Summertime means road-tripping and water-sliding. From South Florida's largest water park to Miami-Dade's only wave pool, the region has plenty of ways to stay cool for the summer. If your hot-weather plans include breaking the world record for most time spent floating on a lazy river, we're not here to judge.
1. Rapids Water Park
6566 North Military Trail, Riviera Beach; 561-848-6272
To reach the king of South Florida water parks, Miamians will have to cross county lines, but it's worth the trek. The 30-plus-acre water park is the region's largest and boasts 35 slides, a quarter-mile lazy river, and a wave pool. Looking for a VIP experience? Splurge on a Big Surf Cabana ($139 Monday through Friday; $169 Saturday, Sunday, and holidays). The ten-by-ten foot private retreat includes seating, a TV, a waiter to keep you out of those concession stand lines, and other amenities. The park tends to get slammed, so we suggest waking up at the crack of dawn to beat the waterslide vultures.
2. Paradise Cove Water Park at C.B. Smith Park
900 N. Flamingo Rd., Pembroke Pines; 954-357-5170
When life gives you five-story-tall corkscrew waterslides in suburbia, you take the plunge and make a day out of it. Who knew a tiny slice of paradise could be found smack in the middle of Pembroke Pines? Ten dollars will get you a fun-filled day at C.B. Smith Park's Paradise Cove, featuring water slides, water playgrounds, and a lazy river. Once you and the kids are done soaking up the sun a la Sheryl Crow, there's still a full day of fun ahead. Make your way over to one of the park's picnic areas, shoot some hoops at the full court, or go fishing.
3. Grapeland Water Park
1550 NW 37th Ave., Miami; 305-960-2950
Fighting that traffic on the Dolphin Expressway day in and day out is a huge bummer. When you see Grapeland Water Park while you're stuck in gridlock in your hot car, it's a reminder of the fun you're not having. So go have it! Rejoice in summer with the kids and let them splash to their hearts' content at this Miami attraction. From the slides at Pirate's Plunge to the ultimate lazy river at Buccaneer River Ride to the pools, slides, and splash fountains, this park has something for everyone. Bonus: Catch a "Dive-In" movie ($5) every last Friday of the month May through September at Captain's Lagoon.
4. Castaway Island Water Park at T.Y. Park
3300 N. Park Rd., Hollywood; 954-357-8811
Cool off at this Hollywood aquatic oasis that offers two water playgrounds with fun for kids of all ages.The park includes a multilevel structure with waterslides and buckets that dump water to get you soaked. Waiting in anticipation under a huge bucket of water never gets old. Be sure to cozy up under the waterfall at the Swim Lagoon, a guaranteed favorite. If you're looking to bring your furry, four-legged kids for a day of frolicking in the pool, mark your calendar for the K9 Water Festival, taking place over two weekends: October 14 and 15 and October 21 and 22.
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5. McDonald Water Park
7505 W. 12th Ave., Hialeah; 305-818-9164
Miamians know how to chill. Hard. For the terminally chill, this is the water park for you. Grab your most outrageous raft and drift along Hialeah's winding 1,000-foot lazy river, where you'll float through waterfalls and caves. This gem of a spot is home to Miami-Dade's only wave pool, but buckle up: It'll leave you waiting in suspense with its three variations of waves. The park also has a water playground, splash pad, water guns, and geysers.
6. Bucky Dent Water Park
2240 W. 60th St., Hialeah; 305-818-2990
So you think you can slide? The race is on, down Bucky Dent's 30-foot-tall dueling waterslides. Earn your bragging rights and race your friends to the bottom of the twin slides. This Hialeah hangout also has a miniature slide at the activity pool, as well as a zero-entry swimming pool. If the idea of a wet Miami summer doesn't do it for you, but the family is gung-ho on the whole water-park thing, there's no need to fret: This place offers ample seating areas and a concession stand to get your snack on.