PHOTO: Disney World's Typhoon Lagoon. (photo via Flickr/Daniel Spiess)
The snow may still be piled up outside your window, but now is the perfect time to start planning for summer travel with the kids.
No matter what else you have on the summer agenda, plan for a water park where the whole family can cool off and relax.
Disney World's Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach
Disney's water parks are perfect when sandwiched between long, hectic, hot summer days at the theme parks. A spell cooling off at the water park can mean the difference between a cranky family and a happy one.
Typhoon Lagoon has a new attraction opening this season: Miss Adventure Falls will be the longest ride in the history of Disney water parks.
Blizzard Beach is already open for the season if you happen to be looking for a spring escape.
Silver Dollar City's Whitewater in Branson
Missouri's water park at Silver Dollar City encompasses over thirteen acres of fun—including slides, a lazy river, a wave pool and a splash zone. The park opens the last weekend in May, and the easiest way to enjoy it is when you stay in the nearby Wilderness Log Cabins.
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What started as a single water park in New Braunfels, Texas—a town known across the state for water fun on the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers, is now a five-park operation.Texas locations include Galveston, Corpus Christi, South Padre Island, and New Braunfels. You can also enjoy the fun in Kansas City, Kansas.
Some of the parks feature in-park lodging, others partner with nearby hotels for splash-and stay-packages.
Great Wolf Lodge
If you think indoor waterparks are just for winter, think again. What better way for the whole family to escape summer's heat and the potential for sunburn than inside the massive water parks at Great Wolf Lodge?
With fifteen locations across the country—plus a Canadian location at Niagara Falls—there should be a park somewhere in your travel plans this summer. From Boston to Anaheim to Grapevine (Texas), to the original location in the Wisconsin Dells, the resorts are positioned for you to include them either as a fun stopover on a road trip or as a base of operations that allow you to explore some of the country's best destinations. Think Atlanta, the Poconos and Colorado Springs.
Imagine a water park that incorporates the creativity of Legos into the water play, and you have the amazing parks at Carlsbad, CA, Orlando, Dubai and Malaysia. Build rafts as you float the river, or get your thrills on a variety of slides and wave pools. The parks are designed for families to explore, create and relax.
Water Country USA
Water Country is a perfect complement to historic Williamsburg. The park is the largest in Virginia and is paired with Busch Gardens, Williamsburg for even more fun. The variety of slides, raft rides and wave pools is enough to keep any family busy.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
For a completely different water park experience, try the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. It features rafting, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, plus zip lines, ropes courses, rock climbing and thirty-plus miles of trails.
The park is spread over 1,300 acres, all designed to encourage outdoor activity. Wrap up your adventurous day at the bar and grill or beer garden, and even enjoy live music on Thursdays and Saturdays.
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For watersports adventure in Oklahoma City, check out the list of fun activities offered by Riversports Adventures at their three locations. Water play includes rafting and kayaking, tubing, pedal boats and sailing lessons, with bonus fun like zip lines and adventure courses.
Swim in underground rivers, swing from "splash" hammocks, and drive amphibious vehicles at Xplor park on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula near Cancun. Adventure awaits around every corner of the 145-acre park.
Aquatica by SeaWorld
Aquatica is the Sea World where you are the water dweller.
From rides and slides to a wade-in stingray encounter, the parks are the perfect place to cool off. Each has something different to offer, but all incorporate animal encounters into the experience. San Antonio has the largest of the three water parks, with sixteen ways to get wet. San Diego has a flock of brilliant flamingos to enjoy during your visit, and Orlando has a lazy river through a tunnel of tropical fish.