10 Best Indoor Water Parks for Kids in the US
An indoor water park is often the perfect quick family getaway whether it's the middle of winter and you need warming up or you have a special occasion to celebrate but don't want to risk the party being washed out. And we're not talking the dip pool at the downtown Best Western. We're looking for indoor water parks with mega water slides, relaxing lazy rivers, toddler-friendly splash pads, and thrilling wave pools.
Those living in the North and Midwest no longer have to seek sunny locales to beat the winter blues given the rising popularity of indoor water park resorts. And residents of the South now have ways to beat the heat when even water won't cool you off from a blazing sun. The year-round fun of an indoor water park is a bonus for everyone!
Here are our picks for the best indoor water parks for kids around the country, including Pennsylvania water parks indoor, Wisconsin Dells indoor water parks, and more top selections. Find more great trips in our Family Travel Guide.
Great Wolf is a favorite indoor water park in several states, because of their family-friendly pools and perks.
1. Great Wolf Lodge — multiple locations
Great Wolf Lodge seems to be the largest chain of indoor water parks and perhaps for good reason: they really get families! There are nearly 20 locations in the United States and Canada, including across the Midwest, Southern California, Massachusetts, Atlanta, Virginia, Scotrun, Pennsylvania; and Texas. A brand-new one just opened in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Northern California is next to open a Great Wolf, likely later this year. You’ll find multilevel water forts to explore, tipping buckets to stand under, and plenty of pools to splash and play in. There are also vortex slides, plenty of tube slides, slideboarding, and even a splashy roller coaster. With all that activity, it’s nice to know you can rent a cabana to have a place to relax in between rides, or just check in to the lodge for an overnight visit.
Kalahari has earned the title of the largest indoor water park in the US with its Poconos, Pennsylvania location.
2. Kalahari — multiple locations
Take the family on an African adventure at one of these popular water parks. There are currently locations in Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania, which lays claim to being the largest in the United States; Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; and Sandusky, Ohio; and one coming to Texas in late 2020. All outposts have a lazy river, tube slides, hot tubs, a 5-foot wave simulator, and a wave pool. The Tanzanian Twister funnel flume will flush you around an oversized bowl and finish with a free-fall drop into the pool below. You can also don a fin and learn how to swim like a mermaid or shark.
RELATED: Pennsylvania Water Parks Indoor
Watch out for the 300-gallon tipping bucket at Epic Waters, an indoor water park in Texas.
3. Epic Waters — Grand Prairie, Texas
This brand-new 80,000-square-foot indoor water park is just outside of Austin. The Lasso Loop speeds body sliders around a gravity-defying loop. The Yellow Jacket Drop is an enclosed slide that sends riders sailing up and down a ramp on their inner tubes for a thrilling finale. There’s also mat racing, a 50-foot plunge slide, a FlowRider, an impressive lazy river, and a water fort complete with geysers, slides, sprinklers, and a 300-gallon tipping bucket. We love the morning play hours just for toddlers, too!
From pools to its 13 slides, the Aquatopia indoor water park in PA is always a crowd-pleaser.
4. Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark at Camelback Resort — Tannersville, Pennsylvania
It’s safe to say you’ll be able to find a water slide you like at Aquatopia in the Pocono Mountains. The park has 13 of them in various forms, including tube slides, mat slides, body slides, and bowl slides. The Venus Slydetrap is a 608-foot combo slide that spits you into what looks like the mouth of a Venus Flytrap. Other draws include Storm Chaser, a 756-foot-long uphill water coaster, and The Himalayan, the only head-first indoor mat slide in the region. Toddlers can enjoy the zero-entry splash area known as Penguin Play Bay and bigger kids can test out over 80 interactive water features at Kartrite's Quest, a multilevel water playground with canons and more. Enjoy a full-size outdoor water park come summer.
Tucked into a Vermont resort, this spacious indoor water park offers something for all ages.
5. Pump House Indoor Waterpark — Jay, Vermont
Perhaps best known as a Vermont ski resort, Jay Peak also boasts an impressive indoor water park. On La Chute, guests stand with crossed arms and legs, waiting to be dropped down a 65-foot tube as they travel at 45 miles per hour. A FlowRider offers alternate thrill-riding, while the less adventurous can chill in the lazy river or kids’ play area. There are also indoor and outdoor hot tubs.
6. Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark — Monticello, New York
Score day passes or spend a long weekend at the brand-new Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark in the New York Catskills region. There are 80,000-square feet of water fun and attractions here, as well indoor and outdoor pool options. There are thrill rides and water slides, a lazy river, racing slides, interactive water play, such as basketball, and a tot-friendly shallow splash area.
RELATED: Top Indoor Water Parks, NJ and NY
This mega Wisconsin Dells indoor water park offers a water roller coaster and more.
7. Lost Rios Indoor Waterpark at Chula Vista — Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Dells indoor water parks are plentiful. You'll find Great Wolf and Kalahari here, as well as many more. Another local favorite is the 80,000-square-foot Lost Rios Indoor Waterpark at Chula Vista Resort, which is smaller but really packs in the kid attractions. Take a spin on the Flyin’ Mayan—a super-fast uphill water roller coaster. Race each other on Matador Mat Racers. There’s also a kiddie play area, lazy river, and 500-gallon tipping bucket to enjoy. An outdoor water park and pools are available in the summer and day passes are accepted.
Try the surf simulator at Avalanche Bay, a Michigan indoor water park.
8. Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark — Boyne Falls, Michigan
Located at Boyne Mountain Resort, Avalanche Bay is the largest indoor water park in Michigan. Daredevils should check out the Big Couloir, where riders are dropped practically straight down through a trap door. G-forces allow them to make a 360-degree loop without leaving the slide. There’s also a lazy river, surf simulator, mat racer, and rope-and-island water crossings. The 800-gallon water avalanche helps the park live up to its name. Stay the night at the resort. There are even more outdoor and indoor activities here, from snow tubing and skiing to outdoor lake swimming, depending on the season.
Sail down the lazy river at the Splash Lagoon in Erie, PA.
9. Splash Lagoon — Erie, Pennsylvania
This tiki-themed Pennsylvania indoor water park is action-packed. Slide down the pitch-black Black Hole, take a splashy spin in the Aqua Tumbler, or jet down a slide that whirls you around a huge bowl then funnels you out. Kids can dump water on their siblings from the five-story Tiki Tree House or jump waves in the 200,000-gallon wave pool. Landlubbers can enjoy a treetop ropes course that overlooks the water park below.
Tired of the slopes? Warm up in the Massanutten WaterPark in Virginia.
10. Massanutten WaterPark — McGaheysville, Virginia
There’s lots to keep you entertained at this Virginia indoor water park mecca: hot tubs, a lazy river, pools, body slides, tube slides, and more. The centerpiece, Massanutten Meltdown, offers water cannons, waterfalls, and a tipping bucket. The 12-inch-deep Frog Pond is great for little ones to splash around or even ride a slide or swing. FlowRider will help bodyboarders and surfers hone their skills. A big outdoor water park expansion is planned for this summer at Massanutten.
A version of this article first published in 2018.
All photos courtesy of the resorts