The 10 Best American Water Parks To Visit This Summer

The best water parks in America make summer a hit any way it’s sliced. Now that we’re in the thick of the season, and as temperatures climb, who doesn’t dream of cutting loose with something fun, wet, and wild?

What makes a water park great will vary from person to person. For some, a relaxing vacation with a lazy river and a drink in hand is the ideal vacation. Others want the thrill dialed up to full blast with extreme rides and slides, full speed ahead.

Somewhere in the middle, families will be searching for something that is somehow the perfect fit for all. These unicorns do exist, and they’re on our top 10 list of the best water parks in the USA. Whether going solo, traveling with friends or inviting the whole family, a good water park is always a cool idea.

1. Have a Blast at Universals’ Volcano Bay in Orlando, Florida


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Only a few years old, the Universal Volcano Bay park was constructed in the image of Krakatau, a mythical god, and the Waturi tribes. This park is where resort life meets water park spirit thanks to a waterproof wristband.

The TapuTapu bracelet enables guests to report wait times, pay for meals, operate lockers, and reserve rides. They’re handy. They also activate sprayers and special effects. 20 rides await, so if your definition of an awesome time is a volcano that doubles as a thrilling waterslide, you’re in luck. 

Lounge chairs mark a spot for rest and relaxation. Double down on it with a trip through the winding river (or wave pool). The park has cabanas, so privacy is absolutely on the menu. Concierge services sweeten the deal as well. You could be kicked back, in the shade, flip flops off, snapping your fingers for a bottle of water before you know it. 

2. The Blizzard Beach in Orlando, Florida by Disney Makes a Splash

Blizzard Beach in Orlando, Florida

Mount Gushmore marks the spot of this Walt Disney World Resort water park. A family-friend facility, this park stands out with its 120 foot Summit Plummet water slide. The 350 feet long ride pushes users as fast as 55 mph! 

What brings the people out to Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park is the nostalgia factor. It’s an old-fashioned looking place, complete with free-fall waterslides and plenty to do for those who will travel with tykes in tow.

The service here is simple in nature. Be expected to carry around your own tube the way it was done back in the day. On the plus side, the lines here are actually shorter a lot of the time, according to recent patron reports.

To make the experience even more memorable, consider reserving a cabana for some privacy. Each one offers a designated spot to stash your stuff, so you’ll enjoy the amenities even more. If it’s available, consider tracking down the “Sand Pail” ice cream treat! Just be sure to eat it fast. Ice cream can melt pretty fast during the Florida summer.

3. Legoland Water Park Is the Way to Go



The best water parks were designed with kids and kids-at-heart in mind, which is why Legoland Water Park in Carlsbad, California floats up toward the top of our recommendation list. Lego-themed attractions are the main draw as are the facility’s splash pads and slides. For the engineers and creatives out there, a fun lazy river lets swimmers float on deconstructable rafts made of soft Lego bricks.

In the spirit of Cartoon Network’s Lego Legends of Chima, one section uses the program as a motif. There’s also a spot where guests can craft race boats. There’s a major photo opportunity at this park: the Lion Temple Wave Pool’s arch. Over 260,000 Legos were used in its construction.

Other notable areas include the joker soaker where you’re sure to get drenched in chlorinated fun. There are water cannon blasters that release over 350 gallons of water from a towering clock. You’ll see the crowd congregate awaiting the next drop.

As this locale mostly serves families, the LEGOLAND Resort Hotel might be a good place to spend the night. It’s impressively been ranked as one of the best hotels for families according to TripAdvisor.

4. Getting Wet and Wild in the Wisconsin Dells


Keith Homan/Shutterstock

New Yorkers have the Hamptons; Chicagoans have the Wisconsin Dells where Noah’s Ark Waterpark is a popping spot to hang all summer long. The Wisconsin Dells are often called the Water Park Capital of the World, and this 70-acre locale is the crown jewel. 50 attractions, which include fume rides and a dive-in 4D theater, are going to dazzle and delight until the lifeguards clear the pool.

Even for tough guys, the rides can be intimidating. The side-by-side racer known as Raja drops riders into the mouth of a cobra. In the midwest, many fondly remember America’s largest water park which has been in operation since 1979. Now that people are looking at what’s nestled into America’s interior, the Wisconsin icon is gaining traction with fans across the country. Locals love it so much they buy season passes.

5. Pack Your Swimsuit and Head to Water World

Water World, Colorado

Turning our sights to the next park on the list, Water World in Federal Heights, Colorado, it’s clear why this Denver-centric park has gained popularity with locals and travelers alike. The 70-acre park has over 50 amenities to enjoy. The Thunder Bway Wave Pool is always exciting, and a lazy river option soothes those avoiding too much adventure. 

This is what makes Water World a great compromise destination for parties that want to unwind in different ways. The visitors can book a cabana or bungalow during their time at Water World. Be sure to reserve a spot ahead of time as the spaces are limited. Spend time at Cowabunga Beach in a bungalow that offers lounge chairs and charging spaces.

The most thrilling rides are Longs Peak, Blanca Peak, and Pikes Peak. The park boasts free parking which is a good perk since many do not. If a child is shorter than 40”, they aren’t charged admission. Seniors can enter at a reduced rate. With policies like these, Water World maintains a solid rapport with its guests.

6. A Kiss of Summer Sun at The Boardwalk at HersheyPark

The Boardwalk at HersheyPark


Milton Hershey made Hershey, Pennsylvania famous, but nowadays, plenty of people head into the area just to enjoy The Boardwalk at HersheyPark. In Hershey, everything is chocolate-themed. Why not let the cherry on top be a sweet water park tour? The Boardwalk is smaller than other parks on the list with 17 wet attractions on the menu. Remember, though, bigger isn’t always better.

As an added bonus, the park is open to anybody who purchases a Hersheypark ticket. The fans rave about the hydromefume, the Coal Cracker. They also gush about the park’s hydromagnetic rollercoaster. Another fun option includes the Whitecap Racer (the park claims it to be the longest in the world) which sends two people scrambling down the water slide to the finish line on a mat. 

Pro tip: If you lose the race, make it the best two out of three. If you win, no rematches.

Although the East Coast Waterworks station which pumps over 54,000 gallons of water through 600 toys may make the park look like it was built for kids, the more exciting rides make it a place anybody can unwind. Guest experience is king here. There are cabana rentals, thirteen food spots, three retail spaces, lockers, and charging stations. This park is seasonal, open from Memorial Day to Labor Day in early September.

7. Consider a Niagara Falls Detour to Darien Lake Splashtown

Darien Lake Splashtown

Niagara Falls is a family vacation classic, but why not steer forty-five miles southeast and go to the 10-acre waterpark called Darien Lake Splashtown instead? Located in Darien Center, New York, the Darien Lake park has kept locals and visitors rocking and rolling with summertime leisure for over five decades.

There’s plenty to check out at Splashtown. Seven slides set the precedent for a slippery and speedy day. Take on the 70 foot Brain Drain or test your luck with the 700 foot long Big Kahuna. 

One major perk here is that the lazy river is heated. Not all water parks do that, so you’ll be sure you won’t be covered in goosebumps when trying to enjoy the amenity. If you like it more adventurous, then the monstrous wave pool has your name written all over it.

Smiles are a common sight at Darien Lake Park. Whether it’s the private cabanas, the RipCurl racing slides, the 300 foot drop (in only 10 seconds) Brain Drain, the Crocodile Isle wave pool, a grin is certain to surface as a result. Don’t forget to check out the Tornado, a funnel ride that sets the park apart from the rest. You don’t have to worry about overdoing it on your visit; you can crash in a hotel, campsite, or cabin on the property.

8. Get a Taste of Splash Country with Dolly Parton’s Stamp of Approval

Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Park

Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee offers a twist when it comes to water park activities. It celebrates the Great Smoky Mountains which are 10 miles south. The theme is exquisitely country with elements such as the Bear Mountain Fire Tower playground and a water tower and a waterfall that set the scene.

USA Today readers voted this park a top 10 because of its overall family appeal. Greenery surrounds the property, so your Snapchats and selfies will sport a mountainous backdrop. Don’t forget to get one of yourself gliding through the Downbound Float Trip (lazy river). It’s not all cute and clever, though. There is something with some kick in the RiverRush, known as the only water coaster in all of Tennessee.

9. Try an Indoor/Outdoor Water Park Option in Lake Geneva

Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark

The Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is a facility operated by the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa. The grounds are gorgeous, neatly aligned with a woods, golf course, an arcade, and a 50,000 square-foot water park.

It’s an indoor/outdoor facility. In other words, visitors can enjoy 100% of the water park in the summer and most of it in the winter. Not all water parks offer the luxury of a winter dip!

The park sits in a resort town, Lake Geneva, which is popular with boaters, boutiquers, and brunchers. People regularly drive in from Milwaukee and Chicago to stay at the Timber Ridge Lodge, spending the weekend (or week) at the water park. 

10. Take it Down to Texas with a Visit to Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort

Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort

In New Braunfels, Texas, the place to be all summer long is Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort. A beautiful river provides shape to the 70-acre facility. Some Texans believe the park to be one of the world’s best for that fact.

At the park, patrons can challenge themselves with the Uphill Water Coaster, try surfing, fly down water slides, or take in some sun (with sunblock!) near a cabana. There’s even an AquaVeyer that moves you to the top of the ride so you don’t even have to get out of your tube. If you’re loving the lazy life, stay at the resort by reserving a room.

The standout attraction is the Boogie Bahn Surfing Ride. Water rushes up a tarp creating an artificial wave that can be surfed for hours on end. Over 50,000 gallons per minute of water push through the machine, giving surfers the optimal momentum to bodyboard on the attraction. It takes plenty of practice, say the pros. Once you find your balance, however, you can begin to master tricks like somersaults and barrel rolls.

Beneath the wave is foam, so no need to stress if you wipe out! The ride is a high-risk activity, so be prepared to read the rules and check your height (42” requirement) at the gate. This summer, hit up the water park, make a splash, and stay cool with these recommendations for your next big day out.

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