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The Ballston Spa Village Pool, with an opening day that is still "TBA" (according to their website) is across the river from Kelley Park and a great local and affordable option. Admission is $2 per swimmer, and kids under three are admitted free of charge.  We went several times last year and liked it a lot.  They offer swim lessons starting in July for ages 3 and up (must be potty trained).  Cost is a mere $35 but it is quite a time commitment, 6 weeks for 2-3 mornings a week.  More details are here on their websiteOpen registration for swim lessons is this Saturday and Sunday 6/25 and 6/26 from 9am-noon. 

The Peerless Pool in the Saratoga Spa State Park is a massive pool complex with a separate kid’s pool and splash area.  It opens on June 25th.  It is not the most affordable option when you consider the $8 per vehicle entrance to the park, in addition to the cost of admission to the pool ($2 adults, $1 children). The Peerless Pool is also closed on Tuesdays.  Operating hours are 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.  

The Victoria Pool also opening June 25th is  located near the Saratoga Spa Golf Course.  This is a beautiful pool surrounded by brick archways and stunning architecture.  While Victoria Pool may not be the most kid-friendly spot, it’s by far the prettiest place to cool off. Admission here is $8 for adults and $4 for kids and it's open daily from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.     

For a beach experience, Moreau Lake State Park off of Northway Exit 17S is a wonderful option. The beach is open daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and the cost is $8 per vehicle to enter the park. We've already been to Moreau this year and in addition to a wonderful beach, the playground area is fabulous!  No admission other than the $8 per vehicle, so pack a lunch and make a day of it!  Don't forget sunscreen and bug spray.

Don't forget about the local fountain parks either for a fun and no-cost cool down. 

 
 
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On the corner of Beekman Street and Division Street in Saratoga is park called West Side Rec.  This is probably one of my favorite summer time spots because in addition to many shaded areas and a decent playground, this park has water!   A large interactive fountain sits in the middle of the grass, a refreshing invitation for hot, sticky kids.  This park is a good size, and as I mentioned, has plenty of shaded areas, some benches and picnic tables.  The playground equipment is basic and there is a good sized sand box.  There is a bathroom but it is a bit of a walk and a small step up from a porta potty.  Despite that, West Side Rec is a nice spot and well worth a visit.

Other Fountain Parks of Saratoga:

Geyser Road Park:  The playground is basic and small, but the fountain is the main attraction.  Not a ton of shade here, but nice bathrooms that are very close by.  It tends to be less busy than East Side or West Side Rec. 

East Side Rec: Located on the corner of Lake Ave (aka Route 29) and Granger Ave in Saratoga is East Side Rec.  It's a nice park for a hot summer day because of the fountain.  Tennis courts, baseball fields, and a very small playground located too far from the fountain to enjoy are the general amenities.  It does have bathrooms, but they are quite a walk away underneath the baseball field grandstand.  Still a good park on a hot summer day. 

 
 
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Hudson Crossing Park is located just outside Schuylerville on NY Historic Scenic Byway, Route 4.  To Schuylerville locals, it's called Lock 5 because it is on the Champlain Canal Lock 5.  Whatever you call it, this park is a nice change of pace from a traditional playground.  The area for kids is called the 'Play Garden'.  Many of the 'play' items are built into nature and include stumps to jump, a rock maze/labyrinth to navigate, tunnels to crawl through, sand and dirt 'drums' for playing, a couple slides built into the landscape and a boat to explore.

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It's amazing how much fun kids can have when they use their imagination and explore their surroundings!  Our kids had a blast just being there.  They all loved playing in the sand and dirt, and the boat was a hit. 

The play garden area has a nice pavilion for lunch and a generously-sized porta potty.  The park itself also has some hiking trails and the Champlain Canal Lock is kind of an attraction in itself.

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Robby (in plaid) plays in the sand with his friends
It's a bit of a drive to get there, about 20 minutes outside of Saratoga, but it is worth a visit. 
I wouldn't go on the hottest summer day because there isn't a lot of shade, choose a cloudy or cool day, pack a lunch and enjoy!  It was quiet on the week day we visited. 

From Saratoga, take Route 29 into Schuylerville and turn left onto Route 4 and turn into Lock 5/Hudson Crossing on your right. 

 
 
Gavin Park
Gavin Park is located in Wilton off of exit 15.  You'll turn left off the exit heading towards downtown Saratoga and turn right at the second light onto Gick Road.  Take Gick Road for a couple miles and turn right onto Lewis Road and that's the entrance to Gavin Park.  The park is a huge complex with well-maintained fields, courts, pavilions, a gymnasium and a nice playground.  There's tons of parking, bathrooms, and the pavilion right near the playground has vending machines for soft drinks.  I've never actually been inside the gym, but it looks nice from the outside.  

Where's the picture of the playground?  Two reasons I don't have it.... my camera was extremely low on batteries AND the were running a day camp program while we visited so it was nearly impossible to get picture without including day camp participants = creepy.  While Gavin Park is really nice, your bet bet is to avoid it during the day (9am-3pm) Monday-Friday until August 13th because of the day camp.  There were tons of rowdy kids and hollering counselors when we went, and my son was a bit too overwhelmed to enjoy it.  The playground equipment is very nice and fairly new, and there are swings, a sandbox, and a few different playground options for kids of all ages.  I know that Saratoga Mama sometimes has meet-up events at this park and they seem to like it.  Overall Gavin Park is another great playground option.  I'm sure they have programs for little one's in the fall, so I will definitely look into it and post anything of interest. 
Check out some of the other local Parks & Playgrounds!  

 
 
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The Ballston Spa Village Pool (shown in picture) across the river from Kelley Park is a great local and affordable option. Admission is $2 per swimmer, and kids under three are admitted free of charge. Open swim is Monday – Friday from 2 - 6 p.m. and family swim is 6 - 8 p.m. Saturday and Sundays offer open swim from noon - 6 p.m. and family swim from 6 - 8 p.m. The difference between open swim and adult swim is that during open swim, children over the age of eight can swim unaccompanied by a swimming parent or guardian. During family swim times, all children under 18 must be accompanied by a swimming parent or guardian.  I took Robby here recently and we loved it.  They have a large area that is 2 feet deep and perfect for the little one's to play.  I also saw people with buckets and floaties, and other items often not allowed in public pools.       

The Peerless Pool in the Saratoga Spa State Park is a massive pool complex with a separate kid’s pool. Unfortunately it is not the most affordable option when you consider the $8 per vehicle entrance to the park, in addition to the cost of admission to the pool ($2 adults, $1 children). The Peerless Pool is also closed on Tuesdays.  Operating hours are 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.  

The Victoria Pool, located near the Saratoga Spa Golf Course is a beautiful pool surrounded by brick archways and stunning architecture. While Victoria Pool may not be the most kid-friendly spot, it’s by far the prettiest place to cool off. Admission here is $8 for adults and $4 for kids and its open daily from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.     

For a beach experience, Moreau Lake State Park off of Northway Exit 17S is a wonderful option. The beach is open daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and the cost is $8 per vehicle to enter the park. 

 
 
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Not ready to take the plunge into a body of water? Saratoga Springs has four interactive fountain parks which provide a free spot for kids to cool down, a playground and benches and/or picnic tables. For a lot less commitment than going to a pool or beach, you can still keep your kids cool. The four parks are:
- Geyser Park, off of Geyser Road (shown in picture)
- West Side Rec. on the corner of Division Street and Beekman Street
- East Side Rec. on Lake Ave and Caroline Street
- South Side Rec. located at 15 Vanderbilt Ave. 

 
My personal favorite is West Side Rec or Beekman Street Playground as I like to call it.  It has lots of shade, a nice playground, a large fenced-in play area and of course, a fountain to cool off.  Least favorite: Geyser Park.  The playground is way too small and there is very little shade and not enough benches.  However if it's a fountain you need, and that's all, Geyser Park delivers.  Plus there are bathrooms very close by. 

 
 
Moreau Lake State Park
Located just minutes off of Northway exit 17S is Moreau Lake State Park.  I remember coming here as a kid, but hadn't been back in years until last week.  Our main attraction for going was the beach and unforunately that's about all we did in the park, although there are wonderful picnic areas, a playground, hiking trails, camp sites, boating, fishing and so on.  Admission to the park is by car and costs $8 per car.  Best bet is to carpool with friends if you can.  I know that can be tricky with kids in carseats though.  You can also purchase an Empire Passport which gets you into just about any NYS park including Saratoga Spa State Park for free.  The pass costs $65 but is good until March 2010.  Now back to the beach!   

We arrived at about 10am on a weekday and found parking in the front row closest to the beach.  There were a handful of people there at that time, but it really started filling up closer to 11am.  The beach is definitely big enough to accommodate a crowd but certainly it's best to go on a weekday if you can.  I imagine a weekend could be quite busy.  The water was surprisingly warm and the beach was sandy and as as relaxing as any.  There are lifeguards who are no-joke when it comes to their job.  We witnessed a lifeguard checking the 'squishy-ness' of a football to make sure no one got hurt!  No floaties or swimmies are allowed, but the water is shallow and very gradually gets deeper.  We brought tons of food and snacks for the kids, but there's also a snack bar that sells food.  The french fries were quite good for just $2!  I will definitely be going back to Moreau Lake.  Maybe next time we'll try out some of the other ammenities like the playground or hiking trails.  I recently complained on Facebook that we have three lakes, Ballston Lake, Round Lake, and Saratoga Lake surrounding us but NO BEACH!  Moreau Lake is beautiful and has a beach.  It's a bit further away, but really only takes 25-30 minutes from Malta.  Take Exit 17S on the Northway and the park entrance will be immediately on your right.     

 
 
East Side Rec
In my circle of friends, this park is known as the Lake Ave Fountain Park, but it is really just East Side Rec on the corner of Lake Ave (aka Route 29) and Granger Ave in Saratoga.  It's a nice park for a hot summer day because of the fountain of course!  Other than that however, this park does not offer much for the little ones.  Tennis courts, baseball fields, and a very small playground located too far from the fountain to enjoy are the general amenities.  It does have bathrooms (great for a pregnant woman at a fountain) but they are quite a walk away underneath the baseball field grandstand.  Despite these few shortcomings, a picnic lunch and bathing suit for the kids are really all that's needed for this to be a very fun summer activity. 

I personally enjoy the Beekman Street Playground/Fountain more than East Side Rec but if a fountain is all your child needs to keep entertained, East Side Rec is great!  Parking is best and less busy on Granger Ave.  The entrance to the fenced-in park is also on Granger.     


 
 
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The Martin Jewett Park in Clifton Park is a smaller playground located on Longkill Road.  From Malta, I took Eastline Road the whole way, and found the park on my left. From Clifton Park, you would take Ushers Road to the end and then turn right onto Longkill and the park would be on your right.  Don't go rushing out though, it's far from the best playground in the area!  It's probably more known for its nice tennis courts and baseball fields (2), and less for its playground equipment.  Hit the bathroom before going because there's only one porta-potty at this joint.

The picture on the bottom shows the two main playground offerings; one old and one slightly newer.  They have two of these covered picnic tables shown n the photo, a 'sand' box (or dirt mound that once was sand), and some swings.  Robby kept tripping on the uneven wood chip surface which tells me that he's either very clumsy or it hasn't been properly maintained.  Could be a little of both, but I hadn't seen him fall like that at other places. 

If this was your closest neighborhood playground, it would be perfectly fine.  However, I would not make a special trip to Jewett Park if there are other closer options.  Check out some my other reviews either be clicking on the green Parks & Playgrounds link to your right, or click here.        

 
 
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I hope everyone had a great weekend!  I wanted to start off this week with a Parks & Playgrounds post because the weather is going to be fantastic.  We had a busy weekend, but got a lot done around the yard.  Later this week I'll share my favorite local place for outdoor plants.  But let's get rolling on this week's P&P.

I took Robby to the Wood Road Elementary School (my alma mater) playground last week what a find it was!  Nothing like what I remembered, although it would be a fossil by now if it was still standing.  (yes, I'm that old)  If you head out of Ballston Spa on Route 67 going toward Galway, you will pass by the BSpa elementary schools on your right.  The street name is Wood Road off of 67.  Drive straight past the complex and around the back and you'll first hit the playground in the top photo.  This one looks almost brand new and was very cool.  We went around 5pm on a weeknight and there was no one there.  Some nice slides and climbing things, swings, basketball court, and a picnic table.  No infant swings, which makes sense at an elementary school.  Also, no bathrooms unless you sneak in the school, which I wouldn't recommend.  Visibility is good here too. 
If you keep driving around the back of the schools, you'll hit another playground complex seen in the bottom photo.  This one is nice, but slightly more disjointed and probably a little older than the other playground.  There are some funky looking playground apparatus here that look almost like torture devices.  They're not, but there's definitely some stuff here for older kids, not really toddler-friendly.  I don't think visibility is very good here.  If you have a runner, he/she may get pretty far on their own!  A couple picnic tables, basketball and no bathrooms.  I personally like the other playground better, as it just seems more manageable.  

Obviously a visit to the elementary schools during the school day is out of the question.  But for evenings, weekends, and when school is out of session, this is another playground option to keep in mind.  Where should I go next?  Any park/playground suggestions?  Leave a comment or email me!  colleen@maltamama.com