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H2Whoa!

Who needs the Dells? Make a big splash at these inexpensive water parks right here in our own back yard.

HOSE OFF Water spouts in all directions at Fosco Park.

It’s hot outside, the kids are restless, and your family’s summer-vacation fund has morphed into your rainy-day savings (thanks, economy!). Before you take a sledgehammer to the nearest fire hydrant, check out these affordable (and way more legal) options for a cooling water-park experience.

FOR HANGING TEN:Big Surf Wave Pool
This big blue in the Northwest Suburbs holds 540,000 gallons of water and accommodates 700 people. Turbines activate periodically to create ocean-like waves that swell up to three feet tall. Grab a tube or raft ($4 day rental), lie back and close your eyes—just like Maui, right? 411 S Maple St, Mount Prospect (847-253-7873, mppd.org). Open Jun 8–Aug 16. Adults $7, kids $6, under 3 free.

FOR FAST BREAKS:Seafari Springs Aquatic Center
Even seasoned speed demons stand in awe at the base of Cheetah’s Run Speed Slide, a 61-foot-tall straight body slide that spits riders into a pool at 20 mph. After that wedgie-worthy ride, slow down to check out the zero-depth pool, umbrella-like flower sprinkler with nozzles on its “stem” and 4,000-square-foot sand-filled play area. Test the waters on June 7 from 11am–1pm, when the park holds a free open house. 1700 Greenbrook Blvd, Hanover Park (630-830-0300, hpparks.org). Open Jun 5–Aug 23. Adults $10, kids and seniors $8 ($2 off after 5pm).

FOR SPRINTING IN SPRINKLES:Riis Park
This park’s interactive water playground includes four in-ground fountains that spritz water up, six water cannons mounted on a bridge, and other pipes that spray sprinkler-like streams. Thank goodness, then, that it’s covered in a fast-draining, nonslip surface. Riis is popular with tot-toting parents because kids over 10 (a.k.a. scary big kids) are not allowed. Kids ages six to 10 get to run amok from 2–3:30pm daily, while tots five and under splish-splash (with adult supervision) from 4–5:30pm. 6100 W Fullerton Ave (312-746-5363, chicagoparkdistrict.com). Open Jun 12–Sept 7. Free, but call for private events schedule.

FOR A GOOD SOAK:Fosco Park
Fosco’s water playground is the place to go for a serious hose-down. It features five suspended buckets that slowly fill with water until they tip over, dumping five gallons on victims below. There’s also a short slide, built-in water guns and several sprayers. Fosco’s sweet indoor pool—which made headlines last September when it hosted Michael Phelps during a promo bit for Chicago’s 2016 Olympics bid—has zero-depth entry and a separate adult area, and offers family swim times throughout the week. 1312 S Racine Ave (312-746-5086, chicagoparkdistrict.com). Open Jun 12–Sept 7. Free, but call ahead to check private events schedule.

FOR ESCAPING THAT FREAK SUMMER COLD SPELL:The Water Works
Sure, it’s smaller than hotel-based indoor water parks, but the price tag is just right for a cold or rainy day. Splash around on several slides (including a 15-footer that ends in a plunge pool), a horseshoe-shaped lazy river and a recently remodeled water playground with sprays and ladders. Try to sneak away for a little grown-up decompressing in the hot tub at no extra cost. 505 N Springinsguth Rd, Schaumburg (847-490-2505, parkfun.com). Open year-round. Adults $9, kids $7.

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