We all know that traveling with kids isn’t a vacation, it’s a trip. But traveling to a kid friendly hotel with a built-in waterpark is definitely fun for the whole family. These hotels do not mess around when it comes to water features— think year-round 85 degree Biospheres, 1,100 foot lazy rivers, 262 foot-long slides and 50 feet of heart-dropping plunge. These indoor waterparks are as big as 220,000 sq. ft, while outdoor waterscapes, like the Atlantis, span 141 acres. These parks have splash zones for the littles and extreme adventures for the teens. With names like the Leap of Faith, the Barrelling Babboon, Wolf Rider Wipeout, and the Anaconda, you will not be hearing I’m bored on this family trip! And you don’t even have it wait until summer to visit some of these places.
The big question is where to book your next waterpark adventure. If you’re looking for a Southwest staycation or Midwest getaway (even during the winter), there are great options within just a few hours drive. If a tropical waterpark out in the open with views of the beach is more your speed (raises hand), then hop a quick flight to Florida or the Caribbean. The choice is yours— depending on your budget and time.
Now if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind waterpark day trip, the brand new DreamWorks Water Park at the American Dream Mall in NJ has opened its doors. This indoor waterpark (only 5 miles from NYC) is the largest indoor waterpark in North America. It features the world’s largest indoor wave pool, the tallest indoor body slide, and the longest hydromagnetic water coaster.
Kid-Friendly Hotels with Waterparks in the US:
Barely one hour from New York City, this incredible resort is upscale enough for couples yet chill enough for family fun. The Biosphere Pool Complex is a 10,000 sq ft indoor tropical paradise with a retractable roof built for swimming, sliding and steaming in 84+ degree temps year round. Kids will love the petting zoo and the 16 hole golf putting course (with glow-in-the-dark balls for night) while us adults love the food— especially the Chef’s Garden nestled within the resort’s very own garden. And the views— every member of the family will be wowed by the surrounding scenery.
Next time you want to visit Disney, do it the Four Seasons way. The 5 acre Explorer Island water park feels like a tropical oasis within the Disney grounds (yes to character breakfasts and complimentary Parks transportation). Explorer Island features a lazy river with waterfalls and a bubbling rapids section, two water slides, an interactive splash zone, and a zero-entry family pool. This is how you do Disney Four Seasons style— with parent approved spa treatments and seriously good food!
Thanks to the balmy Texas weather, even in winter, you can waterpark outdoors all year round. Day and night! The 1,100 foot lazy river is just one of the incredible attractions at this JW Marriott Resort in San Antonio. The River Bluff Water Experience is spread over nine acres and includes tube slides, water slides, an activity pool, the Pedernales River (a more real-river experience) and…an adults only pool. Whether San Antonio is a destination or a stay-cation, you’ll feel like you are on a vacation surrounded by foliage, pool-areas and views for days.
Take your kids, grab the cousins, and pick up grandma and grandpa— this is the place for a family reunion! Located in the Pocono Mountains, this lakefront vacation spot has been wowing families since 1958. Outdoors, kids can swim, kayak and play Bumper Boats before heading to the Indoor Splash Zone for the Superdome and Double Corkscrew super-slide. You can also snow-tube, ice skate on the lake or take ice skating indoors all year round. This pristine mountain/lake setting offers enough space to spread out when the kids want some kid-time then get back together when they aren’t too embarrassed to watch mom and dad try to climb the rock wall. It’s truly camp for the whole family here at Woodloch Resort.
It’s not all about golf at the Turnberry Resort & Spa— located 30 minutes from each Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale Beach. Their spa is top rated and their BOURBON Steak restaurant is highly acclaimed. But we’re here to talk family fun! Their Tidal Cove waterpark has something for parents and kids— from exhilarating slides with twists, turns and drops to the first-ever FlowRider Triple surf simulation pool in the nation to the lazy river. Whether you’re a local looking for staycation fun or a visitor seeking Florida’s tropical weather and sandy beaches, this hotel’s built-in waterpark makes it a favorite vacation destination.
Go big or stay home should be the motto when it comes to Kalahari Resorts & Conventions. There are currently three locations (PA, WI, and OH) but a mega-resort is opening very soon in TX. This Poconos property has it all— mini bowling, game rooms, laser tag, an escape room, treetop adventures, mini golf and much more. Then there’s the water park— the largest indoor waterpark in America at 220,000 sq ft. Here you’ll find adventures like the Kenya Corkscrew, the Flowrider, the Anaconda, and the Barrelling Babboon. These slides are like no others! Plus, you can also wear your very own mermaid tail or float on the lazy river (that’s for you, Mom and Dad). We can pretty much promise that your kids will get the best sleep ever— we’re exhausted thinking about all of the family fun!
While you are booking your trip to the “happiest place on earth,” don’t discount the fact that you may have a *free* waterpark at your own hotel. We love that we can spend days between park visits enjoying the pools, slides and water facilities offered at many of the Walt Disney World Resorts. One of our favorites is the Finding Nemo themed waterpark at the Art of Animation Resort with its Big Blue Pool and Schoolyard Sprayground. The Polynesian Village is a true classic that brings us back to our first time at Disney (remember your first time on a monorail?). It’s the same lush, South Pacific oasis you’ve loved with a newly updated waterpark. Kiki Tiki’s Splash Play area is part of the Polynesian Resort Lava Pool. It features wading pools, water jets, waterfalls, and two slides. End your day with a tropical drink at the luau style dinner show and you’ll be sleeping as happily as the kids.
With over 19 locations to choose from, the Great Wolf Lodge practically defines the word waterpark across the US. The Minneapolis location is near the Mall of America. Adventure abounds at this 75,000 sq ft waterpark where kids of all ages can try the River Canyon Run tube ride, Wolf Rider Wipeout surf simulator, Otter Run and Alberta Falls (4 stories of sliding). Outside of the water-zone there is bowling, arcades, and climbing walls. Warning, there is also a Build-A-Bear here, so get ready to get suckered into a new stuffie. When it’s hot as hell or cold as sh*t, pack up the car and drive to the nearest Great Wolf Lodge for serious family fun.
It’s not just winter skiing, tubing and sledding in the Poconos, thanks to Camelback’s Aquatopia Indoor Water Park. They bring the temps indoors (seriously, you need sunscreen because you are getting actual SUN) so the whole family can go wild year- round. You can surf the Bombora Flowrider and slide the Skydive Plummet, the Paradise Plunge, the Storm Chaser or Venus Slydetrap. If the kids make it through the whole waterpark, they can try the bumper carts, climbing walls and escape room— on dry ground.
Just a short drive from Chicago and Milwaukee, Timber Ridge is the midwest getaway your family has been craving since summer came to a quick close. This 50,000 sq ft indoor/outdoor water park has chill options for parents (lazy river), fun water activities for the littles (Tiny Timbers Pool) and more adventurous choices for the big kids and teens starting with a 35 foot-high slide. Follow 300 feet of adventurous twists and turns until you land in the calm, heated pool. Free waterpark passes come with suites (4 per a one bedroom or 6 per a two bedroom) so book a weekend and know that the amazing water-fun is already included.
If you’ve been thinking about a Lake Okoboji vacation (or have never heard of it before if you’re not from the Midwest), Bridges Bay Resort is a lake-front staple. During the summer season you can enjoy all the water activities you loved at camp as a kid, plus Bridges Bay has water slides of varying heights, a huge pool and a swim up bar. But water-fun doesn’t end when the season does. The Boji Splash Indoor Waterpark is the only one in the area. There are tube slides, a lazy river and even a pirate ship with water cannons. It’s like a G rated version of Pirates of the Caribbean without Captain Jack, of course.
Downtown Dallas offers a lot of fun for a family vacation, but the Hilton Anatole Hotel makes staying in the city better than ever. Exclusive to hotel guests, the use of the JadeWaters pool complex is included in your stay. It’s a great place to get together with family and friends after a day of touring. Hell, skip the city tours and let this built-in waterpark be the vacation. JadeWaters features a 630-foot long lazy river, two 30-foot-tall/ 180-foot-long slides (one enclosed, one open) and a kids splash and play area. There’s also an adult-only pool nearby with a swim-up bar, so if you’re lucky enough to get a break (or put Dad to work), you might even get a breather during all the family fun. PS-Kids under 12 stay free when they’re sharing a room with adults.
Kid-Friendly Beach Hotels with Waterparks in the Caribbean/Hawaii:
Just because your kids love a good waterpark doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a beach vacation with a waterpark. Done and done at the Sonesta Resort in St Maarten. Just a four-hour flight from the NY area, your family can be appreciating 10 acres of stunning beachfront at Maho Bay by the afternoon. In addition to the Oasis Pool with swim up bar (for you and your SO), the littles can join Iggy Iguana, Penelope Pelican and Maarten Roots at the Beach House Kids Club and Aqua Park— featuring a 1400 sq ft pool, pool deck and animal-themed slides. Everyone wins on this family trip. It may even qualify as an actual vacation.
As a treat, Sonesta has hooked us up with a discount code. Book with MOMMY50 to receive a $50 resort credit. And if you’re taking a trip sans kids, use the code for the adult only property next door— Sonesta Ocean Point Resort.
Hey mom and dad, we’ve got one word for you— Bahamas! The Atlantis has five different hotels that all share stunning beachfront property and the unrivaled Aquaventure waterpark. The 141-acre waterscape is an adventure of thrilling slides and river rides. It’s integrated into the largest open-air marine habitat in the world— over 50,000 marine animals from 250 species make their home in the ocean fed environments. This is part dream vacation, part educational experience— even teens will leave the Atlantis with a lifetime of memories— especially after they experience the The iconic Leap of Faith waterslide. This 6-story, open air, near vertical drop takes you through a shark infested lagoon! It’s a rite-of-passage for all Atlantis guests.
While Hawaii doesn’t usually = waterpark, why the hell not? If you can pull yourself away from the ocean or beach, the Grand Wailea’s pool is not to be missed. Add to that the Lava Tube Slide for hours of family fun. This 262 foot long slide has a 3 story drop and 360 degree turn, promising 22 seconds of slide-time. When you finish your turn, head over to Wailea Canyon for the 6 waterfalls, whitewater rapids slide, and the Tarzan Swing. Even your teens will think this is the *coolest* trip ever. And you’ll agree, it’s Hawaii after all, it can not be anything short of incredible.
You can tell the kids you’re going for the waterpark (it’s not a lie really), but we know you’re in it for the beach. This is Montego Bay, Jamaica, after all. The Sugar Mill Falls Water Park, the largest water park in Jamaica, lets you zip down the 280-foot slide, drift along the lazy river, or lounge by one of three pools (be sure to grab a drink at either of the swim up bars). Families looking for more adventure will enjoy kayaking on the pristine turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea at this all-inclusive resort’s private white sandy beach. The kids can have the slides— we’ll take the view.
Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19, we suggest calling ahead to insure the location has safety protocols in place and will remain open during the time you wish to visit.