Long ago, Big Surf meant school was out and the beach — such as it was — was open. We wee Gidgets and mini Moondoggies pulled on our snorkels and grabbed our boogie boards and headed to Tempe to enjoy America's original water park, which was a fake "ocean" with a giant wave machine buried in its big, wet belly.

Today, we take our kids there. Big Surf Tempe is 20 acres of body slides, tube slides, speed slides, water basketball and volleyball, and children's play area. That wave pool is still there, only now it's grown to hold more than 2 million gallons of water on which beachgoers can body surf or just splash straight into its watery depths on one of Big Surf's 15 water slides. Elsewhere, beach bunnies will find several themed areas, one with little-kid water features that won't frighten the younger set, like the Tahitian Twisters, a pair of smaller but still swell slides that scaredy-cat moms will like, too.

At summer's end, Big Surf panicked the masses by announcing it was going out of business. We now hear that's not true; we're crossing our fingers and toes that we'll be able to hang 10 next year.

Best of Phoenix 2009 In Photos

Location Details

1500 N. McClintock Drive
Tempe AZ 85281


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