Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center
When I decide where to take my boys on adventures I have to consider the Time in car To the Time of fun Ratio. My boys are not good car kids (I had hopes when The Bug was very little, but since realizing that there are things to see he is not a fan of being backwards in the car). So when I heard about the new Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center from GoAskMom I got out my scales and did the weighing. Turns out this was totally worth the drive.
Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center just opened in September. It is brand new and, accordingly, beautiful. Inside is a small lap pool but (why would you come here to do laps because....) the real draw is the water park elements. There is a zero level entry pool for tots (just close to 2 feet at the deepest) with some fun water features, like a sprayground. Within this tot pool there is a slide that kids can go up and down easily.
There is an amaze-balls 3 story waterslide (must be at least 48 inches tall to ride, no jewelry or metal/zippers on your suits, and the lifeguards WILL call you out if you violate any one of those). Can you believe I was not going to go down that waterslide? So glad my friend made me because I giggled like a kid the whole way down.
We were lucky when we went to this Aquatics Center as we were pretty much the only people there. However, the 6 or so very nice 18-year-old lifeguards (I swear, I am getting old) on duty told us that when Wake Co. Schools are out it gets really packed. I could see that so it might be worth checking school schedules. While Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center is gorgeous and well-done, it certainly isn't huge. The actual swim area is much smaller than places like Homestead Aquatics Center and Triangle SportsPlex (but still warmer than that Chapel Hill Community Center pool). If there are a lot of kids here I can imagine the Splash factor outweighs the Space factor but that's a whole other ratio to consider.
Yet when Raleigh put together this Aquatics Center they really did some great things: lots of lockers lining the edges of the pool area, 2 huge family restrooms in addition to spacious women's & men's locker rooms, a party area right off the pool with tables and chairs that you can rent, and lots of natural light coming in. There are also a lot of life jackets as well as noodles available for use. You may not bring any inflatable floatation devices in to the pool.
There is a concessions stand but it isn't open very often so plan to bring your own snacks (stash them in the lockers). There are 2 vending machines for drinks and snacks if you need it.
Because of all the specialty features this is an expensive place to visit, in my opinion. For Raleigh residents it is currently $3 for kids 1 -12 and $7 for adults 13 - 54. But for non-residents it doubles ($6 for 1 -12 year olds, $14 for 13 - 54 year olds). You can get monthly passes and annual passes which would be worth considering if you are going often and can also be used at all Raleigh pools.
Other things I like? It is LEED registered (a green roof, solar-heated hot water) and has local art. They will be offering swim lessons so stay tuned to Raleigh Parks & Rec if you are interested in that.
Yet the true measure of any of my created ratios is whether my kids enjoyed it and I had fun while seeing their faces shine. Buffaloe Road Aquatics Center wins.
Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center
5908 Buffaloe Road
Hours: Monday - closed; Tuesday through Saturday 10 am - 7 pm; Sunday 1 pm - 5 pm
Vortex/Current Channel/Waterslide open Tuesday & Thursday 12:30 - 6:45 pm; Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 10 am - 6:45 pm; Sunday 1 pm - 5 pm
Volleyball on Friday 1:30 - 3:30 pm; Saturday 3 - 7 pm; Sunday 1 - 5 pm
PS! Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter feeds on Monday for a big announcement about a new partnership I'll be telling you about. I am going to join forces with another local Mom site and bring you even more articles and news. It will be a good thing. Promise.