Best Indoor Water Parks in Illinois for Family Fun

Kimberly Miles Avatar

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the windy city of Chicago, the last thing I think about is splashing around at the pool in my swimsuit! However, it was much to my surprise to find that there are some of the best indoor water parks in Illinois, packed with super fun activities that make wind, rain and snow a non-issue!

From relaxing lazy rivers and kiddie playgrounds to thrilling slides and tube slides, there are a number of indoor water amusement parks and aquatic centers where the entire family can get drenched no matter what the season. So the next time your family is vacationing in or near the midwest, check out these eight best indoor water parks in Illinois.

Great Wolf Lodge Gurnee, of the best indoor water parks in Illinois
Great Wolf Lodge Gurnee is open year-round. Photo credit: Danielle Braff

1. Great Wolf Lodge Gurnee

1700 Nations Drive
Gurnee, IL 60031
(847) 623-9653

Great Wolf Lodge has always been known as an ultimate family getaway destination and its Gurnee location in the midwest is no exception!

Under an hour’s drive from Chicago and Milwaukee, this 80,000-square-foot indoor water park is open year-round with warm 84-degree water. There are slides and rides for all ages and sizes, including thrilling body slides, heart-pumping tube rides, a wave pool, lazy river, water playground, and the popular whirling basin “Coyote Cannon” water slide. If you want to get a little competitive, there’s also a pool for water basketball.

But there’s so much more than just the water park. There are numerous dry-land activities, such as a rock climbing wall, mini golf, a ropes course, and more. My 8-year-old son could probably spend just as much time at the onsite arcade or mini bowling alley!

More reasons why you should visit Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee:

  • A variety of dry land attractions and activities in addition to the water park
  • Less than three miles from Six Flags Great America
  • Day passes available
  • Themed suites available to make your room a place of wonder and excitement for the younger ones

SheBuysTravel Tip: Check out our guide to Great Wolf Lodge for first timers.

Grand Bear Resort at Starved Rock has something for all ages. Photo credit: Grand Bear Resort

2. Grand Bear Resort at Starved Rock

2643 IL Route 178
North Utica, IL 61373
(866) 399-3866

Located inside Grand Bear Resort at Starved Rock, Brear Bear Falls is a 24,000-square-foot indoor water park in Illinois with lots of action-packed activities and amenities for both children and adults.

This massive indoor water park resort near Starved Rock State Park has something for everyone, including a swimming area, wave pool, lazy river, slide tower with body slides and tube slides, whirlpool and jacuzzi. The younger members of the family can splash around in the kiddie pool and play zones or join mom and dad on the family slide. There’s even a 15-person hot tub, perfect for a spa-like experience for adults during group trips.

After working up an appetite from splashing around for hours, head to one of the several food options available, including Jack’s Restaurant, Tree Tops Cafe (offers paninis, wraps, Nathan’s hot dogs, salads, plus my son’s personal favorite: pizza!) and the Cubbie for quick snacks/meals inside the water park. Adults can enjoy J. H. Higby’s Lobby Bar or the Bear Island Outdoor Bar.

More reasons why you should visit Grand Bear Falls:

  • Free wifi available
  • Food and drink options with healthy snacks, pizza and more
  • Located inside of resort with guest rooms, cabins and villas for accommodations
  • Water park day passes (offered on a first-come, first served availability). Locals get a discount for day passes

Read More: 15 Must-Do Family-Friendly Day Trips from Chicago

3. The Water Works

505 N Springinsguth Rd
Schaumburg, IL 60194
(847) 490-2505

Located inside of the Schaumburg Park District Community Recreation Center, the The Water Works has plenty of exciting water activities for all ages to splash around and have some family fun.

Families with younger children or those just getting used to the water will feel comfortable with the beach-like, zero-depth entry swimming pool. The water park also comes equipped with a shallow spray ground, a rapid water channel and three water slides. For the older kids and adults, there’s a whirlpool, diving pool and a lap pool.

As a single mom, one of my favorite features is the family changing room. Although my son is now old enough to go into a changing room by himself, I’ll never forget how embarrassed he would feel when he had to join me in the ladies’ room to change out of his wet swim gear. The family changing room takes that pressure away for families of young children visiting with only one parent.

More reasons why you should visit the The Water Works:

  • Plenty of shallow play areas for younger children
  • Swim lessons available at the park for non-swimmers
  • Offers an onside nursery

Read More: Fabulously Fun Things to Do in Illinois With Kids

4. Pelican Harbor Indoor Aquatic Park

200 S Lindsey Ln
Bolingbrook, IL 60440
(630) 739-1700

Whether you’re taking a family vacation to Chicago or are a resident, the Pelican Harbor Indoor Aquatic Park is a fun place to visit for all ages.

Although this park is a bit smaller than some of the others, it is open year-round and has something that both swimmers and non-swimmers can enjoy. The youngest members of the family will fall in love with the Parkie the Pelican tot slide. Older children will enjoy zipping down the two larger water slides or getting soaked by the tumble buckets. The adults in the family can sit back and relax in the large 10-person hot tub or swim a few laps in the lap pool.

More reasons why you should visit Pelican Harbor:

  • Zero-depth entry pool
  • A great place to host a birthday party or group outing
  • Onsite swim lessons available for non-swimmers
  • Outdoor water play area available during in-season

5. Adventure Island at The Centre of Elgin

100 Symphony Way
Elgin, IL 60120
(847) 531-7030

Self-proclaimed as one of the premier indoor water parks in Illinois, Adventure Island is exactly that: a year-round adventure for the entire family.

Located inside the Centre of Elgin facility, Adventure Island is great for both fun and fitness. There’s a zero-depth entry leisure pool that is excellent for small children or those just getting comfortable with the water. Little ones will also have a blast splashing around in the activity pool equipped with floor geysers, spray arches, spinning vortex and boat slide. There’s also a 20-foot-high water slide for the more adventurous ones. Adults can swim laps in the swimming pool or relax in the warm water therapy pool.

No matter what your interest level is, there is something for all members of the family to enjoy at Adventure Island.

More reasons why you should visit Adventure Island:

  • Lifeguards are always on duty
  • Diving boards and multiple lap lanes available for more advanced swimmers
  • Warm water therapy pool to help relieve joint and muscle pain
Pirate's Cay Indoor Water Park, one of the best indoor water parks in Illinois
Pirate’s Cay Indoor Water Park is located inside a hotel. Photo credit:

6. Pirate’s Cay Indoor Waterpark

2558 N 3653rd Rd
Sheridan, IL 60551
(815) 496-3292

Pirate lovers will certainly find their treasure at the Pirate’s Cay Indoor Waterpark located inside the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Fox River Resort at Sheridan.

This water park is an ideal choice for families who want to splash, play and have fun together in one place without worrying about the weather. There is no getting tired of the winding tube slides, twisting body slides or relaxing lazy river. The youngest ones will have a blast on the pirate ship-themed kiddie playscape where it’s almost impossible to NOT get drenched by the dump buckets and shooting water guns. There are also plenty of water toys and swim gear at the onsite marketplace if you forgot yours at home.

While the water park is open to the public with a day pass, guests of the resort receive a discounted admission rate.

More reasons why you should visit Pirate’s Cay:

  • Tubes and life jackets are available throughout the park for added safety
  • Onsite accommodations available for club members
  • Various dry activities available onsite for club members, such as an onsite arcade, mini-golf and horseback riding
  • Just a 30-minute drive to Starved Rock State Park (a visit totally worth the drive)!

7. Pavilion Aquatics Center

1000 Wellington Ave
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
(847) 593-6248

Located inside the Jack A. Claes Pavilion, the Pavilion Aquatics Center is a year-round center with activities for play, fitness and relaxation.

Family members looking to play will enjoy splashing around in the zero-depth lagoon pool with interactive features, water playground and a 72-foot water slide. Those who prefer to swim will love the Olympic-sized indoor pool with designated lap swim times. Adults seeking relaxation can have their needs met in the warm-water therapy pool, whirlpool and steam room.

No matter what water activity you fancy, you’ll be covered at this family-friendly indoor water park in Illinois!

More reasons why you should visit Pavilion Aquatics Center:

  • Offers occasional and seasonal swim events such as Parents Night Out
  • Open swim and lap swim times available for the more avid swimmers
  • Pool party packages available with catering and mascots

8. Splash Central Indoor Aquatic Center

700 S Bartlett Rd
Bartlett, IL 60103
(630) 540-4850

Located within the indoor aquatic center at the Bartlett Community Center, Splash Central offers a variety of activities for those who enjoy swimming as well as those who just want to splash and play.

The adults and avid swimmers in the family will enjoy the whirlpool, diving board and multiple lap lanes, while the little ones can enjoy the children’s slide and activity pool area. There’s also a 12-foot water slide for the more adventurous guests.

While smaller than the average water park, it is still a nice place for an indoor water play day with the family.

More reasons why you should visit Splash Central:

  • Annual passes and daily passes are available
  • Swim lessons available for ages 6 months and up
  • Drop-in water programs and classes are available

And if the above indoor water parks in Illinois still aren’t enough to satisfy your splash craving, just a short road trip away you’ll find even more amazing and massive indoor water parks in Wisconsin Dells!

Kimberly Miles is a mother of one and an experienced solo and single mom traveler. So far, she has traveled to Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Dubai, Bahamas, Aruba, Mexico, and several places in the U.S. Kimberly was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, but in 2018 she took a leap of faith and made the beautiful beach town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico her home with her young son. In addition to writing for SheBuysTravel, Kimberly ghostwrites blogs on a variety of topics. She also provides marketing consulting services and business guidance to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and corporations via her independent business KNM Virtual Solutions. When she’s not traveling or writing, you can find Kimberly working out, eating tacos, dancing the night away, or spending time at the beach with her son. You can read more of her work at Travel Unapologetically.
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