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It’s finally starting to feel like summer, and that means plenty of sunshine, warm weather and outdoor fun for families in the Twin Cities. And, luckily, some of the best family vacation/day trip spots are right at our doorsteps!

But sometimes it can be more fun to branch out, beat the typical crowds and experience somewhere new. And if the kids are getting stir-crazy or are parked in front of the TV on a constant basis, splashing around at one the many waterparks near the Twin Cities might be the perfect family vacation idea (and will also prevent Couch Potato Syndrome… at least for a while.)

Whether you’re looking to take the kids for an entire weekend or just a nearby day trip of water-filled fun, there are plenty of options – some less than 30 minutes away! Here are the best waterparks near the Twin Cities:

Bunker Beach Waterpark (Coon Rapids, MN)

Driving distance from Minneapolis: 16 miles, 25 minutes

Looking for a more affordable day trip option? Bunker Beach Waterpark is Minnesota’s largest outdoor waterpark, featuring two body slides, four tubing slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, and a small kiddie pool. The best part: It’s just a short car drive away from the Twin Cities! Picnic facilities are located just outside the waterpark for families who want to enjoy a meal together after a long day of fun in the sun. (Tip: Arrive after 4pm and save up to $4 on each admission fee.)

Cascade Bay Outdoor Waterpark (Eagan, MN)

Driving distance from Minneapolis: 18 miles, 30 minutes

Another hidden gem not far from Minneapolis, Cascade Bay has several waterpark attractions, including four water slides and a zero-depth entry pool. For adults looking to relax, float through the expansive lazy river and soak up the sun. Dry off before you head home with a round of mini-golf at Captain’s Course Miniature Golf Course for just an extra $2. This waterpark is also just a short drive from the Twin Cities, so pack your sunscreen, towels and shades and head to Cascade Bay!

Wild Mountain Waterpark (Taylors Falls, MN)

Driving distance from Minneapolis: 51 miles, 1 hour

Skiing in the winter, splashing good fun in the summer! Wild Mountain Waterpark not only has several large water slides, a lazy river, kiddie park, and water playground, they also have a Go-Kart track (for both adults and kids), volleyball courts, and horseshoe pits. Kids and adults can also take a chairlift ride up to the top of the mountain and zoom down on the 1700′ long alpine slide track. Unlike most waterparks, Wild Mountain offers plenty of free parking, outside food is permitted and families can even bring in their own grills for some summertime BBQ!

Edgewater Hotel & Waterpark (Duluth, MN)

Driving distance from Minneapolis: 155 miles, 2.5 hrs drive

For those looking to “get out of dodge” and try something new, this indoor waterpark is the perfect family getaway destination for a long weekend. With 35,000 square feet of wet and wild family fun, kids and adults alike can enjoy swimming with or against the current in the vortex pool, zipping down massive tube and body slides, or just lounging back in the lazy river. Check out their website for current promotions and packages.

Wisconsin Dells (Wisconsin Dells, WI)

Driving distance from Minneapolis: 216 miles, 3.5 hours 

Ah, The Dells… there’s a reason why this is one of the most popular family destination spots in the Midwest! There are tons of activities and attractions in this area for both adults and kids. Their many indoor and outdoor waterparks are renowned for super-soaking rides (like the Black Anaconda ride at Noah’s Ark – the longest “watercoaster” in the US), massive pools and kid-friendly hotel accommodations. Visit their website for current deals on attractions and hotels, as well as Groupon Getaways for other exclusive offers.

Lost Island Waterpark (Des Moines, IA)

Driving distance from Minneapolis: 243 miles, 3.5 hours

For adult waterpark enthusiasts and families with younger children alike, journey a few hours south to Des Moines and visit the Lost Island Waterpark. Shoot through the Molokini Crater (a 60-foot funnel water thrill ride), dive through the waves at the Tsunami Bay wave pool, enjoy sports activities at Blue Iguana Lagoon, or take your little ones to Starfish Cove. Adults (and kids who might be tuckered out) can also enjoy a leisurely float down the lazy river, complete with tropical music. Looking to stay the weekend? There’s plenty of hotel options in nearby Waterloo and Cedar Falls, or you can stay at the Lost Island-themed KOA Kampground located directly behind the park.

What other waterparks do you recommend for a day or weekend of family fun? Comment below and let us know!

*Photo by gronman

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