One Of California's Biggest, Most Impressive Waterparks Is A Family-Friendly Hidden Gem

When planning your family vacation to California, you might consider visiting its big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, touring one of its underrated national parks, and playing on its popular beaches, often featured in Hollywood films. But you don't have to go to the beach to enjoy the water and have fun in the sun in California. For a family-friendly vacation destination where you can play all day, check out Wake Island Waterpark. A 20-minute drive north of downtown Sacramento in California's Central Valley, the 80-acre manufactured lake at the Wake Island Waterpark goes above and beyond with summertime adventure options. 


As you might guess from the name, wakeboarding plays a major role (no boats required). A cable system moves you around and through this section of the park, with all the equipment included. You can take lessons or book a time to ride a loop around the wakeboard park on your own, including a slower speed option for the nervous or beginner rider. More advanced individuals can rent a pro board to go on the obstacles and catch some air.

Inflatable obstacles and more at Wake Island Waterpark

Wake Island Waterpark also has a massive Aqua Park, aptly referred to on the website as a "floating playground." A single session spans 45 minutes, though you can also book two back-to-back sessions. While the word "playground" might make you think it caters only to kids, the park welcomes all ages to play and have fun — you just have to be at least four feet tall. Make sure to measure your kiddos before arriving to avoid any disappointment. 


The Aqua Park requires and provides lifejackets, and you'll find lifeguards standing by, fostering a sense of safety as you take on obstacles like slides, moving bridges, trampolines, and more. Mix and match your obstacles, making it as hard or as easy as you'd like. To get a bird's eye view of the whole park, ride the 500-foot-long zipline. It comes with a little thrill as well — a 40-foot free fall. For something a bit more low-key, rent a paddleboard to explore the 8-acre lagoon.

Book a session on the Ninja Race Course, where two competitors can race each other, choosing from an easy, medium, or hard course for a head-to-head challenge. The winner gets bragging rights, but everyone will have fun! Another unique way to play comes in the form of a giant inflatable hamster wheel. It will test your balance and dexterity; prepare to get wet and have lots of laughs.


Preparing for your trip to Wake Island Waterpark

If you want a break from your watery adventures at Wake Island Waterpark, you can play beach volleyball or lounge on the beach. The park is almost entirely exposed, so pack your sunscreen and your own tent or sunshade if you have one. Alternatively, reserve a private cabana on the VIP Beach (starting from $89 during the week) to retire to the shade whenever you want. The park even has floating cabanas.


You'll need to make reservations for the different activities via the online booking system. Prices vary depending on which activities you want and whether your visit falls on the weekend or during the week. Many of the activities also have age and height restrictions. If you prefer to watch your kids having fun but don't want to pay for an additional pass for yourself, find a spot in the large free viewing area with a non-swim beach. 

Bring a reusable water bottle to fill up at the water refill stations so you can fill up your reusable water bottle. However, beyond this offering, you can't bring your own food and drinks. Instead, the park offers an on-site dining option that serves dishes like pizza, burgers, and ice cream.