Bay Area Water Parks for Families
Whitney and I have done the hard work of visiting the Bay Area’s amazing collection of water parks over the years in the hopes that we could form very strong opinions and break down all the options for you, and just when we are there, the pandemic shakes it up! Here are some splashy, thrilling water parks to seek out when the temperature passes 85 degrees.
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Concord (Opening May 21 for 2022 Season)
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 beginning May 22; Open daily beginning June 12, 2022.
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 money when you buy tix online a week in advance. Regular admission is $34.99 per person. Children under 2 are FREE; tube rental extra for lazy river; Parking $20/car, which is best to pay for in advance.
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. Pre-pay for food packages for savings.
Antioch Water Park, Antioch (Opening Memorial Day Weekend for 2022 Season )
Description: Water activities for every age from baby on up: Five slides including a super shallow tad-pool, 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.
- Waterpark After Dark
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 (Opening Memorial Day Weekend for 2022 Season)
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 and how to get reservations.
- Family Fridays
Best ages: Toddler to tween. Price structure is all about height and residency
Prices: Over 4′ Non- Resident $25.99, Fremont Resident $23.99; Under 4′ Non-Resident $20.99, Fremont Resident $18.99; Children 3 and under – $4 includes swim diaper. Save $2 per ticket by buying two days in advance.
Food situation: No outside food; snack bar with lots of treats; ample grass outside for picnic
The Wave Waterpark, Dublin (Opening Memorial Day Weekend for 2022 Season)
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.
For the 2022 Season, the Waterpark will be open Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 – 30; and daily from June 4 through August 5. Once school resumes in August, The Wave will be open weekends only, August 6 – September 5.
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. You can buy tickets in advance here.
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 (Open Weekends Now)
Description: Lazy river, two mid-size water slides, lap pool, massive play structure for littles, in-pool basketball. NOTE: Currently the Lazy River and Water Slides are closed due to low staffing. Stay tuned for changes as summer approaches! Open weekends for drop-in 12:30pm -3:30pm. Hours are generally weekends until June, when the summer schedule starts.
- 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 $11; Children 2 and under – $3 includes swim diaper (Discounts for Newark residents)
Food situation: No outside food permitted
South Bay Shores at Great America, Santa Clara (Opening Memorial Day Weekend for 2022 Season)
Description: Lazy river, massive water play structure, several big water slides, wave pool, zero-entry baby pool refreshed from what was Boomerang Bay water park. 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 South Bay Shores.
- Their website to check current hours and rates. Open Memorial Day Weekend 2022, daily in June (with some random closures, so check hours!).
- Special Events are posted on their calendar
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
Great Wolf Lodge, Manteca (Open year round)
Description: This is a hotel AND indoor waterpark that will entice you to Manteca, CA, about an hour from the East Bay. Part of a national chain that’s popular because of it’s year-round operating schedule, Great Wolf Lodge is new to the Bay Area, and includes a large-scale indoor adventure park with a ropes course, arcade, and more.
Best ages: All ages
Prices: You can buy a day pass for $75 or stay overnight in a suite at Great Wolf Lodge to get access to the park. A family suite is about $600 for an overnight trip, but look for discount codes to knock it down to the $400s.
Food situation: Bring whatever you like to enjoy in your room which will have a fridge (or bring a cooler) or in the outdoor areas. There are numerous onsite restaurants and a deli/shop.
Location: Manteca, CA
The best Bay Area Water Parks at any age
- Best for little kids? Either Antioch’s Water Park or Fremont’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 Fremont.
- Best for cold and rainy days? Newark’s Silliman Aquatic Center
- Best value? Silliman or Antioch.
- Best for older but still on-the-short-side kids? Antioch’s Water Park
- Best for water slide junkies? Concord’s Hurricane Harbor
- Best for kids who also want a full day of roller coasters? South Bay Shores at Great America
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
- Robert Livermore Aquatic Center
- Larkey Spray Ground & Larkey Pool in Walnut Creek
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!
[Photo credits: The Wave via Dublin’s website; Antioch Water Park Whitney Moss; Aqua Adventure Heather Flett; Water World by Water World; Silliman Aquatic yelp; Boomerang Bay Heather Flett]