Slip ’n’ slides are good for sweltering summer days. But when the heat leaves your water table dry and your popsicles melting, you’re going to need a bigger fix. A faster fix. A splashier fix. Cue water slides. The Chicago area has its fair share and you can find them in public parks, neighborhood aquatic centers and major resorts. Hold on to your swimming trunks, because it’s going to be a wild ride.
Norwood Park – Chicago
Main Attraction: The public park is home to the North Side’s only water slide and one of the city’s most popular. Located in the outdoor pool, it has a winding tube, plenty of dips and angles, and a hefty set of stairs that provides a workout in itself. Sliders must be 44” tall. Even without the backing of a huge waterpark, this city slide provides just enough speed, twists and turns to satisfy seasoned sliders.
Family Appeal: A favorite with young swimmers and explorers, the park also offers swim lessons, camps and special events to keep you entertained and enthralled.
5801 N. Natoma Ave.
Open: Jun. 19. Check website for open swim schedule.
Sea Lion Aquatic Park – Lisle
Main Attraction: The 50-foot flume slides — twin body slides that require the rider to sit directly on the slide instead of lying on a raft — are less aggressive than the park’s daring drop slides, but a lot more interesting. Ideal for young risk takers, they consist of fully enclosed tubes or semi-tubes, which face the open air and offer a more breezy slide. Sliders must be 40” tall.
Family Appeal: Additional amenities include a splash playground, a vortex pool (or mini lazy river,) a baby pool with sand play area and a zero depth area.
1825 Short St.
Open: May 27-Aug. 13; 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
Admission: $5-$7 for Lisle residents; $9-$13 for non-residents
Raging Waves Waterpark – Yorkville
Main Attraction: PJ’s Plummet sounds like a ski mountain, but it’s a high-velocity, towering tube slide with a launch point that stands 72 feet high. Partake in spiraling fun and serious speed — the most recent clocked time was 43 miles per hour — as you descend into a shallow pool with a spectacular splash. Sliders must be 48” tall. In 2016, Raging Waves welcomed Wonambi to the family. This 4-person tube adventure will twist and turn until you’re breath is ripped right from your mouth.
Family Appeal: As Illinois’ largest waterpark, this 45-acre Yorkville favorite has an Australian Outback theme complete with a Crocodile Mile family raft ride, a 4-story play fort with slides, bridges and squirting fountains, and a giant sandbox to bury siblings.
4000 N. Bridge St.
Open: May 27-Sept. 4; hours change based on date, so check their website before visiting
Admission: $13.99-$31.99; free for ages 2 & under
Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort and Indoor Waterpark – Utica
Main Attraction: Tempt everyone with the five-person-wide, bright yellow, beginner Family Slide. With no age limit, your entire clan can careen down together, enjoying a soft incline and the quiet rush of water. You won’t feel the wind in your hair, but you’ll get a kick out of watching the kids’ expressions as make the tame descent.
Family Appeal: It’s about two hours outside Chicago, but don’t sweat the trip: There are hotel rooms onsite. Make a night of it and get up early the next morning for more water fun. There’s a kiddie pool, rock grotto waterfall, wave pool, slides and play structures for all ages. Every Saturday and Sunday, they host a duck derby at 8:45 a.m. Pick our your favorite ducky and watch it glide across the finish line.
2643 IL Route 178
Open: Summer hours until Aug. 14, 9 a.m.-10 p.m
Admission: For overnight guests of the resort only; access is included in your hotel stay
Centennial Family Aquatic Center – Wilmette
Main Attraction: It’s not often that slides accommodate tykes that stand just 38” tall. But the kid-friendly one at this North Shore spot does. Watch your budding swimmer shout with delight as she careens into the safety of a shallow wading pool (depth ranges from 0 to 1.5 feet), either assisted or alone. With a secure fence to keep kiddies contained near the slide, you’ll have zero interference from bigger daredevils. Sliders can be up to five years old. It’s tame, but for a toddler it’s all relative, right?
Family Appeal: The pool area is smaller in comparison to others, but gets rave reviews from regulars. That’s mainly because of its exceptional layout featuring dedicated, fenced-in kid sections. It’s an ideal fit for larger families.
2300 Old Glenview Rd.
Open: Wading pool is open Jun. 10-Sept. 4; (weekdays) 9 a.m.-noon & 1 p.m.-9 p.m., (weekends) 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Admission: $9.75 for Wilmette residents; $16 for non-residents
What is your favorite pool or waterpark for big thrills? Let us know in the Comments section below.x
— Maria Chambers & Taryn Bickleyx