Small sprinklers for small kids make for a fun day of water exploration at Sahara Sam's.
Small sprinklers for small kids make for a fun day of water exploration at Sahara Sam's.

Best Water Parks for Toddlers Near NYC

When temperatures soar, there's always New York's FREE neighborhood pools or sprinklers for a quick cool down with the kids, but on particularly hot summer days, nothing beats the heat like a trip to a water park near NYC

Families with toddlers in tow aren't looking for big slides or big waves, though, so we've rounded up our top splash pads for the preschool set. Prepare to find toddler-sized attractions, along with perks such as nursing stations and FREE mini life jackets—and don't worry, there's plenty of big-kid fun to go around, too. So read on for details on 12 parks within two hours of New York City that cater to the littlest water explorers.

Check out our NYC Beaches, Pools, and Water Fun Guide for more family-friendly ideas on how to cool down in the city and beyond.

Be sure to click through to each website for details on hours and prices, which vary by the season.

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Camelbeach's Mummy's Oasis offers water slides and more, all sized for those under 48 inches tall.

Camelbeach Mountain Water Park – Tannersville, Pennsylvania
309 Resort Drive
Open weekends beginning Memorial Day; daily from June 14 to Labor Day
About one hour and 45 minutes from Midtown

While this Poconos water park is farther flung than other picks on this list, it debuted an entire section devoted to little squirts in 2016, making it worth the trip for parents of preschoolers and toddlers. Mummy's Oasis provides three levels of fun for the park's smallest visitors with pint-sized versions of popular attractions such as slides, tipping buckets, sprinklers, and geysers to splash in. A shallow-entry pool with plenty of adjacent seating for mom and dad means you can lounge while your little one plays.

Good to know: Children ages 2 and younger enter for free. There is an on-site, shaded picnic area where guests can reserve a table for $20. Camelbeach is the only water park on this list where you can enjoy picnic food brought from home. Guests are allowed to bring one non-glass water bottle and fountains are available for refills. Toddler-friendly snacks such as Goldfish, graham crackers, and cereal are available at many concession stands. Looking for more than a day trip? Investigate the stay-and-play options that give you access to Aquatopia, the resort's indoor water park.

RELATED: Best Theme Parks for Preschoolers Near NYC

Kids are sure to have a blast at the Buccaneer ship in 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 15 through Labor Day
About 90 minutes by car from Midtown

The Land of Make Believe has been around for more than 60 years, providing family-friendly entertainment that's more affordable than big-time amusement parks. One ticket grants access to both the dry and wet attractions, and there is plenty of little kid-friendly fun to be had within Pirate's Cove. Children will have a blast climbing on the half-submerged Buccaneer Pirate Ship or hitching a ride on mom or dad's inner tube for a dash down Blackbeard's Action River Ride. Splashing in the tamer Pirate's Cove Wading Pool and Slide is sure to be a hit with preschoolers, and there are plenty of toddler-friendly attractions on land, including a carousel, a Jump Around Frog ride, and even a barnyard full of live animals.

Good to know: Parking is free and food is available for purchase on site at nine locations. No strollers are allowed in the water park. Be sure to pack a waterproof diaper cover or swim diaper for all diaper-wearing children. Payment is by cash or Discover Card only.

Quassy Amusement Park and Water Park – Middlebury, Connecticut
2132 Middlebury Road
Open Memorial Day through Labor Day
About one hour and 45 minutes from Midtown

This small, family-friendly spot in Connecticut is one of the most budget-friendly picks on our list. An all-day pass runs just $25.99 for kids under 45 inches and $29.99 for taller tykes and adults. Youngsters will love the Fish Pond, a splash pad for the under-4-foot set. There's also a Slide City full of pint-sized slides for the not-so-daring crowd and Saturation Station, a giant water play area with tipping buckets, a water slide, plenty of water cannons to fire, and more wet-n-wild fun. Chill out or dry off with a visit to the nearby Quassy Beach for some fun in the sun and sand.

Good to know: Quassy's water park attractions are just a slice of the fun to be had here. There are plenty of kiddie rides in the adjoining amusement park and admission covers both sides, so pack a change of clothes!

The open water play area makes Runaway Rapids a great place for your little one to splash and stomp around. 

Runaway Rapids Family Waterpark – Keansburg, New Jersey
275 Beachway Avenue
Open Memorial Day Weekend and daily from June 1 through Labor Day
Just over an hour from Midtown

If you have a typical toddler, they hate car rides and that car seat—Runaway Rapids earns its spot on our list because it's so close to the city. Our New Jersey Mommy Poppins team also loves it for its modest size, which makes it easier to keep an eye on kids. Located right along the Jersey Shore, and operated by the adjacent Keansburg Amusement Park, you'll find a kiddie lagoon and toddler reef that includes mini slides that even the smallest tots can enjoy. These interactive splash zones operate in less than a foot of water, perfect for little ones. If you want to enjoy the attractions in both parks—and there are plenty of toddler rides at this throwback park—you can opt to buy a combo ticket. Plus, there's a deeply discounted price for those under 42 inches ($14.95!) and free life jackets. Tickets run for either two or three hours, which keep crowds and lines down, so cool down and head back to the city for a well-earned car nap (for the kid, not you), or head to the FREE beach nearby (a rarity in New Jersey) to round out the day.

Good to know: Pregnant women are not allowed on the water slides.

Throw a life jacket on your toddler and take a leisurely ride down the lazy river at Sesame Place.

Sesame Place – Langhorne, Pennsylvania
100 Sesame Road
Open weekends in May and September; daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, though water attractions open Memorial Day weekend, and close in early fall
About 90 minutes by car from Midtown 

What toddler can resist Elmo? While Elmo and his many landlocked rides and Sesame Place attractions (including a recently redesigned neighborhood your tot will recognize from the iconic show) draw you into this popular destination, there are plenty of water options to keep cool. The Count's Splash Castle is a not-to-be-missed water playground, as is the Big Bird-themed lazy river. A water slide named for Oscar's bestie, Slimey the Worm, a 75-foot-long slip-n-slide, and a 10,000-square-foot Teeny Tiny Tidal Wave Pool are all great features. Get there early (we know you're already up!) to eat breakfast with some of Sesame Street's beloved characters. Check Sesame Place's site for the latest promotions, and purchase discounted tickets and meal deals before you go. The park also has a nursing room, changing stations in every restroom, and a pair of bottle-warming stations. It's the world's first theme park to be named a Certified Autism Center. Check out our review for more insider tips.

Good to know: Food is available for purchase throughout the park and coolers are permitted, but only baby formula, baby food, and small snacks (fruit, pretzels, sealed non-alcoholic beverages) are permitted. Exit and re-entry is permitted, but be sure to have your hand stamped by staff as you exit if you plan on returning. Double-stroller rentals go for $25 and can booked online ahead of time.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor – Jackson, New Jersey
1 Six Flags Boulevard (GPS alternative: 539 Monmouth Road)
Weekends in May and September; daily from June 1 through Labor Day
About 90 minutes from Midtown

While the amusement park at this spot is undoubtedly better known, the freestanding water park offers good options for the youngest in your crew: Caribbean Cove, a new kid-friendly section opened in 2016 and another zero-entry pool is debuting this season with the addition of Calypso Cove, a 100,000-gallon pool with an obelisk-style fountain and geysers. Mom and dad can drip-dry on the nearby lounge chairs while they supervise. In addition to Caribbean Cove, youngsters will enjoy the park's take on a lazy river, the Taak It Eez Ee Creek, and the Blue Lagoon wave pool.

Good to know: Cabanas and strollers are available to rent. Outside food isn't allowed in the park but you can use the park's "Play Money," a reloadable, waterproof, scannable wristband, to purchase food and drinks throughout the park. Unused balances will be refunded at day's end.

The Splash Works section at SplashDown Beach is designed for kids 42 inches and under. 

SplashDown Beach – Fishkill, New York
16 Old Route 9 West
Open Memorial Day weekend and daily June 1 through Labor Day
About one hour and 40 minutes by car from Midtown

This water park, which bills itself as "America's Biggest Little Water Park," keeps little customers safe and happy at its Splash Works section, which is limited to tots under 42 inches. This allows preschoolers to safely test out mini water slides, geysers, and dumping buckets without fear of being splashed by overzealous big kids. Check out the Shipwreck Lagoon if you have school-aged kids and toddlers to entertain, or the whole family can enjoy old-fashioned pool-time fun at the Coconut Pool or Monster Wave Pool.

Good to know: Kids 2 and younger must wear the park's $9 swim diaper, but the purchase grants the tot free admission, including future visits. Outside food and beverages are not allowed, though there is food available for purchase throughout the park and private cabana rentals come with waiter service. An adjacent picnic area is the perfect spot for a midday nosh. Read our full review for more tips and info on visiting SplashDown.

Splish Splash – Calverton, Long Island
2549 Splish Splash Drive
Open weekends Memorial Day to mid-June; daily from mid-June through Labor Day
About 90 minutes by car from Midtown

Options for the preschool set might be more limited at this Mommy Poppins favorite, but there are enough attractions to keep them entertained. Head to the Kiddie Cove, where kids can climb on an octopus in the pool or experience the tipping buckets and mild water slide at Monsoon Lagoon. When you need to dry off, visit the "Parrots of the Caribbean" show, featuring trained parrots. Kids can enjoy some of the larger attractions, including a pair of wave pools, but those under 48 inches are required to have a life jacket, which can be borrowed free at Murph the Surf's Rentals.

Good to know: Cabana rentals, though pricey, are available. Outside food or drink is not permitted with the exception of unopened water bottles. Food is available for purchase throughout the park. Picnic areas are located outside the main entrance and in designated spots between the parking lots. Parking is $15 per car.

RELATED: Family-Friendly Guide to the Hamptons and North Fork

Kid's Cove at Wildwater Kingdom offers plenty of room for toddler romping. 

Wildwater Kingdom – Allentown, Pennsylvania
3830 Dorney Park Road
Open Memorial Day weekend and daily from June 1 to Labor Day
About two hours by car from Midtown

Wildwater Kingdom, the water park portion of Dorney Park, abounds with fun for the pint-sized set. The Lollipop Lagoon has playful animal fountains, squirt guns, and an abundance of mini water slides. In Kid's Cove, there is more room to romp, splash, and climb. Splash Landing houses a zero-entry pool perfect for toddling legs. Parents are encouraged to frolic with their kids on these small attractions or escort them on one of the family-friendly attractions in the main water park such as Island Water Works, Runaway River, or a wave pool.

Good to know: The popular Pre-K pass returns this year and lets kids ages 3-5 enter for FREE all season long. You must register online before May 27 and visit to activate it before June 28. No outside food or drink is permitted with the exception of one sealed water bottle per person. Food is available for purchase throughout the park and picnic areas are located at designated spots in the parking lot. Re-entry is permitted as long as you have your hand stamped by staff as you exit. Strollers and wagons are allowed and on-site stroller rentals area available.

Indoor Parks

Kalahari Resorts' indoor park boasts a retractable roof and plenty of lifeguards on hand for safety.

Kalahari Resorts Indoor Water Park – Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania
250 Kalahari Boulevard
Open year-round
About two hours by car from Midtown

The area's—no, nation's—largest indoor water park (with a retractable roof to boot) calls the Kalahari Resort in the Poconos home. It offers more than 220,000 square feet of wet-n-wild fun, including a brand-new wave pool. Day passes are available and include admission to the kid-friendly Tiko's Watering Hole and Coral Cove Play Areas, both designed for the youngest water-park goers. There are some outdoor water features and a pool for the summer season, too. Tots feel comfortable playing at the water tables (complete with baby seats), zipping down mild slides, and floating in a mini lazy river. Parents can take comfort in the fact lifeguards and life jackets abound.

Good to know: At this hotel-operated facility, towels are provided, giving you one less thing to schlep from home. Outside food is not permitted, although you will find plenty of food available for purchase. There are plenty of non-water attractions here, too, including an arcade.

The Kartrite Hotel & Indoor Waterpark — Monticello, New York
555 Resorts World Drive
Open year-round
About two hours by car from Midtown

New York's brand-new indoor water park, with 80,000 square feet of splash zone, features a Puddle Ducks water playground with gentle bubblers, swings, slides, and sprinklers just for toddlers and preschoolers (although most of the water slides here are for children 48 inches high or taller). The resort offers one-day "splash passes" for access to the waterpark, although at $59-$99 each, the better deal for families might be to just stay overnight at the resort, with access to the waterpark included, plus other amenities such as arts and crafts, a game room, and more.

Good to know: Children younger than 2 are FREE. One-day passes are sold online only, for 60-day windows, and weekend day passes sell out quickly.

Sahara Sam's Oasis – West Berlin, New Jersey
160 Cooper Road
Open year-round
About two hours from Midtown

While Sahara Sam's does have the Outdoor Beach Club, the real attraction for kids is the water park, which has a retractable roof for warmer days. Little explorers will delight in The Lizard Lagoon, an indoor, kids-only section with kiddie slides, swings that dip tiny toes in the water, and more. Outdoors, kids can enjoy the Splish Splash section.

Good to know: Children younger than 2 are FREE and so is the parking. Bring your own towels or purchase them on site.

Photos courtesy of the parks

This article, originally published in August 2015, has since been updated.

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