Beyond the Pool: Splash Fountains, Creeks and Beaches in the Capital District
by Katie Beltramo
Kids love to get wet in the summertime. It’s a great way to beat the heat, and there’s nothing like an entire afternoon spent swimming or splashing in the sun to ensure a good night’s sleep. You probably have a go-to pool, whether it’s the kiddie inflatable on your back deck, a neighbor’s, or your local town pool. But there’s something special about taking a trip somewhere new. Whether you’re splashing around with little ones, exploring the wilderness, or digging some sand at a beach, you’ll be surprised to find how much a simple day trip feels like a vacation. So pack a picnic lunch, and don’t forget the sunscreen!
Splash fountains or spray pools are terrific for all ages, but they’re especially great if you have little ones who don’t swim a bit or if your children outnumber you. After all, you want to relax, too, and you can’t if you’re constantly counting small heads bobbing on the water’s surface. Luckily, there are many options around the Capital District.
Prospect Park in Troy has a splash fountain. Several Albany city parks offer spray pads, inncluding the ones at Sheridan & Dove, Upper Lincoln, and Westland Hills. In Saratoga, Parks at Beekman Street & Division Street and at Lake Avenue & Granger Avenue each have modest splash fountains, or you can visit Saratoga Spa State Park's Peerless Pool for a pool-and-fountain combination.
The Capital District has plenty of beautiful natural spaces for hiking, and hiking becomes exponentially more fun with a big dose of water. Plotter Kill Preserve in Rotterdam has waterfalls and places for wading, along with bridges and staircases that make it an adventure. Christman Sanctuary in Duanesburg has a creek and waterfalls. Normans Kill in the town of Bethlehem is an historic trail with access to a creek. Thacher Park has waterfalls, too. For all of these places, conditions will vary based on recent weather, so a roaring waterfall might be a placid trickle through the rocks when you visit a month later. But discovering these changes is all part of the adventure.
You don’t need the ocean to enjoy a beach day. Several state parks, including Thompson’s Lake State Park , Cherry Plain State Park , and Grafton Lakes State Park, boast wonderful lake beaches as well as other amenities. Our favorite, Moreau Lake State Park , is right off the Northway, with a playground and picnic tables nearby as well as boat rentals and a shop with snacks and other necessities. Most state parks charge $8 per carload to enter. The Town of Sand Lake maintains a beach, and it offers day passes for non-residents for $3 per person.
Summer days melt into a comfortable routine, and that’s wonderful. But throw in a few easy, affordable excursions to add some excitement to your days in the sun.