Coast to coast, America’s many water parks offer a low-cost day of fun. Let’s take a look at a few top-notch parks.
Pump House Indoor Water Park at Jay Peak Resort in Jay, Vermont
Its signature ride called La Chute, an indoor AquaLoop, is Pump House Indoor Water Park’s main attraction. You’ll feel an unbelievable rush as you drop almost straight down in an enclosed tube with a 360-degree loop in roughly 6 seconds. There’s also a FlowRider surf simulator and even a rock-climbing wall directly above a deep pool. For relaxation, drift along the lazy river or soak in a hot tub, while kids play with a tipping bucket and water cannons at Mill Ponds or enjoy the Tramside Elevation 1851’ Family Arcade. Don’t miss taking a ride on the Jay Peak Aerial Tramway for a good look at Vermont and even a peek of Canada when skies are clear.
Driving distances: 1 hour from Stowe, Vermont | 2 hours from Hartford, Vermont | 3 hours from Manchester, New Hampshire | 4 hours from Schenectady, New York | 4 hours and 15 minutes from Boston, Massachusetts
Legoland Water Park in Carlsbad, California
Photo courtesy of Legoland Water Park
Legoland Water Park offers plenty of Lego-building activities within a water park backdrop. Design and build your own Lego raft to float down the lazy river or let kids build bridges, dams and cities with Duplo bricks. Play with Duplo characters in the Splash Safari (6 years and under) and interact with Duplo animals in the Splash Zoo (1 to 3 years).
Tots can go on a pirate adventure in a shipwrecked vessel in Soak-n-Sail and blast water cannons in Pirate Reef and Joker Soaker. Plus, you can take a spin on a giant orange raft in Range Rush, slide in Splash Out or win the race in Twin Chasers.
Driving distances: 40 minutes from San Diego, California | 1 hour from Santa Ana, California and Murieta, California | 2 hours from Burbank, California | 4 hours from Bakersfield, California
Cedar Point Shores Water Park in Sandusky, Ohio
A family-friendly park with many rides and dining options, Cedar Point Shores Water Park is just steps away from the complex’s renowned roller coasters. Inside Lemmy’s Lagoon, the mythical Lake Erie monster Lemmy waits for playmates, and kids can enjoy minislides, fountains and geysers at Lakeslide Landing.
Thrill-seekers visit the Breakwater Bay Wave Pool or experience Point Plummet, a 6-story, 4-capsule drop slide, while others head to Cedar Creek’s meandering streams to unwind.
Visitors who need a quick snack or a meal can choose from the many offerings that are scattered all over the park. Choices include yogurt, pizza, ice cream, steak, hot dogs, barbecue, burritos and Johnny Rockets burgers. There are even branches of well-known chains such as Starbucks, Subway and Panda Express on-site.
Driving directions: 1 hour from Cleveland, Ohio | 2 hours from Ann Arbor Michigan and Youngstown, Ohio | 3 hours from Lansing, Michigan and Dayton, Ohio | 4 hours from Cincinnati, Ohio
Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Virginia
Photo courtesy of Water Country USA
Virginia’s largest water park, Water Country USA, has 11 rides and slides, including the Colossal Curl mega-slide and the crowd-favorite Wild Thang. If you have a need for speed, get in line for Nitro Racer, Jammin’ Jukebox or Jet Scream. Another must-try is Vanish Point, where you have the option to speed-slide 300 feet down or “vanish” through the floor.
Parents can lounge while watching kids play in H2O UFO, Cow-A-Bunga and Kritter Korral. Plus, its KIDsiderate program offers stroller rentals, kid-sized menu options, free life jackets, nursing rooms and baby-changing tables.
Driving distances: 1 hour from Richmond, Virginia | 1 hour 30 minutes from Virginia Beach, Virginia | 2 hours from Charlottesville, Virginia | 3 hours from Rocky Mount, North Carolina
Six Flags White Water in Marietta, Georgia
Photo courtesy of Six Flags White Water
Well-known for its extreme and fun slides (there are more than 20), Six Flags White Water’s Typhoon Twister (a 67-foot-wide bowl), Tornado (a gigantic blue-and-yellow funnel), Dive Bomber (the park’s tallest water slide), wave pool and lazy river are crowd pleasers. Wahoo Racer and the Caribbean Plunge are a must to try. And, don’t miss their newest attraction, the Twisted Cyclone, a wood-and-steel hybrid roller coaster with incredible twists and turns.
To get the most out of your visit, invest in a one-day Flash Pass (starting at $30) to skip the long lines, or visit during weekdays to avoid the crowds and long waiting times. Pack a cooler and eat in the car or buy a dining package.
Driving distances: 2 hours from Athens, Georgia | 3 hours from Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Murfreesboro, Tennessee | 5 hours from Bowling Green, Kentucky
Aquatica at SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas
Photo courtesy of Aquatica
Inspired by a South Seas oasis and equipped with island resort amenities, Aquatica at SeaWorld, with its lush vegetation, projects a tranquil vibe reminiscent of a tropical rainforest. The park combines thrilling and speedy rides with up-close animal experiences, such as can be found in its signature attraction, Stingray Falls, where visitors take a raft ride to view more than 500 stingrays and tropical fish.
Other intimate and can’t-miss animal experiences include Roa’s Aviary and KeRe Reef. If you can afford to splurge, get a cabana for a dedicated and secure place to sit in the shade, relax and store your belongings.
Driving distances: 1 hour 30 minutes from Austin, Texas | 2 hours from Corpus Christi, Texas | 3 hours from Waco, Texas | 4 hours from Abilene, Texas | 4 hours and 30 minutes to Dallas, Texas