Photograph: Courtesy of Sahara Sam's Oasis Water Park

Time to visit the best indoor water park NY families love most

Winter, schminter: Indoor water parks close to NYC bring summer fun to snowy days. Don't let the weather get in the way!

By Hannah Doolin, Yvette Berland, Allie Early, Danielle Valente and Oliver Strand
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When the weather outside is frightful, plan a family trip to where it's delightful: Wintertime is the best time for the best indoor water parks close to NYC. Pack your swimsuits and get ready for one of the best winter weekend getaways you can have.

RECOMMENDED: The best family vacations from NYC

A few of these indoor water parks are parts of family resorts that have stay-and-play packages, so check to see if admission is included in the price of the room. Some are even located in the best ski resorts near NYC. Talk about the best of both worlds!

This list includes the yet-to-open DreamWorks Water Park at the American Dream Mall in Rutherford, NJ. When it welcomes its first guests sometime soon (the November, 2019 opening has been delayed), it will be the second-largest indoor water park in the country. There will be 40 water slides, 1.5-acre wave pool, a water slide with a 142-foot drop: There's going to be a lot of splashy fun just 30 minutes from Manhattan!

Indoor water parks near NYC

Aquatopia at Camelback Resort
Photograph: Camelback Resort

1. Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark at Camelback Resort

Travel time: 2 hours and 20 minutes by car

Camelback Resort is the ultimate winter wonderland twofer: you can hit the slopes and tubing park for snowy fun outdoors, or splash around in the massive indoor waterpark for some tropical fun. The water park is complete with tube slides, the adventurous Venus Slydetrap, the gnarly Bombora Flowrider—it's worth the hype, and a nice change of pace from chillier activities. Soak up the 84-degree temperature as kids choose which one of the 13 slides suits their needs. There's also a lazy river for those who want to take things slow. If you have tots in tow, not to worry—kiddie slides are at the ready. Good news for moms and dads: In the off-chance the youngsters allow for a bit of alone time, grab a cocktail at the swim-up bar. Tannersville, PA (camelbackresort.com).

Great Wolf Lodge
Photograph: Courtesy Great Wolf Resorts

2. Indoor Water Park at Great Wolf Lodge

Travel time: 2 hours by car

The Great Wolf Lodge is jam-packed with family fun, including an arcade, bowling alley, storytimes and so much more. But the real reason to go to the hotel in the winter is for the water park—admission is included in the price of your room. Enjoy 79,000 square-feet of swimming, splashing and sliding. The Hydro Plunge will give you rollercoaster-like thrills, while Coyote Canyon includes a water slide with a four-story-tall drop. The Raccoon Lagoon activity is for those who would rather embrace a leisurely pace. Grownups will enjoy a pitstop at the adults-only North Hot Springs and South Hot Springs. Scotrun, PA (greatwolf.com).

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Photograph: Courtesy of Sahara Sam's Oasis Water Park

3. Sahara Sam's

Travel time: 2 hours and 15 minutes by car

Sahara Sam's does it all, an amusement park with a ginormous indoor water park—and plenty of outdoor water activities during the balmier months. Float along the Congo Bongo lazy river and catch waves on the FlowRider surfing simulator at the indoor splash center. Wade through the Crocodile Flats obstacle course and sink some three-pointers at Sam’s Slamdunker water basketball area. The good news: Most of the excitement and watery fun is available year-round! When weather permits, the little ones can get an extra fill of fun with trucks and backhoe loaders at Diggerland, the construction-themed amusement park close by. West Berlin, NJ (saharasams.com). 

4. Kalahari Resorts

Travel time: 2 hours by car

This indoor Amazon claims to be the largest indoor water park in the United States, with 220,000 square feet of "wet, wild fun." boasts uniquely thrilling aquatic adventures. Bodyboard or surf 5-foot waves all day every day on FlowRider, experience the dramatic dips, tumultuous turns and gushing geysers of the Anaconda water roller coaster, zip down the Zimbabwe Zipper at 40mph or simply relax in the lazy river and whirlpool spas. There’s plenty of entertainment for younger kids, including Splashdown Safari—with a slurry of slides, water guns and tons of interactive fun—or Tiko's Watering Hole, which comes complete with a play area, activities, a lazy river and pint-sized slides just for tots! Admission to the water park is included with a stay at the hotel. Pocono Manor, PA (kalahariresorts.com). 

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Rocking Horse Ranch
Photograph: Courtesy Rocking Horse Ranch

5. Big Splash Indoor Waterpark at Rocking Horse Ranch Resort

Travel time: 2 hours by car

Giddy up, vacationers! After a little bit of snow tubing, you'll want anxious to head indoors for an epic water park adventure. Take a spin on the 250-foot-long gold rush flume, or navigate the  Dynamite Alley Water Walk Challenge. Younger kids can splash around in the Fort Geyser Aqua Station. All water park activities are included in the price of your room, which leaves one question: Do you have your towels and goggles ready? Highland, NY (rockinghorseranch.com). 

Photograph: Courtesy Six Flags Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom

6. White Water Bay at Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark

Travel time: 3 hours by car

With Six Flags, you're guaranteed an adventure, whether you're inside or outside. Thanks to its White Water Bay water park, visitors can enjoy Tall Timbres Treehouse with over 160 wet 'n wild play features, white water rafting and a spectacular light show right in the middle of the 82-degree venue. Plan an overnight visit and you could save big: Stay at the lodge and you'll get free passes to the water park. Queensbury, NY (sixflagsgreatescapelodge.com).

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plit Rock Resort H2O Waterpark Lake Harmony PA H2O
Photograph: plit Rock Resort H2O Waterpark Lake Harmony PA

7. H2Oooohh! at Split Rock Resort

Travel time: 2 hours and 30 minutes by car

H2Oooohh! has three four-story-tall slides as a part of the 50,000 square-foot water park at Split Rock Resort. There's a little bit of everything, and the attraction's features are perfect for families with kids 12 and under. Lake Harmony, PA (splitrockresort.com). 

Photograph: Courtesy Coco Key/ The Hotel ML

8. CoCo Key Water Resort

Travel time: 2 hours by car 

A short drive to New Jersey will transport you to a memorable family getaway. The thrills are plentiful in this water resort: Take a peek at Parrot’s Perch, featuring an interactive aquatic jungle gym, countless water cannons and a 300-gallon dumping bucket for loads of drenching wet fun. If you’re feeling brave, you can barrel your way through the enclosed winding darkness of Barracuda Blast, or venture to the chill-inducing Shark Slam, a 4-story-high slide that will whip you through 300 feet of wet n’ wild fun. For a little friendly competition, try the Lily Pad Adventure, a challenging activity pool for kids and adults alike. And for the wee bunch, the Dip-In offers entertainment of miniature proportions: hours of fun for the tiniest guests, with a foot deep wading pool overlooking the park, complete with baby slides and even a little bungee! Mount Laurel, NJ (mtlaurelcocokey.com). 

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9. DreamWorks Water Park at the American Dream Mall

Attractions Theme parks

Travel time: 30 minutes by car, bus or ferry and shuttle

When the DreamWorks Water Park at the American Dream Mall opens in 2020, it will be the second-largest indoor water park in the world. You'll be able to careen down 40 water slides (including one with a 142-foot drop), splash around in a 1.5-acre wave pool and so much more. Best of all, it's only 30 minutes from Manhattan by car, bus or a ferry and shuttle service. East Rutherford, NJ (americandream.com).

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