LONG ISLAND CITY — School's out and the sweltering summer weather is here.
But parents and kids in Western Queens looking to cool off don't have to trek to a crowded city pool or beach: the next best thing is at their neighborhood playgrounds.
Plenty of parks on the western end of the borough boast sprinklers and spray showers where the little ones can keep cool while they play. Here's our roundup of the best water-filled playgrounds in Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside.
Charybdis Playground in Astoria Park, Shore Boulevard opposite 23rd Avenue, Astoria
During the summer months, swimmers looking to cool off flock to Astoria Park's Olympic-sized public pool — the largest in New York City.
But neighborhood dad Paul Sikar says an overlooked alternative is the circle of concrete spray showers at nearby Charybdis Playground, where he takes 2-year-old son Blake and 6-year-old daughter Marin to play when the pool and its sprinklers get too crowded with summer camp kids on field trips.
"This park is one of the best," he said, saying the grove of leafy trees that surround the park's play equipment cast enough shade to keep grown-ups cool, too.
"It doesn't get too hot here, even on a hot day," he said.
Dutch Kills Playground, 28th Street between 36th and 37th Avenues, Long Island City
A romp through the spray showers at this Long Island City playground can double as a history lesson for the kids: the series of concrete sprinklers are shaped like tiny windmills, an homage to the early Dutch settlers that once called this area home and from which the neighborhood Dutch Kills gets its name.
Flanked by two public schools, the Dutch Kills Playground is a popular spot for neighborhood children and offers plenty of other recreational activities besides its sprinklers, including playground equipment, handball courts and a hockey rink. There's also a public bathroom and rest station, and plenty of benches and seating for parents.
Murray Playground, 45th Avenue between 11th and 21st Streets, Hunters Point
Parents in family-friendly Hunters Point have few options this summer when it comes to playgrounds where the kids can cool down.
The high-tech sprinklers that opened last summer at Gantry Plaza State Park are still being repaired for saltwater damage during Hurricane Sandy, and the spray showers at Andrews Grove, or "Shady Park," were also damaged by falling trees during the storm.
But families can still get some relief at John F. Murray Playground near Court Square, where a set of leaf-shaped sprinklers douse kids with water from above, while another set of jets come up out of the ground to soak them from below.
"It gets everybody wet with minimal running — it's like an outdoor shower," said dad Jason Watson, whose sons Marcelo, 4, and Javier, 2, were having a ball running through the water.
Lawrence Virgilio Playground at Windmuller Park, 52nd Street and 39th Road, Woodside
Woodside's Windmuller Park offers two ways for the little ones to stay cool. The park is home to a mini-wading pool, complete with an on-duty lifeguard, for kids ages 6 to 14. The pool is just 20-feet by 40-feet in size and doesn't go deeper than three feet, which makes it ideal for younger swimmers.
Those who don't want to commit to taking a full dip can visit the park's Lawrence Virgilio Playground for a run through it's spray shower, which is flanked by a nice row of shaded benches for parents to rest.
On a recent sweltering weekday, Eva Kantlis was watching her 2-year-old grandson Christian while soaked himself in the spray shower and filled water in a plastic bucket.
"During the week, we bring him to the park," she said, saying it's a good local option on days when they don't want to make a trip out the Rockaway Beach. "Just watching him in the shade, wetting my feet at the same time."
Thomas P. Noonan Playground, Greenpoint Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, Sunnyside
One of just a few public playgrounds in Sunnyside, the Thomas P. Noonan Playground is easily recognizable for its iconic rainbow arched sprinkler, which doses cold water on those who run underneath it on hot summer days.
The spray rainbow isn't just for kids: Sunnysider Bobby Amos, 57, says he regularly comes to the park to cool down during heat waves.
""It's the best in town — the only one in town, really," he said. "I wish we had a pool."