Summer is here! The sun is out and our state is opening up. While a short trip to the lake is great any time, we need a change in venue and boy, have we got reasons to celebrate. So gas up the van, it’s time for a road trip to get wet! We’ve compiled a list of great water parks near Seattle (and beyond) that might take a little while to get to, but are totally worth it. Who else is up for a mini vacation?
Wild Waves Theme Park
Our own Wild Waves is still a favorite for many. It offers two parks in one: one half an amusement park and the other, a waterslide park. You get both for one price. On the wet side, kids love Hook’s Lagoon, featuring a three-story treehouse filled with slides, sprayers, spinning wheels and more. While you’ll want to stick by your kids, the Wave Pool is fun too. The Konga Lazy River is great for all ages (we could go around and around that thing for hours). Older, more adventurous kids will want to tackle the rest and, with exception of the Activity Pool, most kids can handle it. There is the trio that makes up the Pacific Plunge (with seemingly endless twists and turns), the four more moderate Konga Slides, the Riptide (with a “going down the drain” sensation) and the family-styled ride, Zooma Falls.
Make a Splash: If you desire to ride the roller coasters, do those first before the growing crowd that comes later.
Cost: $39.99+tax/adults; $26.99/kids and seniors (65+) when you buy online at least three days in advance. Prices range from $46.99-$49.99 at the gate. Free for kids ages 3 & under.
Parking: $15/car or truck
36201 Enchanted Pkwy. S.
Federal Way, WA 98003
One of many fantastic things to do in Lake Chelan, this fun park is perfect for families with kids of different ages. The little tykes will be thrilled to splash around in the Aqua Zoo with two animal-themed slides, a whale with an active spout and a teeter-totter that comes with a spraying surprise. Nearby is the Mushroom Waterfall, activity pool and hot tub. The Lazy River is a good choice for young families too. Anyone taller than 48 inches will enjoy racing toward the finish lines on Downhill Racer, the super-fast Tube Blaster and the fan-favorite, Thunder Rapids. In addition, you’ll find nine other slides. A number of chaise lounge chairs, tables and umbrellas are available at the Lazy River Beach for parents who want to rest and keep an eye on things. They're first-come, first-serve.
Make a Splash: Slidewaters one allows outside food and beverages (must be unopened, non-alcoholic and no glass). Soft shoulder-sized coolers only.
Cost: $29.95/adult; $24.95/seniors (60+) and those under 48”. Free for kids ages 2 & under.
102 Waterslide Dr.
Chelan, WA 98816
According to Citywave, the makers of this river surfing experience, river surfing is an athletic activity that takes a certain level of physical fitness and awareness, but you do not need to have any prior surfing experience to hang ten at Lakeside Surf. “Yeah right,” you say. But believe it or not, kids as young as 10-years-old can learn to surf. And if only a few in your party want to give it a try, the rest of the family can grab some lunch and watch for free. With guarantees of waves as high as six feet and over 54 feet wide, it’s quite impressive. And it should be. It’s the world’s largest stationary wave! All surf sessions include necessary equipment, safety instruction and coaching.
Make a Splash: If you visit Slidewaters next door, Lakeside Surf offers a limited number of free 30-minute surf sessions from 10 a.m. to noon on a first-come, first-serve basis.
102 Waterslide Dr.
Chelan, WA 98816
Great Wolf Lodge
You are probably aware that when you stay at a Great Wolf Lodge location, the indoor water park tickets are built into the price of your stay. But did you know you can also purchase day passes to this indoor waterpark that's open year-round? The park is very well thought out with lots of activities for the younger set, but they also throw in a few good thrills for older kids too. This is the home of the Slap Tail Pond wave pool, Fort Mackenzie interactive treehouse and Cub Paw Pool. This location also offers the Big Foot Pass obstacle course and the outdoor Tadpole Pond splash park. The thrills come from the Howlin’ Tornado (you can see it from the freeway) and River Canyon Run; both of which are created for families to ride together.
Make a Splash: Spring for some Wolf Ears at the Buckhorn Exchange Gift Shop. They’re fairly inexpensive and you’ll be the best parent ever.
Cost: Varies based on dates and season. See website for details.
20500 Old Highway 99 S.W.
Centralia WA 98531
Birch Bay Waterslides
At 38-years-old, Birch Bay Waterslides is the oldest water park on our list. This no-frills park isn’t as big or fancy as some of the others, but you can’t beat the price and it is a lot less crowded than others too which can make for a more relaxing family time, even if you have to drive a little farther to get there. The park features four main slides—the Snake, Hairpin, Corkscrew and Twister— plus a River Ride, the wide but short Ramp, the 60-foot-long Drop and the scary Black Hole, where you ride in complete darkness until the splashdown. For kids age eight and under, there is the Kiddie Pool with three slides and a sloped beach-entry-style pool (the deep end is five feet deep). Of course, everyone (ages 6 and up) loves the huge hot tub.
Make a Splash: Families can bring in outside food (except for competitor fast food) and beverages (must be unopened and non-alcoholic) at this park.
Cost: $23+tax/person (6-60); $15+tax/kids (3-5) and seniors (60+); Free for kids 2 & under.
4874 Birch Bay Lynden Rd.
Blaine, WA, 98230
Wings and Waves
Located within the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, Wings and Waves Waterpark features ten slides and a 703-gallon wave pool. The showstopper of this indoor park is the real Boeing 747 that sits on top of the building. It serves as the launchpad for four of the park’s larger slides. That’s about 62 feet above the splash landing. Families will love the forest-themed Aqua Play area which offers interactive activities and three slides just underneath a helicopter carrying a 300-gallon bucket of water that's dumped every few minutes. The Vortex Pool will whip you around at a safe but surprisingly fast pace.
Make a Splash: Come for the weekend! Visit the water park one day and the museum the next. The museum offers RV camping too; it's just $15 per vehicle per night.
Cost: $34.99+tax/person. Save $3 on each ticket by purchasing them online.
460 N.E. Captain Michael King Smith Way
McMinnville, OR 97128
Thrillseekers of all ages will love this park featuring its newest slide, the Snake River Run with two “flying saucers” and thrilling G forces. Other fun and unique slides include the Corskscrew Cavern, a 360-degree looping waterslide; the 50-foot-tall Thunder Falls and the Cliffhanger, where riders step inside a capsule and stand for what seems like an eternity before the bottom literally drops out and sends them down a nearly vertical plunge. However, your young family may prefer to play it safe with Bearfoot Bay. It offers six kid-sized slides, 12 animal-play features, a shallow wading pool and giant umbrellas to protect kids from the sun. Kids who want a little more adventure will want to check out the Kiddie Kowabunga slide or board the family raft ride known as Mammoth Canyon.
Make a Splash: If you need more fun, Wahooz Family Fun Zone is right next door.
Cost: $35.99+tax/adult; $30.99+tax/juniors and seniors; Free for kids age 2 & under. Be sure to check their discounts too.
400 W. Overland Rd.
Meridian, ID 83642
Like Wild Waves, Silverwood Theme Park is two parks in one, with Boulder Beach serving as their water park. It opens later than Silverwood and closes earlier, so you can get in a ride or two before donning your swim trunks. Here families will enjoy Boulder Beach Bay with two wave pools surrounded by lots of grass and chaise lounge chairs. Elkhorn Creek serves as the park’s lazy river and Polliwog Park is the resident activity area. Families and can ride together on the Avalanche Mountain river ride and down the 40-foot tall mountain known as Ricochet Rapids. The park also features five other slides that are a little more daring, but remember–it’s only water.
Make a Splash: We highly recommend that you exit the water park a little early during lunch or dinner time to take in the magic show at the Theatre of Illusion Pizzeria.
Cost: $70/adult (8-64); $44/kids (3-7) and seniors (65+); $58/police, fire and military personnel; Free for kids age 2 & under. Save up to $10/ticket by purchasing online.
27843 N. Hwy. 95
Athol, ID 83801
Good to Know: We found the best places to splash around in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, but each one has its own state and local health guidelines to follow regarding COVID-19 precautions. We recommend that you visit each park’s website for the most up-to-date information before you slather on the sunscreen.