Tour of Wading Pools


Ashlen, from Kidsperts, did it again! She created an awesome review of Central Iowa’s wading pools! I did not even know some of these existed. This is a great detailed look at what our local wading pools have to offer!


With temps in the 90’s and heat indexes in the 100’s, we’ve been looking for ways to beat the Iowa heat. We’ve been extremely busy lately and haven’t had time to enjoy our favorite splash pads, spray grounds, and pools around the metro. I decided our staycation was the perfect time to enjoy some of our fave Des Moines spots. Enter Tour of Wading Pools. It was a whirlwind two days of running, splashing, dunking, crawl stroking, and driving from pool to pool.

In other words, the perfect way to beat the hot and humid weather!

Tower Park


This is the kind of wading pool that I remember as a kid. My kids had never seen a wading pool like this before (we’re fans of Ashby Park’s Splash Pool). They were a little taken aback by all of the cement but quickly loved that it was a little deeper than the splash pads we’ve previously been to. It was large and not crowded at all. Even I floated in the water a bit while the kids splashed at me.

The only draw back to this wading pool is that it’s only open Monday – Friday. I really appreciate the splash pads with weekend hours as well. However, if you find yourself able to get out during the week days, Franklin Avenue Library is right down the street. It would be pretty perfect to enjoy a story time at the library before heading over to the pool. The kids can run around and parents can enjoy a new book from the library.


Woodlawn Park Sprayground


Upon arriving at the park I was rather curious about the large blue pole in the middle of a cement slab, but the boys quickly figured out where to press the button. The water shot out and the boys had a blast running through this simple water fountain. The best part about this park? We had it completely to ourselves!

Snookies Malt Shop


It may not be a pool, but it’s just as fun, I promise. We took a break from our pool hopping for a cool treat. Harrison tried a root beer float for the very first time. I loved this little ice cream shop when I was a kid and I’m so happy that my kids share my love for it too!

Ashworth Pool


It’s not a wading pool, but it’s the minis favorite pool in Des Moines. Diving boards, actual deep ends, and a completely separate kiddie pool for the younger ones (or for the older ones when they decide they’re done jumping off the side of the pool after a solid hour). It was pretty cheap too: $2 for kids, $4 for adults, kids 2 and under are free.

This was the perfect pool to practice their newfound strokes from swimming lessons. The best part about this pool: even when it’s crowded, it doesn’t seem crowded because this pool has a lot of room.


Columbus Park Spraygrounds

We went to this playground on our Tour of Parks last fall and have been waiting run through the pirate ship spraygrounds. The boys loved it, but Elizabeth wasn’t fond of it. The only thing I don’t enjoy about this park is that it’s always crowded. The kids thought the water was “too cold” so we went over to the playground for most of our time there.




Max ran laps around the basketball court.

Sargent Park Fountain


This was another park from our Tours of Parks that we loved and were excited to get back to. The fountain was simple, but there’s so much to do at this all natural park that we spent an hour running around, through the tunnels, down the slide, and into the fountain to cool off. The fun only ended because Harrison got a bee sting on his cheek and demanded to go home.





Union Park Splash Pad


We may have been there for the splash pad, but it wouldn’t be a visit to Union Park without a ride on the carousel and sliding down the rocket slide a few dozen times.


This splash pad is the same as Ashby Park’s, but it was a lot less crowded. Union Park’s splash pad also had a lot of covered picnic table near the pool. It would be a great picnic lunch spot!


Trying to use the kickboard in the fountains. It didn’t quite work out for her.



McHenry Park Spraygrounds


This is our favorite spray area in all of Des Moines. There’s so much to do plus this park has an awesome climbing rock and beautiful views.






Raccoon River Park Beach


We’ve been here a few times in the past, but this one was a must on our wading pool tour. We overlooked the fact that it wasn’t a wading pool, spray ground (although the park does have spray grounds among the playground equipment) or a pool because we all love this beach. Even when it’s crowded it’s not crowded, there’s always parking, and it keeps us all entertained for several hours.


On our way home from the beach, we took a poll which swimming spot was our favorite. Our number one place was Raccoon River Park Beach, followed by Union Park splash pad, Ashworth Pool, and Sargent Park fountain minus the bee sting. I was surprised one of the kids didn’t put Tower Park wading pool at the top of the list because they really enjoyed that wading pool. However, it was the first one we went to so I think it may have been forgotten about.

Other Pools we love (but didn’t have time to hit up):

The next time you need something to do on a hot day, check out one of these fun pools (and don’t forget to bring water to drink as well)!


1423869052310 Ashlen Sheaffer is a proud Des Moines resident who was born and raised here. Ashlen wears many hats: mom, wife, daycare provider at her in-home daycare, blogger and co-owner at The Kidsperts, children’s book author, and co-director and producer for the upcoming play Expressing Motherhood play. In her free time Ashlen enjoys exploring all Des Moines has to offer, road trips, and adventuring all with the kids in tow. Ashlen is super excited to be able to share some of her family’s adventuring with other Iowans and get other families out into the community.

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