It was one of those afternoons. A playdate with friends had fallen through. My husband was out of town for work. It was too cold to play outside, and it would soon be getting dark, anyway. I had an antsy preschooler on my hands, and a couple hours to fill. So I brought out the beach towels and the swimsuits and headed to a spot I’d been meaning to check out for years: The indoor waterpark at the Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora. Read on to see if it’s someplace your family might enjoy visiting.
Location: 2121 W. Indian Trail in Aurora, just west of Randall Road and south of Interstate 88.
The aquatic center has a eight-lane lap pool; a smaller therapy pool and a leisure pool, also called the water park. The water park is the one we visited and the one I’m writing about here. Its regular hours are Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, there is a “Mom/Tot” time from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. but the slides are closed for this session. Also, hours can change when schools in West Aurora School District 129 are off or on holiday break. The lap pool and therapy pool are used for swim lessons, swim meets and exercise classes. They have much more limited hours for open swim times for children and families. Check here for details; also it’s wise to call ahead to 630-907-9613 and make sure whichever pool you want to use is indeed available for open swim that day.
Price: The daily rates are $8 for non-resident adults and $7 for non-resident children/students. Children under 2 are free. Residents of the Fox Valley Park District pay $6 for adults and $5 for children/students.
Amenities: The water park features a zero-depth entry pool that gets as deep as 4 feet. There is a “lily pad” play feature for kids to hop across, and a seesaw and swings for babies. There are two slides, both starting two stories up and rafts to ride the slides. And there is an interactive water play area with lots of spraying and bubbling water and one of those huge buckets that gets filled and then tips over regularly, deluging anyone in its path. Outside the pool area, you’ll find women’s and men’s locker rooms (with hair dryers); but there are also six family restrooms that have showers and benches where you can change. There are free lockers available, but you will need to bring your own lock. And you need to bring your own towels, too. There’s a concession stand in the Vaughan Center that sells drinks and snacks. There are a number of vending machines, too.
Good For: Babies, toddlers and children probably up to age 9 or 10. Also, the Vaughan Aquatic Center offers swim lessons for adults and children, water exercise classes, and scuba certifcation and lifeguarding classes. It hosts children’s birthday parties and can be rented after-hours.
Our Experience: By the time I got all of our swimming stuff together and we drove from Geneva to Aurora, it was nearly 5 p.m. The Vaughan Center was a busy beehive .. lots of people coming in for classes, to work out and play basketball. But the parking lot is huge (I parked by the north entrance) and we headed inside to the “Help Desk” where we paid our admission and got a receipt I then showed to an attendant when we actually entered the aquatics area. (It was $15 for my daughter and me; you’ll pay the entrance fee even if you don’t plan to swim.)
We then changed into our swimsuits in one of the family restrooms and placed our coats, clothes and my backpack in a locker. Remember to bring your lock and your own towels from home! My this time, my daughter was nearly jumping up and down with excitement.
Inside the waterpark, thare are two sets of chairs, but only about 10 chairs total, and they are pretty close to the water action. So I was glad I had locked up most of our belongings. There are several lifeguards on duty, but the requirement at the waterpark is that all children 48 inches and under have to wear a life vest, unless a caregiver is within an arm’s reach at all times. There is a large bin full of life vests, so my daughter went ahead and put it on. She enjoyed the freedom, but next time I’ll probably encourage her to practice her swimming more without the vest.
We spent most of our time in the pool, “racing” each other from side to side. She also loved the lily pad, even though the net above was just a touch too high for her to jump across without a bit of help from me. She was too small for the slides and while we played around for a bit in the water play area, she was most interested in the pool.
We stayed for nearly two hours, and while we were there probably only about five families passed through. Some parents of older children were able to just sit on the chairs and keep an eye on their kids. By the time we left around 7 p.m., we were the only ones in the pool. We were also starved and ready for dinner!
The Takeaway: The knock I had always heard about the Vaughan Center’s water park was that it was cold. Honestly, that was a big reason we had never visited. When I walked in the water park area, my initial thought was: “Hey, this is warm!” Humid and warm. When I got into the water, I thought: “Hey, this is warm, too!” But eventually it became … not so warm. Signs around the facility say that the water in the therapy pool is kept at 90 degrees, the water park at 85 degrees and the lap pool at 80 degrees. So I think the issue has to be with the air temperature. The water park is cavernous and contains a lot of glass, so maybe it’s the air temperature that made me a little chilly. (The temps outside were in the 20s that night.) Still, my waterbug of a daughter didn’t remark on the temperature and would have shut the place down, if I had let her.
So I’d definitely recommend an outing to the Vaughan Center for any water-loving families this winter or spring. It would certainly make for a unique and fun playdate. And for my daughter and me, it was a wonderful way to liven up what would have been a long and boring evening.