By Gillian Burdett
The dog days of summer can leave even the most energetic among us feeling listless and bored. It’s tempting to while away the days hunkered down in an air conditioned room with shades drawn against the glaring sun. If you prefer activity, if you want to get the kids away from the television and video games, a splash into a cool body of water is a surefire way to beat the summer doldrums. Connecticut has several water attractions that offer cooling family fun, guaranteed to reenergize the whole gang. Here are our picks for the best water parks in the state.
Quassy Amusement Park & Waterpark
2132 Middlebury Road
Middlebury, CT 16762
Quassy’s Splash Away Bay Water Park has water slides and tunnels for the thrill seekers and interactive water attractions for the little ones. One of the most popular features is Saturation Station, a playground of climbing frames and slides built under a giant bucket that tips to drench guests with more than 300 gallons of water. Quassy Amusement Park is on the shore of Lake Quassapaug, and the water park includes a sandy beach on the lake. The park is open daily June through Labor Day. Access to the water park is included in admission to the amusement park, or you may purchase all-day passes for the water park alone.
Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park
161 Brownstone Ave.
Portland, CT 06480
This attraction is a quarry with activities geared towards older children, tweens and teens. It has zip lines, cliff jumping, rope swings, wakeboarding, kayaking and general splashing around. Safety is a priority. Guests are required to wear the provided flotation devices, and lifeguards are on duty. Food is sold on site, but you may pack your own cooler (no glass or alcohol.) You may wish to wear water shoes, as the rocky pathways can be tough on bare feet. Brownstone is open every day 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
186 Enterprise Drive
Bristol, CT 06010
Lake Compounce is known for its roller coasters, but it also has one of the best water parks in Connecticut. Thrill-seekers will love the plunging water slides and twisting tubes. Mammoth Falls offers a river tubing experience in family-sized inner tubes. Young children can splash around in a wave pool sized just for them. Entrance to the water park is included in Lake Compounce general admission, which includes rides and shows. Families can save money by purchasing a family four pack of tickets, which are offered on weekdays.
Ocean Beach Park
98 Neptune Ave.
New London, CT 06320
A sandy beach on Long Island Sound, an Olympic-sized freshwater pool, waterslides and a spray park for the kids, this park has it all for water fun. The facilities include changing rooms and lockers. Admission and parking fees are priced by the carload. Additional activities include an arcade, miniature golf, kiddy amusement rides and nature trails. A snack bar offers quick treats and full meals.
Farmington River Tubing
92 Main St.
New Hartford, CT 06057
Technically, the Farmington River isn’t a water park, but it has all the heat-beating features of one. You can float down three miles of river in a specially designed inner tube. The course will carry you through three sets of rapids and calmer stretches that pass by scenic woodlands and rock outcroppings. The tubing company provides the tube, a flotation device and shuttle for the return to your vehicle. Depending on the river water level, the entire ride will take between 90 and 150 minutes. Farmington River Tubing operates from the end of May through mid-September.
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