In this neck of the woods, amusement park season can feel like a fleeting thing.
Though some parks are open from mid-May to late October, this stretch of time can feel half as long as the dreary and dark months in between.
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Water park season is even more precious, with some of the best outdoor venues open only during the hottest days of summer.
If you’re looking to seize this limited opportunity, consider our picks for the 10 best water parks in the Northeast. They’re all great, and they’re all within a day’s drive.
Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark, Tannersville, Pa.: Along with abundant natural beauty, the Pocono Mountains are home to a great water park scene. AAA Three Diamond Rated Great Wolf Lodge, in Scotrun, Split Rock Resort, in Lake Harmony, and Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, in Pocono Manor, all offer guests indoor water parks. Camelbeach now has its own indoor water park, Aquatopia, which complements an outdoor park of more than three-dozen rides, slides and attractions. Tackle Triple Venom’s three slides to get your heart racing, then ride down Sand Storm with up to three family members or friends.
Canada’s Wonderland, Vaughan, Ontario, Canada: Canada’s largest amusement park includes nearly 70 rides such as Leviathan, a monstrous, 300-foot-tall roller coaster. Guests also have access to the 20-acre Splash Works water park, which features a massive wave pool and a few aquatic play areas among a great lineup of rides.
Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, Allentown, Pa.: Dorney Park opened Wildwater Kingdom in 1985, and it’s been delighting visitors ever since. The Snake Pit is among the most thrilling attractions. Its six slides include the Constrictor, an enclosed chute with four 360-degree loops, and Python Plummet, where riders enjoy a near vertical fall from roughly 60 feet in the air. There’s a wave pool, a couple of lazy rivers and plenty of spots for children, too.
Funtown Splashtown USA, Saco, Maine: Funtown Splashtown offers guests a mix of amusement park (Funtown) and water rides (Splashtown). The latter houses slides, pools and play areas, such as Pirate’s Paradise Aquaplay, where a 500-gallon bucket drenches kids every two minutes. Race your family and friends on the Amphitrite’s Challenge slide or take it easy in the swimming pool.
Six Flags Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom, Lake George, N.Y.: There are a few ways to have some aquatic fun at this Six Flags theme park. Its water area, adjacent to an amusement park full of thrill and family rides, gives visitors plenty to keep busy with an array of water slides and splash areas. Visitors can consider booking a night at nearby AAA Three Diamond Rated Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Water Park. It has an indoor water park and guests get free tickets to Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom.
Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags New England, Agawam, Mass.: A hot summer day calls for a special type of excitement, and that’s what guests get at Hurricane Harbor, part of Six Flags New England. Several waterslides offer no shortage of thrills, especially Bonzai Pipelines, where riders stand on a trap door that gives way to a 257-foot plummet. More easygoing visitors can float on a 1,000-foot long lazy river. Younger swimmers can spend the day at Splash Island, which has a child-size lazy river and wave pool.
Lake Compounce, Bristol, Conn.: You don’t become the oldest continuously operated amusement park in the country without giving guests reason to visit. Lake Compounce does that by combining a variety of thrill rides with a great water park. Crocodile Cove’s slides, lazy river, aquatic play area and children’s wave pool provide a great mix of summer fun. Click here for tips on planning a day at Lake Compounce.
Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks, Wildwood, N.J.: What’s better than a fun water park? Two of ’em. Morey’s Piers’ six beachfront blocks include Ocean Oasis Water Park and Beach Club and Raging Waters Water Park. Together, the parks offer visitors a wonderful lineup of slides and pools, along with a few kiddie areas. Wildwood is home to 5 miles of beach and a 38-block boardwalk lined with food and amusements.
Sesame Place, Langhorne, Pa.: Here the long-running children’s show “Sesame Street” comes to life in a wonderful way. The park’s attractions are based on the series’ colorful characters, and water rides include a body flume (Bert & Ernie’s Slip and Slide) to an inner tube floating adventure (Big Bird’s Rambling River). The Count’s Splash Castle is full of interactive aquatic toys such as water curtains, hoses and water wheels, while parents and children can enjoy Slimey’s Chutes in two-seater rafts. Click here for tips on planning a day at Sesame Place.
Water Country USA, Williamsburg, Va.: Look up a list of the best water parks in the country and you are certain to see a mention of Water Country USA. Thrill-seekers will find plenty to keep their hearts racing, including a 75-foot drop from atop Vanish Point and a weightless moment while flowing down Colossal Curl, a mega slide and one of the parks’ newest attractions. More laid-back guests can check out the 23,000-square-foot Surfer’s Bay Wave Pool or take a relaxing float on the 1,500-foot-long Hubba Hubba Highway, while the youngest splishers and splashers can explore child-size slides and play areas.
Did we miss one of your favorite water parks? Tell us in the comments.
For water parks you can visit all-year-round, check out our list of indoor water parks in the Northeast.
AAA has discounts to amusement and water parks around the region. Before your trip, visit AAA.com/Discounts to make sure you’re taking advantage of exclusive membership benefits.