Create a splash on your vacation
If your family enjoys slipping, sliding and splashing around, why not choose a destination filled with water in a family-friendly (and usually sand-free) environment? There are some wonderful options not too far from home:
- Wilderness of the Smokies, Sevierville, Tenn. www.wildernessatthesmokies.com. Tennessee’s largest indoor/outdoor water park resort is worth the drive or flight any time of the year. “The indoor water park has the only surf rider in the southeast which shoots 19,000 gallons of water a minute so you can surf like you are in the ocean or if you are not that brave, you can lie down on your belly and belly-board,” said Rick Laney of Ackermann Public Relations. You can also enjoy five indoor water slides and a 150,000 gallon wave pool twelve months of the year. The outdoor parks feature a lazy creek, wave pool and rapids area. Waterpark admission is included in the resort pricing. Visit the website for more information.
- Dorney Park/Wildwater Kingdom, Allentown, Pa. www.dorneypark.com. Enjoy two great parks for the price of one. There are more than three dozen slides, pools, rivers and water play areas. In the kids’ cove, kids can pretend to be scrubbed as they make their way through a mini-carwash themed attraction. Other hits include the lollipop lagoon where you can discover frogs, turtle fountains, squirt guns and eleven mini water slides; the 596,000-gallon wave pool provides realistic ocean waves in water depths up to 6 feet; and 1,000 feet of slow, winding water on a river that passes through tunnels and waterfalls. Admission is $24.99-$48.99, plus $15 parking.
- Waterslide World, Lake George, N.Y. www.waterslideworld.net. Open mid-June through Labor Day, this park offers more than 35 slides and attractions. Take a tube ride, play volleyball in the water or on the sand or let the little ones enjoy Pirate Ship Cove and Aruba-Scuba-Duba Bay. Water Slide World is a family-owned, family-friendly park offering free parking, free tubes, free lifejackets, and allows guests to bring their own picnic lunches. Admission is $10.95-$29.95. Children under 35 inches tall are admitted for free.
- Waldameer Park and Water World, Erie, Pa. www.waldameer.com. Situated on the shores of Lake Erie adjacent to Presque Isle State Park, Waldameer offers a waterpark with slides and pools, plus amusement rides, live shows, midway games and arcade, plus family picnic area. “We have children’s slides and pools and for adults, a lazy river and big hot tub,” said Paul Nelson, owner. General admission is $17 and $13, or $26.50 and $19 for an unlimited combo pass. Includes free parking and admission to the amusement park.
- Splash Lagoon, Erie, Pa. www.splashlagoon.com. At this indoor water park resort, you can check out the new tree tops indoor ropes course. “Participants can climb 30 feet in the air, maneuver and navigate across the challenging indoor ropes course which is the only one of its kind in Pennsylvania,” said Melanie Whaley, director of marketing. It offers a great teambuilding activity for families. You can also enjoy Wild Waters Wave Pool, the largest indoor wave pool in the eastern United States. Admission ranges from $21.95 to $44.95.
- Sandcastle Water Park, Pittsburgh, Pa. www.sandcastlewaterpark.com. This water park is just minutes away from downtown Pittsburgh and features 14 major water slides, wave pool, hot tub and children’s attractions. For the less energetic water-lover, there is a lazy river and sandbar pool. The scenic view of the Monongahela River is the ideal backdrop for a walk along the old-fashioned boardwalk. Visit the website for 2012 ticket prices.
Jamie Lober is a freelance writer whose idea of summer fun is swimming, walking at the beach and attending concerts. She spends her summers with friends and family in sunny South Florida.