The Best Water Parks To Visit Across The US

Families, thrill seekers, theme park enthusiasts, and those just looking to cool down with friends on a hot summer day are all drawn to the wonderous aquatic adventure of America's water parks. Few places feed our inner child more than the splash zone at the bottom of a fast-diving slope.

From coast to coast and beyond, the water parks across the U.S. are bountiful, and though it might be easy to make the mistake of believing all water parks are practically identical, you'll find that's simply untrue. Every park on this list comes with a theme, a gimmick, a unique twist, or a collection of crazy rides that makes it worth visiting.

So, whether you're hopping in your car to drive cross-country, boarding that plane to your favorite state, or whimsically planning an imaginary vacation, taking a look at the best water parks to visit across the U.S. might show you an adventure you don't want to miss out on.

Wisconsin Dells, WI

The first on our list of best water parks to visit in the United States isn't a water park in itself. Instead, Wisconsin Dells is a city not too far from Madison, Wisconsin, and it's packed to the brim with water parks. Known as "The Waterpark Capital of the World!" you'll find more water parks per person in the Dells than anywhere else on the planet — over 20, to be exact. There's truly something for every aquatic aficionado in this city, regardless of their vacationing style.

For the adventurer, visiting The Rise of Icarus is a must. This slide debuts during the summer season of 2024 at the Dells' Mt. Olympus park, according to their website, and is set to be the tallest waterslide in the United States, with 145 feet of twisting excitement. If you don't find enough adrenaline there, head on over to the Ultimate Rush at Chula Vista Park, where you'll be shot 200 feet in the air on a bungee thrill ride.

Wisconsin Dells is filled with a diversity of attractions. So if heights and speeds rub you the wrong way, it's easy to find calmer water rides to enjoy, like the lazy river at Kalahari Resorts that stretches over 900 feet long or the numerous wave pools scattered throughout the city's parks. And you won't have to wait for perfect weather to visit the Dells since the city is home to a plethora of indoor and outdoor water parks.

Schlitterbahn - Galveston and New Braunfels, TX

If you're planning a trip to The Lonestar State, Schlitterbahn is a water park of your attention, and there's a good chance you won't have to go out of your way to visit. There are actually two Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort locations in Texas, one in Galveston and the other in New Braunfels. As the Schlitterbahn website shows, each site provides its own unique attractions that make it an ideal destination for those looking to enjoy the water.

The Galveston park is just south of Houston on Galveston Island. This park features several zero-entry beaches, a lazy river, wave pools, and a pirate ship-themed pool ideal for younger kids. For adults looking to live on the wild side, the winding Screaming Serpents body slide and the MASSIV Monster Blaster water coaster should do the trick. Numerous other slides and raft rides fill the gaps in between as well.

The New Braunfels park is the star of the two Schlitterbahn locations. This park, located between San Antonio and Austin, claims to be "The World's Best Waterpark," and it just might be depending on your tastes. Schlitterbahn New Braunfels incorporates traditional water park attractions with river rides. For the adults, each of the park's four sections features a swim-up bar, while the children can enjoy a new kids' park as of 2024. Let's not forget the park's generous number of surfing rides, tube chutes, body slides, and a Torrent River experience.

Splish Splash - Long Island, NY

For those wanting to visit The Big Apple and enjoy a massive water park experience simultaneously, there's no place better than Splish Splash in Long Island, New York. This 96-acre water park is New York state's largest water park, and it's worth going out of your way to enjoy.

Splish Splash is home to some pretty gnarly rides. The Alien Invasion is a monstrous raft ride that sends daredevils down a green and black thrill ride with their friends, inevitably spitting them into a giant cone-shaped bowl where they fly up the smooth walls. If slides are on your mind, you'll want to check out Bombs Away. It's 300 feet of fast-dropping slide, kicking off from 50 feet in the air. According to Splish Splash's official website, those on the slide reach a speed of 26 feet per second. The only thing that makes this ride better is you get to do it with a friend since Bombs Away is really two slides side-by-side.

One unique attraction at this Long Island water park is Hyperlight, a sensory experience that'll leave you breathless. This tunnel slide plays sounds and music as you raft through a series of changing lights — you'll walk away feeling like you came out of a wormhole. Something to note: Splish Splash is totally cashless, so make sure to bring a card if you visit.

DreamWorks Water Park - East Rutherford, NJ

It's safe to say most people in the United States have seen movies animated by DreamWorks Animation, whether you're young enough to have grown up with these films or old enough to have watched them with your kids or grandchildren. These movies are household names you can swim with at the DreamWorks Water Park in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where animated classics like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and Madagascar live on.

This park will give you a dose of nostalgia when you see the massive Shrek figure hovering above the indoor wave pool with some of his DreamWorks friends. The slides, restaurants, and attractions all share this theme, and while you're visiting, as their website shows, you'll be entertained with live performances from DreamWorks' most memorable characters. 

As far as the rides go, this park doesn't have as many as some of the outdoor parks on this list, but you'll find plenty to do at DreamWorks since it's the largest indoor water park in the United States. Expect to be thrilled when you drop into the Mad Flush or fly through Shrek's Sinkhole Slammer while the kids play at The Penguins Frozen Fun Zone.

Wet 'n' Wild - Oahu, HI

The islands of Hawaii have their own water atmosphere with activities, but if visitors are looking for some extra aquatic excitement, Wet 'n' Wild Water Park in Oahu, Hawaii, is the place to go. Visitors can enjoy giant, snaking slides, like the Big Kahuna, among the tropical palm trees and chill out in the beautiful Pacific sun while braving the swells of the park's wave pool.

Though this park offers tropical scenery and classic water park attractions, it also has unique selling points you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else on the islands. According to the Wet 'n' Wild website, this water park is home to Da' Flowrider, a simulated surfing ride that allows visitors to surf waves in safety under the watchful eye of park staff.

Movie lover? Check out the Dive 'n' Movies, where you can float in the water while watching a classic film (or sports games!) on a giant screen. Tourists can also enjoy a taste of traditional Hawaiian culture at the Chief's Luau, where they'll be entertained by the fire dancer Chief Sielu Avea.

Water Country USA - Williamsburg, VA

In coastal states like Virginia, the option of going to the beach while on vacation is always present, but they very seldom have water slides and all the other fun attractions. Water Country USA, Virginia's biggest water park, on the other hand, has plenty of slides and attractions to keep tourists of all ages occupied for days.

The park has everything you'd expect from a large water park — restaurants, water slides in abundance, a lazy river, a wave pool — but it also has some unique attractions. The Riptide Race is, as its name suggests, a slide that allows pairs to race another two-person raft next to them. According to the Water Country USA website, the dual slide starts over 50 feet in the air, and the participants may end up dizzy after flowing down more than 500 feet of twisting slide.

Then there's Aquazoid Amped, an 800-plus-foot tube ride that encapsulates visitors and leverages sound and light to create a special effects experience similar to the Hyperlight at Splish Splash. Note, if you plan on an extended visit to Williamsburg, Busch Gardens amusement park is only a short 4-mile drive from Water Country USA and owned by the same parent company. So, there's plenty of fun all around.

Dollywood Splash Country - Pigeon Forge, TN

On the edge of Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains, in the town of Pigeon Forge, sits Dollywood Splash Country. Due to this water park's location, the scenery is to die for. The green peaks of mountains jut into the blue of distant skies and add majesty to an already exciting experience. The Tennessee pines are almost in arms reach for those barrelling down winding slides, and the mountain air is sure to refresh visitors as they soak in the park's Mountain Waves wave pool.

If you're visiting with family or friends, group raft slides such as Raging River Rapids and Big Bear Plunge will allow you to fulfill your need for adventure as a waterlogged team. Or you can hop aboard RiverRush and test out what the Dollywood Splash Country website says is the only water coaster in the state where you'll "experience four drops along 1,175 feet of track that thrills with multiple hairpin turns and dark tunnels." It's like a roller coaster without the metal track. You'll go up and down and all around and soaking wet in the mountain sun the whole time. If, for some reason, you haven't managed to get your fill of excitement here, the Dollywood Amusement Park is right down the road.

Enchanted Forest Water Safari - Old Forge, NY

Like Splish Splash, this upstate New York water park claims to be the largest water theme park in New York. Since Enchanted Forest Water Safari uses the phrase "water theme park" instead of "water park," the two aquatic vacation destinations might make two different yet almost identical claims preventing one from suing the other. Regardless of its legal size-ranking status, Water Safari will provide visitors with just as much entertainment as its maybe-rival, though in a slightly different way.

The park has more than 50 attractions in all, and unlike Splish Splash, this number includes classic amusement park attractions like bumper cars, go-carts, and a Ferris wheel. As the Water Safari website explains, between Water Safari and the connected Calypso's Cove, you can add minigolf and arcade games to a day filled with water slides and raft rides. Visitors can also rent private cabanas to lounge in the sun or rest between rides away from bustling crowds. Add in the petting zoo, circus performances, live music, and an enchanted forest filled with living stories, and Water Safari has nearly everything you could want in the way of summertime entertainment.

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon - Lake Buena Vista, FL

When visiting Florida, it's hard not to take a trip to Walt Disney World Resort since it's the largest theme park and arguably one of the most magical places in the world, even if the lines at Disney World can be on the longer side. Inside this wonderful, imagination-stirring destination is an equally magnificent water park known as Typhoon Lagoon.

Since each area of the theme park is like stepping into a new world, you can expect to lounge in sandy beach-themed shacks while sipping on tropical drinks while you dry out your pruney fingers and toes. The whole family can enjoy a white water raft ride at Miss Adventure Falls that takes adventurers through a hunt for lost treasure. A fruit factory-themed water coaster takes pairs through one of three speeding rides, dealer's choice, at Crush 'N' Gusher.

Each of the attractions at Typhoon Lagoon comes with an in-depth story that drives the theme home and makes visitors feel like they're truly on an adventure. Among their other fun attractions, Typhoon Lagoon has the largest wave pool in North America — called the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool — complete with waves taller than the average person, according to the Walt Disney World website.

Water World - Federal Heights, CO

Water World in Federal Heights, Colorado, is right near Denver, making it an ideal summer vacation destination for anyone looking to enjoy the thrilling entertainment of a water park and the majestic Colorado mountain views. This park has claimed to be "America's Largest Water Park" on its YouTube channel, and though that claim seems to be thrown around a lot and can't be true for everyone, this is undoubtedly a park worth checking out.

Among Water World's attractions, visitors will be transported back to the Jurassic on the flowing raft ride Voyage to the Center of the Earth — animatronic dinosaurs included. Faster thrill rides like racing slides where you and your friends plummet downward at breakneck speeds side-by-side and a raft ride where you're spun around a bowl and flushed out like toilet water will have you screaming with excitement (animatronic toilet paper not included).

If visitors at Water World are looking for a private place to rest, the park has the means to make that happen by offering cabana rentals and two-person bungalows for those looking for a more intimate setting.

LEGOLAND Florida Water Park - Winter Haven, FL

When someone goes to LEGOLAND Florida for the first time, they discover a world of fun they didn't know they'd been missing. The amusement park is an outright wonderful time that both children and adults should experience at least once. If you didn't already know, LEGOLAND Florida, in the town of Winter Haven between Orlando and Tampa, has a water park that follows the same themes that make the theme park unforgettable, as their website shows.

LEGOLAND Water Park's Build-a-Raft Lazy River is arguably one of their coolest rides. As you might expect from a place with a theme revolving around tiny, interlocking building blocks, their interpretation of lazy river lets you do more than float around. Visitors at the Build-a-Raft lazy river get to put their engineering skills to the test by creating a personalized raft out of oversized LEGOs.

Another unique attraction includes building LEGO boats and racing them against your friends at Build-A-Boat. Unfortunately, these are miniature boats that you can't ride on. Maybe someday LEGOLAND will let tourists sail the seas on their own LEGO pirate vessels, but until then, tourists can satiate their taste for adventure on a number of large water slides.

Raging Waters - Los Angeles, CA

Though many people in other parts of the country may only know California by its beach and celebrity culture, The Golden State is home to numerous theme parks, like the popular Knott's Berry Farm and water parks. And as far as water parks go, Raging Waters in Los Angeles is the best of them, at least according to their website.

Don't think you'll find yourself bored at Raging Waters for a second. This park has around 50 attractions, and it wouldn't be easy to sample them all in a single day, especially if you were to lose track of time chasing your children in their 30,000-square-foot water playground. While it would be possible to watch the day flow by while bobbing with the surf of a wave pool holding 1 million gallons, for the thrill-seekers, it's best to check out some of their more exciting attractions.

Neptune's Fury, Thunder Rapids, and Dragon's Den will send your whole group on exciting raft adventures. Bombs Away will have you and a buddy practically falling for 300 feet of a confusing sensation that blends terror with joy. And when you're all tuckered out from the excitement, you can refuel at one of several eateries. What a fantastic day.

Wings and Waves Waterpark - McMinnville, Oregon

Though Wings and Waves might sound like a pub and grill specializing in buffalo sauce, it's a must-visit indoor water park nestled into the Pacific Northwest — McMinnville, Oregon, to be exact. It won't be hard to recognize this park from the street since it's likely the only place in the area (or anywhere) with a 747 on its roof.

Wings and Waves gets its name from the same concept that makes it such a unique place to visit. This park is actually part of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, and the attractions are themed accordingly. Remember the 747 on the roof? It's a real plane, and, as King 5 Seattle explains, serves as the jumping-off point for four different water slides.

A replica helicopter above the children's play area periodically dumps hundreds of gallons of water on those below. A wave pool and vortex pool will test your ability to stay oriented. All in all, it's a great place to spend a day.