The 100+ degree days have definitely arrived in Austin! And when it’s this hot outside, you can either stay inside in the air conditioning (my poor AC is screaming for some relief over here), or you can get outside and get wet. Since my three kids tend to go a wee bit stir crazy in the house that seems to be full of toys but nothing to actually do, we usually opt to head out for some sort of water activity.
This week we opted to meet up with a friend from preschool at Champion Park in Cedar Park (3830 Brushy Creek Rd). Champion Park is one of several parks along Brushy Creek Road that are all connected by the Brushy Creek Regional Trail, a great trail for running, biking, and walking. At first glance, Champion Park can be deceiving: it doesn’t look like much, and in fact it seems downright desolate in places. It doesn’t even have a playground, save for a lonely set of swings. But don’t discount it. What it does have are two things that kids can spend hours in: water and sand.
The splash pad is small. Some might say tiny. Some might even say, “Um, that’s it?” But when you’re 5, 5, and 3, you just go with it. It’s perfect for the younger set, and I did see a few slightly older kids splashing around here and there, but not enough to overwhelm the littles. In fact, one of my favorite things about this park is that there is almost no one ever there. It’s an introvert’s dream, I tell you!
On this particular day, it was actually not 800 degrees (how crazy is it that we say it was “only 91?”) so the water was pretty cold. Again, kids didn’t care.
The splash pad makes it easy to move seamlessly from sand to water. Kids can splash, head over to the sand pit for some digging and castle building, then go rinse off at the splash pad again so mom doesn’t have heart palpitations from all the sand being dumped into her car. Luckily I have low expectations, so sand doesn’t bother me much.
The sand pit is in a word…HUGE! I don’t know what it is about kids and sand, but if there is a sandbox, my kids are in it. We brought our own sand toys, which was completely unnecessary, as there was a smattering of toys already littered throughout the sand pit, and I’m not talking just the broken ones that people leave behind. And for the little paleontologists, there are dinosaur bones hidden in the sand!
Bonus: a good portion of the sand pit is covered by a large sail shade, which provides relief from those days that aren’t as nice as this one.
But it’s not all just sand and splashing. Champion Park boasts a large pavilion area perfect for parties. In fact there was one starting just as we were leaving, and my kids may or may not have tried to steal a cupcake.
Just past the pavilion is a cool dino themed area for climbing and playing. It’s in the full heat of the usually blazing sun, but it’s lots of fun.
In between the splash area and the sand pit is another set of larger climbing rocks. My kids enjoyed climbing on them repeatedly and making me help them down. I enjoyed this slightly less than they did.
The main downside to Champion Park for me is that fact that there is no space to really run freely, unless you count the sidewalks from the parking lot to the play areas. I like a park with lots of grass to run around in, and all of the areas surrounding the park are full of wild grasses and flowers up to my knees and aren’t meant for frolicking. I’m not sure at this time if Williamson County has plans to develop those areas. But that’s really just a small con, because with the sand and water, my kids don’t care about skipping through fields of lush, green grass.
All in all, Champion Park is a pure win in my book. I’m not even kidding, with some snacks and drinks, my kids could spend hours at this park playing in the sand, splashing in the water, climbing on the rocks, going back to the sand, back to the water…you get the picture. It’s a stretch to see the sand pit from the picnic tables by the splash area, and vice versa, so every time they moved, I had to move. But it was a small price to pay for hours of entertainment and me not having to blow up the kiddie pool in the backyard.
The water feature will operate May 17 to September 1, 2014 from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Due to water conservation measures, the water play feature will operate Friday, Saturday, and Sundays. For more information, visit the Williamson County website.
(pdf map of the park)
3830 Brushy Creek Rd
Cedar Park, Texas
Leigh Ann Torres is a freelance writer and blogger living in Austin with her husband and three girls. She’s a pretty good cook, a mediocre photographer, and a horrible housekeeper. She writes about the good, the bad, and the ridiculous of life with twins plus one at Genie in a Blog.