While it might be nice to board a plane to a sunny island, it’s not always possible or cost-effective. Luckily, you can enjoy some summertime fun year-round at the many indoor water parks near Philly. Go dig out your bathing suit from behind your coats and mittens, and get ready to take the plunge at one of these exciting parks and family-friendly resorts.
If you're looking for more fun, check out our Summer Activities Guide or start planning some faraway quality time using our Family Travel Guide.
Indoor Water Parks for Families in New Jersey
Clocking in at more than 58,000 square feet, Sahara Sam’s is one of the largest indoor water parks in New Jersey. While the typical attractions are here, such as a lazy river and a family raft ride, there also are unique offerings such as The Flow Rider, an indoor surfing simulator, and new attractions such as Tut's Twister and Cleopatra's Cove. Kids of all ages will love racing on the body slides, mastering the challenging obstacle courses of Crocodile Flats, and even slam-dunking basketballs in the pool. There are lots of options just for little ones, too, including the Lizard Lagoon, which is perfect for toddlers.
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Hit the Biosphere Pool Complex at Crystal Springs Resort for a taste of the tropics.
Billed as the resort’s “architectural and amenity focal point," the Biosphere pool is a 10,000-square-foot tropical indoor pool complex. The Biosphere has a 140-foot water slide, grotto-like Jacuzzis, and even an underground aquarium. Waterfalls and lush foliage transport families to a true tropical state of mind. If you're missing the sun, this is the place for you: the Biosphere's special roof allows nearly 100% light transmission, so be sure to pack your sunscreen. The Mineral Pool Complex has an underground aquarium, waterfall screened cave, and beautiful views of the mountains.
New to the list, this theme park in northern New Jersey opened in late 2019 and has so much to offer families and kids of all ages. To start, the water park is open year round and is actually the largest one in North America. Visitors can expect Nickelodeon-themed attractions, wave pool, lazy river, slides, hot tubs, sky box suites, and poolside cabanas. In addition to the water park, guests can enjoy the indoor theme park with roller coasters and rides, blacklight mini-golf, Angry Birds mini golf, an indoor snow park featuring skiing and snowboarding, ice rink, shops, and restaurants. With so many options, there is no way to be bored at this kid paradise.
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Masks are required for water play at Kalahari Resorts.
Indoor Water Parks for Families in Pennsylvania
This family water park is particularly great for adventure seekers. Popular attractions include Pennsylvania’s first indoor flowrider as well as three four-story slides. Families looking to take it easy also can enjoy the wave pool, and younger children can splash and explore in the activity pool and lilly pad play areas. The water park is adjacent to Split Rock Resort, but day passes are available on Fridays from 4 to 8 pm. This spot is the most fun for kids 12 and younger and moderately enjoyable for kids 13 and older.
Known as America's largest water park, Kalahari Resorts has 220,000 square feet of fun. It features a sweeping park full of slides, tubing adventures, and even its own indoor surfing and body boarding experience. While thrill seekers can test their bravery on the Anaconda water roller coaster, younger guests have plenty of fantastic options for water play in the Splashdown Safari, complete with zero-depth entry pools, net crawls, and interactive water fun. While Kalahari is a wonderful option for the coldest days, it's also great during the summer months, when guests can take full advantage of Kalahari’s retractable roof to bask in the sunshine. Note: Purchasing day passes online is the only way to guarantee admission.
Woodloch's Splash Zone is one of the smaller indoor water parks on this list. Open only to those who stay at the all-inclusive resort, the Splash Zone is perfect for families with younger children and is a great complement to the many outdoor winter activities Woodloch offers. It houses a double-corkscrew slide, a water tower that douses revelers with 300 gallons of water every few minutes, and a splash area featuring fountains and sprayers. There's also a kiddie splash pool for the littles to enjoy. Children who go on the slide must be able to swim without a floatation device.
Aquatopia is one of the largest water parks at more than 125,000 square feet. Daring older kids (and parents) can test their mettle on the aptly named Skydive Plummet, which is one of more than a dozen kinds of slides you can find at the park; others include mat slides, bowl slides, body slides, and even aqua launch capsule slides. For the little ones, there are kiddie slides and a zero-depth entry pool at the Penguin Play Bay. Families can also delight in the gigantic wave pool that’s so real, you’ll feel like you’re at the beach. Open only to hotel guests. Camelback, which we've visited several times, offers year-round fun, including skiing and tubing, and an outdoor water park for the summer.
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Take the plunge with a ride on the Hydro Plunge at Great Wolf Lodge.
This family-friendly water park is a favorite among the well-known indoor water parks, and it’s not hard to see why. Kids of all ages have seemingly unlimited options, from slide boarding and tube slides to aquatic roller coasters with a 40-foot drop. Families looking to relax can also float along the lazy river or have pint-sized fun on the mini slides and geysers at the Cub Paw Pool. There are also lots of options for kids after they dry off, including storytime, puppet shows, character appearances throughout the park, a scaled-down bowling alley, and an arcade. While a stay at the hotel is required for use of this water park, parents will get a lot of bang for their buck here with so much fun to be had from wakeup to bedtime.
Indoor Water Parks for Families in New York
White Water Bay is the indoor water park housed at this mountain lodge. Access is included with a stay at the hotel. Normally day passes can be purchased but are not being offered at this time. While families can float leisurely along the lazy river, those looking for a faster pace will take pleasure in the whitewater rafting experience or hang 10 while trying their hand at surfing. An aquatic treehouse is a real treat for kids of all sizes, and there are plenty of slides and pools for water play of all kinds. At Tip-A-Kanu Beach, tots can swing in baby swings and wade in shallow pools complete with wildlife-themed fountains.
The first indoor water park in the Finger Lakes Region, Cascades is attached to Hope Lake Lodge, a luxurious “green” hotel with panoramic views of the area. Priding itself on a spacious wave pool and three-story tube slide, Cascades also features Big and Little Bear Falls, where kids of all ages will love splashing and exploring, and the Cove, a 22,000-gallon, 1,000-square-foot area designed for shooting hoops. Meanwhile, parents can enjoy Hot Springs, indoor/outdoor hot tubs fitted with hydrotherapy jets that are perfect for unwinding after a day of fun.
It's always 85 degrees at Rocking Horse Ranch. This large indoor water park is part of an all-inclusive Hudson Valley resort that also features a true ranch, complete with horseback riding year-round. Big kids find thrills and chills on Gold Rush, a 250-foot-long Golden Flume Water Slide as well as Dynamite Alley Water Walk Challenge. Preschoolers aren't left out either, with smaller slides, fountains, and aqua stations aplenty. Kids can also enjoy fun beyond the water park with bounce houses, entertainment characters, and an arcade.
This post was originally published in 2017. Writer Kristen Sullivan contributed to this 2020 update.
Photos courtesy of the resorts,