If you're looking to beat the heat and enjoy some wild and wacky fun in the water, California has a ton of first-rate water parks to choose between. Some are designed for little kids, some are designed for hardcore adrenaline junkies, and some have a little something for everyone. With water cannons, multi-story slides, surf simulators, lazy rivers, and a ton of other attractions on offer, water parks are the ultimate in family-friendly fun. Next time you're in the mood to cool off in the water, forget the public pool and check out one of these 20 best water parks in California instead... although we can't promise that once you've tried one, you'll be able to resist trying them all.
20. Cast Away Cove, Anaheim
Cast Away Cove is the kind of place that everyone, no matter what their age, will get a kick out of. Kids will love exploring the pirate ship, splashing around in the paddling pools, and slipping and sliding among the pint-sized water cannons and slides. For toddlers, there's a pool with a beach-style entry and an exciting playground called “Speedy’s Sprayground” with splash fountains and inflatable animals. Older adventure seekers will find thrills and spills aplenty on the extensive range of high-octane rides and slides. The catch? You'll need to be a guest at the Howard Johnson Hotel to access the park. If you're planning an overnight stay in Anaheim, however, it's perfect.
19. Boomer’s Buccaneer Cove, Irvine
Boomer’s Buccaneer Cove in Irvine has a little something for everyone. Spread over five levels, it boasts a thrilling assortment of slides, tunnels, sprays loops, and a monster-sized splash bucket. The interactive Aqua Dome is a must. With over 1000 feet of water slides and attractions to check out, it promises (and delivers) a great day of watery fun for all the family.
18. Pyrite Rapids Water Park, Colton
If you're in the vicinity of Colton, pop by the Pyrite Rapids Water Park for a day of slides, rides, and all the fun and games you'd expect of one of California's premium water parks. Adrenalin junkies shouldn't miss the heartstopping 250 ft. Sidewinder Body Slide. Take a ride down the Pyrite River Rapids for an adventure guaranteed to get your blood pumping, or get the rush of a lifetime as you shoot down a giant plunge on Blast Off!
17. SPLASH at La Mirada Aquatics Regional Center, La Mirada
If you're within traveling distance of La Mirada, don't miss a visit to SPLASH at La Mirada Aquatics Regional Center. With a lazy river, a zero-depth play structure, and three 2-story waterslides, it promises a fun-filled day for all the family. While the kids splash around the pool, parents can sneak off to enjoy some much-needed indulgence at the warm water spa.
16. The Wave Waterpark, Vista
The Wave Waterpark centers around the lazy river, a blissful place to float, relax, and soak up the rays. If that sounds too tame for your tastes, you're in luck. Cross the footbridge at the center of the river and you'll find the Flow Rider, a high octane simulated surfable ocean wave that'll challenges thrill-seekers to hang ten without losing their boards (and their nerve) in the process. If that wasn't reason enough to visit, there's also an assortment of waterslides (including the infamous Slam Dunk), splash pools, and a toddle-friendly playground complete with fountains and waterslides.
15. DryTown Water Park, Palmdale
Named as one of the best water parks in Southern California by SoCal Field Trips, DryTown Water Park has a little something for everyone. Kids will have a whale of a time at Little Moner's Camp, while older kids will get a big thrill from the twists and turns of the park's numerous rides. If you're looking for something a little tamer, jump on a tube and take a relaxing float along Big Rock River.
14. Splash Kingdom Waterpark, Redlands
The Splash Kingdom Waterpark in Redlands was opened in 1996 by James Braswell, who was looking to step away from his family's chain of senior care facilities and try something a little different. It couldn't get much more different than this. With attractions that include an arcade, climbing walls, miniature golf, trampolines, go-karts, laser tag, bumper boats, and all the slides and rides you'd expect from a top-quality water park, it couldn't be more different from a retirement home if it tried.
13. Wild Water Adventure Park, Clovis
Named as one of the best water parks in California by Thrillist, Wild Water Adventure Park has a little bit of everything. There are all the speed slides and rapids adventures you'd expect, but there's also a great program of entertainment (including movie screenings and special events) that'll keep the fun going even once you're ready to dry off.
12. Raging Waters San Jose, San Jose
If you're within traveling distance of San Jose, make a beeline for Raging Water San Hose. Set alongside the scenic Lake Cunningham, the park features a dazzling 23 acres of water rides, making it the largest water park in Northern California. Key rides not to miss include the head-first body slide, Sidewinder, the tunneled flumes of Dragon's Den, and the thrilling Barracuda Blaster. There's as much on offer for little ones as there is for thrill-seekers, with plenty of pint-size rides, slides, bubble pools, and play areas to keep them out of mischief. If you get peckish, you'll find a great range of tasty theme park classics like burgers, hotdogs, milkshakes, and ice cream on offer.
11. Great Wolf Lodge, Garden Grove
Regardless of whether it's raining, snowing, or sizzling, Great Wolf Lodge's 105,000-square-foot indoor waterpark is the perfect place to head for some fun in the water. Keys attractions include the family raft ride, River Canyon Run, a wave poll with three-foot-high swells, a lazy river called Crooked Creek, a children's play structure, and more high-speed rides and slides than you can shake a stick at. The indoor pools are kept at a balmy 84 degrees year-round, but if you'd rather soak up some sun while you splash around, take a dip in the outdoor, resort-style pool instead.
10. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Los Angeles
How does the sound of being dropped 50ft through a trap door into a 200ft slide course appeal? If a lot, be sure to check out Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. With thrill slides, raft slides, and even dive-in movies to keep you entertained, you're guaranteed an awesome time.
9. Raging Waters Sacramento, Sacramento
The second Raging Waters park to hit our list is Raging Waters Sacramento. Home to a stunning range of attractions (including the devilish Dragon's Den and the 800ft lazy river), it offers a little something for everyone. Regardless of whether you're looking for tame adventures or thrilling escapades, you're guaranteed to find something to suit.
8. Knott’s Soak City, Buena Park
As trivago.com notes, Knott’s Berry Farm originally opened as a humble berry farm in the 1920s. But times change. Since it expanded to include Knott’s Soak City, it's become one of the most must-visit waterparks in the state, with a huge variety of heart-pumping rides and attractions. If you're chasing an adrenaline rush, don't miss the six-story Shore Break or the multi-rider inner tube slide The Wedge. If you'd prefer a tamer experience, head for the 750,000-gallon Tidal Wave Bay wave pool or take a lazy float along the one-third-mile Sunset River (the longest lazy river in the US). If you're willing to push the boat out, it's worth splashing out on a semi-private cabana for a shady spot to cool off in, along with added perks like wait service from Longboard’s Grill.
7. Legoland California Resort, Carlsbad
Now you have an extra reason to take the kids on a trip to Legoland. Not only do you get to enjoy all the attractions of the main theme park, but you also get to experience the delights of the Legoland water park. It's more geared towards kids than adrenaline junkies, but there's still plenty of thrills on offer. Make your own boat out of lego to take on a float down the lazy river, set your heart racing on the dealing-racer slides, or scream if you want to go faster on the Pirate Reef... whatever you do, you're going to have a blast.
6. California’s Great America, Santa Clara
The only thing better than a water park? A water park and a theme park. At California’s Great America in Santa Clara, you get both for the price of one. The water park section (known as South Bay Shores) boasts a ton of action-packed rides, including a 45ft drop ride and the legendary Didgeridoo Falls, which will send you and five companions spinning and sliding through the air on a family-sized raft. Once you're ready for a change in pace, hit the theme park for some fun on the rollercoasters.
5. Waterworld California, Concord
According to thecoasterkings.com, Waterworld California in Concord is one of the best water parks in the state, boasting the largest collection of thrilling water attractions in Northern California. It's hard to disagree. Included among the park's stellar lineup of slides and attractions include a half-pipe slide, a giant funnel slide, splash pools, and wave pools. King of the rides is Break Point Plunge, a thrilling trap door slide that sends riders shooting along a 270ft-long looping course.
4. Ravine Water Park, Paso Robles
The Wine Country's Paso Robles has a lot more to offer than vineyards and scenery. If you prefer slides and rides to grapes and views, give the wine tour a miss and hit up Ravine Water Park instead. With scream-inducing rides like Anaconda, Thunder Run, and Kamikaze, It promises hours of thrills and spills for adrenaline junkies. Little ones will have a ball at the 9,000 square foot wading pool, which comes with its own sun deck for parents to relax on while the lifeguards stand watch. If you've got cash to burn, it's worth splashing out of a private cabana, which comes complete with a safe-equipped cooler, dining chairs, and chaise lounges, along with additional perks like a personal wait service from Tiki Bar & Grill, a premium parking space, and inner tubes for your entire group.
3. Aquatica, San Diego
When the temperatures start to heat up in San Diego, cool off with a visit to Aquatica. Boasting one of the largest wave pools in Southern California, not to mention an incredibly relaxing lazy river, it's a fabulous place to splash around and enjoy some top-notch watery fun. The 500,000-gallon pool boasts giant swells of up to five feet, guaranteeing hours of entertainment for the whole family. When you're ready to hit dry land, dig your toes into the sand on the 43,000 feet white sand beach.
2. Wet’n’Wild Palm Springs, Palm Springs
As The Culture Trip says, Palm Springs may be in the dry desert but the Wet’n’Wild Palm Springs water park feels like a different world. Home to two surf shacks for all your last-minute sunscreen and swimming trunks needs, along with a bunch of rides, slides, splash pools, and surf machines, it's got everything you need for a day of fun in the sun. If the heat gets a little too much to bear, splash out a little extra for a shady cabana to cool off in.
1. Raging Waters Los Angeles
The final (and best) Raging Waters park to make our list is Raging Waters Los Angeles. Spread over 60 acres, it's one of the largest waterparks in the entire state. Key attractions not to miss include California's only hydromagnetic coaster, Aqua Rocket, the stomach-churning Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror, and the heart-thumping 10-story High Extreme. There's also a bunch of tamer experiences for little ones together with live music events and some very tasty eats from the likes of Pink’s Hot Dogs, Carl’s Jr., and Dunkin Donuts.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn