Must-Visit Indoor Water Parks Across America

A perfect distillation of the joys of summer, water parks are designed for fun, complexes of thrills and actual spills that entertain the whole family with attractions that, often, are refreshingly low-tech in their execution. These temples of titillation are also commonplace throughout the United States, with more than 1,000 of them up and down the country. But when summer winds down and the days shorten, and a chill permeates the air, does the fun really have to stop? 

The good news is that it doesn't, and across the U.S., indoor water parks continue to pull in crowds even as the mercury plummets outside. The choices are endless, ranging from small plots that are little more than glorified community centers to gargantuan warrens where a day just doesn't seem long enough to enjoy all the attractions. Read on for intel on the best indoor parks to check out, where it's always summer indoors, whatever the weather.

Aquatopia Indoor Park, Pennsylvania

There are 13 slides at this park in the Poconos, enough choice to sate any member of the family. One of the newest additions to Aquatopia Indoor Park is Mountain Mayhem, a slide that extends for more than 400 feet and takes the excitement up a notch by adding flashing lights to certain sections. The Constrictor, with blue and white detailing revitalizing the interior of the slide, is an even longer ride, and two people can snuggle into a float simultaneously.

For visitors who prefer their water park visit a little less stressful, Aquatopia has, thankfully, enough to keep them happy. There are cabanas where quiet time is part of the experience, as well as restaurants and stores near the pools that allow for enjoyment away from the water. The park is connected to Camelback Resort, so guests can easily retire to their rooms after a day of wet wildness.

Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, Michigan

While visitors to this Michigan mainstay might come for the water thrills that are all but guaranteed, the 10 restaurants where they can fuel up between rides add another layer of persuasion to the equation. Located in the north of the state, a little over an hour's drive from Traverse City, the park is part of Boyne Mountain Resort, which also features a golf course and, in the winter, skiing on its slopes. 

Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark is enormous, almost 90,000 square feet, and within that realm, it has a number of spaces that will get the heart pumping or relaxing. The Big Couloir is a super-speedy slide that includes a sheer drop that will get the pulse racing, while the Lazy River Adventure conveys a sense of calm to the proceedings (as will the Glacier Hot Springs). For competitive groups, the Downhill Mat Racer will bring out the fighting spirit.

Big Kahuna's, New Jersey

While this year-round destination is in New Jersey, the nearest big city is Philadelphia, only 40 minutes away by car. One of the big draws to Big Kahuna's is the surf simulator, where riders can perfect their crouch, overall technique, and spectacular wipeouts without any worry about outdoor conditions. For younger kids, the playground has a giant bucket water dump, climbing sections, and other water features where getting wet is the main point. 

There are numerous water slides, from ones designed for single passengers to others, allowing the whole family to plunge in together. For the active kid or adult who likes to rise to new challenges, the Komodo Crossing obstacle course is a network of ropes and wobbly platforms that test a participant's sense of balance. Adults in desperate need of a break can retire to the heated tub in Paradise Cove.

Castaway Bay, Ohio

Located in Ohio's Sandusky, the home of Cedar Point, one of the most famous theme parks in the country, with roller coasters like the terrifying Top Thrill 2 that will debut in 2024, Castaway Bay is part of the resort that shares its name. It's a place that will appeal to youngsters of all ages, thanks to the variety of pools, including incredibly placid ones with small slides for toddlers to those with pool toys where kids can let their imaginations run wild. 

A visit here doesn't have to be solely focused on spending time splashing around in pools of water, though. Air Racer Rally lets groups plummet down slides against each other, ending the ride with a sudden drop into a bubbling pool. Rocket's Canopy Coaster allows families to enjoy the fun of a water ride together while seated in a large yellow float that looks like a cushioned life raft.

DreamWorks Water Park, New Jersey

If you're a fan of DreamWorks movies, then the DreamWorks Water Park in New Jersey, a 20-minute drive from Times Square in New York, is worth visiting. For starters, under a curved glass roof through which natural light filters in, large figures of Shrek, Po from "Kung Fu Panda," and some of the characters from "Madagascar" are suspended above a spacious wave pool. Live characters from the studio's various movies wander around the park, making for great photos (among them are King Julien from "Madagascar," and Puss in Boots) and exciting encounters for kids.

There are even rides tied to various DreamWorks movies, and while their precise links to the films might be tangential, the excitement they promise is very apparent. Shrek's Sinkhole Slammer is a funnel ride, colored in vivid green hues, where numerous passengers can sit in the raft at the same time.

Epic Waters Waterpark, Texas

At this Texas park, situated between Dallas and Fort Worth, mat racing slides get siblings and friends speeding down the slopes with winning as their sole focus. Families will certainly build up an appetite after all that liquid fun, and a restaurant onsite serves the kind of food that will fuel up adventurers and is comforting after a bout of exertion — pizzas, wings, fries, nachos, and burgers. Cabanas, good for small birthday parties or family gatherings, are dotted throughout the park, some closer to the kiddie pools, others nearer to the labyrinthine slides. 

When it comes to the rides at Epic Waters Waterpark, a variety of options make sure boredom is one thing missing from a trip here. Rafts slide back and forth on the Yellowjacket Drop. This thrilling structure starts with a snaking tube slide ride of multiple turns and ends with a drop onto a wall resembling a giant, extended skateboard half-pipe.

Great Wolf Lodge, Wisconsin

A brand synonymous with indoor water parks across the country, this Great Wolf Lodge branch is the original one, situated in Wisconsin Dells, northwest of Milwaukee on the Wisconsin River. Opened in 1997, it was only 20,000 square feet initially but has since grown to almost four times that size, with the fun growing exponentially. For younger kids that never stay still, Fort Mackenzie is a vertical outpost, a treehouse where vast buckets of water might get dumped on the unsuspecting or the patiently waiting. The attraction also has stairs and slides to keep the joints moving. 

For more of an adrenaline rush, Howlin' Tornado is a funnel slide that sends riders swirling and dropping into the unknown. There are places for visitors to unwind, from a couple of hot tubs — one set aside exclusively for adults — to a calming lazy river. The latter allows two riders to squeeze into a tube to enjoy floating together.

H2Oasis Indoor Waterpark, Alaska

While Anchorage might not be a city associated with heat, visitors to H2Oasis Indoor Waterpark in Alaska's biggest city might feel like they are in the Tropics. The feature that anchors the whole enterprise, no pun intended, is the pirate ship, a sturdy galleon with various slides, stairs to climb, and mushroom-type structures that emit a curtain of water. It also has masts and nets that make kids feel like they are sailing the seven seas. It sits in the kiddie pool, helping to further cement the sensation of being afloat. 

The lazy river is a welcome relief when the mercury dips outside, a leisurely float around the park on yellow inner tubes in water about waist high. The biggest thrill might be on the Open-Flume Orange Slide, where a rider lies face-up, sliding and swerving along the curves of the flume before splashing down into a pool at the bottom.

Kalahari Resorts & Conventions, Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, this park has a water slide called Anaconda that hints at the excitement visitors can expect. Getting to Kalahari Resorts & Convention from New York City is easy, less than three hours by car, but once visitors arrive, all memories of urban landscapes are likely to melt away. The Anaconda is a great place to start — its shape is reminiscent of a gargantuan snake. Per its mechanics, it curls and curves as it wraps around the airspace, slowly descending to a pool at the end. 

The water park, part of a resort and convention center, has a new ride known as the VR Waterslide, though this requires that visitors pay a fee in addition to the general entrance. On the new addition, adventurers will strap on a VR headset that might make them feel like they are untethered in space as they speed down the slide, adding a new dimension to this classic pastime.

Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark, New York

In the Catskill Mountains, it's always 84 degrees Fahrenheit at Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark, less than a three-hour drive from the Big Apple. A former conservatory is now home to this facility, and the toasty temperature ensures that plenty of greenery and vegetation thrive throughout the winter, even when the ground outside is smothered in powder. 

The rides have mighty names, meant as much to inspire excitement as to make visitors quiver in fear. The Krakken, that mythical marine beast, is a rapid ride that turns at sudden junctures and ensures passengers are never static or dry. Nor'easter is another one that gets the heart pumping, demanding screams to fill the air via a tube that sends a quartet along a slalom of turns, spins, and drops. Other attractions include a playground, a lazy river, and a surf simulator. Guests of the resort get free entry to the water park.

Massanutten, Virginia

In the heart of rural Virginia but less than a three-hour drive from Washington, D.C., this resort offers activities year-round, from golf to curling to skiing and snowboarding. It's also where to find a great water park, typically filled with guests of the property. Guests to Massanutten can start the day slowly with a lazy float along the Blue Ridge Rapids, a gentle indoor river that will dispel all your worries. 

Visitors can slowly build up the pace with a ride on a slide, either on those seated on top of a tube or where the body and water are the only mediums of propulsion. For surfing enthusiasts, the Pipeline is a constant stream of water that recreates the ocean's waves. The central piece of the park is the Massanutten Meltdown, a later play structure with cannons, curtains of water, and, of course, a large dump bucket versed in the art of drenching.

Pump House Indoor Waterpark, Vermont

In the north of Vermont, near the Canadian border and only a two-hour drive from Montreal, Pump House Indoor Waterpark is in Jay Peak Resort, which also offers golf and skiing. The sole indoor water park in the state features a rumbling river that is a balm for winter blues. A large, curving, retractable roof ensures that days inside remain bright, while the colorful slides and shades make the space feel like summer all year round. 

Among the highlights is the Big River, a homage to a tune by Johnny Cash. It wraps around the edges of the park as it makes its circuit and ramps up the typical lazy river experience by throwing in turns, variable currents, and even some underwater explosions (don't worry, they're not extreme). For active types, a Deepwater Activity Pool is flanked by a climbing wall, so even if a guest slips off, the fall will be pleasurable.

The Reef Indoor Water Park, Montana

Close to Billings in the south of Montana, The Reef Indoor Water Park supplies visitors with a 55,000-gallon wave pool that recreates the motions of the sea, making it a year-round aquatic escape. With generous proportions — about the size of a football field — the water park has enough space for kids to explore ad nauseam. It also has a great selection of attractions to make sure they stay wet while doing so. Slides like the Barracuda Blaster are enclosed tubes, starting three stories above ground and firing riders out rapidly into a heated pool at the bottom. 

Toddlers can find plenty to keep them captivated, especially the play area where small slides and tubes are complemented by squirt guns (who doesn't like to shoot people with water?) and a massive dumping bucket that can hold 250 gallons of H2O. Tables and chairs around the various areas are great places to recuperate with some grub.

Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark, Idaho

In Idaho, the Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark sits in the Silver Mountain Resort, where skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing are other draws. Its setting in the west of the state places it just over an hour away by car from Spokane in Washington state. Guests of any of the properties at the resort enjoy free admission to the park. Once inside, they can expect a selection of thrills and tranquility. 

The Moose Sluice, named for an animal found in this slice of the country, is aimed at families, with members sitting inside a large tube raft as it swirls and turns its way down a snaking slide, plenty of water drenching riders along the way. A range of other areas will appeal to people of all ages, from a lazy river to a section designed for toddlers, from a warm springs area that will re-energize flagging visitors to a netted obstacle course.

Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort, Pennsylvania

In the town of Erie, about halfway between Cleveland and Buffalo, Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park boasts new attractions in The Tree House. While this focal point of the park has been in operation for some time, upgrades make it a more exciting play area. It sits in the heart of Splash Lagoon and is now kitted with new water-spraying guns, buckets that dump water at different points of the structure, and even new slides like the Riptide Racers. 

At the very pinnacle of the playground is the Giant Tipping Coconut, a large bucket that will drench anyone underneath when it spills over. The Splash Pad has also received a makeover, with new figures and brightly colored frog sculptures on hand to excite youngsters. Visitors to this water park can unwind in the wave pool or tubs, one of which is set aside for adults.

Tropic Falls, Alabama

Part of OWA, a large resort with a theme park, whose name is a derivation of the Muscogee Creek word meaning "big water," this water park features a retracting glass roof that keeps the temperatures at this Alabama destination toasty. What might strike visitors upon entry to Tropic Falls is the vibrant colors of the slides and rides, turning the spectacle into a slash of tropical travel. 

Rides have similarly summery names. Citrus Cyclone lets two guests mount an inflated tube before they turn and swish through a snaking slide route. On Serpentine Swirl, the action is turned up a notch, or three, with sudden banking turns and sections where the tube morphs from closed to open, injecting flashes of surprise into the experience. And Tangerine Scream has a name that is wholly appropriate, with a sheer drop on this tight flume ride likely to produce shrieks — either of terror or delight.

WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort, South Dakota

Five hotels are in this South Dakota complex, located in Rapid City, which has a 30,000-square-foot water park that is open year-round. The array of attractions is smartly designed to sate visitors of all ages. For the youngest guests, toddlers, and their ilk, Koko's Kingdom is a play area with low-velocity slides and manageable navigable sections so kids and their parents feel safe and secure. Maui's Body Slide lets more audacious riders rip down a tube using their torsos to generate speed. 

The quickest ride is Seahorse Slide, a turning section of tunnels that deposits guests into a heated pool. For some downtime, visitors to WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort can lay back and let their thoughts unspool while on the lazy river or in the hot tub. The park allows visitors to load up a digital wallet, and kids can use wristbands to access that money at restaurants or the onsite arcade.

Wild WaterDome Indoor WaterPark, Tennessee

Thirty minutes southeast of Knoxville, this Tennessee cradle of fun has speedy slides and calming pools that will engage adults and kids alike. With a clear roof that lets the sun's rays stream in, guests might consider putting on sunscreen, even on a cool winter day, as they admire the tropical foliage all around. The facilities in Wild WaterDome Indoor WaterPark spread over 65,000 square feet of space, including wild adventures like the Storm Chaser Thrill Ride. 

Participants will get straight into the action from the get-go, with a section comprising a dark tubular tunnel before a sudden drop into a swirling funnel portion, followed by a deposit into a welcoming pool. A 10,000-square-foot wave pool, a surf simulator that pumps out 19,000 gallons of water each minute, and the five-story high family-friendly Runaway Canyon ensure boredom is eternally banished. For more placid pleasures, kids' pools provide an easy option.

Wings and Waves Waterpark, Oregon

Less than an hour southwest of Portland, this Oregon park features slides, pools, and play areas. High-octane kicks are in store on Sonic Boom, an open-stop flume ride that supplies great views of the rest of the park and plenty of speed and turns. For more velocity, Mach 1, a body slide, pushes visitors to the edge as the course drops, moves through high-speed sections, and twists. 

Another adrenaline jolt at Wings and Waves Waterpark comes courtesy of Nose Dive, a smooth slide ride along a blanket of rushing waters that ends in a warming pool. While the wave pool, which holds 91,000 gallons of water, might appear like any other of its peers, it isn't. There are six different wave patterns, bubbling underwater features, and even a huge screen broadcasting movies. The park's name makes sense when one realizes it is part of a complex that includes an aviation museum.