Whitney and I have been doing the hard work of visiting the Bay Area's amazing collection of water parks in the hopes that we could form very strong opinions and break down all the options for you, and I think we're finally there! Here are some splashy, thrilling water parks to seek out when the temperature passes 85 degrees.
Prewett Water Park, Antioch
Description: Water activities for every age from baby on up: Five slides including a super shallow tadpool, toddler and preschooler waterslide, big kid slides, lily pad for balancing (pictured)
- Our review of Antioch Water Park.
- Their website to check current hours and rates. Opens 5/26 for the season.
Best ages: Infant to tween. Wrist bands are handed out based on height to restrict the littlest ones from going on the bigger slides and vice versa.
Prices: Weekdays – $14; Weekends/Holidays – $16; After 4pm – $8; Children 30″ tall and under – FREE
Food situation: Snack bar with lots of treats; ample grass outside for picnic; outside food OK.
Aqua Adventure Water Park, Fremont
Description: Lazy river, splashy water play structure, a few big water slides. Lots of fun; kids over age six can navigate the park while you relax.
- Our review of Fremont's Aqua Adventure.
- Their website to check current hours and rates. Opens 5/26 for weekends.
Best ages: Toddler to tween. Price structure is all about height.
Prices: Over 4′ $20; Under 4′ $15; Children 3 and under – $3 includes swim diaper
Food situation: No outside food; snack bar with lots of treats; ample grass outside for picnic
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Concord
Description: Mack daddy water park for thrill-seekers and big kids. Hurricane Harbor is quite large. 48″ is the magic height to try to bigger slides. There is a lazy river in the middle of the park, best enjoyed with a rented tube. Children's sprayground for smaller people. Kids under 7 likely need to stay with their adults as navigating the park is probably too big a task for a younger kid.
- Our review of Concord's Hurricane Harbor.
- Their website to check current hours and rates. Open weekends in May. Open daily on 6/8.
Best ages: Older preschooler to teen and beyond. Price structure is all about height.
Prices: Many deals available online, and season pass is well worth it. Save $10 when you buy tix online a week in advance. Over 4′ $39; Under 4′ $29; Children 2 and under – FREE; tube rental extra for lazy river; Parking $10/car
NOTE: An annual pass to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo also works for Hurricane Harbor.
Food situation: No outside food; snack bar; ample shade structures and tables for picnics
The Wave Waterpark, Dublin
Description: In addition to a full service aquatic center for swim lessons and lap swim, The Wave has a massive Slide Tower with six ways to reach the bottom, including a near-vertical drop through a trap door (OMG!). The Splash Zone is for toddlers and others who aren't ready for a thrill slide, and it's packed with knobs and cranks for spilling and splashing. Visit the website.
Best ages: Toddler to Teens will enjoy this sparkling new facility
Prices: Non-residents of Dublin pay $17 for over 40″ tall; $15 for under 40″ tall. Children under 2 are $4. Prices are $2 cheaper after 3 pm.
Food: No outside food. Concession stand that sells meals, snack items and beverages. Wristbands include in and out privileges, so plan to bring a cooler and tailgate.
Location: Dublin, CA
Silliman Aquatic Center (indoor!), Newark
Description: Lazy river, two mid-size water slides, lap pool, massive play structure for littles, in-pool basketball.
- Our review of Newark's Silliman Aquatic Center.
- Their website to check current hours and rates. Open year-round.
Best ages: Toddler to tween.
Prices: General admission $9; Children 2 and under – $3 includes swim diaper
Food situation: BYO food or eat at snack bar
Boomerang Bay at Great America, Santa Clara
Description: Lazy river, massive water play structure, several big water slides, wave pool, zero-entry baby pool all themed for Australia. Cabanas and lockers for rent. So much fun, but how do you fit this into a full day at an amusement park?
- Our review of Great America's Boomerang Bay.
- Their website to check current hours and rates. Opens weekends in May, daily in June.
Best ages: Toddler to teen and beyond.
Prices: Included with admission to Great America
Food situation: All food okay; lots on sale.
Location: Great America in Santa Clara
Water Park Superlatives
- Best for little kids? Either Antioch's Prewett or Newark's Aqua Adventure. For little kids with a dedicated parent, I'd send you to Antioch. Trying to keep an eye on mixed ages by yourself? Head to Newark.
- Best for cold and rainy days? Newark's Silliman Aquatic Center
- Best value? Silliman or Prewett.
- Best for older but still on-the-short-side kids? Antioch's Prewett
- Best for water slide junkies? Concord's Waterworld
- Best for kids who also want a full day of roller coasters? Boomerang Bay at Great America (Here's a discount link for Great America admission, which includes access to Boomerang Bay.)
Other East Bay pools with play structures or slides:
- Heather Farm Park pool in Walnut Creek
- Rankin Pool in Martinez
- San Ramon Swim Center
- El Cerrito Swim Center splash pad
- East Oakland Sports Center
Hunt around for bargains on admission prices, consider a season pass if you live close, and always double-check that the water park is open before you pack up your kids and gear!