The promise of spending a hot summer day at a family water park is sure to put a grin on any child's face. But not all are the same: the top of the spectrum often feature a first-class wave pool, a bunch of crazy intense slides, and a whimsical playground for you children to frolic. Below, we rounded up the best water parks for kids in the USA.
Wisconsin Dells, WI
Easily one of the best water parks for kids in the Midwest, Noah's Ark blends thrilling rids (including the 10-story Scorpion's Tail with a nearly vertical drop) with more than a dozen "kiddie and gentle" rides, such as bumper boats, two endless rivers, and multiple play areas for small children.
Jacksonville Beach, FL
There's nothing like a cooling off from the Florida sun, and Shipwreck Island Waterpark is one of the state's best family water parks. Little kiddos will love the park's Pirate's Play Village, where they can get blasted with the water cannons, and a Kiddie Cove for toddlers. The park boasts four extreme slides, including the 40-ft. high Eye of the Storm.
Vernon Township, NJ
A picture-perfect ski resort in the winter, Mountain Creek becomes a water park in perhaps New Jersey's most-scenic corner in the summer. Seasoned swimmers will adore the Canyon Cliff Jump, but littler kids should stick to exploring the park's myriad mild attractions, including the Sprayground and the Lost Island.
Raging Waves' calling card is 10+ thrill slides, such as the four-person Wonambi tube slide and the high-speed PJ's Plummet, where you reach speeds of up to 40 mph. There's also a Kangaroo Falls kids' area with water cannons, slides, and rope bridges, and a 600-ft. family raft ride.
Riviera Beach, FL
Located a short day trip from Fort Lauderdale, Rapids Water Park draws in people from all over Florida. It's easy to see why: with 42 different attractions–including a 70-foot plunge inside an enclosed flume waterslide–there's something for everyone. Kids will want to race their friends on the 6-lane Rapids Racer again and again, into infinitum.
San Antonio, TX
You could spend a full day at Splashtown San Antonio and not do everything. With 45 (!) different attractions, Splashtown basically demands repeat visits. But your children won't miss Kids Kove, home to the new Splash Island, with four milder slides ideal for kiddos. Meanwhile, parents can rent a poolside cabana and enjoy the chance to soak in some pleasant weather.
Palm Springs, CA
An oasis in the desert, Wet 'n' Wild Palm Springs is one of the top water parks for kids and adults alike. Kids'll dig the two Tidal Wave Tower slides, which stretch to 7 floors high. Adults will like the raft rides, which allow entire families to go down slides together, plus the 600-foot-long lazy river, where they can while away the day.
Federal Way, WA
Connected to Wild Waves Theme Park (home to Washington State's largest wooden roller coaster), the sister water park is arguably the bigger attraction. In addition to 9 slides, Wild Waves's superbly kid-friendly Hook's Lagoon challenges little swimmers to explore a three-story treehouse. And entire famiies can climb into a raft at Zoomba Falls, meaning it's great for bonding (or mercilessly splashing your sister).
Virginia Beach, VA
Jaw-dropping rides keep the kids coming back from more at this Virginia Beach water park. Loop around the 350-foot-long Sea Serpent slide, or brave yourself for a pitch-black ride inside the aptly named Walk the Plank slide. Kids'll also love the massive Runaway Beach wave pool. With 1 million gallons of water, it's a beast of an attraction.