In two hours or less by car, you can get to any of the following outdoor water parks to cool off and have a blast this summer with your kids. Although there's no shortage of thrill rides and slides at these places, you don't have to be a daredevil (or of a certain height) to enjoy them. There are play areas for young children, wave pools, family raft rides, and lazy rivers for those of us who don't need to plummet a down a very tall slide to have fun. Some of the parks are dedicated to water attractions and others are part of a larger theme park, but they all offer plenty of chances to get completely soaked.
Geronimo Falls is fun with friends. Photo courtesy of Six Flags New England
1. Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags New England—Agawam
Six Flags is home to New England's largest water park, Hurricane Harbor, with everything from one of the largest wave pools in the country to multi-passenger rafting adventures. Good to know: The water park is pretty serious about enforcing its rules.
2. The H2O at Cape Cod Inflatable Park—West Yarmouth
With its grand opening in the summer of 2018, this splashy addition to the inflatable fun park has become a must-stop for many Cape-bound families. There's a lazy river and lily pad "walks," but thrill seekers will head straight for the four large, inflated slides. Hint: If you're heading for an overnight (or two), consider a stay at the Cape Cod Family Resort; booking entitles you to two free H2O park passes each day of your stay.
3. Water Wizz—East Wareham
Water Wizz is packed with watery fun ranging from a family pool with multi-age activities to super high thrill slides called "Devil's Peak." If the place looks familiar, that might be because the park has been in two feature films!
4. Breezy Picnic Grounds—Douglas
This little gem in the Massachusetts side of the Blackstone Valley delivers old-fashioned fun in a natural setting: The three 300-foot slides abut a swimming lake and spacious, grassy, beautifully maintained picnic grounds.
5. Water Country—Portsmouth, NH
Water Country offers plenty of ways to stay cool and have fun, from the Adventure River Ride that takes you through waterfalls, fountains and caves, to Triple Giant Slides, the Whirlpool, and white water adventures on Thunder Falls. Young children can have their own adventures as they slide down the arms of Ollie Octopus, climb on a pirate ship at Pirates' Lagoon, and explore the Tahiti Tree House.
Whale's Tale's 17 acres includes a lazy river and a 360-degree tube slide. Photo courtesy of the park
6. Whale's Tale Water Park—Lincoln, NH
There are a lot of bells and whistles at this White Mountain-area favorite, including a wave pool with "flow boarding" (sort of like surfing), loads of speedy slides and flumes, and a 360-degree tube slide. Rent a cabana for a more private experience.
7. Castaway Island at Canobie Lake Park—Salem, NH
Castaway Island at Canobie Lake Park has over 180 ways to get wet, and features water cannons, nine water slides, waterfalls, and other entertaining activities. Check the website for specials, which include reduced evening rates. Bonus: Parking is free.
8. Yawgoo Valley Water Park—Exeter, RI
The Yawgoo Valley ski area transforms in summertime to a fun-filled water park with crazy slides, pools, and a Tiki Bar with food and drinks. The best part: The water park is small enough that you can sit at the bar with an adult beverage while watching your kids go on the slides over and over again. Good to know: If you'd rather not share the park with 100 kids from day camp, check Yawgoo's Group Schedule before you go to find out whether any groups are booked during the time you're planning to visit.
Yawgoo Valley Water Park can be equally fun for kids and parents. Photo by Roberta B.
9. Water Wizz of Westerly—Westerly, RI
Water Wizz of Westerly is right across the street from the beach and makes for a fun afternoon break from the sand scene. It offers giant water slides, a speed slide, and the Little Dipper, which is gentle enough for young riders to enjoy.
10. Crocodile Cove at Lake Compounce—Bristol, CT
Lake Compounce's Crocodile Cove is home to multiple wave pools, water slides, and special areas designed for young children. There's even an actual lake.
11. Funtown Splashtown USA—Saco, ME
If you're headed up the Maine coast for a family vacation, Splashtown's Family Fun Lagoon, thrilling slides, and pirate-themed play area beckon. Good to know: Separate tickets can be purchased for Funtown and Splashtown, but the combo tickets are only a few dollars more, and parking is free, so why not make a full day of it?
Looking to splash inside? Check out our indoor water parks guide.