I didn’t take my kids to a single amusement park all summer. Not one $200+ day in the whole 2.5 months hit my wallet. And yet we had a blast. And water was the main feature. First, here are some of the “dry” activities we enjoyed:
- The Pleasanton Library – We hit the library, which is a short walk from our place, at least a dozen times. This was our destination for movies on DVD, books, of course, and a few live performances including excerpts from a local production of Hairspray my daughter and I enjoyed.
- Walks around downtown – A favorite route included the creek, treks up Neal, Angela and Bernal, sometimes stopping by to visit the llamas across from Upper Field or Mission Hills park to throw Frisbee, Nerf football or to fly down the long, steel slide (faster on a piece of cardboard).
- Up and down Main Street on Sizzling Saturdays and First Wednesday street parties enjoying the live music and people-watching.
- Movies in the park
But most of the hot days were filled with a wide variety of water-based entertainment – a few of which you may still have some time to squeeze in before the days turn cold. I’ll start with the furthest from home:
- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – If you pick the right day (both for the weather and the traffic conditions), it’s hard to find a better value than this decades-old gem. My daughter was just tall enough, and just brave enough to go on every ride, so we got unlimited ride wrist bands and sandwiched a few hours on the beach between about five hours sampling rides and tasty treats. All for about $100 (we ate breakfast right before leaving and brought our own lunch).
- Aqua Adventure in Fremont – I can’t say enough about this terrific little water park. It has the best features of the bigger parks with a fraction of the wait time for the slides and it’s a mere 20 minute drive from Pleasanton. And it cost only $50 for all three of us each visit. We went three times but could have gone every week without getting bored.
- The Sunol Wilderness – I’m told the best time to hike this refuge for the falls and flowers is in the Spring. But we had a blast exploring in June and the kids must have covered at least three miles before pooping out in the late afternoon.
- Various neighborhood parks with water elements
- Delores Bengston Aquatic Center – If you want the best bang-for-buck, close to home and a good chance your kids will run into friends or make new ones, this is the place to go. It’s also easy to find a nice spot on the hill where you can be in the shade or sun and still see your kids no matter which pool they're using. It cost my kids and me $11 total to get in, and a few more bucks if you want to hit the snack bar. I recommend the cheese quesadilla and the rainbow shaved ice!
With a long weekend coming up (mid-high 80’s), and both parks open (summer hours for Aqua Adventure; recreational swimming 2-6pm on Labor Day at the Aquatic Center), surprise your family with this one last gasp of summer water fun!
Dan is a nationally certified personal fitness trainer and former continuing education faculty member of the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. He is the owner and head trainer at Tri Valley Trainer in Pleasanton, which provides personal and small group fitness training and nutrition guidance. He can be reached at Dan@TriValleyTrainer.com.