Tot (under age 2)
If You Want a Park or Playground:
Arching jets overlooking the Potomac River make for a cool midday adventure. 3303 Water St., NW; 202-895-6000.
Three circles of shooting water jets, tipping buckets, a rock waterfall, and spraying mushrooms and animals keep kids occupied on a hot day. 18056 Central Park Cir., Boyds; 301-670-4685.
If You Want Something More Like a Pool:
Little ones can wade through this 11-inch-deep pool and stand under the popular waterfall at one end. You can take a break on a wooden chaise or the lawn. 355 Water St., SE; 202-456-7093.
Little Kid (3–6)
If You’d Also Like Some Exercise:
There’s a popular dump bucket, child-friendly water slides, and play structures, but also a pool for adults hoping to get in some laps. 6060 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-534-3437.
If Your Child Likes Sensory Overload:
Children can experience their first friendly water slides, but the real attraction is the 500-gallon bucket that dumps water regularly for endless entertainment. 20015 Volcano Island Dr., Sterling; 703-430-7683.
Big Kid (7–11)
If Your Child Loves the Ocean:
Tall, winding water slides are here as well as two “speed” slides, but the highlight is the 17,500-square-foot wave pool. 4001 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria; 703-960-0767.
If Your Child Prefers Calm Water:
Older children beeline for the three lengthy, winding water slides standing three stories tall. There’s also a log walk, a lazy river, more slides, and a splash area for younger kids. 1400 Lake Fairfax Dr., Reston; 703-471-5415.
Four-story twisting-tube water slides are the crowd-pleasers here. Add in a kids’ play area, activity pool, lazy river, and 25-meter pool and you can easily fill a day. 7500 Ben Lomond Park Dr., Manassas; 703-792-8200.
Bored Teen (12+)
If It’s Easier to Be in Maryland:
Ride countless stomach-dropping slides and chutes, including the Tornado, which shoots your four-person raft up and down the walls of the funnel-shaped ride. 13710 Central Ave., Upper Marlboro; 301-249-1500.
If It’s Easier to Be in Virginia:
There’s no shortage of plunging and twisting water slides to hurtle down here. Worn out from slides? Bounce through the wave pool with its four-foot-high crests. 16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell; 804-876-5000.
This article appears in the August 2019 issue of Washingtonian.