When summer heat really hits and the temperatures start to soar, head to one of America's best water parks. To simplify your options, we crunched some numbers, reviewed a few lists and came up with the best water parks in the country. We considered visitor statistics from the 2014 Global Attractions Attendance Report, Trip Advisor’s 2015 Traveler’s Choice Awards and USA Today’s 10Best American Water Parks.
From Hawaii to Vermont, these are the top 11 water parks in America.
With so many parks in Orlando, it takes a lot to set one apart from the rest—Wet ‘n Wild is a stand-out park with many multi-rider attractions. Race your friends down the Aqua Drag Racer, pile into a group tube for The Surge or experience a straight drop together on Brain Wash. When you’re ready to go solo, test your wits on Bomb Bay, where the floor falls from beneath your feet right before you plunge six stories down.
Home to the tallest water slide in the world, called Verrückt (which, in German, means “insane”), Schlitterbahn Waterpark packs in the thrills. The slide is a gut-wrenching 17 stories high (168 feet tall) and riders take the plunge in a three-person raft. The ride is so popular that the park is taking reservations. Those looking for something a little less terrifying should check out Boogie Bahn, a surf ride, or check out the heated pool in Henry’s Hideout, which features a swim up bar.
The biggest water park in the state, Water Country USA also gets big points for its retro theme and array of things to do in and out of the water. More than 30 slides, pools and attractions draw families and dare devils alike. The fearless should experience Vanish Point, where you can get into a “skybox” with a disappearing floor.
Visitors named this Tennessee water park one of the best in the country on Trip Advisor and there’s a lot to love. The recent addition of the first and only water coaster in the state has been a big hit and Fire Tower Falls will have you plummeting down the park’s tallest slide. Don’t be put off by those heart-pumping rides, though, there’s plenty for the little ones to do.
The number one most visited water park in America, Typhoon Lagon saw 2,185,000 visitors in 2014, according to the Global Attractions Attendance Report. The park that offers a bunch of rides and attractions fit for families is consistently among the most popular in the U.S. Take the kids to the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool or, if they’re up for a thrill, visit Gangplank Falls.
A blast in any season, Jay Peak Pump House is an incredible indoor water park that has a lot to offer for people of all ages. Test your surf skills on the Double Barrel Flowrider, experience big drops on La Chute or just relax in the indoor and outdoor hot tubs—all beside the mountains.
Set in southern California, this 50-acre water park is the perfect spot to beat the summer heat. The park that ranked in the top 10 of USA Today’s list has a sand beach, the state’s only water coaster and tons of other great attractions. Just a short trip from Los Angeles will put you right at park gates, so make the trip this summer.
This Colorado park boasts roughly 50 attractions sitting on 64 acres, just outside of Denver, with a wide variety of options for both kids and adults. Thrill-seekers need to check out the water coaster that twists and turns for a full two minutes, but those looking for a more relaxing experience will enjoy the wave pool.
Top rankings on Trip Advisor’s 2015 list and USA Today’s 10Best list make Splashin’ Safari a clear favorite among visitors—especially families. Kids love the safari theme, with rides named after animals and the water play areas designed specifically for them, but there are thrills to be had too. The park doubles as an amusement park and features wild rides like the Wildebeest, which is one of the most terrifying water slides in America.
Set on 29 acres on rugged, tropical land, Wet ‘n’ Wild is one of the most popular spots for families on the island of Oahu. More than 25 rides and attractions—ranging from family friendly to heart pumping—and a stellar setting landed this park on the list. Be sure to check out Island Racers, the four-story high racing slides that are set among natural cliffs.
No list of the best water parks would be complete without the inclusion of the biggest and Noah’s Ark is the largest in America. Set on 70 acres in “the water park capital of the world,” this park has 51 slides, two endless rivers, two wave pools, four children’s areas, a surfing simulator and a 4-D movie theater. Those looking for some heart-pumping action should check out the 10-stories-high Scorpion’s Tail, a near-vertical slide that sends riders into a loop or the Black Anaconda, an epic water coaster that’s more than a quarter mile long.