Saturday, June 8, 2013

10 best waterparks near New York City

Occasionally I display my altruism by sharing my waterpark secrets. In celebration of summer, here is the holy grail--my overview of all ten major waterparks near NYC.

1. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Jackson, NJ

The corporate behemoth option.

Pros: Well maintained, decent sized. It has all the features you'd expect: slides, wavepool, lazy river, and a great play area for little kids.

Cons: Lots of concrete and fiberglass trees. Its location draws people from NYC and Philly, so it tends to be on the crowded side. Also, you will not be able to get the song "Kokomo" out of your head for the next three days.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

2. Splish Splash, Long Island

The really, really crowded option.

Pros: It's large. It's less "fake" than Hurricane Harbor, with natural landscaping and trees. You can get there via LIRR and a bus (but so can everyone else).

Cons: If you added up every single person at every other waterpark on the list on any given day, it would probably not equal the hordes at Splish Splash. I'm being facetious, but not really. Everyone who likes it should keep going there. Please.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

3. Camelbeach, Poconos, PA

The less-well-known option.

Pros: Built on the side of a mountain (it's a ski area in winter). Large, well maintained, and people don't seem to know about it, so it's generally not crowded. One of the best!

Cons: Wee bit of a drive.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

4. Splashdown Beach, Fishkill, NY


The small-town option.

Pros: Locally owned and operated, well run, continues to add new features every couple of years. Less expensive than most. Seldom over-crowded.

Cons: Wave pool is Barbie-sized.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

5. Sesame Place, Langhorne, PA

The little kids option.

Pros: If you love Sesame Street, you'll love it.

Cons: If you hate Sesame Street, you'll hate it.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

6. Wildwater Kingdom (at Dorney Park), Allentown, PA

The faraway option.

Pros: One admission price for the waterpark and amusement park. Big, clean.

Cons: It's almost 2 hours away.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 50 minutes.

7. Lake Compounce, CT

The faraway option in the other direction.

Pros: One admission price for waterpark and amusement park (with a hillside wooden coaster). There's also a lakeside beach and a trolley ride.

Cons: The waterpark is relatively small. It's almost 2 hours away.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 50 minutes.

8. Mountain Creek, Vernon, NJ

The big-kid option.

Pros: It has the most extreme attractions for big kids: Cowabunga Falls (huge vertical-drop slide), a 20-foot cliff jump, Tarzan swings. Built of the side of a mountain, with lots of trees and grass.

Cons: It's an "early" waterpark, and several of the attractions feel homemade and slightly dangerous. Or maybe that's a pro?

Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

9. Runaway Rapids, Keansburg, NJ

The fast, cheap option.

Pros: One of the less expensive waterparks, due to its smaller size. Food and parking are also reasonable.  It is best for younger kids, and the lines are relatively short. And it's the closest waterpark to NYC!

Cons: It's smaller, and Keansburg can be a bit seedy. In short, it's good if you're in a hurry, on a budget, and want to say you went to a waterpark--or if you live in Keansburg.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour.

10. Great Wolf Lodge, Poconos, PA

The indoor option.

Pros: It's open 365 days a year. It's family oriented, with mostly younger kids. It's well maintained. It comes with a hotel room! And you get two full days of access to the waterpark with one overnight stay.

Cons: It's not cheap, particularly on weekends. It's obviously not as large as an outdoor waterpark.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 40 minutes.

(2017 Addendum: Since this post was originally published, two more indoor waterparks--Aquatopia and Kalahari--have opened in the Poconos within a few miles of Great Wolf Lodge. All three are terrific. Great Wolf is best for little kids, Aquatopia is best for teens, and Kalahari is best if you have a mix of ages. I haven't anything about Runaway Rapids lately and if I were to write this post again I'd leave it off the list.)


  1. Thanks for the post! I have heard that New York City has some of the best water parks in the whole country. I'm surprised that they don't advertise it more.

    1. I'm positive NYC doesnt have any water parks.

    2. NYC has NOOOOO water parks. I would have gone there 8 years ago if they did. Who did you hear that from?

  2. My favorite water park for the family has always been the Great Wolf Lodge so I am happy to see this on the list. We usually go to the one NC but I know they're located all over the US. I heard they are opening a Great Wolf Lodge in New England now so I'm anxious to see reviews and pictures of that one.

  3. , but with only a few weeks left of the summer season before school begins, you may want to consider taking a day out of your vacation to beat that summer heat in one of Orlando's water parks. חבילות נופש לכרתים