If you’re looking for some of the best water parks in the Midwest, I have collaborated with some other travel bloggers to bring you 9 waterparks that should be on your radar! Including both indoor and outdoor attractions, perfect for thrill seekers and a Midwest destination that is said to be the ‘Waterpark Capital of the World’!
Best Water Parks In The Midwest
ILLINOIS: Raging Waves Waterpark | Hurricane Harbor Rockford | Hurricane Harbor Chicago
IOWA: Lost Island Waterpark
MICHIGAN: WildWater Adventure
OHIO: Kalahari Resorts Sandusky
WISCONSIN: Noah’s Ark | Kalahari Resort Wisconsin Dells | Wilderness Resort
Raging Waves Waterpark
🗺4000 N Bridge St, Yorkville, IL 60560
💰Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $32.99
Thrill seekers who live in or are traveling through the Chicago area during summer should not miss Raging Waves Waterpark! About 45 minutes west of downtown Chicago, Raging Waves is the largest waterpark in Illinois.
Themed as an Australian watering hole, it is home to some amazing thrill slides, like The Boomerang (our favorite, with twists, turns and a 40-foot drop), as well as some comfortably thrilling slides, like the newest addition, Wild Wallabies (open-air body slides).
Photo Credit: Julie at Open Wide The World
Raging Waves also has a 1/4-mile lazy river and a wave pool that alternates between calm waters and bobbing waves. And families with younger kiddos will appreciate acres of sand, and three kiddie areas.
For an attraction in the waterpark/theme park space, Raging Waves has surprisingly affordable meal options. And a tip for the even more food-budget-minded: they welcome parking lot picnics! Pack a lunch cooler and leave it in your car. Then get your hand stamped as you zip out to the parking lot when you get hungry. Have lunch tailgate-style before heading back in for the rest of the day.
Admission prices are on par or better than most waterparks. Coupon sites occasionally offer discounted admission after 3pm. Coupons have also been noted in nearby Chili’s, Culver’s and Dunkin’ Donuts locations.
Recommended by Julie at Open Wide The World
Hurricane Harbor Rockford
🗺7820 Cherryvale N Blvd, Cherry Valley, IL 61016
💰Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $29.99
Hurricane Harbor Waterpark is located in Rockford, around an hour away from Chicago. It’s home to the largest wave pool in Illinois and my personal favourite (and bikini destroyer…), the Screaming Lizard, a LOOPING water slide, which if that wasn’t enough for you, you start by STANDING up in an enclosed capsule which counts down to the moment when the floor suddenly disappears and drops you into a tube feet first!
Screaming Lizard at Hurricane Harbor Waterpark in the Midwest
It’s not the biggest waterpark in the Midwest when it comes to thrill rides, it’s more suited towards families. But on Tuesday’s they have a special deal where you can save $12 per person on the gate price, if booked in advanced. We took advantage of the extra discount day which made it better value for money in my opinion! There’s also a $10 parking fee which is worth keeping in mind.
It has since combined forces with Six Flags and season pass holders get unlimited admission to both Six Flags Great America (near Chicago) and Hurricane Harbor Rockford.
Hurricane Harbor Chicago
🗺1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, IL 60031, United States
There’s also a second Hurricane Harbor location in Chicago, next to Six Flags Great America. This is included in the season pass too. There are 17 attractions (6 more than the Rockford location), 11 of which are thrill slides!
Lost Island Waterpark
🗺2225 E Shaulis Rd, Waterloo, IA 50701
💰Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $26.40
(Disclosure – I received complimentary tickets to Lost Island Waterpark while collaborating with Experience Waterloo but all opinions are 100% my own!)
I absolutely LOVED Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo Iowa…not only is it one of the best waterparks in the Midwest, but TripAdvisor and USA Today had named it one of the top 15 waterparks in America! It has 11 ‘thrill ride’ water slides, giving adults and ultimate adrenaline seekers plenty to keep them occupied!
Molokini Crater at Lost Island Waterpark IA
My favourite ride in the park is ‘Wailua Kupua‘ one of only a handful of water coasters like it in the whole world! It works using hydromagnetic energy which has the power to push rafts UP hill at great speeds! Now I don’t usually scream on rides but this one had me hanging on for dear life and I loved every second! My tip is to sit at the BACK of the boat…riding at the front gives you a constant face full of spray!
The Jade Rapids waterslide allows you to choose a soundtrack and light show to make each ride down it unique! For those that don’t feel like getting wet, Lost Island also has a mini golf course and go karts for an extra fee (however if you show your waterpark ticket, you can get a discount).
🗺4750 Whitehall Rd, Muskegon, MI 49445, United States
💰Adult Day Pass Tickets from: $39.99
WildWater Adventure is included in admission to Michigan’s Adventure amusement park in Muskegon, MI. While the park has a few coasters, the water park is the biggest draw during the summer. The water park features numerous waterslides, a kiddie area, and multiple wave pools. Having more than one wave pool is a big bonus because the ones tucked back off to the side tend to be less crowded.
The Funnel of Fear slide is the highlight of WildWater Adventure and frequently draws long lines. Riders sit together in a tube and drop into a gigantic funnel, sliding up and down the sides until exiting through the narrow bottom. It’s lots of fun for thrill seekers.
Photo Credit: Kris from My Michigan Travel
Lockers are available to rent at the entrance to the amusement park and right by the water park area. My recommendation is to arrive early and stash your suits, towels, and other gear in one of the lockers close to the water park and then spend a couple hours riding amusement park rides until the afternoon heats up. The water park is ideal to cool off in once you’re good and hot from walking around in the summer sun.
Recommended by Kris from My Michigan Travel
Kalahari Resort Sandusky
🗺7000 Kalahari Dr, Sandusky, OH 44870, United States
💰Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $49.99
It’s literal perfection in a waterpark. It’s 84 degrees year-round inside, and offers plenty to enjoy outside, too. Visiting the Kalahari Resort is one of the top things to do in Sandusky, Ohio. Whether you’re wishing to go for a long weekend away, spring break or even spending time between the Kalahari Resort and the Cedar Point Amusement Park, you’ll have a blast!
The water park is massive, offering plenty of water activities for all ages. There’s shallow pools and water playgrounds for young kids, massive waterslides for older kids and swim-up bars for the adults. Every age can have fun at Kalahari Resort!
Photo Credit: Nikki from She Saves She Travels
Lockers are available to rent inside, and life jackets are free of charge for young swimmers. Enjoy a cabana for the day too, if you’re looking for your own private space. There are plenty of seating options inside and outside throughout the park.
When you’re shriveled from being in the water too long, you can take a break and enjoy the arcade, zoo, mini golf, zipline, rope course, spa and so much more. Oh, and let’s not forget about the on-site restaurants. Enjoy a slice at Pizza Pub, a burger at B-Lux Grill & Bar or your favorite Italian dishes at Sortino’s Italian Kitchen.
To make the most of your time at Kalahari Resort, be sure to rent a room at the resort. Just book it far in advance to get the best pricing!
Recommended by Nikki of She Saves She Travels
Wisconsin Dells claims to be the ‘Waterpark Capital of the World’! It is said to have the highest concentration of waterparks in the world. Thrill seekers are spoilt for choice when it comes to choice, with 5 major waterparks and resorts to choose from: Kalahari, Wilderness, Chula Vista, Mt Olympus and Noah’s Ark. (Other resorts, such as Great Wolf Lodge have smaller waterparks).
Noah’s Ark WaterPark
🗺1410 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, United States
💰Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $34.99
Noah’s Ark is the largest outdoor waterpark in the US. It has 25 attractions with 6 ‘intense’ slides, including the ‘Black Anaconda‘ that reaches speeds of 30mph. Just like Hurricane Harbor in Illinois, Noah’s Ark also has ‘Scorpions Tail‘ a looping water slide! The park is open between Memorial Day to Labor Day. It opens at 10am but closing time varies depending on the day.
Raja at Noah’s Ark Wisconsin Dells (Photo Credit: Noah’s Ark)
Kalahari Resort Wisconsin Dells
🗺1305 Kalahari Dr, Baraboo, WI 53913, United States
💰Adult Day Pass Ticket from: $49.99
As well as outdoor water parks, many of the Wisconsin Dells resorts have indoor waterparks too. This is great if you are looking to enjoy waterparks in the Midwest year round! The Zambezi Outdoor Waterpark at the Kalahari Resort, is open between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But the indoor waterpark is open throughout the year between 10am and 9/10pm. That’s 12 hours of waterpark fun, that can be enjoyed regardless of the weather outside!
Out of the Wisconsin Dells indoor waterparks, the Kalahari resort has the most thrill seeking attractions, perfect for adults that may be visiting. The Master Blaster indoor waterslide rollercoaster is awesome and the Tanzanian Twister has a funnel flume where riders reach speeds of 40mph! As well as the slides, visitors can learn how to surf on a surf simulator or take mermaid and shark lessons!
Sahara Sidewinders at Kalahari Resort Wisconsin Dells
Entrance to the waterparks is included in the room rate for hotel guests, however day passes are available for those that may be staying at another hotel or are just visiting the Dells for the day.
🗺511 E Adams St, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, United States
Unlike the Kalahari, the Wilderness Resort has 8 waterparks (4 indoor and 4 outdoor) but they are only open to those staying at the Wilderness Resort hotel. No day passes are available. The Wild Waterdome Water Park is home to the largest indoor wave pool in the USA. The roof is designed in a way that means it’s possible to get a tan year round! Other fun attractions include: The Hurricane 4-person raft slide in the Klondike Kavern and The Black Hole in the Wild West Indoor Waterpark.
The Lost World Adventure River located in the outdoor Lost World Waterpark is an interactive ride that combines a lazy river with a waterslide! It has rapids and belts that take riders up onto a 2nd level. The Lunar Loop is another trap door looping waterslide, for those that love an adrenaline rush!
The Largest Indoor Wave Pool in the US at the Wilderness Resort Wisconsin Dells
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