Wondering where to take the kids (besides the beach) to make a splash this summer? Head to one of our 11 favorite water parks or splash pools where your little swimmers can slide, jump and soak themselves to their heart’s content. Scroll down to check out the coolest places to make waves––then grab your sunscreen, gather your clan and get ready for an epic outing of fun in the sun!

Tierrasanta Pool and Play Area

Tierrasanta Pool is a great neighborhood option for families with kids of varying ages. The tot spot has water (less than a foot deep) so that little ones can splash around as well as a tunnel slide and splashy water jungle gym. The pool is part of a larger park with a playground and offers slides for bigger kids (kids must pass a swim test to be able to use slides).

Pool Hours: Mon.-Thurs., noon-3:45 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., noon-4 p.m.

Cost: $4/adults, $2/kiddo

11238 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, Ca
Online: sandiego.gov/tierrasanta




If you're planning a trip to LEGOLAND this summer, be sure to upgrade your ticket to include admission to the Water Park. Kiddos will flip for the more than 20 Lego models that splash and spray guests. The Splash Zoo water feature area is just for kids ages 1-3, and Kid Creek is for those under 42" (must be accompanied by an adult). In addition to the larger tube and open slides, there is Splash Safari, with smaller slides. If all that wasn't enough, CHIMA Waterpark will reopen this summer as well as the NEW Surfers' Cove (opens June 30th). CHIMA is a connecting water world based on the popular toy line and Cartoon Network’s “Legends of Chima,” featuring more slides for all ages, a large wave pool and over 50 interactive water play opportunities for visitors. Surfer's Cove will feature six water slides extending 100-feet where guests compete for the fastest time plus new surf-inspired LEGO models and the Wipeout Lagoon spray ground with multiple water jets splashing on and off to create a wave effect. And don't miss more water play at Soak-N-Sail, Pirate’s Reef, Cragger’s Swamp and the Lion’s Temple Wave Pool!

Insider's Tip: Be sure to bring a change of clothes, as swimsuits are not permitted on LEGOLAND Park rides. Kids more than 42" tall can ride all the rides (non-swimmers are not recommended  on water slides). Be on the look out for early-purchase discount tickets available online.

Carlsbad, Ca 92008
760-918-LEGO (5346)
Online: Legoland.com

Cost: Prices vary, click here for details.
Hours: Sun. - Fri. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m, Sat. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Alga Norte Aquatic Center

North County families can beat the heat by heading to Alga Norte Park's Aquatic Center. Opened in 2014, the beautiful facility offers a competition pool, 25-yard warm water instructional pool, diving boards and a splash pad for children. Life vests are available for young kids and there are plenty of lifeguards on duty so you can feel secure as your little one takes a dip. Don't miss the Inflatable Zone, available Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 1:30 – 3 p.m. Wristbands for the inflatable zone may be purchased for an additional $4 upon entry. Standard rates are $3 for youth 17 and under, $5 per adult. Spectators pay just $2 to enter the facility.

Insider's Tip: Every other summer Saturday you can take advantage of Parents' Night out. Drop your kiddos 8 and older off for a night of music, DJ lights, water inflatables and games.

6565 Alicante Rd.
Carlsbad, Ca 92009
Online: www.carlsbadca.gov

photo: Leah Singer

Aquatica San Diego

Formerly Soak City San Diego, this water park was reborn in 2013 as part of Seaworld and offers all the perks and amenities you would expect from its parent company. From high-speed thrills to up-close animal encounters and heated pools for kids, you and your family can expect a day of fun and excitement. Check out the animal exhibits at Loggerhead Lane where you'll find more than a dozen Caribbean flamingos and freshwater turtles. Not into big splash rides? Float around on the Lazy River or dip into the wave pool. This is truly a "fun for all ages" water-park experience. If anyone needs a quick escape from the sun or is feeling a little over-stimulated, take a break at one of the many shade structures.

Insider's Tip: For the same cost as a single day pass, you can purchase a splash pass and return all season long. Click here for more information.

2052 Entertainment Circle
Chula Vista, Ca 91911
Online: aquaticabyseaworld.com/sandiego/

Cost: $44 for ages 10 and older, $38 for ages 3-9. Season pass for $44
Hours: Sun- Sat. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Hilton Head Park

Make a splash, Matey! This East County park is a fun neighborhood option, complete with aquatic playground, a pirate-themed climbing structure and twisty slides next to the water. This large open space is the perfect way to spend an afternoon with the kiddos. Come on the weekend and you might catch the little ice cream truck that often stops by and rings its bell.

Insider's Tip: There isn't a lot of shade or trees, so bring your own umbrella if you plan on spending the day here.

16005 Hilton Head Rd.
El Cajon, Ca 92019
Online: sdcounty.ca.gov/parks/picnic/hiltonhead.html

Cost: $3/day or $30 for a season pass
Hours: Daily, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

photo: Santee Lakes

Santee Lakes

Grab your pint-sized posse and get ready to be soaked with water shooting up from the ground and dumping down from overhead buckets. This great play area is not only fun to splash in, but there's also plenty of space to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch while catching the stunning views of Santee Lakes. Kids will love feeding the ducks that swim by in the lakes. This awesome outdoor sprinkler park is geared toward kids ages 13 and younger. Kids may want to wear swim shoes or flip flops to keep little feet from getting burned and blistered.

Insider's Tip: If you visit Santee Lakes often, there is an annual parking permit available for $60.

9310 Fanita Pkwy.
Santee, Ca 92071
Online: santeelakes.com

Cost: $2/kiddo; $3 – $5/car parking
Hours: Mon. – Thurs., 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Fri. – Sun., 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. (summer hours)

The Wave Park

Can you brave the wave, mama? That's the question at The Wave Park in Vista. This giant park is what kiddo's summertime dreams are made of. From a slide tower that consists of four slides to tubing down the Riptide Slide into the lazy river, kiddos can happily splash their day away. If you need refuge from the sun, cabana rentals are available for families. The park also has extended evening hours on select Fridays throughout the summer. The Wave offers a variety of admission prices including general admission and season passes.

Insider's Tip: Get your little mermaid out of the sea and into one of The Wave Water Park's mermaid programs and she'll be singing your praises in her very best Ariel voice. Once your busy day is complete, stop by the restrooms, located at the front of the park which are complete with showers and changing facility so you can get the little ones fresh and clean before they zonk out in the car. 

101 Wave Dr.
Vista, Ca 92083
760-940-WAVE (9283)
Online: thewavewaterpark.com

Cost: General admission starts at $14.95
Hours: Mon. - Fri. 10 a.m - 4 p.m., Sat.11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Sun. 12 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Waterfront Park

In 2014, San Diego made a splash with their own version of Central Park: The Waterfront Park, located along the Embarcadero in Little Italy has since become a family-favorite destination for locals. The 12-acre park is just a stone's throw from the bay and is decked out with tons of innovative ways to entertain kids including a splash pad and slide––but it's the giant fountain, with its many jets, that is the park's main attraction. The fountain floor is rough and grippy so kids can run and play without moms worrying about them slipping. A safe setting where kiddos can splash and play and you can enjoy the city's waterfront views — we'll happily add that to our list.

Insider's Tip: There’s a giant grassy area right by the fountain where you can lay towels, have picnics and enjoy the waterfront views. Also, if you want to have a birthday party downtown, the picnic area near the children's playground can be reserved.

1600 Pacific Hwy.
San Diego, Ca 92101
Online: sandiegocounty.gov/parks/Waterfrontpark.html

Cost: Free
Hours: Daily - 6 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fountain Jet Hours: 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.

City Heights Swim Center

A city pool that's clean and has a 30-foot water slide is one that you should know about. The City Heights pool and splash pad is the perfect spot to visit on a hot summer day. After your kiddo is pooped out from splashing and spraying, you can kick back and take a break in the shaded bleachers.

Pool Hours: Mon.-Sat., noon-4 p.m.; Sun., 3-7 p.m.

Cost: $4/adults; $2/kiddo

4380 Landis St.
City Heights, Ca
Online: sandiego.gov/cityheights

photo: The Wave House

The Wave House

If you're looking for a little extra adrenaline rush, try The Wave House, situated on the Mission Beach boardwalk. The artificial wave machine is perfect for older kids (and moms and dads) who want to test their surfing skills without getting in the actual ocean. School-age kids can surf on the eternal "pipe" wave. The whole 30,000 square foot outdoor venue is the epitome of San Diego living; after the surfing is over, grab a drink and a bite to eat at the outdoor tiki bar.

Insider tip: Go earlier in the day because it is located around a bar setting. At night there are competitions and Sunday nights are for adults only.

3125 Ocean Front Walk
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: thewavehouse.com

Cost: prices vary depending on activity

Mission Bay Park

This expansive park features long stretches of shallow beach next to grassy fields and biking paths. Perfect for athletic families, here you can swim, rollerblade or run. Have an adventurous school-ager at home who loves water sports? Try renting a tandem kayak, stand-up paddleboard or water-trike at one of the many rental facilities around Mission Bay. If your munchkins are more into lounging in the sand and playing in the shallow water, stop by one of the eight park areas designated for swimming. At the end of the day, gather along one of the fire pits by the water’s edge to roast s’mores.

Insider's Tip: Although limited, parking is free if you find the right spot.

2688 E Mission Bay Dr.
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation

Where do you take your kids for water-fueled fun? Let us know in the comments!

––Aimee Della Bitta



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