If you’re like me, our unseasonably rainy spring lulled you into forgetting what was around the corner: the raging heat of summer in San Antonio. Mind you, our weather hasn’t been as bad as it can be—no 100-degree days in March or April this year—but as the thermometer heads higher, getting the kids outdoors becomes a challenge. Tired of the sprinkler or the pool? Not up for the crowds, hassle, or the mommy day-drinking recommended to survive a day at the water park?? No worries! Thanks to Fischer Park in New Braunfels, you’ve got a great option to add to your summer fun rotation.
Fischer Park is a new park, playground, and “sprayground” located just north of San Antonio in New Braunfels. Situated on a hilltop that overlooks New Braunfels and includes great views of the Hill Country, you’ll find more than enough to make the short drive worthwhile. With shaded play space—and a play area designed just for the true littles (think three and under)—there’s something for a wide range of kids to enjoy, and it’s all free.
The largest park in the New Braunfels park system, Fischer Park is more than just a playground (and actually, it includes two playgrounds). On 62 acres, the park includes a nature center, two fishing ponds, more than two miles of greenway trails, and the sprayground.
Notice how I keep going back to the sprayground? That’s because my Little absolutely loves it. It’s not getting cooler anytime soon, so let’s jump into the splash and spray part of the park. Open from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., daily, it includes a great variety of water toys that spray, mist, spout, pour, and sprinkle to kids’ delight. My favorite: a huge water bucket that slowly fills to dump on the unsuspecting kids below—except they all expect it and stand there in glee waiting to be doused, only to run screaming and giggling as it tips over.
Like the playgrounds at the park, the sprayground is designed for multiple ages. There are movable frog fountains that spout water for smaller children, mushrooms that serve as sprinklers, and loops and tubes with misters, sprayers, and sprinklers at various heights, as well as fun features like the water bucket for everyone to enjoy. Even better: the floor of the spray area is rubberized, not regular concrete, so if anyone falls while they’re playing, there’s a bit of bounce. And water run-off from the sprayground is captured by the park for the fishing ponds. It’s also reused for park irrigation.
For the parents, there are benches, as well as pavilions with picnic tables, surrounding the water area, giving you a great place to watch over everyone as they have fun. The layout of Fischer Park allows you to keep an eye on both the sprayground and playground areas from one location, meaning that no matter what your kids are into you can easily keep up with them. And the covered picnic tables provide a terrific spot for snacks or lunch, so you can bring a cooler and enjoy the day.
Featuring a wide variety of structures and activities, the play areas give kids a variety of options to enjoy. There are no slides or swings here—the play structures include interesting features and encourage activity. There’s a large rope structure to climb for the older kids to enjoy, while the playground for the true littles is completely scaled to them, giving even new walkers something to do in a safe area with a soft surface.
The larger play area, also featuring a shock-absorbing surface, is designated for those five to eight years old. It showcases spinning structures, areas to climb, and wobbling mushroom-like stands that help build balance as kids jump on them. If you’re thinking it sounds like somewhere great to exercise and wear kids out, you’re right—they’re in motion constantly, and since the structures are shaded, it’s something they can enjoy even in the summer sun.
A few rules to remember: pets are NOT allowed, swim diapers are recommended on the sprayground for little ones who aren’t potty-trained, and changing diapers within six feet of the water is prohibited; however, there are restrooms just off of the play area to give you changing options.
If you can tear yourself away from the play area, Fischer Park also features the Fischer Park Nature Education Center, designed to ignite curiosity in the natural world. It includes an archeology dig for aspiring archaeologists to explore replica artifacts and dinosaur fossils buried in the sand, something our little dino fan loves. The Education Center also includes a Monarch Waystation to provide resources for Monarchs and other butterflies during migration.
The Education Center also includes two fishing ponds, both of which are designated as Texas Parks and Wildlife Community Fishing Lakes. While fishing is something Little says he wants to do, he doesn’t have the patience yet, so our exploration of the ponds is just for fun. If you have anglers in your family, the ponds are stocked annually with channel catfish. Anyone 17 and older must have a fishing license to fish in the ponds.
The Education Center also offers classes and programs throughout the year, including family fun days that are free to attend. Other classes have a nominal fee ($2–$7) and include everything from night hikes and a children’s nature series to “Wee Fish,” designed to teach children the basics of fishing. And in the summer, the Education Center offers a variety of half-day camps for six- to eight-year-olds and full-day sessions for children 9–12, something we’ll definitely look into for future summers.
By the way, the Education Center also offers birthday party packages, and the picnic pavilions are available for rent—something to keep in mind after you visit the park and your kids decide it’s their new favorite place.
The park is located at 1820 Old McQueeney Road in New Braunfels and is easy to find from exit 187 on IH-35 and via Google Maps. Here’s a park map to help you find your way around. For more information on the park, visit the Fischer Park website and spray off the dog days of summer!