Compared to Northern Virginia, which seems to be overflowing with water parks – Atlantis, Pirate’s Cove, Ocean Dunes, Volcano Island, Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole, Great Waves at Cameron Run, Splash Down, and others – Maryland is a water park desert. For little kids there’s the Germantown Splash Park but it lacks water slides and thrills for the older set.
Gaithersburg’s best water park!
Some of the indoor pools almost fit the bill, but part of summer is being outside. The best bet for zooming down big water slides and having water dump out of buckets from above while in Montgomery County would have to be Gaithersburg’s Water Park at Bohrer Park.
My two sons, 6 and 10, and I visited on a sunny summer weekday and waited about 10 minutes in the entrance line. We applied sunscreen and read park rules to pass the time. I was surprised that a pair of staffers was inspecting bags (probably mainly for glass bottles) right beyond the cashier. Just inside the entrance is a set of large lockers (bring your own lock or buy one there for $7) where I stashed my purse.
A coin-operated locker that would hold keys and a wallet (but not a purse) was located further into the park. The layout of the water park includes a ton of lounge chairs and several spaces with good shade. It is divided into two pool areas, which do not have sightlines to each other for the most part.
Two big waters slides – one a tunnel and one open-air – were deemed “super fun” by my older son. You must be 48 inches to ride them. My younger son was very disappointed he didn’t reach the top of the sign. It’s the same height requirement for a smaller tunnel slide that is similar to a typical playground slide. Luckily there is a pair of small water slides with no such requirement that are in a shallow area.
This shallow area is sectioned off with a rope and also has dumping buckets (a pole with several cones atop it that fill water and dump at seemingly random times) and other water sprays. Beyond the roped area there are more sprays and a tiled island with faux palm trees that lots of kids were jumping from. I would not have guessed that the feature that occupied most of our time was a large alligator and log that were both covered in kids constantly hoisting themselves aboard only to be tipped off. I had read something online before our visit that there was water basketball but that was not set up on our visit.
The splash park for younger kids (54 inches and under only) is fenced and includes lots of shade coverage from canopies around the perimeter. This pool doesn’t get deeper than 10 inches. There is one structure with four slides and then a separate frog slide, plus a bunch of jets shooting water up and an umbrella-shaped feature raining water down. Within the fenced area there are some picnic tables and also a unisex family restroom. This area is best for toddlers. My six-year-old romped through the little pool for five minutes and asked to go back to the big pool.
A snack bar run by Boardwalk Fries offers a small menu that includes a grilled chicken salad ($7), hamburger ($3.25), fries ($2.50-$6.50) and other similar food. Near the snack bar area there was also a place to buy candy and other snacks. We saw lots of picnic tables scattered throughout the water park, including in the fenced little pool area. Outside food can also be brought in.
For spending some time out of the water, there are two playgrounds over rubber surfaces. One is within the fenced area by the little pool and the other is just beyond the snack bar.
We only used the locker rooms to change on our way out. The women’s room was crowded with campers. We managed to get changed but did not use the showers. In addition to the unisex family restroom in the little pool area, there is another one just inside the entrance. It is large and has a shower within.
There’s a mini golf course right next to the pool but sadly we didn’t have enough time to check it out on this visit.
Admission is $6-$11 (free for children 2 and under). Visit the website for hours.
- Kids who aren’t potty trained are required to wear a swim diaper covered by rubber pants (they sell both there). I’m not sure how strictly that is enforced since my kids are older.
- Life vests or flotation devices are permitted (but not rafts and inflatable toys).
- My GPS didn’t put us exactly at the water park entrance, but I did see a big sign for Bohrer Park.
- On our weekday visit (about 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.), the water park was filled with campers. The noise level in the park was one of the first things we noticed and could really be overwhelming for anyone sensitive to noise. I would think there are fewer camps using the pool in the afternoon so it may be that it’s less crowded and noisy then.
Photos courtesy of the Water Park at Bohrer Park