Summer means two things: scorching temps and family fun. That second one is a little harder to come by (without tears, that is). So if you really want to win favor with your kids, bring ’em to a waterpark with towering slides, exciting rides, plunge pools and more. From the Seaside Heights to Wisconsin Dells, these aquatic playgrounds are guaranteed to make a splash with kids of all ages.
Splashin’ Safari (Santa Claus, Indiana)
Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana (yes, that is a real place), is home to Wildebeest—voted “#1 Waterpark Ride on the Planet” by Amusement Today readers eight years running. This aqua coaster takes passengers on a heart-thumping adventure filled with twists, turns, tunnels, hills and drops. There’s also the Hyena Falls “sprayground” for the younger kids, the Kima Bay waterslide park and Monsoon Lagoon replete with a 1,000-gallon bucket of water filled only to be dumped on the happy people standing below.
WATERLOO ADVENTURES (LEANDER, TX)
Lake Travis just got a lot cooler thanks to Waterloo Adventures, which opened on July 9. Live out your ninja warrior fantasies with a 45-minute showdown on the state-of-the-art obstacle course, complete with climbing walls, monkey bars, hurdles and balance beams. Afterward, spend the afternoon jumping on the 25-foot trampoline and scaling the ice tower XXL.
NOAH'S ARK (WISCONSIN DELLS, WI)
Noah’s Ark is the largest waterpark in America. (We’ve even heard the term “Biblical proportion” tossed around.) This Wisconsin Dells icon has it all: wave pools, bumper boats, lazy rivers, play areas and exhilarating rides. Speaking of, the new Raja launches thrill-seekers at speeds of up to 32 miles per hour. The hair-raising finale? A 37-foot plunge into the mouth of a king cobra.
WATER WORLD (DENVER, CO)
This massive aqua park, 15 minutes from downtown Denver, sprawls across 64 acres and features a wide range of splashy activities. Start with the Mile High Flyer, which just happens to be the first hydromagnetic water coaster in the Rockies. Turbo Racer is sure to bring out your competitive side. Clown Around Creek, Monkey Business and Silly Shores, on the other hand, are tailor-made for tykes.
CAMELBEACH MOUNTAIN WATERPARK (TANNERSVILLE, PA)
Situated in the Poconos, Camelbeach is *the* must-visit summer destination in Pennsylvania. Little ones will love frolicking amongst the tipping buckets, super soakers and fountains at Pharaoh’s Phortress. Older kids, teens and parents can race head-first toward the finish line on the Checkered Flag Challenge and brave the switchbacks on Titan.
BREAKWATER BEACH (SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ)
Set on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk, Breakwater Beach is the ultimate family-friendly Jersey Shore destination. Between surf sessions at the 5,860-square-foot wave pool, vacationers can test their courage with a near-vertical free fall on Salem's Scream, let loose in the interactive splash zones and relax in the hot springs.
DOLLYWOOD'S SPLASH COUNTRY (PIGEON FORGE, TN)
What can you expect at Dollywood's Splash Country? Big Bear Plunge delivers the daring drops and forceful currents of a real-life rafting expedition. The Cascades—an 8,000-square-foot lagoon with rock grottos, bubblers, secret coves and an active geyser—is a favorite of youngsters. That’s not all: New for 2018, Daredevil Falls is as adrenaline-pumping as it sounds.
KNOTT'S SOAK CITY (BUENA PARK, CA)
If you’re located in (or anywhere near) Orange County, it’s worth the drive to experience the recently expanded Knott's Soak City in person. This 15-acre SoCal hot spot wows with a whopping 23 speed, tube and body slides plus winding rivers, kiddie play areas and a giant 750,000-gallon wave pool. Surf’s up!
LOST ISLAND WATERPARK (WATERLOO, IA)
Lost Island is a mecca of summer fun with tons of tropical-themed activities. Tsunami Bay gives guests a taste of high and low tide. While you’re there, how about a game of volleyball in the Blue Iguana Lagoon? Be sure to carve out plenty of time for the Wailua Kapua, Tá Katipo and Molokini Crater.
SCHLITTERBAHN NEW BRAUNFELS (NEW BRAUNFELS, TX)
Nope, you’re not in Germany. Schlitterbahn New Braunfels is a massive amusement park in the heart of Texas Hill Country. With an astounding 51 attractions, it has something for everyone. Visitors can choose from uphill water slides, tubing adventures, simulated surfing, swimming pools, aqua coasters and flowing rivers. We dare you to do it all in one day.