While there are no full-fledged outdoor water theme parks in NYC (yet), you don't have to go too far to find some awesome ones. We've rounded up 13 of our favorites for families in the tristate area, mostly in New Jersey, including beachside spots, and Pennsylvania, and all are less than a two-hour drive from Midtown Manhattan. There's also a great pick in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island. No two are alike: Each one offers different experiences and thrills.
Find more rides in our Theme and Water Parks Guide, including indoor water parks for those rainy or cold days.
Most all water parks along the East Coast open for the season over Memorial Day weekend and run through Labor Day weekend, but before you hop in the car, check the water parks' official websites to confirm hours and prices (sometimes you'll even find online-only ticket specials). Also, if you plan to visit a particular park more than once during the summer, consider buying a season pass.
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Tackle the slides at Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark in the Poconos.
Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark – Tannersville, Pennsylvania
309 Resort Drive
Open weekends beginning Memorial Day; daily from June 2 to Labor Day
Nestled in the Poconos, this is another winter ski resort that turns into a water park come summer. There are a variety of rides and slides, many geared toward older kids. Little ones should enjoy Kahuna Cove, which is located next to the Kahuna Lagoon Wave Pool, with gentle tipping buckets and interactive spray structures. The Pharaoh's Phortress play structure has eight water slides, a four-story-high tipping bucket, fountains, and spray guns. Mummy's Oasis debuted in 2016 for little kids; it features slides, sprinklers, and plenty of levers to adjust the wet, wild fun. Camel Cove allows kids and families to "control" the action of a giant bucket (that dumps all its water every few minutes) with various valves and levers. The Blue Nile Adventure River is a 1,000-foot-long ride that takes passengers on a relaxing journey through waterfalls, past geysers, and across bubbling waters. Don’t want to get wet? The Adventure Zone has rock climbing and other dry action. Cabanas, strollers, and lockers are all available to rent.
Casino Pier & Breakwater Beach Waterpark – Seaside Heights, New Jersey
Casino Beach Pier, 800 Ocean Terrace
Open weekends beginning Memorial Day; daily from mid-June to Labor Day
When it comes to the Jersey Shore, it seems like the philosophy is too much is never enough. Casino Pier offers loads of over-the-top fun like classic amusement park rides, an antique carousel, an arcade, and go-karts, all right along the Seaside Heights boardwalk. Meanwhile, Breakwater Beach is a state-of-the-art water park with a massive interactive play area, including water slides, flumes, and a huge kiddie water play area.
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Relax in the shallow pool at Dorney Park.
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom – Allentown, Pennsylvania
3830 Dorney Park Road
Open Memorial Day weekend and daily from June 1 to Labor Day
Wildwater Kingdom features a slew of water slides, two gigantic wave pools, a pair of lazy rivers, and three kids' water play areas specifically designed for the park's youngest visitors. Of course, there's also Dorney Park with its amusement park rides, midway games, arcades, live shows, and special sections like Planet Snoopy, inspired by the beloved Peanuts pup. Wildwater Kingdom's amenities include poolside cabanas and a wide variety of dining options. New in 2018: A Pre-K pass lets kids ages 3-5 enter for free all season long. You must register online before May 28 and visit to activate it before June 29.
Get soaked with a 1,000-gallon dumping bucket at The Land of Make Believe & Pirate's Cove.
The Land of Make Believe & Pirate's Cove – Hope, New Jersey
354 Great Meadows Road, Route 611
Open weekends beginning Memorial Day; daily from June 16 through Labor Day
Note: Only cash and Discover cards are accepted.
A true family amusement park with rustic, old-fashioned charm, the Land of Make Believe mixes a traditional country-fair experience with thrilling rides. Pirate's Cove is where you'll find the water attractions, including America's Largest Wading Pool, pirate-themed water slides, rides, and a water playground. For nostalgia buffs, there's a Civil War locomotive ride, a World War II cockpit, a hayride, and a talking scarecrow. Families can go back and forth between the two distinct sections, and if you need to get out of the sun, you can hit the indoor arcade and impress the kids with your skee-ball skills. Food is available for purchase, but you can also bring your own and eat in the spacious picnic area. Bonus: You pay just one ticket price for both the amusement park and the water park.
Enjoy slides, pools, and an interactive play area at Mountain Creek Waterpark.
Mountain Creek Waterpark – Vernon, New Jersey
200 Route 94
Open weekends beginning June 9; daily from June 21
Winter ski resort turned summer water park, Mountain Creek has about two-dozen wet attractions, including Fishing Village, a multilevel, interactive play fort with water slides and spray cannons. There are family-friendly slides as well as plenty of high-thrill slides and even cliffs to dive off of for older kids and adults.
Runaway Rapids Family Waterpark – Keansburg, New Jersey
275 Beachway Avenue
Open Memorial Day Weekend and daily from June 2 through Labor Day
Run by the folks behind the adjacent Keansburg Amusement Park, this summer family favorite features more than 18 slides, splash zones, a kiddie lagoon, a toddler play area, and a crazy lazy river. Lockers and dressing rooms are available, along with lounge chairs and umbrellas. There is also a full-service snack bar. If you want to enjoy the attractions in both parks, you can opt to buy a combo ticket.
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Catch some waves at Sahara Sam's FlowRider surf simulator.
Sahara Sam's Oasis Beach Club Outdoor Water Park – West Berlin, New Jersey
535 North Route 73
Open daily Memorial Day through Labor Day and select weekends in September
We've been raving about Sahara Sam's massive indoor water park for years. But in 2013, the operators opened an adjacent, two-acre outdoor water park called the Beach Club, featuring the 25-meter Blue Lagoon leisure pool, a children’s splash zone and Rip & Roll, a 12,000-square-foot wave pool. Best of all: You pay one price for access to the indoor and outdoor water parks.
Hop aboard the Good Ship Sesame at Sesame Place.
Sesame Place – Langhorne, Pennsylvania
100 Sesame Road
Open weekends in May, September through December; daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, though water attractions open May 25, 2018, and close in early fall
The world's only theme park based on the award-winning TV series Sesame Street, Sesame Place isn't exclusively a water park. However, it offers lots of water attractions and fans of the show are sure to have fun, both wet and dry. There's the interactive Count’s Splash Castle, with more than 90 play elements including a 1,000-gallon tipping bucket. Big Bird’s Rambling River offers a leisurely float along a 1,000-foot waterway of bubbling, swirling waters with surprises like water-filled tipping coconuts, waterfalls, and spraying geysers. Got older kids? Don't worry, there are things for them to do, too, like Sky Splash, an exhilarating ride that takes passengers from gentle ponds with whirlpool-like jet streams to slides with speeds of up to 20 feet per second, culminating with a final plunge into a pool of water. Amenities include cabanas, strollers, and lockers for rent. Read our full review of Seasame Place for more details. Landlubbers will appreciate the addition of Oscar's Wacky Taxi, and everyone can appreciate its certification as the world's first Certified Autism Center theme park.
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor – Jackson, New Jersey
1 Six Flags Boulevard
Weekends from mid-May; daily from June 22 through Labor Day
Located in Ocean County, the gateway to the Jersey Shore, this Six Flags water park offers 12 attractions, from splashy play areas for tots to thrilling slides. The toddler-friendly Caribbean Cove attraction debuted in 2016 and offers 45 acres water fun with a gradual-entry pool, slides, water guns, and a giant dumping bucket. Other kid-friendly attractions include the 696,000-gallon Blue Lagoon wave pool, the Discovery Bay water playground, and a float down the Taak It Eez Ee Creek: a 2,150-foot lazy river featuring mild waterfalls and rapids. The park also offers some nice amenities like cabanas, a nursing station, and stroller rentals. Of course, if you hit Hurricane Harbor, you may also want to visit the nearby Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari. You can even buy a two-park season pass that gives you unlimited access to both, as well as other Six Flags theme parks in the U.S. and Canada.
From the littlest ones to the daredevils, SplashDown Beach has it all.
SplashDown Beach – Fishkill, New York
16 Old Route 9 West
Open weekends Memorial Day through mid-June; daily from mid-June through Labor Day
Many of our readers have written in to say how much they love this water park, which underwent a major expansion a few years ago and welcomes a new slide in 2018. The Megladon is a high-thrill raft slide that will give you a zero-gravity experience. Beyond the new ride, it's a particularly great destination for preschoolers, with attractions such as the Splash Works area featuring slides, geysers, and buckets that dump water on their heads, the Croc Creek Wavy Lazy River and the spinning teacup-style ride the Water Whirler. There are more thrilling attractions for older visitors, too, like the four-story Bullet Bowl slide and another zero-gravity ride, the Humunga Half-Pipe. Cabanas are available to rent. Read our full review of SplashDown Beach.
Race down Splish Splash's Bootlegger Run with the whole family.
Splish Splash – Calverton, Long Island
2549 Splish Splash Drive
Open weekends Memorial Day to mid-June; daily from mid-June through Labor Day
Often cited by families as one of the best water parks in the country, Long Island's Splish Splash has 96 acres of rides, slides, and pools. Preschoolers can play in the kiddie pools, slip down the elephant slide, take a soak surrounded by bubbles and geysers, and romp in a shipwreck-themed water playground. There are even toddler swings that dip tiny toes in the water. Although many rides have height restrictions (like the Cliff Diver, which drops you eight stories in three seconds), little kids can ride several of them (not that one) if clad in a life jacket and accompanied by a parent. If you become waterlogged, take in a family show while you drip-dry. Cabana rentals are also available so you can relax in the shade when you need a break from all the sun and fun. Another unique Splish Splash attribute: When the park was built, the developers didn't cut down the trees; they just worked around them. So it's very pretty and comparatively eco-friendly. Find more Long Island water slides and theme parks from our sister site.
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Tomahawk Lake Water Park has a laid-back, rustic vibe.
Tomahawk Lake Water Park – Sparta, New Jersey
155 Tomahawk Trail
Open weekends Memorial Day through mid-June; daily from June 18 through Labor Day
Note: The park accepts cash only!
A water park and a state park, Tomahawk Lake is set on 200 acres of parkland and has a variety of water slides and a water play area. There's a beach on a 20-acre lake, boat rentals for an added fee (pedal boats, swan boats, bumper boats, and kiddie canoes), a picnic area, sports fields, and miniature golf—it kind of feels like summer camp. In addition, there's an outdoor beer garden and old-fashioned country food concessions that sell homemade doughnuts, fresh popcorn, char-broiled hot dogs and hamburgers, and cotton candy. However, let's be clear: There's nothing flashy here. If you come expecting state-of-the-art facilities, you’ll be disappointed. The mini-golf course doesn't have windmills, the kiddie area is a roped off part of the lake with some plaster animals to climb, and there's a horseshoe pit. Need we say more? But if you're looking for simple country fun in a place where you don't have to deal with insane water park prices and crowds, this spot is for you.
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Quassy has something for everyone, complete with a gorgeous lake view.
Quassy Amusement & Waterpark – Middlebury, Connecticut
2132 Middlebury Road
Open Memorial Day through Labor Day
The Splash Away Bay water park at Quassy includes seven attractions catering to all ages including Slide City, a five-slide complex for the under-48-inches set, which opened in 2016. Admission prices include access to all the rides at the attached amusement park, too. The beautiful lakeside location and view make you leave all your city worries behind for the day.
A previous version of this post was first published in June 2009, but it has since been updated and revised.
All photos courtesy of the parks.