While we had a lovely spring this year, it seems as if we turned the corner toward summer at a fast and furious pace.

Temperatures have been climbing steadily, and, as our air conditioners hum and our daily pace slows down, we’re already looking for ways to beat the heat. Meanwhile, before most summer camps begin, it’s always good to remember that our public parks are still great places to enjoy the time off, and Lafreniere Park has options that can keep us cool in summer too.

In 2012, the park opened its Spray Park, a 4,000 square-foot splash pad that pours 135 gallons of water per minute, trying to convince us – if only for a moment – that summers in New Orleans aren’t akin to living on the surface of the sun. In all seriousness, the Spray Pad is one of many offerings at the Metairie park and no doubt one of the most attractive ones come June. The splash pad boasts multiple hoses and sprinklers. Meanwhile, it adeptly divides spaces that will attract older and younger kids, meaning that collisions should be a rare occurrence. Water guns and buckets of water that drop randomly are particular highlights that should keep kids entertained as they cool off.

While only open weekends until Memorial Day, the Spray Park will be open noon to 7 p.m. daily, weather permitting. Children (under 10) are $5 each for admission while chaperones are free. The space can also be rented for parties (the weekend slots are already almost booked) by calling the main office, and it’s a popular place for day camps to visit during the week. The Spray Park will remain open through August, then will go back to weekends only once kids are back in school and close sometime in September (weather permitting).

Near the Spray Park is the Carousel, which boasts 30 moving horses, a tiger, a zebra and two chariots (one of which is handicap accessible). Following the same calendar and hours as the Spray Park, the Carousel can also be rented for private events. Also nearby is another playground that, with the addition of a picnic lunch, rounds out a busy and fun-filled day at the park.

If cooling off in the water and riding the carousel aren’t enough to scratch your summertime-fun itch, the park will also host its annual Uncle Sam Jam on July 3. The event boasts a concert (musical act to be determined) and a fireworks display all designed to get your Fourth of July holiday started. Food vendors and concessions will be available, and park officials encourage people to bring their lawn chairs and enjoy everything the park has to offer.

While no doubt a place for summer fun, Lafreniere Park is also an expansive green space that was developed as a park when Hurricane Betsy destroyed the Jefferson Downs Race Track in 1965. It opens at 5:45 a.m. every day and, besides the above amenities, also has a disc golf course, a dog park and exercise tracks. Although we aren’t at all lacking in green space in New Orleans proper, our neighbors in Jefferson Parish have developed a unique set of features that make the short trip to Metairie worth the effort.

Just the Facts …

Lafreniere Park

3000 Downs Blvd.
Metairie, LA 70003

Spray Park: Open noon-7 p.m. daily for summer. Children (10 and under) are $5
Carousel: Open noon-7 p.m. daily for summer. Rides are $1.