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Most affordable water parks across the U.S.

By BT Editor
July 23, 2022
Accelerator TX
Accelerator at NRH2O Family Water Park - Courtesy of NRH2O Family Water Park

Just in time for National Waterpark Day (July 28), vacation rental marketplace HomeToGo is making a splash by releasing its 2022 Water Park Index to help travelers identify the top water parks to visit this year. From Florida to California, from pulse-pounding to placid, they’ve done a deep dive into the best water parks that America has to offer.

  • Most Affordable States to Make a Splash: Water parks in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, California and Illinois climb to the affordable peak of this year’s ranking.
  • Best States for Water Park Enthusiasts: California reigns supreme with the most water parks on this year's ranking (11), followed by Texas (10) and Florida (9). The average total cost per day among the featured water parks in California is $138.06, compared to $132.96 in Texas and $139.16 in Florida.
  • Average Entry Prices: This year’s average entry cost is $39.82. The water parks with the cheapest entry costs are Buccaneer Bay and Sun-N-Fun Lagoon both in Florida, which both cost $13 per adult.
  • The tallest waterside in the country is Thrillagascar at DreamWorks Water Park in New Jersey (Ranked #32), which stands at 142 feet tall and reaches free-fall speeds of +60 mph and features the world's biggest indoor wave pool
  • The largest water park in the U.S. is Noah’s Ark Water Park in Wisconsin Dells (#44), with a total of 51 waterslides, 2 wave pools, 2 lazy rivers, and 6 additional attractions.

Rankings are based on cost of parking, entry, locker and nightly accommodations.

3. Buccaneer Bay - $91.02
Weeki Wachee, Florida

splish-n-splash-buccaneer-bay
Buccaneer Bay - Courtesy of floridastateparks.org

Buccaneer Bay, located within Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, is the perfect place for families to spend a hot summer day. This water park is Florida’s only spring-fed water park and is home to a variety of different attractions including waterslides, sandy beach area, lazy river float ride, beach volleyball court and legendary mermaid shows in a submerged theater. On top of this, the water park is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery due to its unique location. This water park offers food and beverage options for guests who need to refuel and hydrate, as well as covered picnic pavilions for those who would like to bring their own snacks.

2. Splash Kingdom Oasis - $90.46
Shreveport, Louisiana

Splash Kingdom Oasis
Splash Kingdom Oasis - Courtesy of hometogo

Splash Kingdom Waterpark in Shreveport, Louisiana is a water park for the entire family to enjoy and embrace the family tradition of taking trips together. With more than 15 rides and attractions to choose from, people of all ages can come to this fun oasis and never worry about running out of things to do. On top of this, guests can enjoy food and drinks for whenever they get hungry or need to quench their thirst after a long day. Guests can also expect a multitude of different aspects of entertainment, with events being held that showcase music, movies and more.

1. NRH2O Family Water Park - $87.99
North Richland Hills, Texas

Thunder at NRH2O Family Water Park
Thunder - Courtesy of NRH2O Family Water Park

NRH20 is a 17-acre water park filled with plenty of fun and excitement for guests to enjoy. This water park is home to 14 attractions along with food and beverage amenities. With a great balance between thrilling waterslides and kid-friendly attractions, this water park is welcome to all ages looking to let off some steam and just have fun. NRH20 is known for its friendly environment, relaxing atmosphere, and reasonable prices. Located in North Richland Hills, Texas, the water park’s popularity has flourished within the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Click here to see the complete list of top affordable water parks and the methodology for the rankings.

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FamilyTheme Parks

Did you know - Land of Oz!

Autumn at Oz September 9th-11th, 16th-18th, & 23rd-25th at Land of Oz - Beech Mountain, NCCourtesy of Land of Oz Travel Over the Rainbow to Beech Mountain, North Carolina and celebrate Land of Oz's annual Autumn at Oz Festival - one of the world’s largest Wonderful Wizard of Oz events! Experience the magic of Oz during this three-weekend event where the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion are ready to perform for you on your journey to meet the Wizard! Keep a lookout for the Wicked Witch and her Winged Monkeys, plus other favorite characters from this classic story! Visit the Gale farm in Kansas, experience the twister, meet Glinda in Munchkinland, and follow the real yellow brick road to Emerald City where the Wizard grants everyones' wishes - right before your eyes! Courtesy of Land of Oz Shop unique craft & memorabilia vendors, enjoy delicious varieties of food and beverages, get your face painted, and watch live performances. Plus, there are plenty of photo-ops along the way including our Over the Rainbow Observation Deck - one mile high in the sky! Enjoy the magical Land of Oz on the site of the original 1970's theme park where the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. Courtesy of Land of OzIn the Land of Oz:Don't wear your high heel ruby slippers - Oz has uneven paths, ramps and stairs and therefore is not wheelchair or stroller friendly. The weather in Oz (Beech Mountain) can be cold and blustery, so be prepared for the weather by dressing in layers and wearing comfortable shoes. It is also suggested that guests bring a jacket and an umbrella just in case.You can get to Oz by bus or scenic lift ride (additional cost). The lift ride from Beech Mountain Ski resort will give you amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. General Admission Tickets: $55.00 + Taxes & Processing Fees​ Children 2 & Under are free.

InspirationFamily

Walt Disney World® EPCOT's Food and Wine Festival Begins

EPCOT® International Food and Wine Festival runs July 14 to November 19! Like a passport specially for your palate, the EPCOT® International Food & Wine Festival is a magical taste tour—one that whisks you off on a fun and flavorful journey across six continents. It’s a delicious celebration filled with over 25 global marketplaces, live entertainment and more. Sip, savor and stroll your way through EPCOT®, as you delight in some of your favorite flavors, and try plenty of new ones along the way. There’s even an entire menu of family fun including a Remy inspired scavenger hunt and Emile’s Fromage Montage, where you can sample a variety of unique cheeses and even indulge in an opportunity to earn a very special festival treat.Throughout the day, you’ll find that taste isn’t the only thing on tour. Catch performances throughout the festival, including the return of the Eat to the Beat Concert Series—where internationally recognized artists perform on stage Friday – Monday, while local Orlando bands rock the spotlight Tuesday – Thursday. Plus, don’t miss all the other amazing acts including Voices of Liberty, Mariachi Cobre and the Jammin’ Chefs.All the magic kicks off this summer and spans 129 days. What’s more, you couldn’t have picked a more delicious time to visit, during The World’s Most Magical Celebration—the Walt DisneyWorld® 50th Anniversary.EPCOT® International Food and Wine Festival Global Marketplaces More than 25 Global Marketplaces throughout World Showcase to sip, savor and stroll your festival favorites and new delights! Emile’s Fromage Montage Families can enjoy Emile’s Fromage Montage where they can sample a variety of delicious cheeses served in inventive ways. Purchase any five cheese dishes from the official Global Marketplaces listed in the Festival Passport and make sure to collect a stamp for each cheese dish purchased. Once you’ve collected all five stamps, bring the stamped Festival Passport to Shimmering Sips for a specialty, unique to EPCOT® International Food & Wine Festival presented by CORKCICLE®. Eat to the Beat The Eat to the Beat Concert Series presented by Florida Blue Medicare is ready to serve up some piping hot tunes! This year, we’re following the same recipe as our recent festivals, with internationally recognized artists as well as local bands bringing their sizzling sounds to the America Gardens Theatre stage. Jammin’ Chefs This funky drumming crew breaks it down as they drum up fun in the kitchen using pots, pans, and other unlikely instruments. Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Embark on a Ratatouille-inspired adventure that’s très magnifique! Kids of all ages can search for Remy on a savory scavenger hunt around the Festival. Simply purchase your map and stickers from select Festival merchandise locations – including Port of Entry, Pin Traders – Camera Center, and World Traveler at International Gateway.Find discounted tickets to EPCOT® here.

InspirationFamilyBudget Travel Lists

Four Great American Trains to Discover

There is just something about historic railroads. Unfortunately, many of the engines and trains that have been saved are static. Lifeless. But there are places in America where you can see a steam engine come alive and run at speed (go fast), where you can climb America’s only accessible 14-thousand-foot mountain, ride on a 150-year old railroad lost in time and coming back to life in the beautiful valleys of central Pennsylvania and ride on the original subway cars from 1916 and 1930’s to places such as Coney Island in Brooklyn. This is where open windows, strap hangers and swaying cars are as fun as the rides found at Coney Island. Yes, there are great train rides this summer, and here’s a ticket to four of the most interesting. THE BROADMOOR, MANITOU & PIKES PEAK COG RAILWAY (Manitou, CO to the summit at Pikes Peak – 14,115 feet) Climb every mountain. Well, there is only one 14-thousand-foot mountain in the US that you don’t have to climb. You can take the train. A unique train – a cog. At The Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway, America’s highest railway reaches a height of 14,115 feet. This is where the words to the song “America the Beautiful” were composed. Completely rebuilt it is back and better than ever climbing up America’s Mountain. This iconic railway is one of only two cog railways in the U.S.Originally built in 1891 and owned and operated by The Broadmoor since 1925, this historic railway is the highest railroad in America, the highest cog railway in the world, one of Colorado’s top attractions, and one of the nation’s most unique experiences. The Railway runs every day. For information and reservations hop onboard at www.cograilway.com THE GRAND CANYON RAILWAY (Williams, AZ on Rt. 66 to steps from South Rim, Grand Canyon) Courtesy Xanterra Travel Collection Grand Canyon Railway has been taking people to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon since 1901 when it was built by the legendary Atkinson, Topeka and Santé Fee (ATSF). Grand Canyon Railway runs daily from Williams, AZ on historic Rt. 66 to within steps of the Grand Canyon South Rim and El Tovar. The pristine train, comprised of railcars from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, including luxury dome cars and an open platform observation car, as well as vintage coaches with opening windows, departs at 9:30 a.m. and returns at 5:45 p.m. with a 2.5-hour layover at South Rim of Grand Canyon. The train rolls directly into Grand Canyon National Park, taking an estimated 70,000 cars off the road.During most of the summer and into early fall, the Railway pulls the daily train once a month with a steam engine built in 1923 and that runs on waste vegetable oil.There is no extra charge for the steam engine pulled trains. It be believed Grand Canyon Railway is the last standard gauge passenger railroad in the US where steam engines are still scheduled to pull revenue trains.You can save 30% on train tickets when you book in conjunction with any 1 or 2-night stay at The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. Visit thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE.-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724) for updated and current information on both the hotel and the train.It is now also possible to charter an entire luxury private railroad car or even an entire private train complete with chefs, bartenders, entertainers, and staff. These are ideal for “milestone” moments, such as graduations, family reunions, anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, etc. For charters call 928-635-5700 or visit www.thetrain.com/charters. THE EAST BROAD TOP RAILROAD (Orbisonia, Central Pennsylvania) Courtesy of The East Broad Top Railroad It's one of the true treasures in American railroading. The East Broad Top Railroad (EBT) located in Orbisonia, PA and nestled in the rolling hills and farmlands in the central part of the state-started train rides and historic railroad shop tours this spring. The 150-year-old railroad is considered by the Smithsonian to be one of the best-preserved examples of 19th century American narrow gauge railroads (the rails less than 4 feet apart so the trains, and everything is smaller than "standard" railroads) and industrial complexes in the country.It was already an antique when it was shut down in 1956; today is it a true treasure that far exceed the trains and tracks. The EBT still has six narrow-gauge steam locomotives, each awaiting their turn for restoration, one of which is expected soon. Initially, the railroad will offer one hour train rides in a vintage caboose, passenger car or even an open-air car on a nine-mile round-trip ride from the historic roundhouse and shops in Orbisonia to Colgate Grove and back. Prices begin at $20 for adults and $18 for children.Reservations are strongly suggested. For information and reservations visit www.eastbroadtop.com or call 814-447-3285. THE NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM & NOSTALGIA RIDES (New York City) Brooklyn Union Elevated Car Courtesy of The New York Transit Museum Yes, the New York subway is a railroad and a rather large one at that with 665 miles of mainline track and 472 stations that caters to more than a billion rides a year. It even has a museum in Brooklyn. 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These historic subway trains are occasionally run on what's called “Nostalgia Rides.” Some go to Yankee Stadium, other to Coney Island or the Rockaway Beach & Boardwalk, and some venture to historic cemeteries or decommissioned subway stations. We’re talking open windows, flickering light bulbs, hanging on to strap hangers and swaying cars. It’s a trip, and a trip back in time on the real things, right down to the rattan seats and car card (ads) that try to sell everything from bras and cookies, the ZIP code and baseball games at the Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field and of course, Yankee Stadium. For information on the museum and Nostalgia Rides visit www.nytransitmuseum.org.

Rediscover AmericaRoad TripsFamily

The best states to visit on a camping trip with kids!

But what are the best states to visit on a camping trip with kids? To find out, The Family Vacation Guide researched and revealed a list of all the states in the country and ranked them based on family activities, family campsites, Instagramability, and safety, to find the perfect states for a family camping adventure. With safety a top concern when traveling with kids, New Jersey has the highest safety score out of 100, of all the states in the US, at 72. California is the ideal state for families who love outdoor hiking. The state is home to 4,383 family-friendly trails, more than any other state. Florida has the most family-friendly things to do out of all states we looked at, at 4,622, providing endless opportunities to make memories as a family. Hawaii has the highest percentage of family-friendly campgrounds, with 44.4% of all campsites in the state providing the perfect time away for those with kids. TOP 5#5 Massachusetts Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground - Courtesy of campmv.com Most people know Massachusetts for its important role in American history, its sports teams, universities, delicious seafood, and, of course, Boston, dubbed the “Hub of the Universe.” But the most populous state in New England is also home to prime camping opportunities for outdoor lovers. From seaside campgrounds on Cape Cod to the scenic woodlands of the Berkshires to bustling RV parks just outside of Boston to the unique experience of camping on the Boston Harbor Islands, Massachusetts has a little something for everyone. Sleep under forest canopies in the Berkshires, or near the beach on Cape Cod. Campgrounds vary in what they offer, from showers and flush toilets to R.V. sites offering electric and water hook-ups. You can also try island camping, yurts, cabins, or a hike-in area. Spacious Skies Minute Man Campground - Littleton - Spacious Skies Minute Man Campground is a peaceful campground located in a piney forest grove in historic Littleton, Massachusetts, set between two National Historic Parks and famed Walden Pond, and just a short drive or ride on public transit into Boston. Relax by the heated pool, hang in the rec hall, send the kids to the playground, or play fetch at one of the dog runs. The camp store carries many convenience items and treats, and nearby restaurants offer both takeout and delivery. (Starting at $64 a night) Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground - Martha’s Vineyard - Camping on Martha’s Vineyard doesn’t get much better than Martha Vineyard’s Family Campground. Although the campground is geared towards RV campers with a wide range of full-hookup RV sites suitable for RVs up to 40’, tent camping and even cabin rentals are both also offered. All these campsites are located in a quiet, wooded setting with each site receiving plenty of shade during the day. This top-rated Massachusetts campground is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from everything that Martha’s Vineyard has to offer, including its world-class dining, beautiful beaches, and pocketful of adorable small towns. (Starting at $63 a night) #4 VirginiaWalnut Hills Campground and RV Park - Courtesy of Campspot There are many campgrounds in the state of VA that have all sorts of activities aimed to keep the whole family enjoying their vacation and experiencing quality family time together. From waterfront to mountaintop camping Virginia offers it all. It has one of the most varied and beautiful landscapes of any state in the U.S. Whether you’ve got your own RV camper or plan to rough it in a tent, making sure your family has a safe, clean, and comfortable place to call home-base is of utmost importance. Harpers Ferry Adventure Center - Purcellville - is all about non-stop activities, exciting challenges, and family fun. Camping options include cabins, riverside tent sites, mountaintop tent sites, and mountaintop platform camping (raised wooden platforms to put your tent on to keep it level and off the wet ground). The most difficult part of staying at Harpers Ferry will be choosing which activities to do as a family – there are so many choices. From whitewater tubing to zip lines and ropes courses – there is something for every age, ability, and daring level in your group. There is also an adventure day camp for kids ages 9-14 that includes activities specifically tailored to that age group. (Starting at $48 a night) Walnut Hills Campground and RV Park - Staunton - Pitch a tent, have a fire, and create a memory with your family. Camp in the shadows of 250-year-old locust and walnut trees in Virginia's beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Kids can fish in the pond, play in the game room or swim in the pool. Visit nearby attractions, such as Woodrow Wilson Birthplace, New Market Battlefield State Historical Park, Monticello, Natural Bridge, Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, Frontier Culture Museum and countless antique shops and flea markets. (Starting at $30 a night) #3 New YorkTriple R Camping Resort - Franklinville - Courtesy of Campspot The ‘Big Apple’ state is more famous for its bustling cities and tall skyscrapers than its natural areas and camping reservations, however, it is one of the best states for families planning a camping trip in the US. New York comes in third place for family-suited activities, with 1,733 family-friendly things to do throughout the state. Only 16.2% of all campgrounds in New York are family-friendly, which is fewer than in most states we looked at, however, New York has more tagged Instagram posts than any other state. New York has 1,997 family-friendly hikes, and the highest safety score out of our top three, at 61.7/100. North Pole Resorts - Wilmington - If you like to do your camping in the Adirondacks, then North Pole Resorts are for you! This family ran resort is a camper’s paradise located right on the edges of the Ausable River in the Adirondacks and also located near Lake Placid. Bring your tents, and RVs, or rent a cabin at this awesome resort. For the kids you will find two swimming pools, two playgrounds, mining experiences (both gemstones and fossils), biking, an arcade, mini golf, boat rentals, and more! (Starting at $40 a night) Triple R Camping Resort - Franklinville - Triple R sets a new standard for camping. They take pride in being the cleanest park with many amenities, beautiful views, and pet-friendly accommodations. Come have dinner on their new patio with a hot tub, tiki tables, palm trees, and splash ground called LeeKee Lagoon. Other fun activities include gem mining, corn hole, guest DJs, live music, ceramics, fireworks, and bubble ball. This is a great campground for kids. (Starting at $30 a night) #2 California Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort - Courtesy of Campspot One of the US’ most-visited states, famous for its beaches, sunshine, and for being the home of Hollywood. The coastal state is one of the US’ best locations for family camping fun, coming in second place out of all states we looked at. California is home to more family-friendly things to do than any other state we looked at except Florida, at 3,210. California is in the top five states for family-friendly campgrounds, with 34.2% of all campgrounds in the state listed as family-friendly on Tripadvisor. The second most-Instagrammed state, there are 97.8 million posts with #california on Instagram. For families who love keeping active, California has the most family-friendly hiking trails of all states, at 4,383. Lake Siskiyou Resort & Camp - Mt Shasta - This family campsite is has a true gem of a lake, a jewel set at the foot of Mount Shasta at 3,181 feet, the prettiest lake on the I-5 corridor in California. The lake level is almost always full (because it was built for recreation, not water storage) and offers a variety of quality recreation options, with great swimming, low-speed boating, and fishing. The campground complexes are huge, yet they are tucked into the forest so visitors don’t get their styles cramped. (Starting at $36 a night) Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort - Felton - 2022 Campspot Awards Winner: Top Campground in USA, Most Popular in USA. Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort is nestled in the California Redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Situated on the beautiful San Lorenzo River and backed by Henry Cowell State Park, this clean and well maintained RV Park and campground offers guests a year-round, family-oriented place to relax or explore the great outdoors. (Starting at $60 a night) #1 Florida The state, popular among vacationers, retirees and spring breakers is also the best location in the country for families looking for a camping adventure. Florida has the most family-friendly things to do out of all states. 40.9% of all campgrounds in Florida are family-friendly style sites, which is a higher percentage than any other state on our list except Hawaii. Florida is the third most-Instagrammed state on our list, with 65.8 million posts including the hashtag #florida, and Florida comes in third for the most family-friendly hiking trails, at 1,662.Camp N Water Campground - Homosassa - Camp N Water is hidden away on a tree shaded bank of the Homosassa River, its a quaint RV Campground for those who prefer the relaxed and congenial atmosphere of a natural setting. This fully equipped campground is a short drive from major and local attractions in Citrus County, Florida. (Starting at $60 a night) The St Augustine Beach KOA Holiday - St. Augustine is placed in Anastasia Island within a walk of the beach and offers a large selection of tent pitches, RV sites and deluxe cabins. All year round your child can enjoy the site’s outdoor pool and games area and there’s even a dog park available! (Starting at $60 a night) To read more about their study and see the rest of the list visit The Family Vacation Guide.

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