Splash Lagoon, Erie, Pennsylvania
The first water park in the U.S. opened in 1989, and 13 years later Pennsylvania finally caught on onto the trend with Splash Lagoon. It may have taken a while, but as this park proves—some things are worth waiting for. The Tiki Treehouse is right at the top of the park’s greatest hit list—half fortress, half obstacle course, the attraction is a favorite among kids who love the bridges, slides and the huge bucket of water that periodically deluges unsuspecting guests. Of course, waterslides feature prominently here and the two standouts are: Shark Attack, a furiously fast body slide that twists and turns outside the building; and the Black Hole, a tunnel slide that leaves you in the dark until the very end. 8091 Peach St., Erie, PA, 866/377-5274, splashlagoon.com. Day passes from $40.
Short drive from Cleveland (102 miles), Buffalo (96 miles), Pittsburgh (128 miles).