11 of America’s Best Indoor Water Parks for Easy, Fun-Filled Family Vacations
We recently went to our first indoor water park as a family. And we are now converted! If you love exploring the world or destinations across America, I get why you may not consider it for a family vacation with so many vacation spots you’re dreaming of getting to.
But sometimes, you just want to pack up and drive a couple of hours and have a blast with your family without planning a trip for weeks ( or months!) And that’s what these fantastic indoor water parks do. It’s instant family-fun and a day or two of laughs, smiles, and family memories.
And it looks like we’re not the only ones who enjoy them. The Attractions Industry Group IAAPA is seeing an increase in indoor water parks not just in the U.S. but globally.
“What we’ve heard from members is that indoor water parks are successful because they are appealing throughout the year, said Caitlin Dineen, Communications Director, The Global Association for the Attractions Industry. “Guests are no longer just going to them when it’s cold outside, but also when the summer heat is extreme. Anecdotally, our members have shared they enjoy great crowds when temperatures are surpassing 100 degrees during the summer season.”
So whether you’re looking to escape the winter weather, scorching summer days and beating sun, celebrate a birthday, or another special occasion, here are 11 of the best indoor water parks across America to check out!
Chains with Multiple Indoor Water Parks
When you think of indoor water parks, an indoor water park chain may come to mind, as it may be the one closest to your house or advertising in your region. Let’s look at two chains with multiple indoor water parks across U.S. and Canada.
1. Great Wolf Lodge – 19 Indoor Water Parks and Counting
Many people equate indoor water parks with Great Wolf Lodge, and it’s not hard to see why. With 19 locations (and a 20th one coming in 2023), they are North America’s largest family of indoor water parks.
“For more than two decades, Great Wolf Lodge has provided a close, convenient getaway for families to come together to laugh, play and strengthen their family bonds,” shared Brooke Patterson, Senior Vice President of Brand Experiences for Great Wolf Lodge.
The centerpiece attraction at each one of their lodge-themed resorts is a large indoor water park featuring water slides, pools, and play areas. Additionally, each resort offers other attractions such as ropes courses, arcade games, miniature golf, bowling, and their branded exclusive interactive game, MagicQuest.
Great Wolf indoor water parks can be found in:
- Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
- Sandusky, Ohio
- Traverse City, Michigan
- Kansas City, Kansas
- Williamsburg, Virginia
- Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
- Mason, Ohio
- Grapevine, Texas
- Grand Mound, Washington
- Fitchburg, Massachusetts
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Garden Grove, California
- Manteca, California
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Bloomington, Minnesota
- LaGrange, Georgia
- Gurnee, Illinois,
- Scottsdale, Arizona
- Perryville, Maryland (2023)
- Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
2. Kalahari – 4 Indoor Water parks and Counting
The resort’s African theme was inspired by a Nelson family trip to Africa more than 20 years ago. To date, Kalahari Resorts purchased $5.5 million worth of African art, and textiles for their indoor water parks from multiple countries to support African artists, craftspeople, and entrepreneurs.
“Our goal is to provide families with an all-under-one-roof getaway unlike any other with something for everyone to enjoy,” said Todd Nelson, president, and owner of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions
Privately owned by the Nelson family, these indoor water parks are home to some of the country’s largest indoor waterparks. Kalahari Resorts include guest rooms, a full-service spa, a family entertainment center, on-site restaurants, and shops. Over the years, they’ve won many awards, including Condé Nast Traveler’s #1 World’s Coolest Indoor Waterparks, Sensory Friendly Certified, Parents’ Magazine Kids’ Travel Award Winner, and TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards.
Kalahari indoor water parks can be found in:
- Sandusky, Ohio
- Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
- Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
- Round Rock, Texas
- Spotsylvania County, Virginia (TBD; 2024 Potentially)
More Award-Winning Indoor Water Parks Across America
3. Aquatopia, Pennsylvania
Camelback Resort, a 560-acre four-season resort is located 90 minutes from New York City and two hours from Philadelphia. It includes Camelback Mountain offering skiing ,snowboarding, and snow tubing, Mountain Adventures with ziplining, a treetop obstacle course, and alpine mountain coaster.
Additionally, this resort includes Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark, Pennsylvania’s biggest outdoor waterpark, and Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark, voted by USA Today as the #1 Indoor Waterpark.
The indoor waterpark is 84 degrees year-round and features North America’s largest Texlon transparent roof. Themed around world exploration and discovery, the waterpark has exciting water slides, signature thrill rides, an AquaPlay structure, and seven pools.
Outside of water fun, they also have a dry indoor family adventure center with laser tag, a rock-climbing wall, a ropes course, a virtual reality experience, and more. Gamers of all ages will love their 30,000 square feet of 100 video and interactive games, including the Axe Master, VR Rabbids, Mirror Maze, Lift Your Loot Escape, and Escape Space Obscura.
For those who live nearby or frequently visit family in the area, they offer multiple-day pass options: Unlimited, Value Spring, Value Summer, and Value Fall that grant access to a variety of Camelback attractions without having to book a resort room.
4. Dreamworks Water Park, New Jersey
One of the newest indoor water parks on this list, the world’s first Dreamworks Animation Water Park, is also the largest in North America. Located in the brand new shopping and entertainment complex American Dream Mall next to Giants Stadium, this complex is conveniently located at the intersection of major New Jersey highways and only 7 miles from New York City’s Lincoln Tunnel.
American Dream is also home to Nickelodeon Universe indoor theme park, Big SNOW indoor ski slope, Angry Birds Not So Mini Golf Club, The Rink ice skating, Out of This World Blacklight Mini Golf, Legoland Discovery Center play place, SeaLife Aquarium, dining, and retail stores.
“We can’t wait for guests to visit DreamWorks Animation Water Park and experience the completely unique, jaw-dropping, and awe-inspiring destination that we have created,” said Don Ghermezian, Co-CEO of American Dream.
This over-the-top water park, where the worlds of DreamWorks Animation’s most adored characters and shows are brought to life, is a great day trip for locals, or an add-on day for those visiting nearby New York City.
Swirl through an ogre’s swamp on Shrek’s Sinkhole Slammer, find your inner champion with the Dragon Warrior Po at Kung Fu Panda’s Temple of Awesomeness; be among the first to hang ten in the world’s largest 1.5 acres indoor wave pool, relax on the Bubbly Lazy River or discover your secret operation at the Penguins of Madagascar Play Zone, you can do it 365 days a year at American Dream.
5. Wilderness at the Smokies, Tennessee
Wilderness at the Smokies, the Smoky Mountain’s Largest Waterpark Resort & Family Adventure Center, is located in Sevierville, Tennessee, in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. More than 92% of the area’s visitors drive, eliminating expensive plane tickets and complicated flying days. Sevierville is a relatively quick drive from most major metros east of the Mississippi, and more than 50 percent of the total U.S. population can drive here in one day or less.
The resort includes 714 rooms, suites, and villas, an 84-degree, year-round indoor waterpark, two seasonal outdoor waterparks, an indoor family adventure center, dining, shopping, and a 36-hole championship golf course.
Awarded USA TODAYS’s “10Best Readers’ Choice,” some of its attractions include:
- Storm Chaser Thrill Ride – four-person tube slide featuring a 55-foot drop into a swirling funnel of water with night illumination
- Trail Twister Tube Slides – two swirling, adrenaline-filled one and two-person tube slides
- Runaway Canyon – four-person tube slide that careens 450 feet through the water curtains, tunnels, turns, and loops
- Smokies Surf Rider – simulated body-surfing experience, the only of its kind in the the region, powered by more than 50,000 gallons of water
- The Great Wave – 10,700 square-foot wave pool capable of generating waves up to five feet tall
- Washout Mountain – multi-level play structure with 750-gallon bucket dump, 50 play and-spray features, body and kiddie slides
- Magnolia Grove Indoor/Outdoor Hot Spa
- Snapping Turtle Indoor/Outdoor Play Lagoon – basketball hoops, balance courses and more
- Flying Squirrel – zero-depth entry toddler area with two mini-slides and swing tree
It’s one of the few U.S. timeshare resorts with indoor water parks. The property’s Great Smokies Lodge has a Club Wyndham section, and timeshare owners with a RCI Membership can exchange into this property.
If you don’t own a timeshare but love scoring great room deals, you can vacation at this award-winning resort and save serious money by renting a room from a timeshare owner who isn’t using theirs. Trusted websites include Redweek, Go-Koala, Timeshares Only, and the Timeshare Users Group Marketplace.
6. Wilderness Resort – Wisconsin Dells
Located in Wisconsin Dells, known as the Waterpark Capital of the world, is The Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort, America’s largest waterpark resort. This mega-property includes four indoor water parks and four outdoor ones, a dozen non-water attractions, three arcades, and an 18-hole golf course over a mind-boggling 800 acres.
Wild West Indoor Water Park
This 70,000-square-foot waterpark is located in the Wild West Region of the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort, and it features:
- The Black Hole, this tube slide takes two guests on an exciting tunnel ride before they race into a huge bowl where they spin around and descend into a corkscrew with a center opening that drops them down into a landing pool.
- Bumper Boats, Crash into your friends in the area’s only indoor bumper boats.
- The Fantastic Voyage, the Dells’ only five-person raft ride takes guests on a journey through twisting and turning tunnel ways together.
- Ransack Ridge, a six-level, free-standing play feature, is the largest of its kind. It features a 750-gallon car-tipping bucket, the largest ever created, that spills water every 3 minutes.
- Water blasters, animated targets, and various water jets, all in a Wild West theme, add to the excitement of this intensely fun new waterpark.
- Four Speed Slides
- Indoor/Outdoor Hot Spa
Klondike Kavern Indoor Water Park
This 65,000-square-foot waterpark is located in the New Frontier Region of the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort, and it features:
- Bonanza Bluff – a massive play structure that includes 50 play and spray features, a 750-gallon tipping bucket, a 20-foot body slide, and two 4-foot side-by-side children’s slides
- The Hurricane – The Dells’ tallest indoor 4-person, family raft ride plummets a 45-degree angle down 58 feet where they enter a funnel at a pulse-pounding 20 mph. Riders are propelled up the opposite side of the funnel and experience a momentary Zero-Gee experience before exiting into a splash into a landing pool below. Fog machines, strobe lights, and sound effects add to the thrills of this ride.
- Bonanza Brook, A 400-foot Lazy River
- The Claim Jumper Challenge Slideboarding, two 500-foot tube rides that incorporate a gaming experience into waterslides. There’s even an app so riders can practice their technique.
- A 180-foot body slide
- Indoor/outdoor pool
- Sulfur Springs Indoor/outdoor hot springs
Wild Waterdome Indoor Water Park
This 70,000-square-foot waterpark is located in the New Frontier Region of the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort and is home to:
- The nation’s largest indoor wave pool, The Great Wave, measuring 15,450 square feet, can make waves up to 5 feet tall
- A 2,200-square-foot zero-depth play lagoon
- The Dueling Mammoths, a high-energy family tube ride that allows families to race against each other through twisting and turning tunnels to see who is the fastest “cave-themed” private cabanas available for rent
- Margarita’s Swim-Up Bar for adults only
7. Massanutten Resort, Virginia
The Ultimate Family Four Season Resort, Massanutten, is around the bend from the Swift Run Gap entrance of Shenandoah National Park and only 120 miles from Washington, D.C. The mid-Atlantic’s premier all-season resort’s award list is almost as long as its extensive list of on-site amenities. From the top family-friendly ski resort in the Southeast to one of the top mountain resorts in the world to the best indoor water park, there are over 100 daily activities across their 6,000-acre property.
Massanutten WaterPark, heated to 84° Fahrenheit, was voted “#2 Indoor Water Park in America” by the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice poll. Enjoy their water fortress, inflatable adventures, body slides, pools, lazy river floats, and hot tubs, or learn how to surf on the FlowRider Endless Wave.
The Virginia Resort offers three escape rooms, the Family Adventure Park, and a petting zoo. Seasonal sports activities include two challenging 18-hole golf courses, skiing, ice skating, and snow tubing, and 12 on-site dining options.
At the end of your day, you can relax and spread out in their accommodations, ranging from hotel rooms, condos, townhouses, or private gated homes that can sleep 2 to 14 people. This timeshare resort is a favorite of both timeshare owners and renters. You can score amazing deals by renting a resort room at this award-winning RCI Gold property by renting a room from a timeshare owner. You can stay here for under $100 in a one-bedroom condo unit and enjoy all the property offers. Here’s a recent snapshot of rentals available on the A+ Business Bureau-rated rental site Redweek.
8. Sound Waves, Nashville
In a destination known as “Music City,” you can have a first-of-its-kind water and music experience at Sound Waves, Nashville, one of the unique indoor water parks on this list. SoundWaves is a 4-acre, 3-level upscale indoor/outdoor water attraction with dedicated recreation zones for adults, young children, and families.
The resort combines water, music, amenities, and activities with an upscale touch you’d expect from its parent company, Gaylord Resorts. From thrilling rides to relaxing decks and an adult-only pool enhances each experience with paired musical components from country to pop. There are even attractions that play music and a giant screen with music programming at the outdoor wave pool, all set to a comfortable 84 degrees year-round.
You’ll have to not only be a resort guest to experience the water park but also purchase the hotel package with admission tickets. Don’t wait until the last minute, as capacity is capped to ensure wait times aren’t too long and attractions aren’t too crowded. One night’s stay grants you access to the indoor water park for two days – from the time it opens on the day of check-in until noon on the day of check-out. So plan to get there early on your check-in day.
If you’re staying longer, the hotels provide complimentary transportation to and from downtown, so you can experience Nashville’s Honky Tonks and return to SoundWaves away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown scene.
9. Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark, New York
Built by the same people behind Aquatopia, is the largest indoor water park in the state of New York. Opening in 2019, The Kartrite is located in the lower Catskills, less than 100 miles from New York City, right down the street from Resort World Casino and 15 minutes from Legoland New York.
“Inspired by the architecture of indoor water parks in Europe, the Kartrite’s unobstructed column-free construction features a stunning, barrel-shaped transparent Texlon roof that will bathe visitors in natural sunlight throughout the year and allow tropical plants to thrive inside the waterpark, giving off tropical island vibes right in the mountains of New York,” said Ken Ellis, Co-Owner of The Kartrite Hotel & Indoor Waterpark and CEO of Aquatic Development Group.
Similar to Soundwaves, it’s another indoor water park where you get two days of admission to the water park for one night’s stay. On your check-out day, you can stay the entire day until the park closes at 7 pm.
Day passes are available for those who live in the area or are already staying in the region on vacation. If you’re planning on going to nearby Legoland, the largest amusement park in the world, get your tickets at the front desk and save $20 off each one.
10. Wings & Waves, Oregon
Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark, the nation’s only educational and aviation-themed water park, has ten waterslides, a wave pool, and a children’s museum dedicated to teaching students about the power of water. The facility features more than 70,000 square feet of educational fun, highlighted by a massive Evergreen International Aviation Boeing 747 aircraft that rests on the top of the building.
At Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark, children and adults will learn why “life needs water” through experience, inspiration, and education. The waterpark, next to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, has a collection of aircraft and space artifacts.
Wings and Waves are located off Highway 18, east of McMinnville, across from the McMinnville airport, about one hour from downtown Portland, 40 minutes from Salem, and one hour from Lincoln City.
10. Timber Ridge Lodge & Water Park
Timber Ridge Lodge is conveniently situated between the major metro areas of Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago and is apart of the award-winning AAA Four-Diamond resort, Grand Geneva Resort & Spa.
Situated on 1,300 acres in the woodlands of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, it offers not just an indoor water park but some of the finest facilities, accommodations, and dining experiences in the Midwest. The iconic resort offers families an escape, including outdoor adventures such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, and scooter excursions — in addition to the resort’s championship golf courses, tennis courts, and indoor and outdoor pools.
Named one of the top indoor water parks in the United States, Moose Mountain Falls has an array of activities, including 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor waterpark fun featuring 35-foot high slides, a lazy river, and a mini-golf.
11. Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, Michigan
For over 70 years, Boyne Mountain Resort has welcomed visitors to the village of Boyne Falls. The family-owned resort offers Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark, Avalanche Bay, the luxurious 19,500 square foot The Spa at Boyne Mountain, and many lodging and dining options.
The thrilling Zipline Adventure Tour can be experienced year-round, while summer attractions include two golf courses, an 18-hole mountain disc golf course, mountain biking, scenic cart tours, tennis, beach activities at the resort’s Deer Lake, hiking, and scenic chairlift rides. Also, enjoy evening family entertainment like pond fishing, hayrides, movie nights, and more. Winter beckons with snowsports galore from 60 trails of downhill to 35km of cross country, as well as exclusive snowshoe trails, outdoor swimming, tubing, ice skating, fat tire snow biking, and groomer rides.