America’s Best Destinations for Family Water Fun

America’s Best Destinations for Family Water Fun

If you enjoy splashing around in your getaway trips, you’ll be glad to know the US is overflowing with opportunities for aquatic adventures. You can take advantage of thousands of miles of coastline, much of it boasting water temperatures warm enough to swim in much of the year. Elsewhere, there are enticing indoor water parks to enjoy water fun all year round no matter what the weather is outside.  

From coast to coast, let us embark on a journey across the United States to uncover the most thrilling family water-filled fun destinations and experiences that promise plenty of excitement. Whether you’re seeking the adrenaline rush of water sports, the serenity of beachside relaxation, or the thrills of aquatic theme parks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in America’s lakes, rivers, oceans, and water parks.

Indoor Water Parks

When budgets or schedules don’t permit a full-blown getaway, the U.S. has lots of weatherproof indoor water parks sprinkled throughout the country. Some are just right for a day trip, while others are part of larger resort areas perfect for a long weekend or a week’s vacation. And with young kids, you may prefer to avoid the beaches while they’re not yet fully confident in the water.

Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin

The sprawling Wisconsin Dells amusement and resort area has a suitably sized indoor water park to match, at 125,000 square feet. The park boasts rides for every level of thrill seeker, from tranquil to extreme. There’s also an indoor/outdoor spa, a 3,000 square-foot activity pool, and an underwater, virtual reality experience.


Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort, Pennsylvania

Who needs blazing sun when Pennsylvania’s Polynesian-themed Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park maintains a balmy indoor air temperature of 84 degrees? Seven thrilling water slides, including the Black Hole which offers a slide that keeps you in the dark until you are shot out at the end, helped Splash Lagoon earn fourth place honors in a 2018 USA Today poll of the country’s best indoor water parks.

The Splash Lagoon complex also features a three story-high ropes course, an arcade, and Monkey Shines Island, a play area with gentle slides and shallow pools perfect for the littlest ones.


Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark, Pennsylvania

Also, in Pennsylvania, Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark offers the best of winter and summer in one package. Its location on Camelback Mountain means you can enjoy winter ski fun or summer mountain outdoor fun in the morning and splash in the afternoon.

Aquatopia boasts the biggest breakers in the Northeast in its Great Ka-Na-Gawa wave pool, as well as the world’s only combo raft ride of its kind, the Venus SlydeTrap.


Wild Water Dome, Tennessee

A Foil Tech glass roof lets the sunshine in and keeps the Wild Water Dome water park warm enough to swim any time of year. The park has a wide range of indoor water rides, including a five-story-high raft ride, a zero-gravity slide, and several play areas for the kiddies.

You can stay right on-site, since the park is part of a hotel, or you can choose one of the hundreds of Gatlinburg cabins in the foothills all around for family-size accommodation.


Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, Michigan

The huge Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark offers 88,000 square feet of thrills, chills, and play zones perfect for the kids. Its Big Couloir slide boasts the industry’s steepest drop (along with a 360-degree loop).

Soak for a while in Glacier Hot Springs, an authentic apres-ski and mountain experience, or dine in one of the parks’ many eateries. Avalanche Bay has it all with on-site lodging, shopping, and ongoing events.

Massanutten Resort, Virginia

Virginia’s Massanutten Resort encompasses an indoor/outdoor water park, a ski area, and two golf courses. It also features a variety of dining options, plenty of shopping, and a day spa. Its location in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley makes Massanutten easily accessible from several major cities. A USA Today poll rated Massanutten as one of the top two indoor water parks in America.


Beach Getaways

Let’s get outdoors and head to the beach! Many areas of the country can offer practically year-round coastal fun, and here are some notables.

Islamorada, Florida

The Florida Keys longest island, Islamorada boasts gorgeous sunsets, palm tree-lined beaches, and a tropical paradise feel. Thanks to daytime temperatures in the upper 70’s throughout the winter, it’s a true year-round destination where you and the family can splash it up on both the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico sides of the island.

Islamorada has several family-oriented attractions like the a marine mammal park known as Theater By the Sea where you can swim with dolphins, the History of Diving Museum, and Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park.

Kauna’oa Bay, Hawaii

Its gentle slope and secluded location make Kauna’oa Bay (a.k.a. Mauna Kea Beach) perfect for building sandcastles with the kids, bodysurfing, or curling up with a good book. Located on the Kohala Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, Mauna Kea Beach features the state’s whitest sand. Nearby attractions include Parker Ranch, the nation’s largest privately-owned cattle ranch, and Mauna Loa which is the world’s largest active volcano.


Emerald Coast, Florida

Teal green waters and sugar-white sand earned a 50-mile stretch of beach along the Florida Panhandle the name of the Emerald Coast. At the eastern end, Panama City Beach offers year-round fun with seven area amusement parks, a world-class aquarium and sea life habitat.

Drive west along Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A for spectacular views of the Gulf. Stay in the charming little town of Seaside, which you may recall as being the setting for Jim Carrey’s Truman Show movie, and which Travel & Leisure Magazine once said has “the Best Beach on Earth for Families”.

At the western end of the stretch, the Emerald Coast’s most visited destination, Destin, also has a gorgeous beach, a bustling downtown harbor area, and lots of family-friendly attractions.


So now that we’ve delivered you many options for a wonderfully wet holiday, there’s no excuse not to pack your swimsuit, grab some sunscreen, and get ready to dive into a world of water fun that awaits you across America.


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Author: Michael Jerrard

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