Need a way to cool off the kids this summer? Try one of Washington’s waterparks, where children (and parents) can ride down giant water slides, splash in water sprayparks, dump buckets of water on friends, play in a wet-sand playground or just chill in the pool. If you’re within an hour or two of the Washington-BC border, you may want to read this piece on BC Water Parks.
Ready? Let’s splash.
Water Parks in Western Washington
Great Wolf Lodge, Grand Mound, Washington
Washington State’s mega-water park that draws visitors from BC and Oregon, this indoor water park offers year-round fun, thanks to day passes and overnight stays. You’ll get admission to the indoor water tree fort, a crazy funnel water slide, rafting slides and four story flumes, among other wet ‘n’ wild stuff. For younger kids, there are kiddie slides, water guns, a wave pool and water basketball. Overstimulating, expensive, and well, kids love it.
Wild Waves, Federal Way, Washington State
Washington State’s other water park, in an infamously temperature-variable area. You could end up riding water slides in mid-summer rain, under overcast skies or in glorious sun — perhaps all in the same day. That said, this water park’s prices are a good value for bigger kids who are tall enough to ride the park’s multiple giant water slides (42″ or taller) like Zooma Falls or Konga River and Slides. For younger children there’s the pirate-themed “Pirate’s Cove” spray playground. Look for coupons and passes to cut costs, particularly if you’re a BECU credit union member.
Birch Bay Waterslides, Birch Bay, Washington
Near the Washington-British Columbia border, this low-key outdoor waterpark is an alternative to the Big Boys (see above), and has been around for about 35 years. The half-dozen slides include curlicue, straight-shot and drop chute rides, along with a children’s slide and tube slide. Nothing too fancy, just a nice way to cool down in summer.
Henry Moses Aquatic Center, Renton, Washington.
A great outdoor aquatic center with zero-depth entry (like a beach) suitable for toddlers, along with a toddler area; for bigger kids, a lazy river with tubes and a wave-machine enhanced pool, a spray area, an island lagoon, two big water slides, a water play structure. At just $14 per person over age 5 ( non-resident), not bad. Sells out fast though, so line up early.
Sprayparks and Wading Pools, Seattle, Washington
Seattle’s communities are watered in summer by the City of Seattle’s wading pools and spray playgrounds (sprayparks). None of these are quite as wonderful as the ones in Vancouver BC, but they’re not bad, if you’re in town. The lakes and shorelines of Seattle are also popular, and many have shallow depths suitable for toddlers/preschoolers, along with lifeguards.
Hazel Miller Spray Park, Seattle, Washington
Several spray parks north of Seattle are notable, and this is one—albeit a little hard to find. It’s inside the Edmonds City Park. Others include Willis Tucker Splash Pad in Snohomish and Spray Park in Marysville.
Water Parks in Eastern and Central Washington
Splash Down Family Water Park, Spokane, Washington. CLOSED IN 2022
Six-story slides, body slides, tube slides, dark slides, four-story-tall bowl slides for big kids, teens and adults. For younger fry, there’s a toddler/preschool-aged area with toddler slides, splashketball, a space where you can refill your water guns, and another area where you can launch water cannonballs at other people (who will hopefully remain your friends and family). For a less-expensive water experience, head upstream to the water jets and splashpads at Discovery Playground in Spokane Valley, Washington.
Surf ‘n’ Slide Water Park, Moses Lake, Washington.
Some municipal pools just do it right. This outdoor waterpark is like a mini-amusement park, with big (200 feet) and small slides, a lazy river, zero-depth entry points and a wet-sand playground for the littles and a surf simulator. Located just off of I-90 between Spokane and Seattle, this is a nice place to stop and cool off for a few hours. Admission is cheap, so a pretty good deal.
Slidewaters, Lake Chelan, Washington.
The best sunburn of my life came from this place, in eighth grade. I earned that burn. Slidewaters continues to thrill big kids and teens with the Downhill Racer and Purple Haze slides, and dependably sunny weather. In the past year, this small park recently added a long lazy river for summer tubin’. Wear your sunscreen.
Asotin County Family Aquatic Center, Clarkston, Washington.
On the border of Washington and Idaho, this is the place to go in Southeast Washington to slip down body slides, ride tubes down a slide or around a lazy river, a wave pool with kid-friendly zero-depth entry, and an adventure spraypark. There’s a giant indoor pool as well, with fountains, zero-depth entry and sprinklers, if you just need a break from the Eastern Washington sun.