School is out and the temperature is rising! If destroying your home interior is NOT a part of the summer agenda, a water park is perfect for kids to cool down, have fun and get rid of extra energy. Thankfully, the Bay Area boasts several so there are options to choose from. We think you’ll especially love the new South Bay Shores at Great America. Pack those towels for a day out!

East Bay


Compared to the other mega water parks, AquaAdventure is smaller and more intimate which makes it manageable with the littles. A lazy river snakes through the park and kids will enjoy the splash pad, Bucket Bay and Oasis pool that is 3.5-4 feet deep. There are also four water slides from the Fortress of Fun tower that the more adventurous kid can conquer. 

Things to know:
-Bring a blanket for seating on crowded days
-There is a large, grassy picnic area just outside the entrance for those who wish to bring lunch
-Swim lessons, camps and aqua aerobics are also offered 

40500 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont, CA

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

With thirty-five attractions ranging from an idyllic lazy river to extreme waterslides for the daredevils, there's something for the whole family here. Younger ones will love hanging out at Splashwater Island with its pint-sized slides while waiting for the massive bucket to dump water on people below. 

Things to know: 
-Plan to arrive early and stake out shaded chairs/picnic tables for a home base for your crew especially on the weekends
-There are lockers for your valuables so pick a spot nearby if you plan to access them throughout the day

1950 Waterworld Pkwy, Concord, CA 

Road Trip Worthy: Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

Manteca is very much worthy of a road trip to visit Great Wolf Lodge. A hotel, nine eateries, an arcade, ropes course, bowling alley and more—read our Great Wolf Lodge story to find out why it is so much more than just an indoor waterpark! 


South Bay

NEW! South Bay Shores at California Great America

South Bay Shores

Newly expanded and having just opened, South Bay Shores is now twice the size of the old park and double the fun! You'll find that it is brightly updated with large, shaded areas for lounging and relaxing on sweltering days. The youngest visitors will adore Pup’s Pier with its water guns, interactive spray jets and climbing nets while rides like Shark Reef Plunge’s near-vertical free fall in which the floor drops out from underneath you will satisfy thrill-seekers.  Your admission ticket to Great America includes South Bay Shores leaving your family with a terrible dilemma: roller coasters or water slides?!

Things to know:

- Parking is $20/vehicle pre-purchased online, $25 at the gate and $30 for preferred parking (not offered online)
- The Sand Bar next to the wave pool offers ice-cold beer, wine and frosty adult slushies. If you close your eyes, you could almost be in Maui. 
- The food options range from fish tacos to sliders and wraps to rotisserie chicken which is the most diverse (and delicious in our opinion) of the water parks. 

4701 Great America Pkwy, Santa Clara, CA

Raging Waters

Raging Waters

Nestled next to the San Jose Foothills and Lake Cunningham, Raging Waters is the traditional and iconic water park that many of us grew up at! Let Speed Slide hurtle you down at dizzying speeds (neck and back permitting) or tube down the family-friendly Serpentine Slides (the yellow slide is the fastest!). Play structures Pirate’s Cove and Wacky Water Works along with the Little Dipper activity pool will keep tiny tykes happy. With many varying attractions, your family will include fun, soaked days at Raging Waters in their summer memories!  

Things to know:
-There is limited shade. Consider bringing a pop-up sunshade or umbrella. 
-Insider tip: Cross the bridge over the lazy river towards Speed Slide where there is a large, shaded grassy area to lay out a blanket or towel

2333 South White Road
San Jose, CA 

Gilroy Gardens Water Oasis

Gilroy Gardens

Gilroy Gardens' Water Oasis has everyone's favorite dump bucket along with kiddie water slides, sprayers, splash pools and more. The original water oasis is still there as well, perfect for tots. Reserve a cabana to give yourself somewhere to chill out in the shade. 

3050 Hecker Pass Hwy.
Gilroy, CA

—Christine Lai & Kate Loweth


Take the Plunge! Best Bay Area Swimming Pools

11 Things You Must Do This Summer in Santa Cruz 

27 Free (or Cheap) Things to Do with Kids in the Bay Area

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