Just because some activities cost more than others does not necessarily mean they are more fun.

Water “experiences,” for example.

You could pay a substantial admission price to go to Nashville Shores or the SoundWaves water attraction at Gaylord Opryland. Or you could even spring for a trip to Dollywood’s Splash Country.

But at the other end of the spectrum (the cheap one), you could load up the whole family or a group of friends and have some wet and wild fun at one of our area’s splash parks for little or nothing.

These parks are like water playgrounds with curtains of falling water, overhanging buckets dumping water on unsuspecting (or eager to get wet) parkgoers, nozzled geysers popping up, spray cannons, and some even have multiple water slides that delight all ages.

These newfangled playgrounds are interactive and considered super safe compared to traditional swimming pools since they have little or no standing water and because the surfaces are designed with textured or other non-slippery materials.

And most of them even allow you to bring in your own snacks or picnics, saving you even more of your summer fun money.

The Nashville area has seen the number of these wet and wild pads increase in recent years. And even with the popular Cumberland Park sprayground closed for the season for repairs, and with the fountains at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park temporarily down, there are plenty to choose from.

My 7-year-old granddaughter took me to the Brentwood Splash Park earlier this month, and we had a blast — for $2 each! I even (at her insistence) tried out a couple of the slides, and they were exhilarating.

Grown-ups should know that the slides are rated for people up to 300 pounds, so no excuses for big kids aka grown-ups.

Here are a few of these simple Middle Tennessee water playgrounds to choose from for an affordable and fun cooldown on these sweltering summer days:

Brentwood Splash Pad, next to the Williamson County Indoor Recreation Center at 920 Heritage Way, off Concord Road. This 10,000-square-foot park that opened last summer is a partnership between Williamson County Parks and the City of Brentwood, and could be my favorite.

It features four slides, a series of ground and ring sprays, and a rain curtain. With an area designed for toddlers and some slides that clearly delighted the teens in the crowd, there is definitely something for everyone to do and you do not need to be a Williamson County resident to enjoy it.

Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children 3-17 and seniors 55 and older. It’s open seven days a week. Check wcparksandrec.com for hours and other details.

The Franklin Outdoor Pool and Splash Park at the Williamson County Recreation Center at 1120 Hillsboro Road has been open since 2017. The splash park, at 5,000 square feet, is about half the size of the newer Brentwood Splash Park and features an elevated platform with two slides, a 100-gallon dump bucket, a spray tunnel and multiple interactive ground features, including a lazy river. The outdoor pool is 6,000 square feet and features tube slides. Admission to both outdoor features is included in the general facility admission, which is $4 for adults, $2 for children 3-17 and $2 for seniors 55 and older. It’s free for children 2 and younger. It’s open seven days a week. Check wcparksandrec.com for hours and other details, including passes for multiple visits.

Ava’s Splash Pad has been operating for more than 10 years at 1075 Charlie Daniels Parkway in Charlie Daniels Park in Mt. Juliet. Admission is free, and the park is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sundays. The colorful water playground has monkey and bumblebee water cannons and big dumping buckets of water. It honors Avalyn Shaye, a toddler who died in 2010 after complications from surgery.

Mt. Juliet also plans a Splash Day. A “mini water park” with expanded water offerings and inflatables will be set up around Ava’s Splash Pad for all ages to enjoy. It is set for July 31 and will be free.

Two Metro Nashville parks have small spraygrounds that are open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends. They are at Watkins Park at the corner of Jo Johnston Avenue and 17th Avenue North, and Kirkpatrick Park at 620 S. Ninth St. Free.

The Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park has an array of fountains next to its 200-foot granite map of the state. The fountains, which represent the 31 rivers in Tennessee, are undergoing maintenance and repairs, but rangers hope to have them back in action by the end of the month. Once they are restarted, the fountains will run 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and are a great free way to cool off if you are downtown. The park is at 600 James Robertson Parkway. Details: https://tnstateparks.com/parks/bicentennial-mall or call 615-741-5280.

Smyrna Splashtown at 611 Nolan Drive in Smyrna includes slides, an outdoor pool, a small lazy river and a young children’s water play area. Admission is $5 for children 12 and under, $6 for adults and $5 for seniors 55 and older. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Details: https://www.townofsmyrna.org/departments/parks-and-recreation/faq or 615-459-9773.

Smyrna also has a splash pad with several spray features at Gregory Mills Park, 390 Enon Springs Road E. It is free and open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Details: https://www.townofsmyrna.org/departments/parks-and-recreation/faq or 615-459-9773.

Mary Hance, who has four decades of journalism experience in the Nashville area, writes a weekly Ms. Cheap column. She also appears on Thursdays on “Talk of the Town” on NewsChannel 5. Reach her at mscheap@mainstreetmediatn.com and follow her on Facebook as Facebook.com/mscheap.

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