In the middle of The Wave Waterpark, people lie upon colorful rafts that float gently down the lazy river. It’s a serene way to soak up some rays and keep cool. But in the center of the lazy river, separated by raised concrete and a foot bridge, an adventure awaits: the Flow Rider. This simulated surfable ocean wave dares visitors to try and hang ten without falling off their boards into the safe, if rollicking waters.
These two attractions represent the broad spectrum of activity at The Wave, a family-friendly destination equally suited to mild-mannered relaxation, adventurous fun, or something in between. Other rides include a tangle of waterslides, such as the Slam Dunk, an enclosed-tunnel body slide with plenty of twists, and Rippity’s Rainforest, a kid-friendly playground gushing with fountains and waterfalls.
From April to September, lifeguards teach swim lessons in the park’s competition pool for kids as young as 6 months, as well as adults. The Wave is also an ideal spot for birthday parties, with rental cabanas that can fit as many as 30 people or one enormous birthday clown, and a Surf Spot Grill that refuels revelers with burgers, burritos, and pizza.
Favoring small group swimming lessons targeted to all ages, The Aquatic Zone's instructors are trained in the Aquatic Concepts, Inc. method, and use positive reinforcement to teach beginning swimmers the basics of water comfort, body balance, and movement. Once budding amphibians have gotten their foot-flippers wet, they'll try out various strokes and other swimming must-knows such as wall kicks, breathing patterns, and psychic communication with sea life. Lessons are available for children as young as six months and are offered at multiple skill levels for every age group. The goals at each stage are clearly presented and taught, ensuring that the time spent in the pool is always productive and goal-oriented. Awards such as toys, certificates of completion, and surgically implanted gills are bestowed upon students when all the elements of a particular level are mastered. Sessions typically last a half hour, and the saltwater chlorination pools keep water clean without irritating eyes or skin.
Buccaneer Bay packs in more liquitechnics than an underwater merman metal concert. With several twisty, bright-colored waterslides right out of a novelty curly-straw factory, the Bay has everything for every member of the family (even small slides for wee ones). Parking is free and so is the use of life jackets and inner tubes. Between all the splashing and splishing, head to the green grass picnic area, where tired visitors can recharge with a bite to eat, such as hot dogs available for purchase ($1.50 each).
WaveHouse San Diego exhilarates guests with a nonstop beach party that spans four restaurants, various bars, wave machines, and a 400,000-gallon saltwater pool. Guests catch 10-foot waves in the FlowBarrel, which pumps 100,000 gallons of water per minute to simulate the powerful waves and inter-island motorways of Hawaii. After a session of backflips and wipeouts, surfers can fuel up on burgers and brews at the Bar & Grill before grooving out to a live show on the outdoor stage.
“We believe that every child is a champion.” This mission statement informs the approach that Cal Elite Kids takes with the participants of its programs. Youngsters may learn self-reliance in gymnastics lessons, which take place on an in-ground tumble-track trampoline, on an array of beams and bars, or in the air above an in-ground foam pit. They also develop discipline in dance class; at the Rancho Santa Margarita facility, the five dance studios inspire with views of the surrounding mountains.
Cal Elite Kids’ charges can even learn how to express themselves through athletic theatrical performances or simply improve their 2 a.m. Friday-night karaoke warblings during Glee Elite sessions.
Evolution Swim Academy has one goal: help youngsters feel comfortable in the water. To that end, the pool is heated to a soothing temperature and expert instructors hone strokes such as the freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly while emphasizing safety. Their class sequence starts with the basics: a firm grasp of swimming fundamentals such as side-breathing, swimming short distances, and refraining from drinking all the pool water. Aquatic adventurers as young as six months are welcome, joining Parent & Me classes for fun kicking and floating drills. As they grow, children undergo more rigorous training, culminating in high-level courses that prep students for competition.
Founded by two-time Olympian Felipe Delgado, Evolution Sports Camps provides a countermeasure against sedentary summers. Each week-long session engages groups of 5- to 12-year-olds with a rotating roster of activities, covering team sports such as basketball, soccer, and volleyball in addition to swimming and archery. Kids also stretch their muscles with field sports—rounds of dodge ball hone throwing and catching skills, and games of capture the flag train generations of future astronauts to one day reclaim the flag the moon stole in 1969.