05/15/2011 10:15 am ET Updated Jul 15, 2011

Ready For Summer? Denver's Best Water Parks

Sure, you can have a leisurely day poolside at the local YMCA -- or you can get seriously wet ‘n’ wild at one of these local water parks. We choose the latter.

Water World: Set an entire day aside for an adventure at this gargantuan park. With 67 acres, it’s one of the nation’s largest water parks: lazy river, water-themed fun house, a slew of thrill rides – think tidal wave-inducing roller coasters – and gravity-defying slides, as well as a couple of wave pools. Check online for height restrictions for the more extreme experiences; head to North Shore’s Wally World for a calm day with little ones.
May 28 - Sep. 5, open daily, 10am - 6pm; $31 - $36, discounts for local residents, mid-day rates available
1800 W. 89th Ave., Federal Heights; 303-427-SURF (7873)

Pirate's Cove: While working on a much smaller scale than Water World, this Littleton park (pictured) offers three slides, a lazy river, a splash park, a pirate’s themed play area, a leisure pool and more. Parking is simple, and all water features are easily accessible.
May 28 - Aug. 14, open daily, 10am - 6pm, Aug. 20 - Sep. 5, open weekends, 10am - 6pm; $6.25 - $9.25, age 2 & under free, passes available
1225 W. Belleview Ave., Littleton; 303-762-COVE

Splash Aquatics Park: Operated by the City of Golden, this park supplies wet fun for all ages with a leisure pool with fountains, an oversized bucket dumping from overhead, a splash park, sandy beach and a couple of water slides. For the younger fish, there’s a fountain play area and smaller water slides.
May 28 - Aug. 21, 10am - 6:30pm; $3.50 - $7, discounts for local residents, passes available

Island Kingdom: You may have to fight the masses at the amusement park, but it’s well worth it to get to Elitch Garden’s Island Kingdom. In addition to the giant wave pool and a five-story water-themed tree house, nine other adventure water features supply a full day’s worth of adrenaline rushes. We suggest getting your heart started with the Acapulco Cliff Dive, a 65-foot free-fall slide.
May 30 - Sep. 5, open daily, 10am - 6pm; $30 - $43, online discounts available
Elitch Gardens, 2000 Elitch Circle; 303-595-4386

APEX Center: You won’t get your tan going here, but this indoor park -- open year round -- offers water fun on even a rainy day. With 23,000 square feet, APEX offers a zero-depth water playground, a vortex pool, hot tubs and lap pools, as well as body and tube slide water rides.
Open daily, times vary; $4 - $6.75, age 3 & under free, discounts for local residents, passes available
13150 W. 72nd Ave., Arvada; 303-424-2739