Things to Do

Here Are the Region’s Best Water Parks (Hurry Before They Close for the Season)

Which water park is right for your child? We break them down by age.

Photograph of Georgetown Waterfront Park by Rob Crandall/Alamy.

Tot (under age 2)

If You Want a Park or Playground:

Georgetown Waterfront Park

Arching jets overlooking the Potomac River make for a cool midday adventure. 3303 Water St., NW; 202-895-6000.

South Germantown SplashPark & Mini Golf

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:

Yards Park

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.

Photograph of Yards Park by Phyllis Peterson/Alamy.
Photograph by Phyllis Peterson/Alamy.

Little Kid (3–6)

If You’d Also Like Some Exercise:

Ocean Dunes

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.

Photograph of Ocean Dunes courtesy of Ocean Dunes Waterpark/NOVA Parks
Photograph courtesy of Ocean Dunes Waterpark/NOVA Parks.

If Your Child Likes Sensory Overload:

Volcano Island

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.

Photograph of Volcano Island Courtesy of Volcano Island WaterPark/NOVA Parks.
Photograph courtesy of Volcano Island WaterPark/NOVA Parks.

Big Kid (7–11)

If Your Child Loves the Ocean:

Great Waves

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.

Photograph courtesy of Great Waves WaterPark/NOVA Parks.

If Your Child Prefers Calm Water:

Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole

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.

SplashDown Waterpark

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.

Photograph of Splashdown WaterPark courtesy of Prince William County Office of Tourism
Photograph courtesy of Prince William County Office of Tourism.

Bored Teen (12+)

If It’s Easier to Be in Maryland:

Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags

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.

Photograph of Hurricane Harbor by Rene Schwietzke/Flickr
Photograph of Hurricane Harbor by Rene Schwietzke/Flickr.

If It’s Easier to Be in Virginia:

Soak City at Kings Dominion

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.

Photograph of Soak City Courtesy of Kings Dominion
Photograph of Soak City Courtesy of Kings Dominion.

This article appears in the August 2019 issue of Washingtonian.