Beat the heat: Wet and wild adventures await at these Iowa water parks
Editor's note: This story was first published in 2018. Some information has been updated.
Des Moines is more than 800 miles from the nearest ocean.
So while a beach vacation might not be in your summer vacation plans — there are still ways to get a little wet and wild within driving distance.
Pack up the car and head to one of these five outdoor water parks in all corners of the state:
Lost Island Waterpark
- Distance from Des Moines: 120 miles
- Location: 2225 E. Shaulis Road, in Waterloo
- Admission: $35 + tax, kids under 48" $29, kids 3 and under free
- Season: June through August (weekends only at end of August)
Thrill-seekers will find a lot to love at Lost Island. Forget water slides — this park features "hydromagnetic water coasters." Attractions include the Molokini Crater, a 60-foot funnel ride; Lost Soul Falls, a 28-feet-per-second free fall; and Ta Katipo, a mat racer water slide. Little ones can enjoy Starfish Cove or watch out for Maizie the Mermaid. Lost Island also features mini-golf and go-karts.
Adventure Bay at Adventureland
- Distance from Des Moines: 10 miles
- Location: 3200 Adventureland Drive, in Altoona
- Admission: $50, kids age 4-9 $45, free for kids 3 and under
- Season: May 29 through Labor Day (limited hours at end of August); early opening on May 28 for season pass holders only
You get two parks for one admission at Adventureland and Adventure Bay. When you're done with the roller coasters, relax in the lazy river or Breaker Beach wave pool. Ready for more action? Head to the Bermuda Quadrangle — a four-plex of intertube slides full of twists and turns. Kids of all ages will never tire of Kokomo Kove, featuring seven slides and more than 100 other water features.
King's Pointe Waterpark Resort
- Distance from Des Moines: 155 miles
- Location: 1520 E Lakeshore Drive, in Storm Lake
- Admission: $15 + tax, kids age 5-11 $12, kids 4 and under free
- Season: through Labor Day (limited hours at end of August)
Rain or shine, there is still fun to be had at King's Pointe: The water park offers both indoor and outdoor areas. A colorful outdoor tower allows visitors to slip and slide down four different styles of water rides. There is also a three-meter diving board, a lily pad walk and plenty of lounge chairs for the sunbathers. Inside, visitors can enjoy slides, a zero-depth entry pool and the lazy river. The park will open at 50% capacity.
Fun-Plex Waterpark & Rides
- Distance from Des Moines: 140 miles
- Location: 7003 Q St., in Omaha
- Admission: $29.99 + tax, kids under 54" $19.99, kids 2 and under free
- Season: May 29 through Labor Day (closed last week of August)
Fun-Plex is just across the border, in Omaha, and features attractions both in the water and on land. Get wet and wild on the Typhoon Falls, a five-story "mountain waterfall" full of twists and turns. Kids can enjoy the Makana Splash play structure while the adults swim up to Breakers Bay Bar. There is also a lazy river, wave pool and kiddie pool. The dry side of Fun-Plex has all of the family carnival favorites.
Huck’s Harbor Water Park
- Distance from Des Moines: 165 miles
- Location: 3001 Winegard Drive, in Burlington
- Admission: $10, kids 2 and under free
- Season: May 29 through Labor Day (limited hours at end of August)
Huck's Harbor is part of the Pzazz Resort Hotel entertainment complex, which also includes a casino, dining, indoor speedway, bowling alley and more. The outdoor water park includes Huck's River Ruckus, a multi-slide tower for single- and double-tube riders. Younger visitors can enjoy the splash pad. The indoor water park is closed for the season for renovation.
BONUS: 4 indoor water parks in Iowa
Even in the summer, we know that Iowa's weather doesn't always cooperate. So we've included four indoor parks, too, where the kids can splash year-round:
Ramada Tropics Resort
- Location: 5000 Merle Hay Road, in Des Moines
- Admission: Open only to hotel guests
You gotta stay if you wanna play at the Ramada Tropics Resort. Guests of the hotel can enjoy two large pools, a pirate ship and slides. While the kids splash, adults can enjoy the poolside tiki bar and the 18+ hot tub.
Grand Harbor Resort & Waterpark
- Location: 350 Bell St., in Dubuque
- Admission: $18 for adults, $14 for children, from Sundays to Fridays. Open on Saturdays for guests only.
A multi-level play station with a huge dump bucket keeps visitors wet and entertained inside Grand Harbor's Waterpark. There are also slides, a mini lazy river and a gentle splash pad to cater to guests of all ages.
Boji Splash Indoor Waterpark
- Location: 630 Linden Drive, in Arnold's Park
- Admission: $26, $20 after 4 p.m., ages 3 upwards
Kids will love the water slides and triple-hoop basketball area while adults may prefer the giant whirlpool and lazy river at Boji Splash at Bridges Bay Resort. Visitors also have access to the outdoor pool and swim-up bar.
Buccaneer Bay at Honey Creek Resort
- Location: 12633 Resort Drive, in Moravia
- Admission: Open to overnight guests only
The lazy river and lily pad walk are just some of the attractions at Buccaneer Bay. If you need a break from the pool, enjoy the outdoors near Rathbun Lake.