The new house you bought last fall is great: More bedrooms, bigger closets, and nearer to a better school. But unlike the smaller joint you left behind, it doesn’t have a swimming pool. Your kids are hot and cranky and want to take a dip, and so far none of the new neighbors who do have pools have invited your rug rats over for a swim.
Take a deep breath, call an Uber, and send your yaps to one of the many water-specific parks and places that dot our desert landscape. Like Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, formerly known as Wet ’n’ Wild (4243 West Pinnacle Peak Road, Glendale, 623-201-2000), where kids can splash around in something called the Soak ’Em Playground, or channel their inner Moondoggy on the Splashwater Beach. More big wet fun can be had at the Hurricane Bay Wave Pool, the Adventure River, and a giant pile of water slides known as the Serpentine Complex. But wait, there’s more: Thrill rides include the Anaconda, Bahama Blaster, and the Tornado.
Your best bet for little kid water fun can be had at Enchanted Island Amusement Park (1202 West Encanto Boulevard, 602-254-1200). Children 10 and younger love this Encanto Park-hosted splash zone, with a lake, swimming pool and lots of rides. Families can rent a pedal boat and head out onto one of Encanto’s lagoons, and there are also bumper boats, a tipping bucket, and plenty of space for just plain old swimming.
Overheated folks of every age like the Kiwanis Wave Pool (6111 South All America Way, Tempe, 480-350-5201), a massive indoor puddle that’s 122 feet long and 16 feet high. Its waves are among the biggest in the land: up to three feet tall and great for riding. Other amenities include a six-lane lap pool for swim training and a kiddie pool filled with floaties.
Splash pads are all the rage these days, and one of the better ones can be found out in Goodyear. The splash pad at Goodyear Community Park (3151 North Litchfield Road, Goodyear, 623-882-7525) is an activities-based water park that offers a ton of wet-and-wild sprays and jets and a couple different heated pools. Also popular is Golfland Sunsplash (55 West Hampton Avenue, Mesa, 480-834-8319), with its giant-wave-making Thunder Bay pool and adrenaline-cranking amusement park rides, like the seven-story-tall Double Dare, Thunder Falls, and Stormrider. Younger kids and anyone afraid of heights will dig the Caribbean Water Works, with its zero-depth play area and colossal tipping bucket.
The seven-acre Oasis Water Park at Arizona Grand Resort and Spa (8000 Arizona Grand Parkway, 602-438-9000) was voted by the Travel Channel as one of the top 10 water parks in the whole country. Used to be, its wave pool, eight-story slides (including one with a 225-foot free-fall and another, the 220-foot Roadrunner, that offers a dramatic 51-foot drop) and heated pool were only available to resort guests. But in recent years, you can gain access by purchasing a day pass through Resort Pass. It's cheaper than an overnight stay, but you'll get all the same summer vibes.