SandVenture Aquatic Park
Our summer posse consisted of three 12-year old boys who wanted the thrill of slides and diving boards, two 9-year old girls who wanted a place to perform underwater gymnastics, and one 5-year old boy who just wanted to build sand castles. So, where does that leave us when it’s 90 degrees in Minnesota and you just want to appease the masses while giving them a fun day in the sun? After much research, digging, price comparing, and internal debate, we decided to try SandVenture Aquatic Park in Shakopee.
It was an absolute hit! We stayed for 3+ hours and everyone’s wishes were granted – from a 300-foot twisty water slide to simple sand play in the zero depth area (where we created a pretty epic castle with the longest moat I’ve ever built…not bragging, but it was a sweet moat). The kids left exhausted, slightly sunburned, and – most importantly – happy.
What is it?
SandVenture Aquatic Park is a unique swimming option in the suburb of Shakopee, Minnesota. While it feels like the sandy beaches we all know and love from our thousands of Minnesota lakes, its swimming area is a sandy bottomed and rock-free, fully chlorinated pool. On the far end of the pool stands a tall 300-foot water slide, two drop slides, a diving board, and one kiddie drop slide. There is also a volleyball net, a few play structures and water tables, and (my personal favorite) plenty of attentive lifeguards who aren’t hesitant to blow their whistles and any rough play, sand throwing or misbehavior. Yay, lifeguards!
The aquatic park offers concessions and has limited seating for eating, but definitely has plenty of space for sprawling out on the beach sand and maybe even snagging an umbrella to protect your littles from too much sun. We loved going from sunning to sanding to swimming over and over and over again, and everything is close in proximity so it was not hard to eagle eye the pre-teens while staying close to the preschooler. On a busier day, I’m sure that might be a bit trickier, but on this sunny Friday afternoon, the crowds were slow and for that, I was grateful.
Fit for what ages?
I single-handedly wrangled six kids ranging from 5 to 12 at SandVenture Aquatic Park, and they ALL had a great time. No, the slides might not knock their socks off, and the place really is smaller compared to big water slide-centric places, but it comes with a way more reasonable price tag, so #winning. It’s all about balance in the summertime!
Some specifics you’ll want to know:
- You need to be 48″ tall to use the large water slide, the two drop slides and the diving board.
- If kids are under 48″, they can use the smaller yellow drop slide and be caught by a parent at the end.
- But if they have a life jacket, that cannot be worn on ANY of the slides or the diving board.
- Water is shallow along the edges and different areas allow smaller kids to jump in and be able to land safely. My 5-year old loved the section by the small drop slide that was about 2 1/2 feet deep because he could jump in without his life vest and land on his feet just fine. He thought he was so cool.
- If big kids get tired of the slides, they can enjoy the middle of the pool which went up to my chest. If your life-jacket-wearing child goes to that deeper area, they need to be under full supervision of an adult. A lifeguard WILL call you out (yes, this is me speaking from personal experience. I was only 10 feet from him, but genuinely appreciated her watchful eye and unshaken confidence to call out this 40-year-old, crabby-looking mother).
- Tot time is offered for infants and toddlers ages 0-6 on Friday and Saturday mornings from 9:15-10:45am for cheap (and parents don’t pay!)
How much are we talkin’?
Daily admission to SandVenture is only $5 for under 48″ and $7 for 48″ and over during regular hours. Twilight hours (after 5pm), the rates drop by $2. Seniors 60+ or military are $5 regular hours and under the age of 2 is completely free. You pay for admission regardless of whether you plan on swimming or not and kids under 10 must be accompanied by an adult.
To save some cash, and if you live close enough to justify it, you can consider a punch card or season pass. Shakopee residents save money on these options too, FYI.
What else will you need money for? Well, parking is free, but there are concessions so since you cannot bring outside food in, it might be nice to pick the kiddos up a hot dog or slice of pizza. Concession options aren’t overabundant, but they definitely have the basic “t-ball game status” menu.
Want some tips?
Bathrooms are easily accessible and quite clean. Mens is outside the main entry which was a little bothersome because I couldn’t keep an eye on the boys when they ran to the restroom. They have showers to rinse off before entry and changing tables (in the women’s room). The place is small enough that even if you park yourself on the opposite end of the park from the bathrooms, you can get to them in enough time for your potty trainer to make it. Speaking of, if not fully potty trained, they will need swimmer diapers. I feel like that goes without saying, but I’m saying it.
Bring sand toys! Bring a blanket. Bring towels. Bring goggles. Bring waters. Bring cash for the concessions. Bring sunglasses. And bring flip flops or shoes (the sand gets HOT). Kids were playing with balls in the water and there was plenty of space on this quieter day to toss a football without risk of injuring a stranger. There are a limited number of great umbrella tents, so bring sunscreen and lather regularly if needed. The volleyball net comes with a ball, so that’s yours to use if available.
Parents with life jacket-wearing kids: know that life jackets (and goggles) are not allowed on any of the slides or diving board and lifeguards will make sure you stay within arms reach of your child. So basically, prepare to get wet and enjoy the pool right alongside your little floater. The water was 72 degrees when we were there, which was quite comfortable and I honestly didn’t mind going in and out all day with my preschooler.
Speaking of in and out, our crew packed a cooler lunch to save money and time, kept it in our car and ate it during a pool safety break on a picnic bench in the grass outside the entryway. You can leave and return to the park but need to be stamped to re-enter. And if you can, get there at open to beat crowds and get a good parking spot (read: easily accessible lunch fetching). You can rinse off your feet before leaving with the sprayer near the exit.
If you are relying on concessions to feed your fam, consider avoiding waiting until one of the swim safety breaks. Lines obviously grow during that 10 minute period because no one can swim anyway, so why not buy candy, right!? If you get concessions, you can eat them at the tables on the cement area, but they cannot be brought into the sand. This keeps the space cleaner, and crumb-free.
SandVenture Aquatic Park hosts a number of special summer events. Celebrations such as their Summer Beach Bash and Pirate Treasure Hunt look fun, but they also have Help Your Neighbor days (bring non-perishable food items for free admission) and the weekly Tot Time option.
Splish and Splash Tot Time is for infants an toddlers ages 0-6 who want to swim in the zero depth area before the pool opens to the public. This is $5/kid and free for the parent. Life jackets can be worn and hours are 9:15-10:45am each Friday and Saturday.
Looking to continue the fun after you leave SandVenture? Our crew headed to the Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store in Jordan, which was a quick 15-minute drive down Hwy 169. If you go there, you could also play at Lagoon Park or the new “ninja park” called Grassman Park. Could also check out the Louisville Swamp Trail, Valleyfair (for the overly ambitious), Lions Playground right across the grass, or Coffee Ta Cream Cafe for ice cream, coffee or a yummy sandwich.
Hours and location
1101 Adams St S. | Shakopee, MN 55379
Hours of Operation: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day
Open (summer of 2021): June 11-Aug. 22
Parking lot is big and free. It’s easy to locate and worth the drive for a few hours of summer fun!
If the outside temperature is less than 65 degrees or the number of swimmers is fewer than 15 at 1 pm or 5 pm, the Aquatic Park may close. If the weather is questionable, please call 952-233-9502 or check their Facebook page.