6 Top Water Parks Your Family Will Love

Hunt a mythical lake monster, build a Lego raft or ride a mega-slide at America’s best water parks.

by NEA Member Benefits


Want to beat the summer heat? Make a date at a water park near you. Whether you prefer adrenaline-pumping rides, lounging by the pool or drifting through lazy rivers, there’s no better way to cool down and have fun on a hot day than enjoying the many thrills and spills of a water park.

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.

Plan your trip: Vermont’s North Country Chamber of Commerce | VermontVacation.com

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

Other area attractions: Berry Creek Farm | Jay Community Recreational Centre | Vermont Salt Cave Spa & Halotherapy Center

Where to stay: Pine Crest Motel and Cabins | Fitch Hill Inn | Jay Peak Resort

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.

Plan your trip: Visit Carlsbad | Visit California

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

Other area attractions: Carlsbad State Beach | Carlsbad Village

Where to stay: Econo Lodge Inn & Suites near Legoland | Red Roof Inn San Diego-Pacific Beach/SeaWorld Area | La Quinta Inn & Suites Carlsbad – Legoland Area

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.

Plan your trip: Sandusky County Convention & Visitors Bureau | Tourism Ohio

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

Other area attractions: Cedar Point Amusement Park | Ghostly Manor Thrill Center | Merry-Go-Round Museum

Where to stay: Value Inn Motel Sandusky | Econo Lodge Inn & Suites South | Magnuson Hotel East Sandusky

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.

Plan your trip: Visit Williamsburg | Virginia is for Lovers

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

Other area attractions: Colonial Williamsburg | Busch Gardens Williamsburg | Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum

Where to stay: Sleep Inn | Days Inn Williamsburg Historic Area | Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Williamsburg-Historic Gateway

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.

Plan your trip: Marietta Visitors Bureau | Explore Georgia

Driving distances: 2 hours from Athens, Georgia | 3 hours from Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Murfreesboro, Tennessee | 5 hours from Bowling Green, Kentucky

Other area attractions: Marietta Square | Earl Smith Strand Theatre | Gone with the Wind Museum

Where to stay: Days Inn Marietta White Water | Red Roof Inn Atlanta - Kennesaw | Drury Inn & Suites Atlanta Marietta

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.

Plan your trip: Visit San Antonio | Travel Texas

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

Other area attractions: San Antonio River Walk | The Alamo | Natural Bridge Caverns

Where to stay: Best Western Ingram Park Inn | Comfort Suites near SeaWorld | Staybridge Suites San Antonio Sea World

Travel deals exclusively for NEA members