When the sun comes out and temperatures heat up, it’s water slide season. What better way to spend a day? We’ve put together a list of the best Northwest water parks for daytripping or a family getaway, including the inside scoop on parks with the best variety for their size, the most budget-friendly and more.
Skip to the first water park explore or browse all five:
The closest epic water slides for Seattle-area families are at Wild Waves and Enchanted Village in Federal Way. Wild Waves occupies a 70-acre expanse that includes amusement rides and a water-slide complex with nine water attractions, including a wave pool, warming tubs, slides and two river rides.
Frolic at Hook’s Lagoon, a three-story treehouse of pirate-themed kid fun with six slides and a shallow pool. Float family style on a tube along the Konga River or zip down one of the four enclosed Konga slides. For a bigger adventure, shoot down a cannonball slide into the Activity Pool or plunge Riptide’s 40-foot drop into a swirling vortex.
Signature rides: Zooma Falls — two- or four-person rafts cascade through twists, turns and a waterfall. Also, the Mountain Dew Slide Complex, which debuted in 2015, is a triple slide with three dynamic tube slides offering riders a range of heights and experiences through the twists and turns of Slide Alley.
Theme park: The theme park side of Wild Waves features roller coasters in the Old West section with names like Timberhawk, Goldrusher, and Lumberjack Falls, a splash coaster, as well as lots of rides for little ones. Plan to make it a whole day.
Admission: $27.99 online ($16.99 online for children under 48 inches tall, ages 3 and younger are free) or from a participating Safeway store (find list online). Visit the website to learn about more discounts. Gate admission $39.99 (over 48 inches tall); $19.99 (kids under 48 inches tall or seniors); free admission for ages 3 and younger. Tickets include access to most rides and all waterslides.
Deals: Wild Waves has frequent deals listed on its site. It pays to purchase online, but do it before you are at the park because discount tickets are not available for purchase via mobile devices if you are within park property.
Days and hours: Open every day until September. Hours vary; check the calendar.
Tip: Leave a cooler in your car to save on food costs — outside food is not allowed in. Be aware that Wild Waves is probably the most crowded Northwest park and has a reputation for long lines. Plan to arrive at opening if possible or go on a cooler day.
Two hours north of Seattle, Birch Bay Waterslides is popular with Bellingham-area families. It’s not big, but the family-friendly size means you can let younger kids go without losing them. The nine different slides include four open slides with names like Hairpin, Corkscrew and Snake that take off from a high platform. Or hop in a tube with your family for the mild River Ride. Thrill seekers can shoot down the 60-foot Hydro-Drop (riders must be at least 12 and 100 lbs.). There’s also a large wading pool, hot tub and two small slides for 8 and under.
Signature ride: Black Hole. Ride two or three to a tube down the family-friendly, pitch-black tube slide. (for ages 5 and older).
Admission: Ages 6 and older are $19.95; ages 3–5 $12.95; free admission for age 2 and younger. Afternoon and non-slider discounts available. You can also get a late-day pass or a season pass.
Days and hours: Open weekend until June 25; then daily through Labor Day from 10 a.m. –6 p.m.
Tip: Bring a picnic and skip the fried food concession. Coolers aren’t allowed in but leave one in your car and bring a picnic in at lunch time. Note: competitor food is not allowed - so no pizza or fast food. Also, Birch Bay State Park is a great, nearby campsite.
If you’re heading east for a getaway, families love Slidewaters in Chelan for fewer crowds, best variety for its size and beautiful views of the lake. Younger kids enjoy the Aqua Zoo with mini animal slides, a water teeter-totter and a nearby mushroom waterfall. Slide with your kids down Bug-a-Boo (great beginner slide), Squirt Gun and White Water. Slides with longer drops, corkscrew action and bigger splashes include Corkscrew, Sidewinder, and Blue Blaster.
Then there’s Thunder Rapids (four in a tube) and the high-speed 400-foot Tube Blaster. Kids love Downhill Racer, a three-lane slide allowing kids to race on mats down three drops with a long run out.
Signature ride: Purple Haze, a 400-foot pitch-black tube of twists and turns that ends in a splash and isn’t for the claustrophobic.
Admission: $22 for children over 48 inches tall; $17 for children under 48 inches tall and seniors; free admission for age 3 and younger, afternoon discounts apply. There are discounts for "PM Plunge," three hours before close. Check for specials on the website.
Days and hours: Open daily through Labor Day, 10 a.m. –7 p.m.
Tips: Food is allowed in; stash a cooler in your car until lunchtime, but only shoulder-size/soft coolers allowed. There is nice shade for picnicking. Take advantage of free re-admittance — come and go all day long with a stamp on your hand.
Silverwood Theme Park, Idaho
Families rave about the very family-oriented Silverwood Theme Park just north of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho on Highway 95, which, like Wild Waves, blends an amusement park with a water park (Silverwood and Boulder Beach). A small family road trip might be in order for the big fun sans epic lines this park offers. It even has a Main Street — just remember it’s not Disneyland.
In the water park, tots can splash in Toddler Springs, a spray park just for them, or Polliwog Park, where hoses, geysers, small slides and pools keep kids busy (and wet). Also find a low-intensity river run, two huge wave pools, four big twisty slides at Rumble Falls and Velocity Peak, high velocity slides offering speeds of 55 miles per hour.
Signature ride: Ricochet Rapids, a family raft slide down a mega tube.
Amusement park: On the amusement park side, Silverwood has plenty of rides for young kids as well as thrill seekers, including a slew of roller coasters. Families will especially enjoy a trip around the park on the historic steam engine. Watch out for train robbers!
Admission: One-day and two-day rates available for entire park. One day: $48 ages 8 –64; $25 ages 3–7 and seniors; free admission for kids under age 3. Discounts available for online purchases including three-day passes for $105/$51.
Parking/hours: $5 per day. Open daily through Labor Day, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. (water park closes at 7 p.m.). After Labor Day, the amusement park remains open on weekends. No outside food allowed. Hours vary; check the calendar.
For the best water park in British Columbia, head to Cultus Lake Water Park, about three hours northeast of Seattle. Whatcom County families flock here for high-caliber fun. Pirates’ Cove, a multi-level adventure playground, allows kids to romp with tipping buckets, geysers, and rope bridges while toddlers enjoy the tots’ wading pool with mini-slides and small tipping bucket. Turtle Pool features five slides for younger sliders.
Experienced sliders can go straight for bigger fun on a number of attractions, including Radical Rapids, a fast tube ride; Tubular Terror, three fast slides with steep drops and curves; Zero–60 Raceway, where kids can race three at a time on mats; and Valley of Fear, a steep tube ride. There’s also a free-fall slide and five giant hot tubs for warming up.
Signature ride: Bazooka Bowls — shoot down a black flume, spin a 30-foot bowl and drop nine feet into a pool.
Extra bonus: Head to nearby Cultus Lake for swimming if you get tired of the water park. Cultus Lake Adventure Park, across the street, is B.C.’s newest theme park, with adventure golf, carousel rides, bumper boats, balloon rides and more. Park admission is free. Rides and attractions vary.
Water park admission: $28.57 for kids taller than 48 inches; $19.05 for kids under 48 inches and seniors; age 2 and younger get free admission. Afternoon discounts apply.
Days and hours: Open daily through September. Hours vary, see calendar for details. Outside snacks and drinks are allowed in, but drink containers must be sealed and no fast food from outside restaurants allowed.
Tips for a successful water park adventure
Keep in mind that no matter where you go, water parks get crowded on sunny weekends, so plan for an early arrival and a weekday if possible. Even if water parks allow in food, they don’t allow coolers or glass bottles. alcohol or glass; and many don’t allow competitor’s food (fast food). Read the fine print on water bottle and picnic policies, and re-apply "waterproof" sunscreen. And then go have a water-filled blast.