Whether you have a thirst for adventure or are just ready for some fun in the sun, a trip to a water park is one of the best ways to spend a hot summer day.
Water parks are popular in the US and fortunately, you can find at least one in every state, even Alaska. But not all water parks are created equal. The US is lucky to have some of the best in the world.
Read on for some of the must-visit water parks in the USA and why we think each one is a must-visit destination for families, thrill seekers, and people who just want to have fun.
15 Best Water Parks in the USA in 2023
Water parks make a great vacation destination or are perfect for a day out with the family. Definitions of the best water parks in the USA will vary from family to family.
A group of teens probably aren’t seeking the same experience as a family with small children. Let’s look at the best water parks in the USA and discuss what makes each special.
1. Universal’s Volcano Bay: Orlando, FL
Volcano Bay bills itself not as a water park, but as a water theme park, giving guests an immersive experience. The park has many different features for guests to enjoy, including thrilling slides and areas with more laid-back vibes.
For those seeking thrills, the Krakatau Aqua Coaster takes you up and down hills as your race down the 200-ft volcano. There are also drop slides that let you out several feet above the water for the ultimate free-fall.
There’s a large beach and wave pool along with a lazy river if you’d rather slow things down. Runamukka Reef is designed with kids in mind and has plenty of water features and small slides to keep them busy.
2. Cedar Point Shores: Sandusky, OH
Cedar Point is well-known for its rollercoasters, but it also has an awesome water park. It has over 20 water slides ranging from mild to wild thrills.
Storm Surge is a rollicking raft ride full of turns and drops. The Wild Walleye is made up of two tube slides that zoom you to the bottom. Lemmy’s Lagoon and Lakeside Landing have smaller slides and water features for your little one, including a large sea serpent.
Breakwater Bay is a wave pool with half a million gallons of water. Don’t forget the lazy river, which has plenty of water surprises to keep you on your toes.
3. Schlitterbahn: New Braunfels, TX
Schlitterbahn calls itself the “World’s Best Water Park” and it just might be. It’s near San Antonio, making it a perfect outing for your vacation. It’s also a resort with several types of rooms.
You get free water park admission as a resort guest. The water park is made up of 51 rivers, slides, and other attractions and is divided into four distinct sections.
You can easily spend more than one day here and not get bored. The Torrent River is a tidal wave river – much more exciting than your typical lazy river. Thrill rides include Dragon’s Revenge, an uphill water coaster.
Schlitterbahn also has plenty of areas for smaller kids. They have slides and splash pads for toddlers and water play areas with larger slides for elementary-aged kids.
4. Discovery Cove and Aquatica: Orlando, FL
Discovery Cove is a water park like no other. It’s an all-inclusive resort that gets you up close to some incredible marine life. Your hotel package includes unlimited food and drinks along with many experiences.
You can swim with dolphins and sharks, feed tropical birds, and encounter sea otters. There’s a winding river you can swim with waterfalls.
If you need a few more thrills, you can head over to their partner park, Aquatica, for a more traditional water park experience. It’s open year-round, with heated pools and waterways. Their new slide the Reef Plunge has cool twists and turns along with a light show.
It’s also home to the world’s tallest dueling racing slides. They have two large splash areas for kids, one for toddlers and one for bigger kids. Both have slides that are designed for little thrill-seekers.
5. Noah’s Ark: Wisconsin Dells, WI
Wisconsin Dells is known for its water parks – it’s dubbed the water park capital of the world with over 20 parks. Noah’s Ark is the largest of them all, and the largest water park in the US.
There are over 80 different attractions for all ages. The Time Warp is a behemoth water bowl that’s enclosed, so you’ll never know what’s coming next. The Raja is a huge open slide made to look like a scorpion.
For little ones, there’s plenty to do. There’s a splash pad, kiddie pool, and Tadpole Bay, which is full of water features. Your kids will be busy all day.
6. Water World: Federal Heights, CO
Water World is located just outside of Denver. It spans over 70 acres and has over 50 different water features, plenty to keep your family occupied all day. Rides include The Wave, which lets guests surf on boogie boards.
If you’re looking for thrills, Water World has plenty. Three different speed slides drop you six stories at a near-vertical angle. The Zoomerang is another unique ride that lets you glide back and forth on a half-pipe.
Voyage to the Center of the Earth is a unique raft ride that features dinosaurs along the way. It’s fun for all ages.
There are also several other play spots for little ones, including a Beaver Tailslide, a large water play area, and shallow pools. Water World’s website includes helpful information about each ride for parents of kids with sensory issues.
7. Wilderness at the Smokies: Sevierville, TN
Wilderness at the Smokies is an indoor water park and resort located just outside of Pigeon Forge. It’s a great location to stay if you’re looking to hit up Dollywood and Dollywood’s water park.
The water park has a hotel with suites and regular resort rooms, perfect for large family trips. Wilderness includes three waterparks, one indoor and two outdoor. Inside the Wild WaterDome, you can experience the sunshine year-round.
Its feature slide is the Storm Chaser, a dark tunnel slide that includes a zero-gravity fall and some crazy spins.
The Surf Rider is an indoor boogie board experience. The outdoor parks include some thrilling tube and body slides along with splash pads and large water play areas.
There’s also a wave pool, lazy river, and an activity pool. If you get tired of the water, inside the hotel there are more attractions like an arcade, ropes course, bowling, and more.
8. Splish Splash: Long Island, NY
Splish Splash has a variety of rides for those looking for adventure and families with younger kids. Some of the thrill rides include the Hyperlight, which includes sound and lights, and Bomb’s Away, a slide where the floor drops out from under you.
Younger guests will enjoy an interactive pirate ship with fun sprays. There are also kid-sized slides. An adorable octopus holds out toddler swings over a small pool, the perfect spot for your baby to have fun and get wet.
Splish Splash makes your day at the park convenient by allowing guests to purchase Water2Go passes.
With these passes, you can schedule your rides and then spend more time playing instead of waiting in line. The premium pass even lets you reduce wait time. The pIt’s all controlled by waterproof wristbands.
9. Legoland Water Park: Winter Haven, FL
Legoland theme park is a Mecca for LEGO fans young and old. While you’re visiting the park, you should add a day to hit up the water park as it’s one of the best water parks in the USA.
The water park is open year-round and heated during the colder months. The water park is made up of attractions designed mostly for kids, so you won’t find any of the big thrill rides here as you will at other parks.
However, it’s perfect for kids who always complain about not being able to ride the bigger rides. Most kids over five can do all of the slides here. In addition to a couple of rafts and body slides, there’s a wave pool and a large interactive water play area.
The lazy river is a LEGO fan’s dream, as you can build your raft out of foam LEGO bricks. There’s also an area that lets guests build and race their boats.
10. Great Wolf Lodge: Multiple Locations
Great Wolf Lodge is a water park and hotel with other amenities like an arcade, ropes course, mini-golf, and an interactive game called MagiQuest. There are locations around the country, so you’re likely a few hours away from one.
Great Wolf is great for families with kids under ten. While everyone can enjoy the parks, most only have 4-5 larger slides. The main focus is on the wave pool and water play areas for younger kids.
11. Kalahari Resort: Pocono Mountains, PA
If you like the idea of a resort like Great Wolf Lodge but have older kids that want a few more thrill rides from a water park, Kalahari Resort is a great option.
There are a few Kalahari Resorts spread across the country, but the one in Pocono Mountains is often considered one of the best.
When you book a stay at the resort, your water park admission is free. The park has an African theme. There are quite a few thrilling slides, including the Screaming Hyena, which starts outside of the building and drops you through the roof.
The Tanzanian Twister spins you around and around before a seven-foot drop. Younger kids can also enjoy Kalahari.
There’s an interactive water area and smaller slides that will give them just enough thrills. For adults, there’s a swim-up bar where you can take a break between chasing your kids.
12. Mandalay Bay Beach: Las Vegas, NV
You can experience a day at the beach even while visiting Las Vegas. Mandalay Bay is one of Sin City’s luxury resorts that also has a beach and water park. Your family will enjoy splashing on the beach that has real sand to get under your toes.
Be sure to visit the wave pool, lazy river, and nearby aquarium. This water park is a great spot for adults who want to have a relaxing day.
13. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon: Lake Buena Vista, FL
No trip to Disney World is complete without a visit to one of the resort’s two water parkers. While Blizzard Beach has incredible theming, Typhoon Lagoon wins when it comes to slides.
The park’s main feature is the Crush ‘n’ Gusher, a water rollercoaster that delivers all the thrills. Typhoon Lagoon is also home to America’s largest wave pool. You can even take surfing lessons for an extra fee.
One of the best things about the water park is that it’s home to several larger slides that have no height limit. Most are raft slides so parents can ride with kids.
With two other areas specifically for kids, Typhoon Lagoon is the best water park in the USA for younger kids who are thrill-seekers. It’s also a great vacation for younger kids, as you can eat, sleep, and play without ever leaving the building.
14. Raging Waters: San Dimas, CA
If you’re in the Los Angeles area, Raging Waters is a fun water park with lots to do for the entire family. Its newest attraction is called Bomb’s Away.
You’re able to choose from a steep drop that clocks in at 26 feet per second or a winding path to the pool at the bottom.
In addition to several other thrill rides, there are plenty of fun spots for kids. There are medium-sized slides with lower height limits for little ones seeking excitement. There’s also a large interactive water play area.
15. Water Country USA: Williamsburg, VA
While visiting Colonial Williamsburg, you may want to take a day to step out of history into something more modern, like Water Country USA.
The park’s newest thrill ride is the Aquazoid Amped, which includes a light show, music, and special effects while your splash your way to the bottom.
The Colossal Curl is another thrilling ride that puts you through a funnel, several twists and turns, and then a jump. For little ones, there’s the H2O UFO, a themed water play area, and Cow-A-Bunga, a splash pad for even the youngest water lovers.
Things to Consider
Before choosing the best water park in the USA for your family trip, there are a few things to consider. First is safety. Do a little background check into your chosen water park to make sure they’re up to safety standards.
Next, look at the types of slides and water attractions offered at the parks you’re considering. Think about the people who’ll be going, their ages, and the types of rides they’ll enjoy.
If you’re traveling with a group of different ages, then you’ll want a park with a good mix of attractions. You should also check to ensure that all the rides will be open when you plan on going. See what type of foods the park allows or if they allow outside food.
Research height restrictions and prepare your kids for what they will and won’t be able to ride. Research ticket prices and any add-ons so you can budget correctly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about the best water park in the USA? We’ve got answers!
What is the number 1 water park in the USA?
While there are many opinions about the number one water park in the USA, one park consistently makes or tops the list: Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin Dells, WI.
It’s the largest park in the country, with 70 acres and over 80 different features, including 50 water slides. Noah’s Ark is also known for its safety standard, which has been winning awards for over 25 years.
What is the number 1 water park in the world?
The number one water park in the world is Chimelong Water Park in China. It’s over 449 acres, making it several times bigger than the world’s next-largest park. You’ll find the longest lazy river there along with the largest wave pool.
It has several large water features and play areas, making it the perfect spot for families with children. It’s also home to the world’s first Slidewheel water slide, which combines a water slide with Ferris wheel-type movements for a truly unique and thrilling experience.
What is the most popular water park?
In addition to being the world’s largest water park, Chimelong Water Park is also the world’s most popular water park. It opened in 2013 and consistently gets over two million visitors each year.
In addition to its size, guests all appreciate the advanced water filtration system that keeps the water clean and safe and the many award-winning rides.
The Best Water Parks in the USA: Final Thoughts
If your motto is “the bigger, the better,” then you’ll love Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin Dells, as it’s the largest water park and has the most attractions.
If you’re looking for incredible theming, you can’t beat Universal’s Volcano Bay. Finally, if you’re traveling with kids but still want to do some bigger slides, go with Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.