As we drove up to the new Snohomish Aquatic Center on a recent Sunday, my 3-year-old shouted, "It's the water slide!" and "Can I go swimming now?"
Sure enough, jutting out of the building, was a giant, enclosed water slide. My son’s happiness disappeared quickly when he realized we couldn't get straight to the fun, and instead had to wait with the crowd of people gathered outside who had arrived early for the session. Thankfully, we only waited for a few minutes before we were ushered through the entry and could wait in the warm lobby.
Now open for two months, this new swimming center has generated lots of buzz for its top-notch water play facilities. My older son, husband and I finally made the beautiful drive to Snohomish from our home in Arlington to test it for ourselves.
Not surprisingly, the first lesson we learned is to arrive early. Especially on weekends, there is often a long line. Each session lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes; staff allow people to pay 30 minutes before the next session starts and wait inside.
Luckily, while waiting in the lobby, you have access to restrooms and vending machines, provided someone saves your spot in line. A cafe with additional seating is on the opposite side, and kids can peer through big glass windows at the pool.
From lazy river to FlowRider
When we finally walked through the doors into the bright pool area after changing, my son shrieked, then stood silent, trying to decide which awesome activity he wanted to do first. Would it be the basketball hoops, the lazy river or the splash area equipped with water guns atop a fort?
The facility is spacious and well designed. A glass wall keeps the competition and recreational areas separate. The competition pool is reserved for open lap swim, open dive, water fitness and competitions. The recreation side features the lazy river, recreation lap pool, water slide (called the Splashtacular), the splash play area and FlowRider surf simulation machine.
This 52,000-square-foot swim center is kept at a comfortable 84-86 degrees. The main recreational pool has a depth of 2-4.5 feet.
The day we went, although it was at capacity, the center didn't feel overcrowded. Safety is a priority, with 15 lifeguards patrolling each session.
After playing in the splash area, my son pleaded to go down the Splashtacular. I explained he was too little to ride. With a meltdown on the horizon we decided it was time to pack up and call it a day.
Here are the various options at the aquatic center:
The FlowRider: Located in the back corner, this surf-simulation machine — the only of its kind in the area — is perfect for big kids, a combo of snowboarding, skateboarding and wakeboarding. Be prepared for a wait, as it is only designed for one person at a time. Guests must be 42 inches tall to ride the boogie boards and 52 inches tall to ride the stand-up boards; cost is $10 extra in addition to the session cost.
Recreational lap pool: It’s equipped with three lanes and enough room for lessons and free play.
Lazy river: Kids can float slowly on this figure 8-shaped current, with a choice of tube or no tube.
Splashtacular: This enclosed water slide is a true adventure, dipping out of the building, back in and ending in the recreation pool. Typically, you have to wait in a short line. Kids have to be at least 48 inches tall and pass a swim test before going on the slide.
Splash play area: Buckets dumping water, stairs to climb and two slides equal the perfect spot for little ones.
There is also a warm-water pool at 102 degrees.
Tips for success
- Be sure to get there at least 30 minutes prior to a session to secure your spot in line. The center quickly fills up to max capacity.
- Have a backup plan if you are traveling from far away, in case you miss the session you are aiming for. (Two ideas: Visit historic downtown Snohomish for shopping, restaurants, a great bakery and antiques. There also five parks within one mile of the aquatic center.)
- Come prepared to wait outside.
- You may only buy tickets for those who are present at the time.
If you go...
Where: 516 Maple Avenue Snohomish
Cost: $4.50-$5.50, Children under 2 free. Punch passes are available. The FlowRider is an additional $10 per session.
Hours: Recreational swim hours vary, check website for session hours.
- All children 6 and under must be accompanied by an adult and be within arm's reach at all times.
- Guests 11 and under must be supervised by an adult in the building.
- Children under 6 will not be allowed in the warm-water pool. Ages 7-13 may with a guardian.
- You must be 42 inches tall to ride the boogie boards in the FlowRider. To ride a stand-up board you must be 52 inches tall and weigh less than 250 lbs.
- The Splashtacular is for guests who can pass a swim test and are 48 inches or taller.