Hey, it is hot enough for ya? When you’ve exhausted the sprinklers, free pools, museums and other ways to stay cool during the sizzling hot days of summer, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Nothing beats the heat quite like a float on a lazy river or a thrilling ride down a water slide. The cool relief of a water park is closer than you think. Here are our picks for the best outdoor water parks near NYC! (Like your water parks climate controlled? Check out these indoor water park spots!)

Editor’s note: Policies and practices regarding Covid-19 for the 2021 season vary from park to park, with most not requiring vaccinated guests to wear masks. However, check the policies for each park before heading out. 

photo: Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark

For Two Waterparks, Sun-tubing, and a Mountain Coaster: Camelbeach and Aquatopia at Camelback Resort

There's is a lot to do at Camelback Resort in the Poconos. You don't have to pack it all in in one day: Stay overnight at the hotel and you get access to both the resort's waterparks, the outdoor Camelbeach Mountain, the largest outdoor waterpark in Pennsylvania, and Aquatopia, an indoor waterpark with a transparent roof that's always 84 degrees. New this season is "sun-tubing" (like snow-tubing but summer, an outdoor adventure zone and camp! Need more excitement? Hop on the mountain coaster for a zip through the woods, or zoom through the air on Camelback's 4,000-foot-long twin zipflyer.

Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark
Camelback Resort 
309 Resort Dr.
Tannersville, PA
570-629-1662
Online: camelbeach.com

For an Indoor/Outdoor Experience: Kalahari Resorts

Also located in the Poconos, Kalahari Resorts provides the best of both worlds: its 100,000-square-foot indoor water park provides shelter from the storm if it rains, but a retractable roof lets fresh the summer air in when it doesn't. You'll find the latest in waterpark technology here: the very first (and only) VR Waterslide in the United States, which launches you into space, through the jungle and beyond! The centerpiece of the water park, Splashdown Safari has several slides for all ages, and water spouts that will drench you when you least expect it. Two hot, steamy outdoor whirlpools are accessible from inside and there's a large outdoor pool with a swim-up bar.

Kalahari Resorts
250 Kalahari Blvd.
Pocono Manor, PA
570-580-6000
Online: kalahariresorts.com

For A Local Favorite: Splish Splash

NYC residents don’t need to head that far for a deluxe water park experience. Just 90 minutes outside of the city on Long Island, Splish Splash is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The 44" and under set will enjoy the kiddie pools, elephant slide, octopus pool and interactive pirate ship, complete with water cannons and slides. For thrillseekers, attractions include New York’s only water roller coaster, body slides with intense inclines, and several group rides for the family that likes to get wet together. Other chilling out options include relaxing in a rented cabana by a wave pool or floating down a lazy river in a tube. 

2549 Splish Splash Dr.
Calverton, NY
631-727-3600
Online: splishsplash.com

Best for Wet & Dry Fun — Plus Elmo: Sesame Place

Though not specifically a water park, you and your little one will appreciate the kid-oriented Sesame Place for both the water fun and "dry fun" themed attractions. Cool off at the Count's Splash Castle, a multi-level interactive water-play space, and Big Bird's Rambling River, where you and your muppet can float in an inner tube together through Sesame Island. Of note: Sesame Place is the first theme park to be designated a Certified Autism Center, where staff receives autism-awareness training and guests can access sensory-friendly services and resources in the park. Bonus: you don’t have to have a car to get there. Take NJ Transit to Trenton and then hop on a bus or grab a cab. Got wheels?  It’s about a two-hour drive.

100 Sesame Rd.
Langhorne, Pa
1-866-464-3566
Online: sesameplace.com

Best for All Ages: Wildwater Kingdom

Don't be fooled by the name. Wildwater Kingdom, located in Pennsylvania about two hours from the city, can be wild or mild, depending on your preference. While you’ll find plenty of elevated, looping, racing and hair-raising slides and rides here, Wildwater Kingdom is also home to several specially-designed kids' sections. The whole family can play the day away at Seaside Splashworks, a beach-themed multi-level play structure featuring more than 75 play elements Finally, when you need to escape from all the water activities, dive into the amusement park rides at neighboring Dorney Park.

3830 Dorney Park Rd.
Allentown, PA
610-395-3724
Online: dorneypark.com

For Pirate Lovers (and a Lower-key Vibe): Land of Make Believe and Pirate's Cove

If you’re looking for some water fun and rides for little kids, but don’t need things to be MEGA EXTREME, the combo of Pirate’s Cove and Land of Make Believe in Hope, New Jersey may be for you. Big on charm and easier on the wallet, these sister attractions are approximately a 90-minute drive from the city. The water park Pirate's Cove commits to a pirate theme throughout, with a giant ship interactive water feature, as well as an 18-inch deep wading pool with slides for tiny visitors. Next door at the Land of Make Believe you'll get a traditional country fair experience, complete with classic rides and attractions. There’s also a free picnic area on site, as well as free parking. Note: Payment is by cash or Discover card only here; there is an ATM on site.

354 Great Meadows Rd.
Route 611
Hope, NJ
Online: lomb.com

Best for Theme Park Lovers: Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is about a 90-minute drive from the city, and has something for everyone. Caribbean Cove is a water play area just for little ones,  with 55 interactive features including spray nozzles, jets, valves and water guns, as well as a two-feet-deep entry pool and a beach area for relaxing. Other spots for families include the Blue Lagoon wave pool and Discovery Bay water playground, and features like a nursing station, stroller rentals and cabanas are nice, too. Be advised that it can get very crowded here and lines can be long. 

Route 537
Jackson, NJ

732-928-2000
Online: sixflags.com/hurricaneharbornj

photo: Morey's Piers

Best for A Shore Thing: Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks

For the ultimate family-friendly summer shore experience, Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks is a sure bet. It’ll take you a while to get there — figure three hours — which is why you might want to consider spending a night. But it’s worth the trip, both for the extensive water parks and the multiple piers packed with rides. (You can read our full review of Morey’s Piers, here.) Morey’s takes its water parks very seriously, as evidenced by not one, but two extensive water parks, each with its own feel, at the end of two piers. Raging Waters Adventure Water Park is the more intense of the two splash zones. Ocean Oasis Water Park and Beach Club is more mellow and even features a swim-up bar. Both parks offer gorgeous views of the beach and water, driving home that you’re at the shore and it’s summer, baby!

Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks
3501 Boardwalk
Wildwood, NJ
609-522-3900
Online: moreyspiers.com

—Mimi O’Connor

 

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