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Keeping cool in the inland suburbs

The kids need some waterin' about now

Waterfront Park
  • Waterfront Park

“Where did the cool days of early June go?” I asked my husband Patrick.

I enjoyed them so much. I took mid-morning walks under shady clouds. I gardened under pleasant afternoon sun. I slept under a light blanket while a cool breeze blew in the window. The power-guzzling air conditioner stayed off.

“Them days is over,” Patrick answered in an old-timey cowboy voice reminiscent of the narrator in The Big Lebowski.

The old cowboy is right. Today the thermometer hit 100 degrees, and Eve here is dreading the dog days of summer ahead.

“Remember when we lived in Bankers Hill and it was never hot?” I mused.

“Them days is over, and t’aint coming back,” the increasingly annoying cowboy responded. “You’re gonna have to figure out how to stay cool in these here inland suburbs.”

The Kelly family hits the beach and the bay often enough, but the beach means sand everywhere — in my car, in my washing machine, in my sandwich. I got to thinking about some cheap cooling-off options that don’t cost half a week’s salary.

Waterfront Park is already on my radar. I drive by it weekly and admire the water arching from the jets. It’s a picturesque spot to picnic with a view of the bay, a playground, and water play. (Jet fountain hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reflecting pool hours are 10:30 a.m. to 7 pm.)

Out east in Rancho San Diego, at Hilton Head Park, a pirate-themed playground with a splash park is calling. For a $3 day-use fee, your little mateys can cool off between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. A season pass, which runs from May through October, will cost you $30.

Further east at Viejas Casino, there is an interactive fountain in their Showcourt. The fountain puts on dancing displays of water shows. During the summer months, kids are free to play about in the water. The interactive fountains hours run through September 5, each day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Head to Santee and there is Santee Lakes. The 190-acre park has seven lakes and seven playgrounds including a Sprayground. A small but refreshing little spot where the kids can cool off, it has bonus views of lakes and ducks. A week-day outing costs $2 for the day for the water fun; a weekend day is $3. Entrance to Santee Lake costs $4 on weekdays, $6 on weekends. One-dollar discount if paying with cash.

Also in Santee, the Cameron Family YMCA has an interactive recreation pool with a playground set inside a shallow pool of water with multiple slides. For Santee residents, the cost is $3; for non-Santee residents the cost is $8.

For the days the Kelly family is up in North County, there are a few parks offering splash pads for the public to enjoy. San Elijo Park, Mulberry Park, Buelow Park, Discovery Lake Park, and Sunset Park all will have their water features on from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through September.

Down south in Chula Vista at Mountain Hawk Park, there are views of hills and Otay Lake. Also at the park, a playground, basketball court, and splash pads for cooling off.

Further south at the Otay Ranch Town Center, walk to the food court and nearby is a splash pad with shooting jets coming up from the ground for the kids to cool off in and a chalk wall for the kids to draw on.

Over in Bonita, at Eastview County Park, there is water fun to be had with the colorful water features in the Aquatic Playground. Water flows from 9:30 a.m. until sunset each day. The day-use cost for the water park is $3 or $30 for the season through October. The park also boasts a 13-station exercise course and covered pavilions.

For the weeks I feel a bit more flush with cash, there is the Wave Waterpark in Vista: water fun to be had for under $20. Admission is $18.95 for kids over 42 inches tall; $14.95 for under that mark. During Happy Hour, the last two hours of the day, admission is $9.95. The park has a simulated wave attraction, a slide tower, a “riptide” slide, a four-story play structure called Rippity’s Rainforest for the younger folks, and also a Crazy River for lazing about.

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