From the simple joy of running through sprinklers to the sky high dive from a grounded Boeing 747 jet with waterslides emerging from its former emergency exits; Oregon waterparks offer safe summer fun all year long with interactive play for all ages.
Right in Portland’s backyard, just along NE Marine Drive, in Fairview, Oregon, is beautiful Blue Lake Regional Park where 64-acres surround a natural lake fed by underground springs. The park features a colorful spray ground for the younger set. There’s also a playground and a beach shoreline, along with handy barbeques to round out a perfect summer day. (You can also bring your own grill, recommended for busy holidays.) At only $5. per carload, the popular lakeside oasis offers one of Portland, Oregon’s most affordable “daycations.”
Just off I-5, in SE Portland, you’ll find more affordable family fun at North Clackamas Aquatic Park, which offers several swimming pools, three water slides, a relaxing wave pool, a six-lane competition lap pool, a 13-foot deep diving well, a play area of cascading fountains, a kiddie pool, and a spacious hot tub for adults. The facility also boasts a 29-foot climbing wall. The rock wall has three different routes, varying the climb from easy to difficult, and trained staff are on hand.
Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark is Oregon’s splashy new aviation-themed destination.
Looking up… way, way up, is popular at waterparks, nowhere more than at Oregon’s newest. From your first glimpse of the imposing jet decked on the roof of Wings and Waves Waterpark, to the landing strip roadway design leading up to it; you’ll know this attraction is on the tarmac of Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, home to Howard Hughes’ famed Spruce Goose.
Opened in 2011, the tropical air of the indoor waterpark makes this a comfortable destination in any weather. Four of the aviation-themed water slides launch visitors right out of the belly of the B747-100 parked on the waterpark’s roof, and adding to the overall thrill of the ride. Mach 1, the body slide, is a great first flight, and there are six more smaller body slides for young novice flyers. The popular wave pool is accompanied by a large screen displaying fun facts about water. There is also a video monitor nearby showing those entering the upper slide’s decks: perfect for keeping an eye on when your loved ones may descend with a splash!
An activity pool, a vortex pool, and a large hot tub offer even more alternatives. There is also a well-designed, interactive play structure for children that features a helicopter for a top hat. Billed as the “only educational waterpark” in America, there’s even a water museum. H20 offers hands-on exploration of a wealth of water facts for kids.
Overall, a clean facility enjoyed by all ages, with a refreshingly courteous, well-trained, attentive, and friendly staff. Just outside of of the indoor waterpark, sidled by a vineyard, are also spacious picnic grounds in a grove of oaks that families do well to enjoy. (Don’t forget to cover your cooler with a picnic blanket or two and use block ice on especially hot days.)
Admission is $30. for most swimmers, so plan to make a day of it and you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck here. (Look into their excellent membership deals if you intend to visit more than once.) Located about an hour and 15-minutes southwest of Portland in McMinville, Wings & Waves Waterpark and Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum plan to expand with an on-site hotel in future
Nearby, the Neighborhood has Gone to the Dogs
Can’t wait to book a room? Great Wolf Lodge is about an hour and 45 minutes north of Portland in neighboring Centralia, Washington. The child-pleasing theme hotel is gaining popularity with Oregonians, and boasts a huge 56,000 square foot indoor waterpark for guests with several slides that includes the thrilling Howlin’ Tornado that swirls guests up 30-foot sidewalls. A wave pool, activity pool, expansive warming pool and the interactive play areas with slides for the little ones make the hotel an enviable family vacation destination. Prices vary, depending on the room you choose. Rooms includes waterpark passes.
Whatever the season, waterparks make for summery fun that bridges age gaps (and can even soothe bad backs). Load up the family and get wet… just don’t forget your towel and flip flops.