Photo courtesy of Morey's Piers
 

Want to spend the day outdoors without leaving a post-beach sandpit in your car? Sure, there are huge water parks like Camelbeach or Hurricane Harbor that are tons of fun. But if you’re looking for something smaller and off the beaten path, these spots are perfect.

If you’re vacationing at the shore, plan to visit either Ocean Oasis Water Park and Beach Club or Raging Waters Water Park in Wildwood. Both are tucked behind two of Morey’s Piers’ amusement parks, and packed with mild and wild slides just steps away from roller coasters and the beach. Splurge on a cabana for some serious R&R while the kids race on rafts and sway on rope swings.

If you have younger kiddos, head to the Land of Make Believe in Hope where they’ll explore the wading pool, pirate-themed play area and dumping bucket. Bigger kids can test their bravery on the Sidewinder, a U-shaped ride on which they’ll start at one side and slide up the other, then chill on the lazy river. Or try Funplex in East Hanover, with an adjacent water park (aka Splashplex) that’s got an infinity pool, lazy river and racing slides. If rain threatens your fun, head inside for indoor games, a foam playground, laser tag and more.

Tomahawk Lake Water Park is a smaller spot in Sparta featuring lakeside relaxation and unique slides like the Geronimo, which splashes right into the lake. Lounge in the sand or explore floating obstacles at Kiddie Water World. If you want fun for the kids all summer long, Frog Falls is a membership-only park in Picatinny Arsenal in Dover (meaning you buy an annual pass for the summer). It has water wheelchairs for guests who need them. There’s a huge lazy river, slides and even events like float nights, which feature tunes by a live DJ, and clam bakes.

If you’ve got bigger and braver kids, Mountain Creek in Vernon is filled with some of the wildest thrill rides around. You’ll find everything from a 23-foot cliff dive to a Zero-G slide, where a trapdoor opens under riders’ feet and drops them 100 feet down at speeds up to 50 miles an hour (aka, it’s no joke). There’s also a massive wave pool, sprayground and gentle lazy river to hang in after you’ve all come down from that adrenaline rush.