We, moms of babies, toddlers and school-aged children, spend a good part of our time looking for things to keep the little pests busy while we sip coffee and eat cake. In winter we do crafting, indoor swimming and the bravest of us all even try out sledding. When the weather starts getting better, we go out in masses, taking over the playgrounds in the city.
Looking at Munich you might think there are enough spielplätze for everyone but, just as it happens with hospitals and kindergärten, the baby boom has also hit playgrounds hard. Most of them are filled to the brim with sand-eating babies, crying toddlers and mimosa-sipping mommies who are just trying to chat the afternoon out.
However, once the real heat hits, there is only one reasonable place to spend the afternoon in the city: in one of the water play areas around town. Now, to help you find out where the best muddy puddles are — yes, I am in fact quoting Peppa Pig — I give you the list of my top four wasserspielplätze in Munich.
Wasserspielplatz in Westpark
Westpark is a huge green area in the middle of the city. On its southeastern side, the motherload of all Munich wasserspielplätze awaits you. Not only are its surrounds lush and beautiful but the structure itself is impressive. Children can bathe in the small river which runs through it or climb up and down the slides, bridges and ropes connecting it all. Smaller babies might enjoy building castles on the shore and getting their feet — and legs and torso and arms — wet. Beware though, the play structure itself might be better for bigger children and if you have one — or more — toddlers, you’re bound to get wet yourself. I’ve spent many afternoons regretting my choice of clothes after ending here during a heatwave. However your children will love it and you might too if you remember to bring a mat, sunscreen and a change of clothes.
Closest public transport station: U6 Partnachplatz
Water Fountains in Hirschgarten
Hirschgarten, between the Laim and Hirschgarten S-Bahn stops, is a favorite of families in Munich. Not only does it offer several age-appropriate playgrounds, but very close to the Biergarten (the biggest in Bavaria!) there is a deer enclosure and just around the corner from it, the water play area. If you’ve been to the Elephant playground, you might know it as the “weird mound on the other side”. And it is until the summer comes and you realize water squirts out of it and jets off the ground in short, very painful, bursts. A big hit with children (though not so with smaller kids), the best thing about this water play area is that the field surrounding it is a great spot for picnics. There is normally enough shade and a nice breeze to help you beat the heat. For me, this is the best place in town for Prosecco drinking with girlfriends while the kids are having fun.
Closest public transport station: Laim or Hirschgartem S-Bahn station
Pasing Arcaden water fountains
On the westernmost end of the Stammstrecke stands the Pasing Arcaden, one of the few true malls in Munich. In the middle of its main buildings, you can find the water area, made up of a complicated set of dancing fountains which go up and down from the ground, without any logical rhythm. Best for toddlers who might be scared at the Hirschgarten fountains, the Arcaden play area is small enough that you can always keep your child under surveillance. Unfortunately, this also means it can get pretty full on hot days. Big pluses are the restaurants surrounding it. Whether you prefer a burger at Uncle Henry’s or a cocktail at the Beach Bar, you are covered as far as good options for food and drink go. Grabbing something at the food court and sitting in one of the benches is also an option. Remember though, the floor gets warm and there is no natural shade so this is one case where water shoes and a hat are definitely a must, no matter how ridiculous your child looks.
Closest public transport station: Pasing S-Bahn station
Rosengarten an der Isar
The Rosengarten is a beautiful park with over 4500 square meters of trees, small fields, walking paths and benches, located between the Isar river and the Schyrenbad. Though most of it is taken over by book-reading, wine-drinking neighbors, it offers a beautiful open area around the stream which runs through it. Here children can bathe in the right-kind-of-height shallow water while parents enjoy the surroundings from under the shade — or from some of the chairs in the middle of the brook itself. A small playground with a slide, good for smaller children, is just next to it. Be aware though, that you might be better off keeping close to the stream because the park is renowned, among other things, for its poisonous garden. In any case, if you bring sand toys, a blanket and pretzels, you can be sure your children will find their way back to you.
Closest public transport station: the prettiest route to get to the Rosengarten is taking the U2 to Fraunhoferstrasse and walking south along the bank of the Isar, though if you want to get there quickly, you might want to take bus 58 from Hauptbahnhof to the Clause-Lorrain-Strasse bus stop.
Many other playgrounds in Munich offer water areas, but they are normally smaller and I’ve focused on the dive-in, get-soaking-wet kind of places… Have I missed one? If so, add your recommendations in the comments!
Maria Diaz is a multimedia project manager turned unwilling cook and cheerleader for two tiny, demanding humans. Her previous experience left her woefully unprepared to deal with complaints about the wrong-colored bowl. Originally from Costa Rica, she’s been in Munich for 4 years after a 5-year stint in Italy, where she developed a strong aversion to overcooked pasta. As the editorial manager of LMBB, she enjoys working on Excel sheets no one reads and writing about her passions.
Photo credits: Feature image by frank mckenna on Unsplash
Westpark image by Rufus46 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
Hirschgarten image by Rufus46 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Pasing Arcaden image by Peterf (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Rosengarten image by User:Mattes (Self-photographed) [CC BY 2.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons