Summer is here and that means water lovers and thrill seekers alike are hitting the water parks and pools in the Bay Area. Get the most splash for your cash at these great water parks, and dive into the season’s most playful and refreshing way to stay cool and have fun.
Silliman Family Aquatics Center
6800 Mowry Ave.
Newark, CA 94560
Price: $5 youth/$6 teens 6th to 12th grades/$8 adults/$6 seniors
Silliman Family Aquatics Center is the Bay Area’s only indoor water park, providing fun when the temperatures reach triple digits or clouds muscle in on the days activities. The pools are kept at a comfortable 83 degrees, and the facility, located in Newark, covers massive ground at 32,000 square feet. The water park accommodates ages 2 through 15 in children’s areas, easily, but everyone enjoys tubing down the 245-foot lazy river. For the more ambitious, two 20 foot water slides await. The water park also boasts a six platform play structures with water jets, water guns, two slides and three overhead rope pulls, plus a 25-yard, four-lane lap pool and 15-person spa. Showers in the men’s and women’s locker rooms, baby changing stations and individual family changing rooms with private showers make this an easy day trip for any family. Rent a cabana, but remember outside snacks are not allowed in the swimming area. A cafeteria just outside has the family covered when hunger strikes.
Related: Top Bay Area Amusement Parks
2333 S. White Rd.
San Jose, CA 95148
Price: $52.99 one-season pass/$42.99 two or more passes with a promotion code
With access to one of the Bay Area’s tallest waterslides, older guests take the plunge barreling down 500 feet of twisty turns in the Barracuda Blaster at Raging Waters. Other breathtaking slides include Bombs Away, five stories above Lake Cunningham, the 60-foot twister Blue Thunder/White Lightning, and the Serpentine Slides. Three specially designed pools with waterfalls, waves, slides and a tubing river change the pace considerably, but keep the fun level high. For water babies, the Little Dipper pool offers its own waterfall and special play area, Wacky Water Works, with squirting water, wheels to crank and ropes to pull on. Outside food and drinks are not permitted inside the water park, but sealed plastic bottles of water are allowed. All-day locker rentals are available inside the park, as are cabanas that feature a private shaded area and seating for up to six guests.
UCSF Bakar Fitness & Recreation Center
1675 Owens St.
San Francisco, CA 94158
Price: $15 adult single-day visit/$7 seniors and children ages 3 to 17
If you’re looking for a little luxury downtown without paying the price, head to UCSF with the rest of the sun and water worshippers. The Bakar Fitness & Recreation Center at Mission Bay boasts two pools: one indoor heated pool for classes and the second on the rooftop offering guests one of the best panoramic views of the city. Take advantage of this UCSF package, which offers adults and kids complimentary towels and lockers. Relax in the lounge chairs, or the coolest of all, scale the building at the popular rooftop climbing wall if you’re 15 or older. Single-visit passes also allow guests use of the sauna on the lower level. Outside food and beverages are allowed on the rooftop, and for convenience, its cafe serves sandwiches, salads and a hot menu until 6 p.m.
Boomerang Bay at California’s Great America
4701 Great America Pkwy.
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Price: $45.99 adult online purchase/$35.99 juniors and seniors
Boomerang Bay helps you stretch your dollar farther by offering two great parks for the price of one. Just 45 minutes south of San Francisco, the water park is located inside California’s Great America and is included for free with park admission. Thrilling rides include the 54-foot drop from Didgeridoo Falls, the 30-foot Ripsnort Ridge slide and the Jackaroo Landing water fortress where kids may explore passageways, enjoy eight family style slides, rope ladders and getting beaned by water jets. Low-impact Kookaburra Cay for the kiddies provides interactive fountains, and Castaway Creek’s lazy river offers a relaxing option for anyone throughout the day. Too many sugar or fatty food selections are a concern when spending the day at theme parks, and California’s Great America understands. Many of its restaurants will replace select items with healthy food options upon request, offering fresh fruits and vegetables and fruit juice. A season pass is highly recommended if you plan on giving the park repeat business, otherwise purchase online.
Robyn Chelsea-Seifert is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in The Miami Herald, Creem, Hit Parader, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and International Musician. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.