Best water parks in the U.S.

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Racing down a waterslide, riding the waves of a wave pool or floating along a lazy river at a waterpark are great ways to beat the summer heat. be the right time to plan a waterpark vacation, it’s a great time to start researching ideas for your next family getaway. Thankfully, across the country, there are many great options for cooling off while splashing around. Whether for a day, a weekend or longer, these remain the best water parks in the USA. 

Noah’s Ark Waterpark, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Since 1979, Noah’s Ark has welcomed kids of all ages to spend the day soaking up fun in the sun with plenty of watery entertainment for the entire family. On the surface, this park includes the basics you would expect at a waterpark, including two giant wave pools, two lazy rivers, and four children’s water play areas. But dive deeper, and you’ll find you can race your friends on a number of waterslides, or head down the many family rafting rides, including the exciting Black Anaconda water coaster, the Time Warp bowl ride and the Flying Gecko. 

The youngest members of your group won’t miss out on any of the water fun at the park’s water play areas that include water cannons, dumping buckets, mini water slides and plenty of water sprayers. Noah’s Ark also contains several onsite restaurants and snack spots so you can refuel throughout the day.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort, New Braunfels, Texas

Always a top favorite among the best waterparks in the USA, Schlitterbahn continues to attract visitors looking for both adventure and relaxation while cooling off in the summer heat. The Master Blaster Uphill Water Coaster will get your adrenaline pumping, as will the Black Knight that plunges you into the dark as you race down more than 550 feet in a black tunnel. If you’ve ever wanted to try surfing, you can grab a bodyboard and hit the Boogie Bahn to see if you can “hang ten.”

For some relaxation, grab a tube and float away on the Kristal River, one of three “endless” rivers at the park, or kick back and soak up the sun at Kristal Cove, a giant swimming pool. At the Kiddie Coast, younger visitors will love exploring the pirate ship and yellow submarine, along with kiddie slides, a shallow wading pool and water cannons. 

Knott’s Soak City Waterpark, Buena Park, California 

Located next door to Knott’s Berry Farm theme park, Knott’s Soak City Waterpark encompasses 15 acres with all the water-soaked fun you could imagine. Fulfill your need for speed on Old Man Falls, which features three heart-pumping slides that drop 63 feet as you race to the bottom. Grab the family, and experience the twists and turns of The Wedge, a raft ride that will have everyone gasping with delight. 

For a calmer ride, float along the Sunset River or ride the waves in Tidal Wave Bay. If you want more action, kids can battle their parents in the three-story Beach House, complete with 200 water guns, nozzles and sprayers. When it’s time to grab a bite to eat, you can enjoy a slice at Portside Pizza or fill up on fish and chips, burgers, sandwich wraps and more at Longboard’s Grill. 

Great Wolf Lodge, La Grange, Georgia  

An hour southwest of Atlanta, Great Wolf Lodge welcomes you to stay and play for a while at this waterpark resort. The 93,000-square-foot indoor waterpark offers year-round entertainment that includes racing and rafting water slides, a wave pool, a floating river, and a toddler area. The centerpiece of the park, Fort Mackenzie, is a four-story interactive treehouse outfitted with water cannons, water slides and a giant dumping bucket. Crooked Creek winds its way around the waterpark, but beware: Spectators gleefully take aim at floaters with the many water cannons positioned around the river. 

In addition to the waterpark, the resort offers a variety of accommodations, including several themed rooms, an indoor Adventure Park with mini golf, a ropes course, an arcade and more. It also features family activities such as story time, dance parties and character appearances.

Great Wolf Lodge also operates 18 other locations around the country and Canada, including Charlotte, San Francisco, Kansas City and Boston. 

Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Park, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Just a short drive from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Dollywood’s Splash Country offers a cool way to enjoy a hot day. Start your visit racing down the Slick Rock Racer, the Mountain Scream or the Tailspin Racer. Then hit the Raging River Rapids or the SwiftWater Run for a thrilling family ride. 

For your youngest family members, head to Little Creek Falls, where you can splash in the children’s pool, watch as they conquer the kiddie slides and dodge the many water sprayers. When you’re ready to slow things down, grab a tube and set afloat on a Downbound Float Trip — just watch out for the 200-foot waterfall.  

The waterpark also features a number of restaurants and eateries offering everything from burgers and fries to fresh salads to snacks like giant pretzels, ice cream and kettle corn. 

Bottom line

Nothing cools you off during summer than a day at one of the best waterparks in the U.S. These parks contain some of the most thrilling rides to rival any of those found in a regular theme park — all with the benefit of water. However, they also include rides and attractions that appeal to kids of all ages so no family member is left watching from the sidelines. When planning your next family vacation, consider one of these waterparks for a memorable summer getaway. 

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Karon Warren is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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