You can’t exactly beat the heat of summer out here in the Midwest, but you can embrace it – and what better way to do that than by finding the nearest wave pool, splash pad, spray park, lake or river to explore.

If you’re looking for a great way to spend an afternoon alone, with friends, with your significant other or with your entire family, we have the lowdown on all the best places to visit for a water experience that will keep you entertained for hours on those hot, hazy and lazy summer days.

Some of our favorite water-oriented destinations and activities include:

Kiteboarding at Lake Michigan

If you’ve never experienced the thrill of kiteboarding (which is sometimes called kitesurfing), why are you waiting? Kiteboarding takes a little bit of practice, but there are lessons, rental equipment and more available at Great Lakes Kiteboarding school on Lake Michigan.

Tubing Trips on White River

If kiteboarding sounds way too energetic for the dog days of summer, you can take a more relaxed approach to adventure by going tubing via the White River Canoe Company. They also offer kayaking and canoeing, but nothing beats just lazily floating the day away on this Noblesville river.

Deep River Waterpark in Crown Point

Deep River is one of the largest, best-known waterparks in Indiana, and it has everything from toddler pools to wave pools – but the real star attraction is the water slide. Called “the Kraken,” this is a six-lane mat slide that will have everybody wet, worn-out and laughing by the end of the day.

Kayaking in the Caves at Indiana Caverns

If you like cool, dark and mysterious places, an absolute must-see is the underground streams and the Binkley Cave system – but be warned: This is an adventure that requires a lot of physical activity. You have to climb, crawl, kayak and splash along this four-hour experience. If you can handle all that, the reward is totally worth the effort.

Platform Jumping at White Rock Park

Does cliff diving, platform jumping, scuba diving or fishing sound like a good time? Then head over to White Rock Park for all of that – plus some! The nearby campgrounds make this a perfect spot for an entire vacation.

Fishing at Tippecanoe River State Park

With all the fishermen in the state, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the fishing at Tippecanoe River State Park. Bass and bluegill practically throw themselves your way, while you spend a cool, calm day on the water down in Winamac.

Trying Scuba Diving at France Park

If you’ve always wanted to try scuba diving, you don’t have to go any further than the Indy Dive Center at France Park. Surrounded by gorgeous scenery and amazing aquatic life, this has been a local summer favorite for decades. (Don’t know how to dive? They’ll teach you!)

Going on a Splashin’ Safari at Holiday World

There’s something undeniably fun about visiting Santa Clause, Indiana, any time of the year – and, if you head there in the summer, you may spot the Jolly Old Elf in his red swim trunks at the Holiday World Theme Park. There are water rides, roller coasters and more – plus everything the town has to offer.

Enjoying the Water Park Rides at Indiana Beach

Indiana Beach in Monticello is the full amusement and waterpark experience, with everything from roller coasters and music to (of course) water slides and a beach. There are plenty of options for younger children to enjoy here, and season passes make this an affordable family-fun spot all season long. You won’t regret packing your swimming gear and sunscreen for this adventure!

Splashing Around Splash Pads and Spray Parks

Splash pads and spray parks are typically open concrete areas with hidden sprinkler systems that periodically release fountains of water and mists so that kids (and adults, if they feel like it) can play and cool off. There are tons all over Indy, including:

  • Andrew Ramsey Park, 310 W. 42nd St., where there’s even a shaded pavilion nearby.
  • Bertha Ross Park, 3700 N. Clifton Ave., which has picnic tables and shade trees.
  • Carson Park, 5400 S. High School Rd., which has water cannons and a pirate theme.
  • Centennial & Groff Park, 2300 Centennial, where the water gets ankle-deep.
  • Grassy Creek Park, 10510 E. 30th St., which has a unique sports theme.
  • Jack Green Park, 1700 Franklin Rd., where there are dumping buckets and water guns.
  • Tarkington Park, 45 W. 40th St., which has bubbling fountains, rock features and a covered pass for additional adventure time.
  • Wes Montgomery Park, 3501 N. Hawthorne Ln., which has rainbow water features and a musical theme.

All of these are great spots when you need a break but the little ones in your household need to burn off all that extra summer energy.

Taking It Indoors at Big Splash Adventure

Sometimes, even the summer weather won’t play along with your plans, but you can always head over to Big Splash Adventure in French Lick. This 40,000 square-foot water park is entirely indoors, with a children’s play zone, slides and rides galore for the whole family. Hotel accommodations are also available.

Making It a Beach Day at the Indiana Dunes

Roughly four million visitors a year make their way to the trails and sandy beaches along Lake Michigan’s southern shores every summer at the Indiana Dunes. There are tons of places to explore nearby – or you can just spend all day building sandcastles alongside the water.

These are, naturally, only the highlights of what’s actually out there to see and do – because Indiana has so many lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and waterparks it would be impossible to list them all. But remember: The good weather only lasts for a few short months, so don’t hesitate to make the most of this glorious summer as you build memories with your loved ones!

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