Any indication that summer is here usually starts with a hefty armpit stain and a strong desire to cool off. With that said, it might be time to throw on the swim trunks, grab a towel, and remedy the sweaty summer blues. And so it is with great wetness that we present to you the best water parks in the U.S.
Noah’s Ark (Wisconsin Dells, WI)
For the wettest ride, Noah’s Ark, Wisconsin Dells is one of the top-rated parks in all the world. The proud host of a 49-ride water wonderland with a sensory-overloading 4-D drive-in theater and two wave pools and lazy rivers, Noah’s Ark makes it impossible to have a bad time, and there are plenty of children’s spots to leave your kids and go be a child yourself. Let's just hope they don't get crazy and actually build a ride that has two of every animal on it. That's too much.
Raging Waters (San Dimas, CA)
With three locations in California, Raging Waters is a great break from the tedious beach life and a return to all things slippery and curvy. We are still talking about water parks here. High-speed sliding and wave pools for boarders affords even the clumsiest of men the chance to get up on some disease-free pool water without that the fear of having your legs ripped off, potentially, by some hungry great white.
As California’s biggest water park, Raging Waters is known for its High Extreme and Tunnel of Terror rides, both of which may require a Xanax before trying out.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon (Orlando, FL)
If you’re over your "Goof Troop" phase and want some adult fun amongst a bunch of kiddies, there’s always the Typhoon Lagoon at Disney, a big stop on the road to Magic Kingdom.
Where lots of water parks stick you on a slide with a stranger and then give you a big push into the unknown chlorine abyss of twists and turns, this park takes all the feel-good fun of Disney and makes it wet. Aside from the six-foot wave pools and laziest of rivers, Typhoon Lagoon offers the chance to snorkel in Shark Reef with rare and exotic tropical fish while enjoying the Florida sun and man-made geysers. Sounds like a dream, right? It’s Disney World, man. Of course it’s dreamy; especially for a middle-aged dude who is thinking of giving up on learning to swim this late in the game.
Water World (Denver, CO)
Just north of Denver lies Colorado’s premiere water park experience for people above 48 inches who like staring at mountain snowcaps while plunging down a plastic tube of death on a hot day. The park has all the high thrills of The Mile High Flyer, Zoomerang, The Wave and Jetstream, none of which sound safe at all but somehow passed inspection, along with tranquility of the Lazy River.
For those of us who prefer to chaperone in an otherwise lazy day and stay dry, there just so happens to be cabanas for rent and a buffet called the Pharaoh’s Feast, neither of which sound like a bad idea on any day.
White Water (Branson, MO)
For those who don’t know about Branson, Missouri, it’s home to one of the coolest spots in the Midwest to visit - the Ozarks, an area known for boating getaways, salty dogs and tequila belly shots. White Water is the big kahuna of the water parks realm there, located alongside the Silver Dollar City theme park and its Branson Belle Showboat river ride.
Surrounded by plush green hills, the tree-coated area of White Water gives visitors the outdoorsy feeling with a cleverly constructed park that fits nicely into the brush. Rides like Kalani Towers seven-story drop and Surf’s Up Wave Pool will keep you holding your shorts up as you feel the rush of water and the Midwestern breeze up around your trouser tonsils.
Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe (Greensboro, NC)
As part of the Wet ‘n Wild chain across America, Emerald Point is one of the east coast’s largest water parks with more than 30 rides and using up to three million gallons of water. It’s a good thing nobody reading this is into water conservation. With rides and slides and cool pools, there is no better use for this water than bringing smiles to the thousands of pool-pooping faces of North Carolina’s youth, anyway. And if you’re a grown man, there’s nothing wrong with hitting the snack area before smiling and pooping your way down the Daredevil Drop or Bonzai Pipeline yourself.
Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark (South Padre, TX)
In terms of hitting the standard and then aiming a bit higher, Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark does just that, especially since it’s in Texas. Schlitterbahn has it all: 17 slides that add up to three miles worth, and seven kid’s areas. That’s right, seven kid’s playgrounds, meaning seven places you can go to scope out the young mothers who are rocking bikini bods once again. If you’re actually going to enjoy the water activities, there’s Boogie Bahn, a standstill wave for boarding, one of the first man-made waves in America. Very cool if you tire easily in the arms when you surf, or try to surf.
Dollywood’s Splash Country (Pigeon Forge, TN)
Along with the summer’s Bonnaroo Music Festival, Tennessee also has one of the splish-splashiest water parks in the Midwest with Dollywood’s Splash Country. It's a nice mix of heart-pounding thrills and cozy still-water floating, with anything from the white water rafting of Big Bear Plunge and River Rush to the scenic ride of the Downbound Float Trip. Just a few hours outside of Nashville, Dollywood is under the shade of the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, easily a good trip even without the white water adventure, making the wet ride down the slide where your shorts come up around your ears even more worth your while.
Splish Splash (Long Island, NY)
Here’s the ideal bachelor party location for any man, except for the fact that there’d be plenty of children there to witness your unholy impediment of trying to float on your stomach when your body keeps rolling over beer belly side up.
An easy trip from Brooklyn, Queens and the Hamptons, Splish Splash is a sun-soaked refuge from the city life and overcrowded summer vacation spots. If you’re looking for a place to wet your whistle and your shorts, Long Island’s got a few delights for you, including Bootleggers Run, their newest ride, which happens to be “faster than the law” and “a blatant defiance of gravity.” Should go well with those Coney Island corndogs.
Next: Best Campgrounds From East to West
Splashdown (Peoria, IL)
If you ever learned to swim with two friendly fish, Gus and Goldie, then this is a step up for you, along with the rest of the central Illinois attractions. For an afternoon of lazy rivers filled with screaming kids and a higher ratio of urine to chlorine than anywhere else in the country (but in a good way), look to Splashdown for the end of your farmer tan. Anybody who knows anything about Illinois knows that outside of Chicago, the only place to see a group of sexy ladies is at the local water park, or your church’s underground youth group with their hip, live Christian rock concerts, so head to the one that features them half naked.