Nothing says “summer” like a blast of cool water, and a trip to a water park is the perfect way to celebrate the end of the school year. If your kids love all things wet and wild, a road trip to one of the parks on our list will be the highlight of their back to school essay next fall.

Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, Texas

What makes a water park “the world’s best” ten years in a row? Ask Schlitterbahn. The park features a mile-long tubing chute, the “Master Blaster” water coaster, which has won the prize for best water ride in the country, several kiddie pools and play areas, a surf pool, and seemingly endless water slides and activity pools, as well as faux beaches, hot tubs, and regular pools for relaxing. Snack bars serve burgers, barbeque, and pizza. Tickets $29.99 (ages 3-11) to $37.99 (ages 12+).

Noah’s Ark Waterpark, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Not only is Noah’s Ark considered one of the best water parks in the country, it’s also located in Wisconsin Dells, the “waterpark capital of the world.” If you want to pack maximum wetness into a vacation, this is the town to visit. With over 20 indoor and outdoor water parks, your kids could stay soaked for days. That said, Noah’s Ark, “America’s largest water park,” can certainly stand on its own. With a 4D “dive-in” movie theater showering Sponge Bob Square Pants, the world’s largest watercoaster (riders drop at over 30 mph!), tubing, slides, shows about water animals, wave pools, and more, there’s something for everyone. Back on dry land, there’s a kiddie coaster, mini golf, bumper boats and an arcade. Tickets $26.39 (kids under 48” tall) to $29.69.

Typhoon Lagoon, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

While Typhoon Lagoon lacks the thrills and chills of sister water park Blizzard Beach, this Disney park draws families with raft rides, a wave pool, and the opportunity to snorkel in a huge saltwater pool stocked with tropical fish and nurse sharks. Older kids can learn to hang ten with surfing lessons before the park opens to the non-surfing public. Younger kids will prefer wading in Ketchakiddee Creek. Tickets $33 (ages 3 - 9), $39 (ages 10+).

Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Indiana

Although it boasts the world’s tallest enclosed water slide, Splashin’ Safari caters to families with free sunscreen, free soft drinks, allergen-safe and gluten-free meals at its restaurants, and strict no-swearing rules. Bakuli, a tubing ride with a seven-story drop, was voted best new waterpark ride in 2007. Tickets $29.95 (under 54” tall) to $39.95 include admission here and at Holiday World Amusement Park, which features rides and shows.

Here’s wishing you a summer vacation that begins not with a bang but with a splash!