10 Best Water Parks and Water Slides near LA for Families

Slide it, the water's fine. Photo courtesy of Legoland Water Park
Slide it, the water's fine. Photo courtesy of Legoland Water Park

SoCal beaches are the best. Swimming in a lake is loads of fun. But you know what just can’t be beat? Spending a sweltering day at a water park for a wet and wild adventure. These water parks have wave pools, family raft rides, lazy rivers, and mini slides for little ones. Some of our favorite water parks are smaller parks just for kids, and others are part of a larger theme park, but they all offer plenty of chances to get completely soaked!

DryTown Water Park

It's not so dry at DryTown. Photo courtesy of DryTown Water Park

Best Water Parks for Kids in Los Angeles County

Buccaneer Bay at La Mirada Splash

The park initially opens this season with limited capacity and a specific-date ticket is required for all guests. Tickets can be purchased online.
Open daily May 29-August 6; open weekends from August 7-September 26
Buccaneer Bay is part of the La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center, situated in the heart of greater Los Angeles near the LA/OC county line. A smaller, family-friendly park (with a smaller price!), Buccaneer Bay has three water slides, a lazy river, lots of water play, a zero-depth play structure, and a warm-water spa. Riders must be 48" for the slides, the aqua play area is designed with those under 48" in mind. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. No outside food is permitted in the park, but there are picnic tables outside for public use (wristband or hand stamp permits re-entry). Tickets for kids are sold by height, not by age. During the summer, Friday Family Nights offer discounted admission from 4pm-8pm.

Raging Waters

Attendance is limited and reservations are required for season passholders and daily ticket guests. The park is only open for CA residents.
Open daily May 29-August 13; open weekends from August 14-September 19
Another park that will please everyone in the family! Six rides require riders to be 48", five require 42"; and three 36". Everyone under 48" must wear a life vest in the wave pool—available at no charge. Kid's Kingdom features 30,000 square feet of water fun for those under 48" tall; the tamer Little Dipper area also requires riders to be under 48". Season passes, premium and standard cabanas, season parking, group discounts all require 5 days notice. Meal deals are available. Raging Waters also has two Northern California locations, and a season pass can be used at those parks also.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

The park opens to the general public on May 22 for CA residents only. Tickets, reservations, and parking are required and available online.
Valencia 91355
This is a huge water park, and, as you might expect from Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor has thrill rides that even a grumpy teen will love! There are eight different rides with a minimum height of 48" (and five have multiple slides), two rides with a minimum height of 42", one that requires an adult. Teens can hang at Lizard Lagoon or ride while the younger set is at Castaway Cove, which allows only those under 54".There are Cabana packages available, a new float all day/eat all day meal deal, and season park and parking passes. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more.

DryTown Water Park

When the park opens, it will be part of a phased reopening, with limited capacity. A specific-date ticket is required, and the park is only open for CA residents.
Open daily, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day Weekend
Looking for something a little different than a pirate-themed water park? DryTown in Palmdale has an old mining town theme running through the park, and big kids 42’” and up can grab a tube and head down Big Rock River, or race down Dusty’s Mineshaft Racer. Kids 30” and up can splash around Little Miner’s Camp, which has smaller slides. And teens and tweens 48” and up who like a thrill will have a blast on the big kid super fast slides. There’s also a lap pool.

No outside food or drink (other than water) is allowed in the park. Guests can eat at Dusty’s Grill for basic lunch fare; there are a few vegetarian and vegan options available, as well as smoothies. Snacks and supplies are available at the General Store and Wilbur’s Snack Shack.

Buccaneer Cove!

The Three Musketeers hit Buccaneer Cove! Photo by Mommy Poppins

Best Water Parks for Kids in OC and Riverside County

Knott's Soak City

Attendance is limited in party size and to CA residents only. Tickets and reservations are required and are available online.
Open May 29, 2021 through early September.
Soak City's Gremmie Lagoon gives younger water fans (under 54") their own area to be soaked, squirted, and splashed. Everyone can play on the Beach House, featuring three stories of water play—squirt guns, faucets, a giant dumping bucket, and more—for all, but the slides have a 42" minimum. There are 22 speed, tube, and body slides, a wave pool, and one-third mile Sunset River. There are four slide systems with a 42" minimum height, and three with a 48" minimum. Be forewarned: the lines can be long here! Soak City season passes are good at all three locations. The 15-acre water adventure park is right next to Knott's Berry Farm, but a separate admission is required.

DropZone Water Park

The park has not specified any reopening restrictions, so be sure to check the website before visiting.
Open daily, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day Weekend
For Riverside residents who don’t want to drive all the way to the beach, a visit to DropZone is in order. With a surfing pool and a giant sandpit for building sandcastles or playing volleyball, it’s a lot like a day at the beach … plus a whole lot more. There’s also a lazy river and three different big kid slides (ranging from an enclosed tunnel, to a sunny ride, to a super-fast mat slide). And while all of those areas are for people 42” and up, there is a whole section (Lil’ Jumpers Landing) for kids as little as 36”, and a whole section for water babies (and kids of all ages) called Launch Pad Geysers, which is like a giant splash pad. There’s also an Olympic-sized pool where kids can take swim lessons. Day tickets and season passes are pretty reasonable, and an even cheaper option is to hit the park on Monday or Wednesday evening for half-price admission. You may bring your own food here, but there is a fee based on the size of the cooler you bring in. Also, it’s good to know that there’s not a lot of shade available at this park, so bring hats and plenty of sunscreen!

Great Wolf Lodge Water Park

Great Wolf Lodge reopens May 22 to overnight guests only. The park is open year-round.
Sometimes, it's too hot in Southern California to spend a day baking in the sun, even if you're outside splashing in the water. That's where Great Wolf Lodge, Orange County's indoor water resort, comes in handy. Check out our full review to learn how to fit the most splashes into your day. When the water park and hotel first opened, water park access was only available to hotel guests. Since the opening, that policy has changed, and day passes are available. However, when the park first reopens in 2021, only guests will be allowed to use the facilities. But in addition to using the surf simulators, mat slide racing, lazy river, basketball pool, and (of course) plenty of slides that range from tame to thrilling, summer guests can take advantage of "Summer Camp-In" activities every day through Labor Day.

Buccaneer Cove at Castle Park

Buccaneer Cove plans to open for summer of 2021, but no opening date has been set as of May 15, 2021. Check back soon, and we will update this information as soon as it becomes available!
Buccaneer Cove is included with admission to Castle Park. It has five water slides, water tunnels, spray cannons, fountains, a huge splash bucket, and leafy shade for resting. Bring a change of clothes and enjoy the Castle Park rides after the Cove closes—or come for the Monday deal, when the Castle Park rides are closed. With four 18-hole mini golf courses (1 round included in Monday deal) and an arcade, this smaller park will keep you plenty busy. Check the website for a variety of package and cabana deals.

Aquatica SeaWorld’s Waterpark

Try racing down a 375-foot water slide at Aquatica SeaWorld’s Waterpark. Photo by Mike Aguilera courtesy of SeaWorld San Diego

Best Water Parks for Families in San Diego

Aquatica San Diego

Attendance is limited in party size and to CA residents only. Tickets and reservations are required and are available online.
Open daily May 29-August 22 and weekends through Labor Day.
Formerly Soak City San Diego, this water park was reborn as part of SeaWorld in 2013. For the bigger kids and adults, there are eight slides and pools with a 48" minimum height, a lazy river, a wave pool, a toddler zone, and a water play structure. There are also flamingo and turtle displays, in keeping with the SeaWorld theme. Combo tickets are available for this park and SeaWorld.

Legoland Water Park

The park is now open to CA residents with limited capacity. Advanced reservations are required and available online.
Check the Legoland calendar for open dates: the water park is open every day in summer, but with some blackout dates in spring and fall.
Legoland's Water Park requires a park hopper ticket, so you will also have Legoland admission. There are also water features in Legoland itself, but be sure to bring a change of clothes, as swimsuits are not permitted on Legoland's rides! In the water park, kids more than 42" tall can ride all the rides (non-swimmers are not recommended on the water slides). The Splash Zoo water feature area is just for kids ages 1-3, and Kid Creek is for those under 42" (must be accompanied by an adult). In addition to the larger tube and open slides, there is Splash Safari, with smaller slides. Cabana rentals are available; early-purchase discount tickets are available online.


Tips To Know Before You Visit One of These Water Parks

Bring towels, water, hats, a suit for yourself (depending on the park and your children's ages, you may be required to accompany them, or you might get to try the big slides yourself), and plenty of sunblock (no parks permit outside food). Water parks encourage (and may enforce) the wearing of swimsuits with no buckles or other metal parts (including exposed zippers, buckles, and grommets), optional rash guards (not T-shirts), and no wetsuits. Remember the swim diapers for those still in diapers or under the age of three. Expect to watch your kids closely, and make sure their swimming levels are compatible with the rides and slides they want to go on, and the pools they want to play in. Some parks may require (and provide) life jackets for kids under 48" in certain pools and on certain slides.

All of the water parks offer optional lockers and cabanas at an additional charge; you probably will want a locker if your whole family is playing at the same time. Some parks have multiple size and price choices of each. All parks offer annual passes, and some offer multiple levels of passes, so check your options if your family loves water parks.

Originally published July 1, 2012

Many of these photos were taken prior to the pandemic.

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