Welcome, summer! We’ve missed your skin-roasting, UV-blasting, thermometer-boiling ways. Really—you’re the best part of the year since all you do is give us one big, fat reason to jump in a lake, get soaked or doggy paddle our way towards a copy of Swimmer’s Ear For Dummies. In honor of you, oh merciless sun, we present our annual SUMMER GUIDE that’ll help you navigate your way through local water parks, attractions, lakes and the wettest action this side of Kourtney Kardashian’s bikini tan lines.
PARKS AND ATTRACTIONS
Fontana Park Aquatic Center
With only two simple slides, a couple pools, a zero depth play area and a picnic pavilion, it’s not like this waterpark is going to take home any prizes; but at $7 for adults and $5 for kids for a full day of waterplay, the prices can’t be beat. Plus, options abound for healthier/more educational pool activities, such as aqua aerobics, swimming lessons, Masters swim team, lap swim, water walking, scuba diving classes, spring board diving and water polo, as well as Red Cross courses and Jr. Guard training. Open and heated year-round, they occasionally offer free poolside concerts.
Fontana Park Aquatic Center, 15600 Summit Ave., Fontana, (909) 854-5111; www.fontana.org.
Knott’s Soak City Palm Springs
If your idea of a good time is potentially puking in 110+ degrees, this is the hot-n’-wet-spot for you. Adrenaline junkies can raft Pacific Spin, a 132-foot-long tunnel that drops 60 feet into a 70-foot funnel, or speed-slide down the seven-story Tidal Wave Tower—just two of many death-defying attractions. Wusses are better off getting their feet wet at Kahuna’s Beach House, a four-story funhouse featuring hose jets and water curtains. With Dippin‘ Dots, airbrush tattoos and midway games, it’s the perfect locale for a birthday party—and yes, burnt-out parents, there’s also a bar.
Knott’s Soak City Palm Springs, 1500 S. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, (760) 327-0499; www.knotts.com.
Fiesta Village Family Fun Park
ADD and ADHD peeps, rejoice! Sure, Fiesta Village includes Pyrite Rapids Waterpark where you can slip down the 250-foot Sidewinder Body Slide, or double your fun with a tube-for-two on the Pyrite River Rapids. But this small, family-oriented amusement park also boasts two miniature golf courses, a 2,400 square foot laser tag arena, go-carts, batting cages, a skating rink and an arcade with everything from air hockey to Guitar Hero. Best of luck deciding if you should follow a wet-and-wild ride down the Blast Off! speed slide with a spin on the Tilt-A-Whirl or a build-your-own pirate poodle at Animaland.
Fiesta Village Family Fun Park, 1405 E. Washington St., Colton, (909) 824-1111; www.fiestavillage.com.
The Wave Water Park
Reminiscent of the public pools of your youth, but on steroids, this mellow mini-water park provides the standard swimming pool for wading, swimming laps or aqua aerobics, but also a handful of slides, one Flow Rider wave machine for surfing and a short lazy river for floating in a free inner tube. Ambitious young types can sign up for swimming lessons, while preteens-plus can participate in summer camps like “Jr Lifeguards” or “Counselor in Training.” A season pass comes with perks like three visits to Wild Rivers Waterpark and free miniature golf at Boomers Vista.
The Wave Water Park, 101 Wave Dr., Vista, (760) 940-9283; www.thewavewaterpark.com.
Raging Waters San Dimas
Sure, the lines are long, the food’s expensive and Lord knows what’s in the water, but heck—it’s 200 degrees and you can’t replicate this kind of fun in your backyard. Whether you’re slicing back and forth over 36,000 gallons of surging water on a body board, or holding out for the brand new Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror, featuring a 40-foot drop and a pair of brain-curdling 360-degree spins, all in total darkness, this king of waterparks has your wet-and-wild fantasies covered. Book your beach-front cabana today so that you can both avoid and ogle the crowds. Bill and Ted would be proud.
Raging Waters San Dimas, 111 Raging Waters Dr., San Dimas, (909) 802-2200; www.ragingwaters.com.
Pharaoh’s Adventure Park
A “new world is coming” this June. No, it’s not another Mel Gibson movie; it’s the resurrection of the amusement park-turned-rave venue-then-back-to-park-again that was previously known as Pharaoh’s Lost Kingdom and now’s been dubbed Pharaoh’s Adventure Park. Now under new management, the 20-acre complex will once again have chlorinated water coursing through its veins, thanks to the Splash Kingdom Water Park—highlights include the Nile Endless River, Fantasy Island Play Structure, Riptide Wave Pool, Forgotten Lagoon and the Tower of Kings, featuring eight thrill slides. There are also the obligatory bumper boats, go-karts, mini-golf and arcade and a new, decidedly Egyptian-sounding Grand Pizza Buffet. Don’t get your glowsticks soaked!
Pharaoh’s Adventure Park, 1101 N. California St., Redlands, (909) 335-7275; www.pharaohsadventurepark.com.
Wild Rivers Waterpark
Slather on the sunscreen because you’re likely to spend the whole day here, indulging in over 40 water attractions, including slides, inner tube rides and two wavepools. Experience what it’s like to take a spin down Niagara Falls in a barrel as you cascade down Wild River’s Sweitzer Falls into an 8-foot deep splashpool, or hitch a lift on the Nairobi Express, a body flume slide that drops three stories down Wild Rivers Mountain. Short lines, lots of hot lifeguards and numerous options make this place a “What the hell do I do today?!” no-brainer.
Wild Rivers Waterpark, 8770 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine, (949) 788-0808; www.wildrivers.com.
Welcome to your home base for high-speed Bumper Boats, a veritable demolition derby on the open sea in brightly colored rubber donuts of terror, each complete with its own water cannon—but note that at press time these boats were tentatively scheduled to be ready by this weekend. If your life aquatic is thwarted, try your hand at the 32-foot climbing wall or treat yourself to a round of glow-in-the-dark miniature golf on the black light lit Cosmic Golf Course. Or you’ll simply have to settle for the standard go-karts, batting cages, arcade games and rides like Tubs of Fun and Mini Jet Commander.
Boomers! Upland, 1500 W. 7th St., Upland, (909) 946-9555; 67-700 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Cathedral City, (760) 770-7522;
Because no one knows how to have fun on the high seas like a Viking does, you can’t miss this Scandinavian-themed amusement park’s Baltic Sea Bumper Boats. Intentionally crashing into people as you try to avoid waterfalls is the perfect time for a little horned-hat style flirting. After you’ve nabbed a sweetie, dry off at the Stockholm Raceway, batting cages, arcade or one of two miniature golf courses bedecked with over 12,000 flowers amidst romantic streams and ponds. Then scare the bejeezus out of ’em on Thor’s Hammer or the Scandia Screamer, a giant, rickety roller coaster clearly visible from I-15. There’s also a Scandia in Victorville—hey, desert types need to get wet too!
Scandia, 1155 S. Wanamaker Ave., Ontario, (909) 390-3092; 12627 Mariposa Rd., Victorville, (760) 241-4007;
Knott’s Soak City Orange County
It’s a Crayola-colored tangle of water slides, rides, lazy rivers and wave pools, strewn with palm trees, lounge chairs and high fructose corn syrup/saturated fat-laden snacks. Work up an appetite by whizzing down the Laguna Storm Water Tower, which features three separate single and double inner tube enclosed slide flumes (Cyclone, Tornado and Typhoon), dispatched from a platform over 43 feet high. Or ride head-first down the six-lane Banzai Falls speed slide. A season pass ($54.99 for ages 12 to 61; $49.99 for everyone else) will get you into all three SoCal Soak City Water Parks with no blackout dates.
Knott’s Soak City Orange County, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, (714) 220-5200; www.knotts.com.
LAKES AND PARKS
What floats your boat? At Lake Gregory you can rent an aqua cycle, paddle board, sail board or rowboat, or you can participate in the group kayak launch, fish from a float tube, or even weave your remote-control model boat through calm waves. A four-acre swimming lake is also accessible by a 300-foot double-flume water slide, and is bordered by white sandy beaches with grills and picnic tables. And don’t fret that you might step in something unpleasant while playing volleyball in one of two courts—there’s a half-acre dog park on the south shore.
Lake Gregory, 24171 Lake Dr., Crestline, (909) 338-2233; www.sbcounty.gov/parks/.
Yucaipa Regional Park
From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, Yucaipa Regional Park turns into your family-friendly Regional Water Park. A one-acre swim lagoon plays host to both a 350-foot giant flume and a 290-foot aqua tube, and is surrounded by beaches and shady lawns for picnicking and lounging. The 885-acre park also offers prime trout, catfish and bass fishing, pedal boat and aqua cycle rentals, myriad hiking trails, space for both tent camping and RVs and fire rings for ghost stories and s’mores.
Yucaipa Regional Park, 33900 Oak Glen Rd., Yucaipa, (909) 790-3127; www.sbcounty.gov/parks/.
Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park
Tucked within this 150-acre day-use park near the Ontario Convention Center, Ontario Mills Mall and Ontario International Airport, opportunities abound for fishing, swimming and more. Two lakes are stocked with over 24,000 pounds of trout and catfish year-round, and pedal boat and aqua cycle rentals are offered during the summer. When you’d rather swim like the fishes, a waterpark provides a half-acre lagoon and a 220-foot double-flume slide. Bored? Try your hand at horseshoes, or hoof it to the nearby Cucamonga Creek Trail, an easy 1.5-mile path that winds along a flood control road in San Antonio Heights.
Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park, 800 N. Archibald Ave., Ontario, (909) 481-4205; www.sbcounty.gov/parks/.
Lake Perris State Recreation Area
Built in the early 1970s as the last reservoir in the California Water Project to provide drinking water to SoCal residents, Lake Perris is also a playground made of H2O. Water skiing, jet skiing, boating, fishing and scuba diving are just a handful of the possible water sports. There are also two designated swim areas, Moreno Beach and Perris Beach, which both have large, shady grass areas for playing games and picnicking and plenty of the gritty stuff for that beach-away-from-the-beach feel. If you prefer to get wet thanks to sweat, there’s also hiking, biking, horseback riding, rock climbing and geocaching—just keep an eye out for thirsty rattlesnakes.
Lake Perris State Recreation Area, 17801 Lake Perris Dr., Perris, (951) 940-5600; www.parks.ca.gov
Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area
Do you like to get high when you get wet? Well, at 3,350 feet, Silverwood is the highest reservoir in the State Water Project. The park features swimming beaches and designated areas for boating, water-skiing and fishing; however, don’t trip when the park people ask to get their mitts all over your boats, kayaks, canoes, sailboards, inflatables and float tubes—inspections to prevent the spread of Quagga and Zebra Mussels are mandatory. Silverwood is also one of only five California State Parks to contain a portion of the truly hardcore 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail—which makes it all the more surreal now that it also has Wi-Fi service.
Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area, 14651 Cedar Circle, Hesperia, (760) 389-2281; www.parks.ca.gov.
Big Bear Lake
Big Bear is truly a water lover’s wet dream. Glide across the lake on a pontoon boat or Catamaran sailboat, or hit the throttle on a jet ski or a speed boat for both waterskiing and wakeboarding. If you prefer to self-propel, set out along the north shore in a kayak, canoe or pedal boat, and explore the hidden coves. Or if you want the resident bald eagles’ point of view, take flight over the lake in a parasail—flyers can reach an altitude of 300 feet. Additional good time include fishing, mountain biking, hiking and zip-lining through the canyons.
Big Bear Visitor Center, 630 Bartlett Rd., Big Bear Lake, (800) 424-4232; www.bigbear.com.
With five miles of shoreline, Puddingstone Reservoir is the watery heart beating at the center of the 1,975-acre Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park. During the summer months, lake use is divided for powerboats (even days) and personal watercraft like sailboats, fishing boats and float tubes (odd days). There is also an area set aside for swimming, Thursdays through Sundays. If you visit on a Monday, go for a hike instead, and keep an eye out for flocks of Bushtits and American Coots. Or simply soak it all in at the privately-owned Puddingstone Hot Tubs, which boast panoramic views of the reservoir and surrounding city lights.
Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, 120 Via Verde Ave., San Dimas, (909) 599-8411; http://parks.lacounty.info.
Hopefully you know someone who lives here because this 383-acre lake is members only i.e. its placid waters are only for the enjoyment of the folks who live within the Canyon Lake private gated community. Perks include lakeside parks along the 14.9 miles of shoreline, swimming areas, a slalom course and jump lagoon, rental slips and gas docks for boats, and fishing “holes” stocked with catfish and bass, in addition to the native crappie and bluegill. If you can finagle an invite, you might as well check out the solar-heated swimming pool, golf course, tennis courts and equestrian center, too.
City of Canyon Lake, 31512 Railroad Canyon Rd, (951) 244-6841, Canyon Lake; www.canyonlakepoa.com
It’s common knowledge that the main reason to head to Havasu, a large reservoir perched behind Parker Dam on the border between California and Arizona, is to get sloshed and check out chicks. But if you’re a square, there’s also plenty of clean ways to get wet: swimming, boating, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, parasailing and fishing, to name a few. In addition Lake Havasu City and the surrounding desert provide ample inspiration for activity, from hot air balloon, bi-plane and seaplane rides, to four-wheeling, golfing, Segway tours, wildlife refuges and shooting ranges—but sorry, those last two can’t be combined.
Lake Havasu City Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, 420 English Village, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., (800) 242-8278; www.golakehavasu.com.
Glen Helen Regional Park
Get your fishing fix at this 1,340-acre park nestled in the San Gabriel Mountains at the base of the Cajon Pass. From May to September, two lakes are stocked with 750 pounds of catfish which you can catch and cook onsite. You can also rent pedal boats, go horseback riding, take a hike or camp. But once you’re sick of nature, head on over to the park’s water complex, a half-acre swim lagoon with two 350-foot double-flume water slides and a zero-depth water playground with interactive water features like flowers, buckets and fountains.
Glen Helen Regional Park, 2555 Glen Helen Pkwy, San Bernardino, (909) 887-7540; www.sbcounty.gov/parks.
Totally tubular dudes/dudettes need look no further than Lake Elsinore, SoCal’s largest natural lake and a mecca for extreme sports of every flavor. Set against the spectacular Ortega Mountains and Cleveland National Forest, this 3,300-acre recreational lake is ideal for waterskiing, jet skiing, wake-boarding and windsurfing, as well as boating, fishing and wading. But warm thermal winds that blow in from the mountains also make the area a haven for skydiving, hang-gliding and other aerial sports. Round out your day with a little skateboarding and motocross racing, or try something really dangerous—gambling at one of the nearby casinos.
Lake Elsinore Visitors Bureau, 132 W. Graham Ave., Lake Elsinore, (951) 245-8848; www.visitlakeelsinore.com.