My daughters first saw the Fountain of Rings show at Centennial Olympic Park on a chilly December evening last year. The idea was to check out the holiday lights, maybe watch tourists teeter around the ice-skating rink. But when a recording announced that a show would be starting soon, they ran toward the small crowd gathering at the fountain. To be honest, I had kind of forgotten about the “dancing water.” But my kids were dazzled, open-mouthed at the illuminated jets powering streams 30 feet in the air, the sprays choreographed to “William Tell Overture” and “Dancing in the Street.” Soon the saucer eyes gave way to giggling and cheering. If we’d been there on a sun-soaked summer afternoon, I’m sure they would have plunged straight in. Even in the dead of winter, though, as the city lights twinkled and the Ferris wheel spun, ordinary downtown Atlanta suddenly seemed downright magical.
Six of our other favorite splash pads (Bonus: They’re all free!)
Center Hill Park
You’ll love running through the liquid tunnel created by jets spouting both water and mist.
D.H. Stanton Park
Located in Atlanta’s first energy cost-neutral park, the splash pad is built around public artwork by sculptor Robert Witherspoon.
Historic Fourth Ward Park
Water sprays from overhead as well as up from below for maximum soakage. Bring a swimsuit—or air dry at the playground next door.
Lillian Webb Park
At this picturesque park in historic downtown Norcross, run through streaming jets of water at the bottom of a cascading, man-made waterfall.
The Legacy Fountain is like a mini Fountain of Rings, with LED lights and 70 high-powered jets.
Suwanee Town Center Park
The Big Splash interactive fountain—one of Gwinnett’s largest—uses 43 jets to spray up to 1,400 gallons of (recycled) water a minute.
Fast facts: Fountain of Rings
Lightbulbs used to spotlight the water
Computer-controlled jets spurt water and fog
Times the Fountain of Rings show plays each day
Kids in the ATL: “The water still dances at Centennial Park” is reason 22 of our 25 Reasons it’s Great to be a Kid in Atlanta. To read the full list, grab a copy of our May 2016 issue, on newsstands now.
A version of this article originally appeared in our May 2016 issue.