Fun? Yes. Refreshing? Probably. But a trip to a water park might not sound like the most sophisticated sort of vacation.
Except that a number of high-end resorts have their own water parks, ranging from expansive pools with some spouts and tubing areas to full-blown complexes with kiddie splash pads, surf simulators and freefall slides. They’ll keep the kids occupied (and off screens) for hours on end, and tire them out for a solid night’s sleep. But because these are upscale resorts, they also have golf courses, spas and other adult-friendly features.
We rounded up eight notable resorts with their own water parks, so you really can go with the flow.
Arizona Grand Resort & Spa
This resort’s waterpark is a family-friendly oasis in the desert, clocking in at an appropriately grand seven acres. There are three eight-story slides, a wave pool with two-foot swells, a giant hot tub—with capacity for two dozen people—and a tubing river. Smaller kids can enjoy the splash area. Adults will appreciate the par-71 golf course, spa, 20,000-square-foot fitness center, and the bright and spacious suites. From $139 a night, arizonagrandresort.com.
Aulani Disney Resort and Spa
Disney’s Hawaiian resort is a water wonderland, especially for the under-5 set. The Keiki Cove splash zone has rainbow water jets and pool whose floor is decorated with marine creatures. The 2,100-square-foot Mehehune Bridge play area has two water slides and a climbing structure. The rest of the family can choose from tubing a lazy river or the rapids version, lounge in an infinity pool overlooking the beach, or zip down a tunnel slide. Another highlight: Rainbow Reef, a man-made saltwater lagoon stocked with butterflyfish, angelfish and other tropical species, for safe snorkeling. There are also regular beach activities, including games, sandcastle competitions, and sunset performances. From $500 a night, disneyaulani.com.
Baha Mar isn’t just the splashiest new resort in the Bahamas because it cost $4 billion to create. In July, it opened Baha Bay, a $200 million oceanfront waterpark with enough attractions to keep kids busy for days. The 15-acre complex has a lazy river that winds through a tropical landscape, a 500,000-gallon wave pool, a freefall slide, a water coaster, a surf simulator and more. Turtle Beach is safe and fun for smaller kids. On the dry side, Baha Mar has three hotels to choose from—a luxe Rosewood, a more affordable Grand Hyatt and the party-friendly SLS—a gold course, spa, and several high-end dining options. From about $200 a night at the Grand Hyatt, bahamar.com.
El Conquistador Resort
Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Shuttered for more than three years after Hurricane Maria, this golf resort in Puerto Rico’s northeast corner finally reopened this summer. The 230-room property is no longer a Waldorf Astoria, but it still has its Coqui Waterpark, with three slides, a lazy river, and more. From about $250 a night, conquistadorresort.com.
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
In many other destinations, the water park at this five-star resort would be the main draw. No matter—kids are sure to love Explorer Island, with its enormous zero-entry family pool, splash zone, and lazy river with its own waterfall and rapids section. For adrenaline hounds, there are two 242-foot water slides, one transparent so you can enjoy the view as you speed down it. The design of the Four Seasons, which is within the Walt Disney World Resort, nods to its location while staying sophisticated. In addition to a golf club, full-service spa, and restaurants, there’s a Disney Planning Center on the property. From about $600 a night, fourseasons.com
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
San Antonio, Texas
The heart of Texas Hill Country can be steamy in the summer. Cool your kids off at the JW Marriott’s River Bluff Water Experience. Spread over nine acres and exclusive to hotel guests, it has a 1,100-foot-long lazy river, a sandy beach, twin tube slides with panoramic views, a zero-dept kids’ pool with mini slides, and more. When you need a break, there’s an adult pool and a 36-hole golf course. The property is about 30 minutes north of downtown San Antonio, close enough to enjoy the River Walk and restaurants. From about $200 a night, marriott.com.
Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Are you the kind of parent who’s willing to pay good money to have gallons of slime dumped on your head? This brand-new Nickelodeon property may be for you. The centerpiece is the six-acre Aqua Nick waterpark, which has more than 20 slides, a adventure river, and a pool with floating pads that let kids “walk” on water. There are beach areas, themed attractions for fans of SpongeBob SquarePants and PAW Patrol, and character experiences. All rooms are swim-up suites, except for the colorful, decadent Big Kahuna penthouse. From $295 per person/night, karismahotels.com
Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa
Rancho Mirage, California
Just a few miles from the groovy adult playground of Palm Springs, this resort has fun enough for the whole family. There are three nine-hole golf courses with mountain views, 23 tennis courts and a full-service spa. Cool off in Splashtopia, with its cliffside hot tub, sandy beach, splash zone and two 100-foot waterslides. In summer, there are “dive-in” movies, too. From about $215 a night, omnihotels.com