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Monday, February 16, 2009

Day Trip: Silliman Family Aquatic Center in Newark

On these cold, wet days…no sense in staying dry. Head to the Silliman Family Aquatic Center in Newark for some indoor water play. There’s something for everyone here – a hot tub for the parents, a play structure in the water for tots – and two exciting slides for those 48” and taller. And a lazy river for those of us who are…lazy.
The play structure is the first place we head, and it’s good for toddlers up to age 8 or 9. The structure has water spurting out of different areas, and lots of ropes and steering wheels kids can manipulate to control the water coming out. There’s a mini slide, and slightly longer covered one, for a good splash entry. Plus rope ladders, random dump buckets and more. The beach-type entry means no stairs to trip on, and there’s plenty of very shallow water here (enough so that it gets a bit chilly for adults).
The water structure area is connected to a slightly deeper pool, with plenty of room to give the kids horsey rides or shoot mini hoops with the ball and hoop provided.
The lazy river has some inner tubes (one person per tube - no kids riding on your lap), or you can just swim it, with the water pushing you along. Zachary had a great time trying to escape my watch, and he could swim it much faster than me (perhaps since he weighs less!). With the inner tubes floating past, though, it was a little scary to let him do it alone. It’s easy for those in the tubes not to see little ones swimming, and accidently hit them against the pool edge. Not that there’s huge danger here, but still...a mom worries (a dad doesn’t, apparently).

Mark and I took turns watching the kids, so we could also do the 20 foot high slides. One is a shorter, closed (purple) chute, which is very fast and ends with a large splash (or at least I did – maybe I need to loose a few pounds…). The other (blue) is open on the top, and tended to make me a little dizzy. It’s better for the more cautious kids, because it’s slower (if they sit up, which they’re not supposed to do), and they can see. It took Dori awhile to agree to go up, but once she did, she went over and over again.

There’s a deeper pool for laps and water polo, but we avoided that one. And then the hot tub (cleverly shapled like a clover, Newark's symbol), where they allow kids age 5 and over (with a parent), however it was too hot for my kids.

The teen lifeguards here take their jobs seriously and will whistle at you (unfortunately not for the reasons this mom of 2 in a sexy black bathing suit would like). They will call you out on ANYTHING you’re apparently doing wrong. It bodes well, though, that they’re trying to enforce safety.
The crowd this weekend was pretty big, though there was still plenty of room to move around in the water. There were a lot of teens there, but I have to say they were very polite and well-behaved (though Mark didn’t particularly like being called “sir” by one of them – it made him feel old). The locker rooms felt claustrophobic with so many people, and the floors were wet, but it was clean. They have showers, which you’ll need to wash off the huge concentration of chlorine in the water.
Bring a towel, flip flops and a lock for the locker room. They provide life jackets for the little ones. They also have a snack bar there, though you can eat your own food (presumably in the lobby area – I didn’t see anyone eating near the pool). They host birthday parties there, and it would be a fun place for a birthday.
Check the hours before you go, since they change depending on the season. On weekends they generally open at noon or 1:00 p.m., making it a tough trip for those with afternoon nappers.

Where: Silliman Family Aquatic Center in Newark, 6800 Mowry Ave, Newark
Cost: free for kids 2 and under; $4-$5 ages 3-18; $7 for those 18 and up.
Hours: Check the website.
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