1. Schlitterbahn Waterpark, San Antonio, Texas
Long regarded as the best water park in the country, Schlitterbahn is an expansive park with cascades of coolness. Schlitterbahn has parks in Kansas City, Corpus Christi, Galveston, and South Padre Island, but the original park in New Braunfels (suburb of San Antonio) is the most famous. The park is modeled after a charming German mountain town, which seems out of place in Texas, but the multiple slides, chutes, and pools will quickly make you feel right at home.
2. Typhoon Lagoon, Orlando, Fla.
When Typhoon Lagoon opened in 1989, it raised the bar for water parks. Much more than concrete and slides, Typhoon Lagoon is a man-made paradise replete with botanical delights. Home to the world largest outdoor wave pool and a very long and relaxing Lazy River, guests will be entranced with this cool creation as it meanders through lush tropical jungles and gardens. It even has a rope bridge that spans two mountain peaks.
3. Wild Island Family Adventure Park, Sparks, Nevada
This Nevada charmer is unique because in addition to being a wonderful water park, this park includes bowling, laser mazes, black light mini golf, and a go-kart racetrack. Since Sparks is less than 10 miles from Reno, and only 30 miles from Lake Tahoe, this park is centrally located for all kinds of family fun. Basically, you can splash, bowl, race, putt, and party all day.
4. Dollywood Splash Country, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Yes, this park is named after country singing legend, Dolly Parton. She owns two theme parks in Eastern Tennessee: Dollywood (the theme park replete with roller coasters and steam engine trains) and Splash Country (the water park). This park has all the typical lazy rivers, wave pools, slides and rides that water parks usually have, but with a country twist. This park is also close to quaint tourist town Gatlinburg, so there is no shortage of things to do in this part of the country, thanks in part to Dolly Parton.
5. Aquatica, Orlando, Fla.
Aquatica is a relative newcomer to Orlando area water parks, but it made a big splash with its 2008 opening. What makes this park stand out is its signature attraction, The Dolphin Plunge. The Plunge is a water slide with two enclosed tubes that pass underwater through a pool filled with dolphins. Aquatica has a South Pacific theme whose mascots include a kiwi and a kookaburra (Australian birds), a gecko, and dolphins, of course. Aquatica is adjacent to sister parks SeaWorld and Discovery Cove, and with Walt Disney World only 5 miles away, this gem of a water park certainly merits a summer visit.