By Sarah Grosjean
With skyrocketing temperatures and stifling humidity, what better way to spend the last few days of summer than by relaxing in the water? But, don’t despair if you can’t afford that coveted Caribbean getaway! You and your family can cool off in style at one of the many water parks, spraygrounds, beaches, and other aquatic facilities that the Washington, DC area boasts.
Leesburg’s newest water park, A.V. Symington Aquatic Center, is one of our family’s favorite choices for summer entertainment. With its reasonable rates (admission is never more than $10), we’re a permanent fixture on their lazy river, while our daughter makes herself at home on the child-friendly water whale and water fountains.
Atlantis Waterpark, just one of Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority’s five waterparks, is located at Bull Run Park in Centreville, VA. Discover all the fun of this fabled lost continent, including a 1,000 gallon dumping bucket, water slides, waterfalls and squirters!
Operated by Fairfax County, Our Special Harbor is Lee District Park’s delightful sprayground. With its zero-water-depth, it is fully-accessible for children of all abilities and its interactive water features will entertain them for hours.
Located in Manassas, VA, SplashDown Waterpark is Northern Virginia’s largest waterpark and features a “beach” with 250 tons of real sand, four-story waterslides, and a 770 foot lazy river. With weekday discounts after 3 p.m. it’s the perfect place to cool down after an exhausting day of work or summer school.
The Yards Park is Washington, DC’s new waterfront destination. Located just south of Capitol Hill, this park boasts open grassy areas, an 11” deep canal for children to play in, a waterfall, an iconic bridge, and a riverfront.
Hoping to combine family fun with some adult pampering? Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA 79,000 square feet of water-packed excitement will entertain your children, while Mom sneaks in a little relaxation in their Elements Spa.
One of Maryland’s largest state parks, Gunpowder Falls State Park features more than 120 miles of trails, fishing and canoeing/kayaking streams, and a marina. It also offers 1,500 feet of beach and swimming area on the banks of the Gunpowder River, where lifeguards are on duty from Thursday through Sunday until Labor Day weekend.
A short 15 minute drive from Washington, DC, Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags boasts rides, slides, and activities for all ages. And, best of all, you can visit for free with your Six Flags America theme park admission.
Searching for a multi-purpose swimming hole? Look no further than Lake Anna State Park, about one hour west of Fredericksburg, VA. Once an old gold mine, Lake Anna offers a guarded swimming beach, lakefront picnic areas, hiking trails, and a universally accessible fishing pond.
In addition to its legendary Boardwalk, Ocean City, MD also boasts Splash Mountain Waterpark, where you’ll battle pirates with water guns, climb treacherous passageways of a tree house, and brave the darkness of Black Hole Slides. And, if the adventure is too taxing, you can always relax in the soothing jets of the Waterfall Bubble Pool.
No list would be complete without Water Country USA, the mid-Atlantic’s largest water park. Satisfy the family daredevil at Vanish Point, a 75 foot tower, where the floor drops out from under your feet. Or, if a suntan is all you want, unwind on one of their free lounge chairs as you munch on a funnel cake. Your children will also love the new animal exhibit featuring American alligators, turtles and multiple species of fish.
Sarah Grosjean is a freelance writer and a DC-area blogger (www.capitallyfrugaldc.com), who lives with her husband and five year old in Loudoun County. In between homeschooling and compiling information for her readers, she loves trying out a new recipe on her unwitting family or hiding from the world to read a new biography or mystery.