Dreaming of warm waters and balmy temperatures? A tropical vacation may be out of the question, but an indoor water park venture is just as thrilling for kids—and a lot less debilitating to the budget. We've reviewed five large water parks that are within a one- to five-hour drive of Boston. Whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or a weekend escape, there are plenty of options for sneaking in some water fun before swimming season officially begins. No matter where you go, be sure to call ahead and check about special rates; and consider planning a trip for a weekday or weeknight outside of school vacation to steer clear of crowds.
CoCo Key, Danvers
CoCo Key Water Park Boston North Shore—Danvers
CoCo Key is the closest water park option for Bostonians, clocking in at just under an hour from the city. Attached to the DoubleTree by Hilton in Danvers, visitors can make CoCo Key a day trip or an overnight. Younger kids will love the kiddie pool with its theater and the lazy river options, while older kids will enjoy the four wild waterslides and the obstacle park area. CoCo Key has a snack bar and cabanas for rent, and an arcade for when you get sick of the water. If you decide to make it a day trip, don’t forget to bring your own towels–the park doesn’t offer them. Also, CoCo Key doesn’t have cubbies and charges $7/$10 for small or large single-use lockers, so plan accordingly.
Costs: Day passes are available for $45 per adult or $35 per child under 48” tall.
Great Wolf Lodge, Fitchburg
Great Wolf Lodge—Fitchburg
Great Wolf Lodge New England the newest and splashiest arrival on the regional water park scene—the latest of 16 parks in the Great Wolf chain. Visitors to Great Wolf Lodge must be "residents" of the resort and cannot buy day passes, so you'll pay for an overnight stay whether you actually bunk down in one of their rooms (which are fairly spacious and nicely appointed) or not. Great Wolf keeps the water temperatures at a constant 84 degrees and offers all kinds of rides. Try out the raft built for four, the water fort tree house, five waterslides, or various pools for the whole family. Great Wolf Lodge also offers activities beyond the pool—including a climbing wall, ropes course, XD theater, bowling alley, mini golf, arcade—and more. Great Wolf also has a kid spa and a fitness center if you’re looking for down time after your water adventure.
Costs: Room rates start at $149 for a deluxe queen suite for four people.
Cape Codder, Hyannis
Cape Codder Resort & Spa—Hyannis
The only indoor water park on Cape Cod, the Cape Codder is about an hour and 45 minutes from Boston. The Cape Codder has four water slides, a special area for small children with small waterslides and a dumping bucket, a 24-person Jacuzzi, and a lazy river with a waterfall, rapids and a spouting whale. Visitors love the wave pool and the heated outdoor pool. Guests of the Resort can enjoy the Beach Plum Spa, fitness center, and the nearby beaches and towns.
Costs: Daytrippers can buy passes for $40 per person, or $30 per child under 48” tall.
Kahuna Laguna, New Hampshire
Kahuna Laguna—North Conway, NH
Kahuna Laguna is New Hampshire’s largest water park, and about a three-hour drive from Boston. Part of the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort, Kahuna Laguna offers four waterslides for kids over four feet tall, as well as a wave pool, basketball court and 25-person hot tub. An adventure tower offers slides, with water cannons and a tipping bucket that will drench kids completely. Little people will love the Little Kahuna play area with its slides and shallow pool.
Costs: Visitors to Kahuna Laguna can buy day passes for $40 or visit as part of their stay at the Red Jacket Resort or its sister property, Fox Ridge Resort.
Pump House, Vermont
Pump House Indoor Waterpark—Jay, VT
At more than four hours from Boston, Pump House is definitely the farthest from Boston, but the trip would be well worth it. Located at Jay Peak ski resort, The Pump House offers waterslides, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, and even a poolside bar. Thrill seekers will love La Chute and its 65-foot drop at 45 miles per hour, and visitors seeking a more relaxing experience can try out the Big River lazy river. Pump House also has an arcade, surf shop and snack bar, in addition to all the activities to be found at Jay Peak. Be warned: the only way to ensure admission is by scheduling in advance online or booking a lodging package. Be sure to reach out to the park before making the drive.
Costs: Day passes are $39 a day, or $29 for kids 4-14.
Photos courtesy of (from top to bottom): Great Wolf Lodge, CoCo Key, Great Wolf Lodge, the Cape Codder Resort, Kahuna Laguna, and Pump House.