Our favorite part of summer is the pool. My daughter can’t get enough of being outside in the water, so we were so excited to check out the Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole in Reston.
The Water Mine is a water park designed specifically for elementary age children. It features slides, flumes, sprays, showers, floatables, and interactive play features, all circled by Rattlesnake River – a gentle lazy river. The park looks like a wild west town based on a legend of Pete the Prospector, who was digging for gold but found water instead.
My daughter and I easily found lounge chairs to lay our towels on and quickly headed into the water. I was surprised at first at the size of the park – it was smaller than I expected – but it turned out to really be the perfect size for a 6 year old. Big enough to have plenty to do but small enough to not be overwhelming.
Slides were our first order of business, and my daughter was excited to try each of them out. There are two large slides (Big Pete & Little Pete), and several smaller themed slides. Big Pete was a big hit – she climbed and slid down over and over again. She also really liked a slide that looks like you’re shooting out of a covered wagon.
Also a huge hit? The large floatables that are scattered throughout the water. There is something about riding a horse or climbing up on a giant snake that just screams fun. We also spent a LOT of time floating along Rattlesnake River. There are both single and double tubes available and it was fun to float along and navigate the different water features (buckets that drop water on random guests are REALLY fun!).
In August, two new sections of the Water Mine opened to rave reviews. The first section features three large body slides. While we didn’t check them out personally (you must be 48” or taller to slide), the long line of happy kids spoke for itself. We also heard from other kids who had been on them about how fun they were. The other new section of the Water Mine features a huge splash structure. It has lots of space to climb, fountains and sprays everywhere, and two smaller body slides.
My daughter loved both of the slides, but even more exciting was the giant (and I mean GIANT) bucket of water that filled up then dumped out on the happy kids waiting below. There were also some smaller fountains and water tables along the edges for the smallest visitors as well as a pint sized slide. Also included in the expansion is another large seating area and 7 family restrooms. The splash structure was awesome – we easily spent an hour just playing on it.
The park is really designed for elementary aged children – I think that lower elementary age is the perfect age for the park. But we saw lots of older children and teens having a great time as well. And with the new additions to the park, ‘tweens and teens can enjoy it as well. There’s a small water volleyball court and “Box Canyon Crossing” for older kids. There’s also a small, separate area for children under 4 years old. (and we saw some adventurous toddlers enjoying the slides too!) Life jackets were plentiful for non-swimmers – we saw a LOT of families taking advantage of them.
The biggest thing that I noticed in the park? The lifeguards. The lifeguards were intense – they take their job seriously and there are a LOT of them. Even though it was packed when we were there, I felt really safe at the park because of how attentive the lifeguards were. The park was also really clean, especially considering how crowded it was.
Like most community pools, the Water Mine has a 10 minute break each hour. For us, it was the perfect excuse to get my daughter to take a bathroom break and re-apply sunscreen. We also used one of the breaks to have lunch.
There is a small concession stand and a pizza truck available, but we took advantage of the fact that you’re allowed to bring your own food in and packed a picnic. There is a large covered picnic area with plenty of tables to enjoy your picnic, or you can also spread out a towel or eat on one of the lounge chairs.
A day at the Water Mine is somewhat expensive. $14.50 for those over 48” tall ($13.50 on weekdays) and $11.25 for those under 48” tall (2 years and under are free). Season passes are available and there is a discounted rate ($8.50) if you come after 5 p.m. on weekdays. I heard several parents mention that there should be a discounted rate for parents, since the park is really designed for kids.
I was less upset about the cost once I saw how many lifeguards there were. I’m happy to pay a little more if that money is going to extra lifeguards. They also offer a 3 hour guarantee – if weather closes the park and you have been there less than 3 hours, they will give you passes to come back another day.
The Water Mine has a reputation for filling up quickly – once the park reaches capacity, there can be a lengthy wait to get in. However, the expansion significantly increased the capacity of the park, which means your chances of a lengthy wait are far lower than they once were. The increased capacity, however, also means increased crowds in the park. On a Tuesday in August it was PACKED and the crowd never seemed to subside. Because the expansion has been so popular, the park announced that the Water Mine will remain open on weekends through September 27, 2015.
Bathrooms with changing areas and showers are available (and were also remarkably clean for the crowd levels). There was also a family bathroom available as well as lockers. (single use for $.25)
Overall? We really enjoyed our day at the Water Mine. We spent over 3 hours at the park, and only left because we were just tired from all the sun and swimming. My daughter is already planning her next visit and I’ll admit it, I’m pretty excited to go back too.
Photos by Mara Surridge.