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Splish Splash
Photograph: Courtesy Splish Splash Splish Splash

The best water parks near NYC

Looking for a fun way to cool off? Make your next day trip to one of these splash zones and water parks near NYC.

By Tolly Wright

Sick of this heatwave? It’s time to make your next day trip or weekend getaway one that fully takes advantage of the summer. We've ranked the best water parks near NYC that combine the thrills of Coney Island with the refreshing dips of the best public swimming pools. Best of all? All of them are within a two-hour or less drive from the city.

RECOMMENDED: All of the best day trips from NYC

Water parks near NYC

Dorney Park
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/hounddiggity

1. Dorney Park

While summer is in full swing, the price of admission to this Pennsylvania amusement park (about a two-hour drive from Manhattan) also includes full access to the Wildwater Kingdom water park. The 28 water slides offer the same heart-racing thrills that the best roller coasters do, with the added bonus of a climactic splash at the end. If you're looking for that kind of excitement, you should try the 450-foot-long freefall body slide Python Plummet, race your friends on the Aquaracer, or hold on tight to your tube on high-speed twisty slides like the Constrictor or Boa Blaster. For a less intense chlorine-filled experience, try floating on the Runaway River or Wildwater River rides, which drift tubes through features including mists, fogs, fountains and "hydra-swirl" whirlpools. 3830 Dorney Park Rd, Allentown, PA (610-395-3724, May 1–Nov 1; hours vary. Adults and children taller than 48 inches $39.99–$44, children 3 and up under 48" $34, ages 2 and under free.

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/anjanettew

2. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

Less than a two-hour drive from the city, this tropical-themed offering from the popular amusement-park chain has several attractions worthy of its epic name, as well as some more mellow, breezy affairs that anyone—including landlubbing toe-dippers—can enjoy. Among the you-better-not-drink-a-pina-colada-beforehand variety, there’s the six-story drop on a family-size raft of Big Bambu and Reef Runner, or the Tornado—a blue and yellow 132-foot funnel slide that might make your face green. If drifting on a tube is more your style, try the Taak It Eez Ee Creek (yep, that’s its name), a lazy river ride that floats you past trees and under bridges. 1 Six Flags Blvd, Jackson, NJ (732-928-1821, May 23–Sept 7; hours vary. Tickets $42.99, children under 48" $32.99, children 2 and under free.

Splish Splash
Photograph: Courtesy Splish Splash

3. Splish Splash

This Long Island water park offers a helluva big splish ‘n’ splash on rides like the Cliff Diver—a slide with an eight- story drop that takes all of three seconds—and the 360-degree high-speed spins within the enclosed tubes of Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror. Several raft rides, including the pitch-dark Hollywood Stunt Rider, make it easy to go down with your pals. Just remember: If you’re laughing too hard when a wave hits an unsuspecting friend, you’re likely to get your own mouthful of water. 2549 Splish Splash Drive, Calverton, NY (631-727-3600, Open through September 7; hours vary. Tickets $41.99, children under 48” and seniors over 60 $31.99

Runaway Rapids
Photograph: Courtesy Carly Vena

4. Runaway Rapids

Attached to the Keansburg Amusement Park, this Jersey Shore hotspot lets visitors have fun in the sun without getting sand in their nether regions or fighting off a shark (we saw Jaws, and we say, “No, thank you!”). With your two- or three-hour all-access pass, you’ll barely have time to squeeze in all 18 slides, the Nestea Plunge rope swing and the small pools. If you want to dry off quickly before hitting the boardwalk, just walk over to the amusement park side and buy tickets for the nauseating Looping Star. 275 Beachway Avenue, Keansburg, NJ (732-495-1400, Open daily (depending on weather) through September 7, and September 12 and 13; times vary. Two-hour tickets $25.95, three-hour tickets $27.95.


5. Zoom Flume

While a bit smaller than most of the water parks on this list, with just eight slides, this upstate destination, nestled in the Catskill Mountains, packs in plenty of fun. The park—named after its popular Zoom Flume Serpentine Slides—also has a racing body-slide, a "lazy river" ride, a wave pool and a restaurant and snackbar. Perhaps its biggest selling point is the 800-foot-long and 100-feet-high Gravity Gorge Zip Line—the largest water-park zipline in the world. Whee! 91 Shady Glen Rd, East Durham, NY (800-888-3586, June 26-September 7; weekdays 10am-6pm, weekends 10am-7pm. Tickets $29.99, children 7 and under $22.99.


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