but I hope to get over there soon and do a review of the new playground as well.

  3. 3
    tamika howard says:

    I loved that it had a playground next to it, & it was free. The children loved it. Thx

  4. 4
    Aneela says:

    Very disappointed …. I’m standing right out side of park with my highly autistic non verbal kid who I loves water so much … And there r 15 families waiting in line … Ahead of me… I can read the sign .. Park for special kids … And when I asked gate keeper … Is there any way special need kid can get in as this is the park for them … Ans she was …. No … Nothing special for speaial need ……so I m dragging my kid to get in the car … Thanks

  5. 5
    espa says:

    We were also at the park on Monday, May 26- and the wait was not too long. I understand that Aneela was disappointed, but we each waited until we got in- with some offering to watch kids at the playground until there was space at the water area.

    New this year are the umbrellas to provide shade while you wait and there are two new structures in theplay area- a pirate ship and a light house.

    Fun way to spend Memorial Day with lots of families bringing picnics to enjoy after playing!

  6. 6
    Shawnda says:

    My kids and daycare kids love this place. I love the price. Because I take so many children I stay near the entrance/exit so nobody gets out allowing them to roam and have fun. Plenty of staff wanders around to make sure everyone is safe.

    Although it is a place for Special Needs it is not ONLY for special needs, it is designed to allow special needs in. Parents still need to wait their turns even if your special needs children do not understand. You ahould really bring your child back again and allow your child the opportunity to participate in the water fun. Nobody likes waiting in hot sunny weather but the wait is definitely worth it.

    We have been going since it opened and I have never waited more than a few minutes.

  7. 7
    Megan says:

    Thank you for this review! The park was so fun. Bare feet were not allowed in the water area so wear water shoes or shoes you don’t mind getting wet.

  8. 8
    Jason Borlinghaus says:

    After reading about it on your website, I took my 18-month daughter there this morning and she had a blast … followed by an exceptionally long nap. Thanks again for the pictures because the official website for the park is bare bones. They only have a picture of the signage, not the park itself.

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