What do you do when your little one is too little to justify paying a big water park price?  You take them to the splash pad, of course!  It’s safer than the ocean and more fun than the pool. Best of all, we've got some great ones in our own backyard thanks in part to the New Bedford Parks, Recreation and Beaches Department!

1. Freetown State Forest’s Wading Pool & Splash Pad
This free, fenced in water area has two or more lifeguards on duty at all times and has fun features like a spray deck  featuring sprinklers, shower tunnels and spray jets that shoot up from the patio sporadically.  There's plenty of sunny and shady areas to spread out a picnic blanket, too!   When you get too water logged to keep playing, take a hike through any of the many trails that feature ponds, local plant life and tons of fun critters.

2. Riverside Park, North Ends of New Bedford
Located along Bellevue Avenue in New Bedford, this park also features a playground and giant soccer field. You can drive into the park to park your car or use street parking along Bellevue Avenue. Plus- there's a skate park if your kids really want to work up a sweat before cooling off.

3. Brooklawn Park, North End of New Bedford
Brooklawn Park is one of the area's largest parks and at the very center of it is their playground and splash pad.  Be sure to use the Acushnet Avenue entrance if you're looking for parking near the playground itself.

4. Ashley Park, South End of New Bedford
Ashley Park is on the corner of Rivet Street and Orchard Street. Take short stroll with the family and then cool off in their water jets

5. Clasky Commons, West End of New Bedford
Just beyond the main gate on Purchase Street, this neighborhood park has two jets and is a perfect drop-in on a hot day if you live nearby

BONUSCapron Zoo & Splash Pad, Attleboro
While it's not a Southcoast area attraction, it is a great small zoo and splash pad all rolled into one.  If you're a member of Buttonwood Park Zoo, your membership will get you into this zoo for free!  No matter what you choose to do first, water parks and zoos are a fun combination.

If you have any great photos of your gang at any of the splash pads, feel free to share them!