New Jersey's most thrilling water park, Hurricane Harbor, reopens to the public July 23.
New Jersey's most thrilling water park, Hurricane Harbor, reopens to the public July 23.

Best Water Theme Parks Near NYC for Families in 2020

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 10 of our favorites for families in the tri-state area that are welcoming visitors for summer 2020. Most are in New Jersey—including beachside spots—and Pennsylvania, and all are less than a two-hour drive from Midtown Manhattan.

While we're often drawn to the local parks in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island, New York state has yet to give water parks the green light to reopen.

Find more rides in our Theme and Water Parks Guide, including indoor water parks for those rainy or cold days.

Editor's note: Most of the parks require all guests to wear masks and practice social distancing. Please check each park's website to confirm hours and ticket availability. 

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Tackle the slides at Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark in the Poconos.

1. Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark – Tannersville, Pennsylvania

2021 update: Opening weekend is June 11-13 and season opens June 17. 
Nestled in the Poconos, this is a 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.

RELATED: Top Water Parks For New Jersey Kids and Families

Cool off in the wave pool! Breakwater Beach Waterpark.

2. Casino Pier & Breakwater Beach Waterpark – Seaside Heights, New Jersey

2021 update: Casino Pier is currently open but with limited hours before Memorial Day weekend. Breakwater Beach opens Memorial Day weekend. 
Open daily through 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.

3. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom – Allentown, Pennsylvania

2021 update: Dorney Park reopens May 22 and Wildwater Kingdom reopens May 29.
Wildwater Kingdom features a slew of water slides, two giant wave pools, a pair of lazy rivers, and three 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.

Get soaked with a 1,000-gallon dumping bucket at The Land of Make Believe & Pirate's Cove.

4. The Land of Make Believe & Pirate's Cove – Hope, New Jersey

2021 update: The Land of Make Believe opens Memorial Day Weekend and admission to the water park is included in theme park tickets. 
Open daily through Labor Day and weekend of September 11 and 12.
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. A new thrill ride and an eco-adventure safari ride debuted last season. 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 and the water parks.

RELATED: Swimming Lakes Near NYC For a Family Dip

Enjoy slides, pools, and an interactive play area at Mountain Creek Waterpark.

5. Mountain Creek Waterpark – Vernon, New Jersey

2021 update: Opening dates are TBA. 
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.

6. Runaway Rapids Family Waterpark – Keansburg, New Jersey

2021: Opening Memorial Day weekend. 
Open daily through Labor Day
Run by the folks behind the adjacent Keansburg Amusement Park, this summer family favorite features more than 18 slides, plus 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.

RELATED: Best NYC Splash Pads and Sprinkler Playgrounds

Catch some waves at Sahara Sam's FlowRider surf simulator.

7. Sahara Sam's Oasis Beach Club Outdoor Water Park – West Berlin, New Jersey

2021 update: The indoor water park is currently open Thursday-Sunday. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. Outdoor water park opens Memorial Day weekend.
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.

RELATED: Indoor Water Parks Near NYC for Year-Round Splashing

Hop aboard the Good Ship Sesame at Sesame Place.

8. Sesame Place – Langhorne, Pennsylvania

2021 update: Currently open on the weekends. 
Water attractions opening Memorial Day weekend through September 12. 
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 Sesame Place for more details. Everyone can appreciate its certification as the world's first Certified Autism Center theme park.

9. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor – Jackson, New Jersey

2021 update: Opening May 15 on weekends only. Tickets must be purchased online in advance.
Starting June 18, park will be open daily.  
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. A zero-entry pool opened last season. The toddler-friendly Caribbean Cove offers tons of water fun with a 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 and a nursing station. Of course, if you hit Hurricane Harbor, you may also want to visit the nearby Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari, including the chance to take your own car through its drive-thru safari.

Quassy has something for everyone, complete with a gorgeous lake view.

10. Quassy Amusement & Waterpark – Middlebury, Connecticut

2021 update: Rides are open on weekends and waterpark opens Memorial Day weekend. 
Open daily through Labor Day weekend and weekend of September 11. 
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. 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.

11. Diggerland's Water Main – Berlin, New Jersey

2021 update: Diggerland, the construction-themed theme park open on weekends and Water Main opens weekend of May 22. 
Open daily through weekend of September 11 and on September 16. 
The Water Main includes a tot splash area, main pool, and slide tower, as well as a number of pool activities, including a challenge course and basketball. There are cabana rentals, too. Admission to the water park is included in the ticket price for the theme park, so visitors can enjoy both options on one trip.

12. Splish Splash – Calverton, Long Island

2021 update: Splish Splash reopens Memorial Day weekend. 
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 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.

13. Tomahawk Lake Water Park – Sparta, New Jersey

2021 update: Tomahawk Lake opens Memorial Day weekend. 
Note: The park accepts cash only! Open daily through Labor Day. Closed week of week of June 7 and June 14-16.
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, even with the addition of a new-in-2019 Apache Plunge raft slide that runs 610 feet in length. 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.

14. SplashDown Beach – Fishkill, New York

2021 update: SplashDown Beach has not reopened for 2021.
This water park underwent a major expansion a few years ago and welcomed a new slide in 2018: The Megladon, a high-thrill raft slide that gives 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.

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.

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