Best Public Pool Phoenix 2013 - McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic Center
You know what it feels like to do a face-flop? We do, thanks to one of the two three-meter high-dives at the McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic Center. This flop literally put blisters on our forehead and gave us a mild headache. But . . . hurts so good! The calamity occurred after about 10 joyous jumps, dives, and somersaults from the high dives and before another 10. Yeah, we were having fun, and maybe showing off for the kiddos. Speaking of the munchkins — the three-meter boards are awesome fear-facing educational devices. When we were done with the thrills, it was time for a spin on the relaxing, 600-foot-long lazy river, shooting down the slide, and bouncing a beach ball in the kids' playpool. The center also has a large main pool for lap-swimmers if you want to get serious. Though a bit of a drive from central Valley locations, the fancy layout and architecture, plus the rising ridgelines of the nearby McDowell Mountains, make for a visual treat. It's mellower than a full-blown water park and much less expensive: $9 for adults and $6 for kids — cheaper if you're a Scottsdale resident. When the parents of your kids' friends get tired of you hanging out at their place all summer, the Aquatic Center is a great heat-beating alternative.