Best Outdoor Water Parks near NYC for Family Fun

Catch some thrills at Hurricane Harbor, the water park for kids at Six Flags Great Adventure and Safari.
Catch some thrills at Hurricane Harbor, the water park for kids at Six Flags Great Adventure and Safari.
5/5/23 - By Jody Mercier

While there are no full-fledged outdoor water parks in NYC, you don't have to go too far to find awesome water parks for kids. Below, we've rounded up 15 of our favorite water parks near NYC for families.

These tri-state area water parks include water parks in New Jersey—including the newest, set to open this summer in Atlantic City—and Pennsylvania, plus in-sate picks like the spectacular Splish Splash water park on Long Island.

No two are alike: Each one of these water parks for kids near NYC has different experiences and thrills, and all are within a two-hour drive of Midtown Manhattan.

Find more summer thrills in our Theme and Water Parks Guide, including indoor water parks for kids near NYC to explore on those rainy or cold days.


Sign up for our FREE newsletters to get posts like this delivered to your inbox.

Most of these water parks are open for weekends beginning in May and are open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.

Top Water Parks near NYC for Families

1. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom – Allentown, Pennsylvania

Wildwater Kingdom features a slew of water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, 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.

2. SplashDown Beach – Fishkill, New York

SplashDown Beach is a particularly great destination for preschoolers, with attractions like the Splash Works area that features slides, geysers, and buckets that dump water on their heads and the Croc Creek Wavy Lazy River. There are more thrilling attractions for older visitors, like the Megladon, a high-thrill raft slide that gives you a zero-gravity experience. The four-story Bullet Bowl slide, and another zero-gravity ride, the Humunga Half-Pipe, are a thrill a minute. Plus, new this summer is the Pelican Bay Water Playground, with kid-friendly slides and a huge bucket that dumps water. Cabanas are available to rent at this water park near NYC.

RELATED: Inflatable Water Parks near NYC to Cool Off

Water parks near NYC: Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark
Tackle the slides at Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark in the Poconos.

3. Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark – Tannersville, Pennsylvania

Nestled in the Poconos, this winter ski resort turns into a water park for kids near NYC come summer—and celebrates its 25th season this year. There are a variety of rides and slides, many geared toward older kids. Debuting this summer is the Rival Racer slide, which lets water lovers fly down the mountain in a wet-and-wild waterslide race. Little ones should enjoy Kahuna Cove, 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. For the little ones, check out the Mummy's Oasis, which features slides, sprinklers, and plenty of levers to adjust the wet, wild fun. 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? Camelback Mountain Adventures offers fun ranging from zip-lining to a mountain coaster and more.

RELATED: Check Out the 15 Top Water Parks in New Jersey

Water parks near NYC: Breakwater Beach
Cool off in the wave pool at Breakwater Beach Waterpark.

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

When it comes to fun along the boardwalks of 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 in New Jersey with a massive interactive play area, including water slides, flumes, and a huge water play area for little kids.

RELATED: Make Waves Year-Round at DreamWorks Water Park

Water parks near NYC: The Land of Make Believe and Pirate's Cove
Get soaked with a 1,000-gallon dumping bucket at The Land of Make Believe & Pirate's Cove.

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

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 farm, 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 and the water parks. But note that only cash and Discover cards are accepted.

6. Tomahawk Lake Water Park – Sparta, New Jersey

A water park and a state park, Tomahawk Lake is set on 200 acres of parkland and has various 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 ice cream, fresh popcorn, hot dogs and hamburgers, and cotton candy. However, let's be clear: There's nothing flashy here, except for maybe the 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.

RELATED: Swimming Lakes Near NYC For a Family Dip

Water parks near NYC: Mountain Creek
Enjoy slides, pools, and an interactive play area at Mountain Creek Waterpark.

7. Mountain Creek Waterpark – Vernon, New Jersey

A winter ski resort turned into one of the best summer water parks near NYC, 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, plenty of high-thrill slides, and even cliffs to dive off for older kids and adults. Also, note that the resort is cashless, so make sure you have your credit card with you.

RELATED: Ride a Thrilling Mountain Coaster near NYC this Summer

Water parks near NYC: Splish Splash
Hit the lazy river and more at Splish Splash Water Park.

8. Splish Splash Water Park – Calverton, Long Island

Often cited by families as one of the best water parks for kids 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 submarine slide, 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 Shotgun Falls, which drops you five feet), little kids can ride several clad in a life jacket and accompanied by a parent. 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.

RELATED: Long Island Water Slides and Theme Parks

Water parks near: NYC Runaway Rapids
Runaway Rapids offers plenty of family-friendly thrills with a cool boardwalk location.

9. Runaway Rapids Family Waterpark – Keansburg, New Jersey

Run by the folks behind the adjacent Keansburg Amusement Park, this water park near NYC is a summer family favorite, featuring 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: Indoor Water Parks for Kids near NYC

Water parks near NYC: Big Kahuna's
Catch some waves at Big Kahuna's FlowRider surf simulator.

10. Big Kahuna's Outdoor Water Park – West Berlin, New Jersey

We've loved the massive indoor water park at this NJ mainstay—formerly called Sahara Sam's—for years, and we feel the same way about its two-acre outdoor water park for kids, which features the 25-meter Mystic Shores leisure pool, a children’s splash zone, and Tidal Waves, a 12,000-square-foot wave pool.

11. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor – Jackson, New Jersey

Located in Ocean County, the gateway to our favorite Jersey Shore beaches, this Six Flags water park offers 12 attractions, from splashy play areas for tots to thrilling slides. 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. A new Splash Island tree house includes 14 little kid-friendly slides this summer. 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.

RELATED: How to Get to NYC Beaches by Ferry or Train

Water parks near NYC: Sesame Place
Cool down at the Count's Splash Castle at Sesame Place.

12. Sesame Place – Langhorne, Pennsylvania

The world's first 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. New this year: Bert & Ernie’s Splashy Shores, a "water adventure area" complete with lots of fun water play elements, like buckets and a spraying water tower. Amenities include cabanas, strollers, and lockers for rent. Everyone can appreciate its standing as the world's first Certified Autism Center theme park.

RELATED: Play Fountains in NYC Where Kids Can Get Totally Soaked

Water parks near NYC: Quassy water park
Quassy has something for everyone, complete with a gorgeous lake view.

13. Quassy Amusement & Waterpark – Middlebury, Connecticut

The Splash Away Bay water park at Quassy features eight attractions, including Slide City, a five-slide complex for the under-48-inch 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.

RELATED: Great Theme Parks and Amusement Parks near New Jersey

Water parks near NYC: Diggerland
Diggerland's Water Main offers plenty of wet-and-wild fun.

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

This construction-themed South Jersey amusement park is home to The Water Main, which includes a tot splash area, main pool, slide tower, and several 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. The park's newest expansion features a wave pool that generates waves nearly four feet high. The entrance is zero-depth allowing little ones to walk in and relax with the gentle waves while bigger kids can continue forward to face the larger waves at this water park near NYC.

15. Island Water Park at Showboat – Atlantic City, New Jersey

Get ready to head down to the already action-packed Atlantic City this summer: This season marks the debut of the new Island Water Park at Showboat, which includes a total of 11 water slides, a lazy river, a surfing feature, and lots of fun on dry land, including a zipline and Lucky Snake, a huge—we're talking 100,000-square feet!—arcade. The water park is housed under a retractable roof, so it provides all-seasons fun on the Jersey Shore.

Bonus: Legoland New York's Water Playground – Goshen, New York

While not a full-fledged water park, Legoland New York is set to debut its Water Playground over Memorial Day weekend. The towering Water Playground includes plenty of water slides plus sprinklers and tipping buckets. Splash in the surrounding pool and spend some time building and racing Lego boats. Admission to the Water Playground is included in your theme park ticket, and if that's not enough Lego action for you, more fun awaits at the on-site Legoland Hotel, whose swimming pool opens for the season the same weekend.

A previous version of this post was first published in June 2009, but it has since been updated and revised.

Photos courtesy of the parks

Places featured in this article: