If your kids have never gone swimming where they can let the mud squish between their toes, try Gateway Park (enter at 1st and Gila streets). There’s a sandy beach for castle building, picnic ramadas, restrooms – even an outdoor shower to rinse off the grub before you load up the car.
For more river fun, make a floating date with Yuma River Tubing (at West Wetlands Park, 750-0247). Tube rentals include life vests and a shuttle upriver for you and your gear – cooler and dog tubes also available.
For a filtered and chlorinated float, check in and check out Quechan Casino Resort, where the huge heated pool area has waterfalls, islands and the area’s only lazy river. Cabana party packages are available – but check ahead, as adult pool parties with shot-wielding, bikini-clad “Q girls” may appeal to Dad, but the rest of the family, not so much.
For a quick cool-off, check out the free water play areas at the city’s Friendship Park (1631 W. 34th Place) and Carver Park (1250 W. 5th St.). Push a button to start things squirtin’ – perfect for toddlers and nonswimmers, but fun for big kids, too.
City pools charge admission, but are still a great bargain – the gem is Valley Aquatic Center’s (4381 W. 18th St.) huge pool and water play area, but Kennedy Pool (E. 23rd St. & Kennedy Lane) has a multi-story water slide. More info, call Parks & Rec at 373-5243.