Forget the slip ‘n slide this summer. Instead, amp things up with an adventure to one of the country’s many water parks—they don’t even necessarily have to be in a warm weather locale, because there’s indoor water parks, too. While every water park on this list has a wide array of water attractions—from thrill rides to lazy rivers—they each have something unique about them.
Water World – Denver, CO
Spread across 67 acres, Water World is an outdoor park that features more than 35 attractions and has more family tube rides than any other park in the country. Ride the waves at Thunder Bay wave pool or experience the unique Mile High Flyer, a hydromagnetic watercoaster built in 2012 that also goes uphill. Other fun rides include raft rides that have animatronics and themed interiors, like the Lost River of the Pharaohs and Voyage to the Center of the Earth.
Acquatica, Seaworld’s Waterpark – Orlando, FL
While Acquatica is located across the street from Seaworld, this innovative park is still populated by plenty of sea-life. In fact, if you zoom down see-through water slides like the Dolphin Plunge, don’t be surprised to see a dolphin swimming nearby. As you float along Loggerhead Lane, a lazy river, chances are you’ll see both dolphins and exotic fish. This park is also great for all ages, as there are areas—such as Kata’s Kookaburra Cove—that are appropriate for kids under 48 inches tall. Even better? All of the water attractions adjust to the outdoor temperature, so you’re comfortable with the “south seas warmth” no matter what.
Carowinds Boomerang Bay – Charlotte, NC
Carowinds is a 100-acre theme park, and one part of that is the Australian-themed water park known as Boomerang Bay. Float down Crocodile Run, a 1,000 foot long lazy river that goes through both North and South Carolina, or get adventuresome with giant tubes on the Awesome Aussie Twisters, a wave pool. Or, best of all, have a blast on Pipeline Peak, an intricate water slide that includes two inner-tube slides as well as two body slides that range in length from 80 feet to 495.
Schlitterbahn – New Braunfels, TX
Situated about 2.5 hours from Houston and located on the banks of the Comal River, this 70-acre park has everything: slides, chutes, rides, pipelines and more. In other words, no matter what thrill level you’re seeking, you’ll find it here with massive drops, high speeds and low speeds, and even some shallow water attractions for the kiddos. Schlitterbhan is considered by some to be world’s best water park in large part to the popular Master Blaster Uphill Water Coaster that runs more than 1,000 feet in length.
Six Flags White Water – Atlanta, GA
Located just outside Atlanta, Six Flags White Water is a 69-acre park, that has been named one of the Top 10 Water Parks by the Travel Channel. Shoot out like a cannonball from the Mutiny Shoot, experience a 90-foot free fall on the Cliffhanger, or take a ride on the Run-A-Way river that goes through waterfalls and through a mountain. Not exciting enough? Ride the Typhoon Twister on a four-person tube that will take you on a five-story drop.
Legoland California Resort – Carlsbad, CA
There’s the Legoland amusement park, but there’s the water park, too, where there’s still plenty of supersize legos, some of which spray water on all the kiddos. While more geared to kids under 12, this park located an hour and a half from LA is more unique than most. After all, where else can you build a custom raft out of legos and then float down the river? There’s also raft and tube slides aplenty.
Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she’s scribbling novels, and TV show reviews and recaps. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.