The first day of summer is June 20th, which means it’s time to think about how to cool off on the steamy hot days soon to follow in arguably Newburyport’s best season. All kids love water, and we are on a mission this summer to find a multitude of fun, accessible, interesting, and reasonably priced water bodies to submerge ourselves in.
For the last two summers, we’ve been pool members at the Haverhill Country Club. The kids absolutely love the pool facilities there, which include a large L-shaped pool, diving board, kiddie pool, basket ball and tennis courts, a small playground, and a great pool-side grill. Many local families are members there, making a few hours even more fun when the kids can play together and the moms can schmooze.
The major downside of the Haverhill Country Club is the time it takes to get there from Newburyport, a solid 25 minutes on Rt. 495, which more often than not killed my motivation to go. We probably only went to the pool 10 times each summer, and for the cost ($800 this summer), it’s just not worth it, especially with all of pricey camps the kids are enrolled in. Also, many of my friends did not renew their memberships this year.
So I’ve decided this summer we will seek out alternative swimming arrangements. Even if a longer drive is involved, we’ll end up spending less and no guilt will be involved. I’d be fine going to the beach every day, but the undertow is concerning and the kids can only tolerate sand covering their active bodies for so long before they want to leave. So in the interest of compromise and the desire for as little whining as possible, we will aim to visit several fun, non-sandy water bodies this summer along with select trips to the beach. And I think we’ll end up spending less, too. I highly recommend calling to confirm hours and prices before heading out.
New places we are planning to try this summer
I received a Groupon about One Stop Fun in Westford and it looks awesome. The daily rate is a bit steep, starting at $15 per child, but adults are free. Five water slides, spray stations and an outdoor pool with depths ranging from 1.5 to 6 feet makes One Stop Fun a must for us this summer. We’ll plan to spend the better part of the day there to make the trip and cost worth it.
Friends of ours have hit the Pierce Island Pool in Portsmouth and recommend it, although I’ve heard the bathrooms could use a little help. The price is certainly right, at $4 for adults and $2 for children who are not residents of Portsmouth.
The Works, a health club owned by Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, in Somersworth, seems to be an aquatic gem about 40 minutes from Newburyport. According to the website, the center boosts a 70-foot water slide, fountains and dump buckets. It’s expensive, but looks really great: adults are $18; children 6-15 are $13; and newborn-5 are $10.
An easy, local option to cool off is a one-month membership at the Newburyport YWCA on Market Street. For $85, you have 30 days of swimming, exercise classes, and access to the children’s playroom. Even though it’s not outside, my kids love splashing around during open swim and playing in the playroom while I catch an exercise class.
Several families I know are buying season passes to Water Country in Portsmouth this summer. There are rides, slides and wave pools for all ages of children, and you can bring your own food. We’ll hit the park at least once this summer and consider the season pass if it’s manageable and fun for us.
I’ve heard Spring Brook Park is worth the trip to Bedford. The man-made swimming area has filtered water with a sandy beach, picnic area, wooded areas, and a sprinkler.
One place we considered joining is Hood’s Pond in Topsfield. It’s a lake with a sandy beach, a dock to swim out to, a playground and a daily visit from the ice cream truck. The non-resident price is about $200 for the season and there’s no daily entrance fee. Friends are members there, so I think this summer we’ll visit with them and see if it’s a good fit for our family next year.
Places we’ve visited before and loved
You can’t go wrong at Bradley Palmer State Park, especially if you have a Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Parks Pass, which for $35 gets you into all state parks for free. Plan to arrive early (or late in the day) to Bradley Palmer, where cars queue up about 20 minutes before the 10 a.m. opening time. The zero entry pool is particularly great for little ones, and there’s a small playground there that’s fun although slippery when wet. The life-guarded wading pool has a tendency to get crowded and if there’s thunder the pool must be cleared.
The Exeter Parks and Recreation Pool is a great place to cool off on a hot day. The pool and spray pad are open in the afternoon and evening only at a very reasonable non-resident rate of $4 for adults and $2.50 for those under 17. There’s a small snack bar with ice cream and a playground. When we last visited a few years ago, there was a very fun water slide that my daughter loved!
We usually visit Davis Farm Land once a summer. The kids have a blast visiting with all of the animals, and the spray park is lots of fun. There’s even a bubble bath area, where the kids basically submerge themselves in bubbles and then rinse off in the spray area.
Last summer, we discovered the spray pool at Boston Common. Paired with a trip to the Public Garden, the kids were happy to cool off in the very shallow pool. A snack bar and bathrooms make the pool easy and fun, and it’s free.
We may at some point join another pool club – there are certainly many around to choose from: Bradford Swim Club, Cedardale Health and Fitness, Swan Pond at the Black Swan Country Club, and the Ipswich Country Club, among others. But this summer we’ll be adventurous and explore our other options.
Jill Oestreicher Gross is mentally preparing for a summer with two active kids who love to be busy.