The Best Indoor Water Parks in the U.S. for Water-Loving Kids

written by ERIN CELLETTI

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Source: @kartriteresort
Source: @kartriteresort

Calling all water-loving kiddos (and their families)! If you have a kid who just can’t get enough of the water (like mine!), then a family outing to one of the best indoor water parks might be the perfect activity for you. Even when the temperatures dip below freezing outside, indoor water parks offer a welcome respite from the cold and make splash-worthy summer fun possible no matter what’s going on outside. 

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite indoor water parks where littles and bigs alike can jump, swim, sing, slide, and perhaps most importantly—tire themselves out—all in one space. So pack your towels and bathing suits and plan a trip to one of the best indoor water parks near you!

The Best Indoor Water Parks in the U.S.

1. Great Wolf Lodge – Poconos, Pennsylvania

best indoor water parks for families
Source: Great Wolf Lodge

My family and I absolutely loved the Great Wolf Lodge in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. We visited around Halloween, and the decor and theming made it extra special. The food was 10/10, and my kindergartener especially loved playing Moon Glow Golf (when she wasn’t slipping and sliding around in the waterpark). The Poconos location boasts brand-new villas that are great for families and groups looking for a bit more space, privacy, and luxury. (They’re gorgeous, and the private terraces are custom-designed by celebrity designer Nate Berkus!)

With 19 locations across the country and more coming soon, Great Wolf Lodge is a one-stop shop for endless family fun, with the main attraction being, of course, the sprawling indoor waterpark offerings. While each location is a bit different from the others, they all have family lodging options with themed rooms and suites, restaurants, family-friendly activities, and so much fun. 

2. Kalahari Resorts – Multiple Locations

Source: @KalahariResorts

With five locations around the U.S. (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Texas), Kalahari Resorts has been voted “Best Indoor Water Park” by USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards, and for good reason. Always set at a balmy 84 degrees, all Kalahari resorts offer lodging options to extend your fun overnight and are themed with African-inspired motifs and aesthetics, lush greenery, and wooden accents. Enjoy thrilling slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, and more at each resort’s indoor waterpark, grab a delicious family dinner on property, then cuddle and cozy up for some well-deserved R&R as a family. 

3. Timber Ridge Lodge & Water Park – Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

best indoor water parks
Source: Timber Ridge Lodge & Water Park

Just about two hours north of Chicago, Timber Ridge Lodge & Water Park offers over 50,000 square feet of splash-friendly fun, including Avalanche Falls—an invigorating option for the bigger kids (48” and up) with lights, music (you can choose your own), and sharp twists and turns.  For those who prefer less thrill, don’t worry, there are plenty of other 35-foot-high waterpark slides to try for a total of 300 feet of fun twists and turns, all leading to a heated pool. For time spent out of the water, the lodge offers family-friendly activities, including movies, crafts, and more. 

4. The Kartrite – Catskills, New York

indoor water parks
Source: @kartriteresort

Nestled in the Catskills of New York, The Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark has a more modern feel (as far as indoor water parks go) and gives conservatory vibes with lots of lush greenery and landscaping. Always kept at 84 degrees under the world’s biggest Texlon transparent roof, aspiring surfers will especially love the Endless Summer Flowrider for body boarding and stand-up surfing. You can even book private lessons for more 1:1 wave time, too. The Kartrite is also home to 324 beautiful suites and a fantastic new-ish lodge experience set right in the Catskill mountains.

5. Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark – Boyne Falls, Michigan

best indoor water park
Source: @avalanche.bay

At 88,000 square feet, Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark is a great option for families looking to explore a new area. Avalanche Bay is located at the foot of Boyne Mountain and close to many lodging options, like Boyne Mountain Resort, which offers cozy hotel rooms, spacious condos, and chalets. Avalanche Bay features thrilling water slides like the Super-G, Big Couloir, and Vertigo, as well as lower thrill experiences like a lazy river.

For younger guests, there are numerous fun, interactive splash areas around the park that feature a number of sprinklers, basketball hoops, and mini-slides. Avalanche Bay offers various food and beverage options throughout the property, including snack bars and casual dining options. It also features a number of amenities like locker rentals, private cabanas for rent, and shops with fun souvenirs. It’s a bit over a three-hour drive from the Detroit/Ann Arbor area, but the picturesque setting is well worth the trip.

6. Massanutten Indoor Waterpark – Massanutten, Virginia

best indoor water park
Source: @massresort

No matter the time of year, the Indoor Waterpark at Massanutten Resort in Virginia is a great option for families looking for either a day trip or a weekend getaway. The waterpark sits on the 6,000-acre resort that features a bevy of dining, shopping, and activities for all ages. The Indoor Waterpark is open all year round and is connected to an outdoor portion when the weather allows.

The water is always set at 84 degrees, and the park features adrenaline-pumping water slides like the Melting Mogul and Pipeline Peak, as well as the gentle flow of the Shenandoah Lazy River. For an extra fee, guests can receive expert training and surf on the FlowRider, which creates an ocean-like wave with 50,000 gallons of water. And for those who are looking for some dry fun, the complex overlooking the waterpark features arcades, eateries, and gift shops.

7. Island Waterpark at the Showboat Hotel – Atlantic City, New Jersey

best indoor water parks
Source: @acislandwaterpark

When you first think of Atlantic City, you might not think of family-friendly activities, and, instead, thoughts of slot machines, cocktails, and entertainment may fill your head—but it’s time to rethink “the old AC.” Specifically, the Island Waterpark at the Showboat Hotel, an indoor tropical-themed water playspace that boasts 11 waterslides, four restaurants, three bars, and the world’s largest arcade for endless fun for kids and adults alike. Recently opened in July 2023, the space is housed within a retractable roof, so during the summer you can still enjoy the great outdoors and in winter, stay warm. (There’s even an adults-only pool and swim-up bars for the adults, too.) 

My family recently visited the Island Waterpark and were so impressed. The waterpark was exceptionally clean, and the food (and drinks!) were excellent—plus, it was the middle of winter, so it was awesome getting to spend the day in a warm, tropical environment and do many, many laps in the luxe lazy river. Then we finished the day in the arcade that had pretty much every game imaginable, and not to brag, but I got the day’s highest score for my skeeball skills. Being able to comfortably crash on-site at the hotel was great, too.

8. Splash Lagoon – Erie, Pennsylvania

best indoor water parks for families
Source: @splashlagoon_erie

Nestled in Erie, Pennsylvania, the award-winning Splash Lagoon indoor water park resort is always a balmy 84 degrees and has been ranked as one of the Top 10 Water Park Resorts in the U.S. multiple times. Celebrating 20 years in business, the park is home to a 200,000-gallon wave pool, one of the largest in the country. It has nine water slides, plenty of pools and hot tubs, along with an interactive tree house, ropes course, and arcade with 100+ games. With three hotels attached—The Holiday Inn Express, Hawthorn Inn & Suites, and The Comfort Inn & Suites—extend your stay for an overnight or weekend so you can splash and play to your heart’s content.

9. Epic Waters Indoor Water Park – Grand Prairie, Texas

best indoor water park texas
Source: Epic Waters

At this Texas-themed indoor water park, you’ll find over 80,000 square feet of fun, including 11 twisty water slides such as the “Lasso Loop,” “Texas Twist,” and “Prairie Plunge.” Open year-round, there’s a full-service bar for adults, cabanas available for rent, and an exciting arcade for when the time comes to dry off. The Hungry Waves cafe has standard theme park food like chicken tenders and burgers for when the crew gets hungry, and they welcome groups and birthday parties, too!

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