Jump into budget-friendly family fun at Raging Waves, the Aussie-themed water wonderland billed as the newest and largest outdoor water park in Illinois.
No need to drive far for rip-roaring laughs and a cool respite from the July heat. Set on 45 acres in Yorkville, Raging Waves promises and delivers 18 fast-flowing slides for thrill-loving kids and adults, an ocean strength wave pool that will transport you to the Great Barrier Reef and a play area with fancy fountains and a sandy beach-like area perfect for toddlers and beginning swimmers who prefer splashing and sandcastle building.
Ninety percent of the slides are multi-person, with some carrying up to four people on a tube, giving families the perfect opportunity to enjoy the ride together. Free parking, flat rate entrance fees and reasonably priced meals and snacks at the Shark Bite Café and Hungry Croc Barby and Billabong restaurant ensure that you won’t feel like your entire summer family travel budget will go bust in one day. The nearby location means you won’t have to overspend on gas or lodging either.
In addition to the numerous chaise lounges and picnic tables available, we splurged on a private cabana rental. Although it’s not a requirement for a day of family fun at this water park, our bright blue cabana area offered a peaceful, tented private patio overlooking a lazy river, lounge chairs, a larger picnic table and an ice-stocked cooler overseen by cabana servers.
Friendly and vigilant, staff and certified lifeguards ensure that rules are followed and safety reigns supreme. Solar water heating and recycling keep the park green. The extremely well-kept grounds and verdant landscaping make the park seem even more of an oasis in the Illinois prairie.
BUILD A SAND SCULPTURE
Do it on your own or enter a sand sculpture contest. 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. July 11, at Indiana Dunes State Park, Ind. 49, Chesterton. (219) 926-1952, in.gov/dnr/parklake/6711.htm. Free, park admission fee applies.
For tiny tots: Koala Kove splash area fits the bill for water-loving toddlers, with its shallow pool and colorful play fountains. Kangaroo Falls, a large play structure, features several bright slides just fast and long enough for water park novices.