If a long, wet spring has made you desperate for a dip into the tropical waters of Maui, where the kids can hang ten on waves that curl into the sunset… snap out of it! You live in Portland. Instead, grab your swimsuits and head over to North Clackamas Aquatic Park, a fun close-to-home (and cheaper) alternative. While you may not be able to sit in the sun  with a Mai Tai and watch the distant shores, your kid’s smiles from the wave pool will bring summer right to you.

 What to see:
With a wave pool, three tube slides, an interactive play area, kiddie pool, lap pool, diving well and hot tub, the question is not what to see, but rather what to see first! If you have daredevils in the family, the two tube slides and one drop slide are a must to get your adventure started. (Note riders must be at least 48 inches tall to ride the slides and kids are not allowed on parent’s laps.)

If you have swimmers in the younger set, Sammie the Seal Slide in the kiddie pool is a safe bet. The maximum age is six for this area, which means kids can enjoy the pool without older swimmer’s aggressive water play surrounding them. The interactive part of the aquatic park has bubbling fountains and a shallow depth perfect for little ones to squeal in delight and splash all they want.

Meanwhile, send the most adventurous of your brood over to the wave pool where giant waves help any kid feel like he or she can hang ten. If your “surfers” need some help getting adjusted to the wave pool they can play in the shallow end before making their way to the deeper section in the back.

Where it’s at:
North Clackamas Aquatic Park is located at 7300 SE Harmony Road in Milwaukie and is a part of the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District. Not sure if you’re in the district? Check here.

When to go:
Summer Big Surf hours are when all features of the water park open to the public and run from June 15, 2012 – Sept. 2, 2012.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Tuesday, Thursday: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Saturday, Sunday: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Just added: Sept. 3, 2012, Monday: 1:00 – 5:00pm

Tickets:
Under three: Free with paying adult (Two kids maximum)
Three and older: $5 for in-district residents, $8 for out-of-district

Tubes and lockers can be rented for $1 apiece.

Dress:
Lifejackets can be brought from home or are offered free of charge inside the water park.Swimsuits are required and shorts with exposed buttons or zippers are not allowed in the pools. Light colored T-shirts can be worn, but must be taken off when riding the slides. Swim diapers are required.

Where to Grab a Bite:
Outside food and drinks are not allowed in the park, but Tsunami Café in the lobby offers up traditional snack bar fare for hungry swimmers. In addition, an outdoor picnic area is open to the public.

Online: ncprd.com/aquatic-park

Insider Tip: On Sundays the aquatic park offers a special family rate of $12 for residents and $24 for non-residents that enable a family of two adults and up to four children entrance into the water park.

Do your kids like to hang 10 at this aquatic park? 

— Laurie Halter