Whether you want to enjoy a big splash or a relaxing float, these water parks and resorts offer ample facilities to keep you entertained.
Today’s water park attractions are much more thrilling and diverse than they were just a few decades ago. In fact, the best water parks in the USA feature everything from towering slides and water coasters to sandy spots and lazy rivers. Some even have giant wave pools and surf simulators to try out, and many have on-site lodging options that make it easy to extend your stay beyond a single day.
Read on to learn which water parks US News recommends, as well as their wettest and wildest amenities.
Discovery Cove: Orlando, Florida
A tropics-themed water park designed by SeaWorld, Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive day resort where visitors interact with and learn about marine life. Change into swimwear and join a trainer to swim with dolphins (a premium, must-try activity), feed rays and tropical fish and tour a screened-in aviary with exotic birds. Most activities and all meals and drinks are included in the $224-per-person standard admission rate.
Cowabunga Bay Water Park: Draper, Utah
Sitting less than 20 miles south of Salt Lake City, this 1960s-themed water park is decorated with surfboards, sandcastles and a lively color scheme that practically screams fun. At the park’s elaborate water playground, kids have access to bridges and tunnels that span 12 levels, as well as 11 twisting water slides that are well worth a visit. While older children twist through the 1,000-foot-long Mondo waterslide in the dark, little ones can lounge at Cowabunga Beach or enjoy Cowabunga Kids Cove’s smaller slides.
Sandcastle Waterpark: Pittsburgh
This wooded Pittsburgh oasis is a nostalgic treat. Though the main attractions at this former railroad yard are its waterslides, the property also features a wave pool, a lazy river, a pool with a mushroom-shaped waterfall and shallow play areas for young ones. A new free fall waterslide called “Bombs Away” is set to open during summer of 2022. Come for lounging, heart-pumping fun and noshing on an enormous Philly Cheesesteak or the park’s new Knockout Nachos.
Noah’s Ark Waterpark: Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Located in Wisconsin Dells, the “Water Park Capital of the World,” Noah’s Ark Waterpark claims to be the largest of its kind on the planet. The park is home to dozens of attractions, including the Flash Flood flume ride and a meandering lazy river with waterfalls. This innovative park’s latest thrill is the side-by-side tube racer, Raja, which sends riders speeding around 335 feet of track before they plunge 37 feet into the mouth of a king cobra.
Water World: Federal Heights, Colorado
One of America’s largest water parks, this 70-acre park near Denver features 50 attractions, including family water coasters, a relaxing lazy river and the Thunder Bay Wave Pool. Children may also have the opportunity to meet the park’s walrus mascot when they’re not zipping down slides or playing in the pirate-themed water playground. Plus, families have access to free parking, complimentary admission for children shorter than 40 inches and reduced rates for seniors.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort New Braunfels: New Braunfels, Texas
When owners Bob and Billye Henry added a replica German guard tower with four waterslides to their riverfront resort near San Antonio in 1979, they started what would become one of America’s most well-known water park chains. The Texas water park has four distinct sections and a variety of river rides, pools and waterslides for the entire family to enjoy. Families can also book a stay at the Schlitterbahn New Braunfels Waterpark Resort for a few days of fun and ultimate convenience.
LEGOLAND Water Park: Carlsbad, California
Young builders will love this park’s LEGO-themed rides, slides and splash pads. Kids can even customize rafts for the lazy river using soft LEGO bricks. Other noteworthy features of this park include a spot for kids to design, build and race boats, and the Lion Temple Wave Pool, which features a 30-foot high Mt. Cavora that was carefully constructed from LEGO bricks. A dinosaur digging area also paves the way for hours of fun and an introduction to paleontology.
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor: Jackson, New Jersey
This massive tropics-themed water park in New Jersey sits about 55 miles northeast of Philadelphia. Just as the adjacent Six Flags Great Adventure theme park is known for big coasters, the 47-acre Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (which is one of several in the country) is popular with water lovers. It features 12 major attractions, including the multilane Big Wave Racer and Tornado, which features a 60-foot-wide funnel that manages 5,000 gallons of water per minute. Additionally, visitors will find a 696,000-gallon wave pool, an extensive and leisurely lazy river and the family-friendly Caribbean Cove water playground.
Raging Waters Los Angeles: San Dimas, California
Situated less than 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, this 50-acre water park is home to a variety of attractions that make it easy to get wet and wild in the summer sun. Raging Waters is home to an Aqua Rocket water coaster that seats four, a 300-foot drop slide and a wave pool that pummels visitors with three-foot waves. If you’d rather chill during your visit, check out the quarter-mile-long lazy river.
Six Flags Darien Lake Hurricane Harbor Waterpark: Darien Center, New York
Situated roughly 45 miles southeast of Niagara Falls, the Six Flags Darien Lake features both a traditional theme park and a Hurricane Harbor waterpark. The waterpark itself features an extreme tubing experience for families, a meandering Flotation Station lazy river and several exhilarating waterslides. Head to this park to ride the Wahoo Wave, a 60-foot tall water ride that sends guests barreling down 30 feet before twisting toward a three-story drop. The best part? Entry into the water park is included in the price of admission at Six Flags Darien Lake.
Universal’s Volcano Bay: Orlando
Opened in May 2017, Universal’s Volcano Bay was built around a realistic volcano. Admission covers access to 17 unique attractions, plus a waterproof TapuTapu wristband, which guests can use to book rides, report wait times, pay for meals and open lockers. Notable park features include a lazy river and 12 different waterslides such as the Puihi of the Maku Puihi Round Raft Ride that seats six people at a time.
Silver Dollar City’s White Water: Branson, Missouri
Branson is all about country music and family-friendly fun. One of the amusement park’s most thrilling attractions is this 13-acre water park, which features 2 million gallons of water and a KaPau Plummet ride with a 70-degree, 40-foot plunge that drops you at a rate of 26 feet per second. If little ones are in tow, drift in a tube in the Aloha River or splash around in the Coconut Cove water playground.
Wilderness at the Smokies: Sevierville, Tennessee
This family resort just north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park combines lodging with a recreation center and indoor and outdoor water parks. At the three water parks, guests have access to numerous waterslides, pools and thrilling rides. Lake Wilderness Outdoor Waterpark and its array of slides is a must for teens during the summer months, while Salamander Springs Outdoor Waterpark offers an activity pool, a 500-gallon dump bucket and a zero-entry pool with toddler swings for families with younger kids. Entry into the indoor and outdoor water parks is always included in your overnight stay at the resort.
Adventure Island: Tampa, Florida
Within walking distance of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is the 30-acre Adventure Island water park. Offering mat-racing slides, corkscrews, a lazy river and more, all with Key West-inspired decor, this outdoor water park gives you plenty of ways to cool off on a hot Florida day. In the spring of 2022, the park is introducing two new rides – a multi-rider Rapids Racer and a Wahoo Remix family raft ride.
Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Part of Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, this family lodge sits on relaxing wooded grounds and offers amenities like a championship golf course, an arcade and Moose Mountain Falls, a 50,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor water park. Overnight guests get four complimentary passes to the facility’s twisting slides, lazy river and heated pool. Kids will especially love climbing ropes at the activity pool and riding Avalanche Falls, which plays various songs as riders zip past colored lights.
Cedar Point Shores Waterpark: Sandusky, Ohio
Overlooking Lake Erie from a stretch of shoreline that is also home to the iconic Cedar Point amusement park, Cedar Point Shores Waterpark features 18 acres of water fun with baby rides and exciting slides. The park’s 19 water attractions range from the extreme Point Plummet body slide to a toddler zone named after the lake’s mythical monster, Lemmy. For even more aquatic thrills, families can play in Lakeslide Landing, which houses a dozen miniature slides.
Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park: Destin, Florida
Don’t expect big waves on Florida’s Gulf Coast – the warm, calm water is often why travelers visit. But if you’re itching to hang 10 during your vacation, head to Destin’s Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park. At this water park, you’ll find the Honolulu Half Pipe, a surf simulator that you can ride with a bodyboard or flowboard. In total, the property offers more than 40 rides, slides and attractions should you want to do more than just surf.
Kalahari Resorts & Conventions Wisconsin Dells: Wisconsin Dells
This African-themed Kalahari Resorts property (which is one of four major Kalahari parks in the country) has one of the wettest and wildest waterparks in Wisconsin. Visitors can hop on a variety of indoor waterslides, lounge in whirlpools, ride the Master Blaster water coaster and more. The Zambezi outdoor water park also features a lazy river, several water coasters and a Zimbabwe Zipper spiraling flume ride.
Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark: Tannersville, Pennsylvania
One of several parks that make up the Camelback Mountain resort complex, this Poconos playground offers families year-round recreation. During the summer months, travelers can take advantage of an outdoor water park named Camelbeach. This outdoor facility features 37 rides and slides of all sizes, plus 453 hotel guest suites for families who want to stay a few days. To secure the best rates, opt for one of the park’s vacation packages.
The Boardwalk at Hersheypark: Hershey, Pennsylvania
After sampling chocolate on a tour at Hershey’s Chocolate World, head to The Boardwalk to get wet in this 11-acre waterpark. Entrance fees for this seasonal water park in Pennsylvania are covered by all Hersheypark ticket prices, and water attractions are open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day each year. Considered one of the top things to do in Hershey, amenities you can enjoy here include a hydromagnetic water coaster and the Coal Cracker hydroflume ride. For more heart-pumping fun, compete against your friends or loved ones on Whitecap Racer, the longest mat-racing slide in the world.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon: Orlando, Florida
A storm-damaged tropical paradise is the setting for this Walt Disney World Resort water park attraction. The focal point at Typhoon Lagoon is its Mount Mayday, where slides and raft rides travel through and around caves, waterfalls and rock formations. The park’s huge surfing lagoon is equally impressive due to the fact that guests who enter face six-foot swells. Meanwhile, families can’t miss Ketchakiddee Creek, a water playground with a child-sized whitewater rafting experience and an interactive tugboat.
Splash Island Waterpark: Valdosta, Georgia
With 10 attractions ranging from waterslides to a wave pool and designated kids areas, Splash Island Waterpark offers a variety of ways to beat the heat on warmer days. Families won’t want to miss the Ohana Bay area, where parents can comfortably supervise kids from lounge chairs as they play on multiple slides. For those who desire more activities, check out the animal exhibits and roller coasters at Wild Adventures Theme Park. Two-day access to both parks is covered in standard admission.
Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Park: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Dolly Parton’s water park, which sits around 10 miles north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, pays tribute to local heritage and culture. Themed rides and slides include a Downbound Float Trip with a 200-foot waterfall that soaks guests, the wooden Bear Mountain Fire Tower play structure and dual slides that end at a butterfly-shaped pool. If you’re after an adrenaline rush, ride RiverRush, Tennessee’s only water coaster.
Aquatica San Antonio: San Antonio
Located next to SeaWorld San Antonio in the heart of Texas, this park draws inspiration from the sea with white sand beaches, a powerful wave pool and Stingray Falls, where four-person rafts float through a tank of stingrays. Animal encounters with fish, birds and stingrays are also available, though extra charges may apply. No visit is complete without experiencing one of the park’s latest thrills, the 375-foot-long Taumata Racer mat slide. Also watch out for the Riptide Race, a new splashy dueling racer.
Water Country USA: Williamsburg, Virginia
Water Country USA is easy to reach from Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and the Yorktown Battlefield should you need a break from Williamsburg’s historical attractions. Noteworthy amenities include climate-controlled pools, multiple slides, Virginia’s largest wave pool and the Big Daddy Falls, a whitewater rafting adventure. A new raft ride called Aquazoid Amped will also plunge guests down 864 feet starting in May 2022.
Cool Zoo: New Orleans
The coolest thing about this small water park in New Orleans is that it’s inside the lushly landscaped Audubon Zoo, where families can explore exotic animals and indigenous swamp life by foot or train. Though you’ll pay extra to visit the zoo’s water park, you’ll find instant relief from the heat in its water geysers, its pools and Gator Run, a 750-foot-long lazy river that’s connected to two beaches.
Splashin’ Safari: Santa Claus, Indiana
A perennial favorite among families, Splashin’ Safari, which is situated roughly 75 miles west of Louisville, Kentucky, is best known for having several fun family water coasters, including Cheetah Chase, Mammoth and Wildebeest. The park also offers the eight-slide Tembo Falls and the Tembo Tides wave pool. When you need a break from the water, visit the charming holiday-themed amusement park Holiday World that’s located next door. Ticket prices include access to both parks.
Wet ‘n’ Wild SplashTown: Houston
In a state where water park competition is fierce, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor SplashTown, one of the brand’s many parks, has flourished by updating and expanding its offerings. Notable water attractions include the RipQurl water bowl ride and the six-lane Stingray Racer. Other options include the Big Kahuna raft ride, an interactive children’s section and a FlowRider. Stay until dusk on select Fridays to catch a free movie at the Wahoo Wave Pool.
Knott’s Soak City Water Park: Buena Park, California
This Knott’s Berry Farm-affiliated water park less than 6 miles west of Anaheim features 15 acres of amenities, including a lazy river and 23 speed, tube and body slides. Families will love the ocean-themed Gremmie Lagoon and the Beach House water playground, where kids can climb and splash beneath a three-story structure. The 750,000-gallon Tidal Wave Bay wave pool is another crowd favorite.
Oasis Water Park: Phoenix, Arizona
Located at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona, the Oasis Water Park provides a relaxing place to cool off for resort guests who pay the nightly rate and the property’s resort fee. The park features eight-story thrill slides, a giant wave pool and lazy river, an outdoor hot tub that seats 25 and the Valley’s only side-by-side active river across seven acres of outdoor space.
Shipwreck Island Waterpark: Panama City Beach, Florida
Panama City Beach, Florida is known for its white sand beaches and emerald green waters, but visitors will also find plenty of attractions away from the sea. Options include the Shipwreck Island Waterpark, which is home to 3 million gallons of water attractions across 15 acres. Major features include a 500,000-gallon wave pool, an on-site raging rapids ride, a Pirate’s Plunge racing slide and a giant children’s activity pool for the little ones in your crew.
Big Rivers Waterpark & Adventures: New Caney, Texas
Big Rivers Waterpark & Adventures is home to the largest lazy river in the Houston, Texas area, numerous water coasters and thrill rides and a unique river racer with a 360-degree loop. An attraction called Frio Falls also features three towering slides that leave guests spiraling or plummeting down six stories below. For some fun that’s on the “dry” side, park visitors can also head to the Big Rivers Fairgrounds, complete with its own share of roller coasters and rides.
Waldameer WaterWorld: Erie, Pennsylvania
Waldameer Park and WaterWorld has more than 100 attractions in total, including a 500,000-gallon wave pool, an enormous heated pool for relaxation, and multiple water rides − some with and some without tubes. A Rally Racer lets you lay belly down while racing your friends on a personal raft, and a Lake Erie Drip turning body slide is sure to thrill adrenaline rush seekers. If you have small kids in your group, the on-site Kids Zone splash area offers eight small slides and 30 interactive water jets.
You might also be interested in: