It’s summertime! School is out, the sun is up, and everyone wants to hit the water. If you’re planning to hit a water park this summer, stay tuned for a list of what to bring to a water park and water park essentials.
Even though we live in Texas [check out this list of the best amusement parks in Texas], we have admittedly visited very few water parks as a family. We travel so much that our own hometown treasures [like these free things to do in Houston] are often neglected. But after hacking the secret to sanity-saving water park tips, we’re working to change that and we plan to visit more.
So here is our list of water park essentials and tips for visiting a water park!
What to Bring to a Water Park
Don’t “duh” me for this one but the top water park essential is a swimsuit! With girls in different age ranges and all types of body types going on in our family, we need a place that covers all the bases. Our absolute favorite? Target! Their inclusive styles make it easy for us to find something for everyone.
Amazon is another of our favorites for swimwear. I think it is well known by now that you can buy pretty much anything on Amazon but their availability of affordable [quality] clothing is underrated. Tasteful, mom-appropriate swimwear is definitely included in what to bring to a water park and Amazon provides! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Danify Women’s Swimdress with Tummy Control [this is a plus-sized bathing suit that provides an amazing amount of modesty]
- Tankini Set [comes in sizes small up to 3XL]
- Matching “Mommy and Me” Bathing Suits [these are bikinis but the tops are long to provide coverage]
Sunblock [& Lip Balm]
You can’t discuss water park essentials or what to bring to a water park without including sun protection. Yes, even for my fellow brown-skinned folks! The sun is brutal and becoming more brutal by the day [hey, global warming!] so protect your family’s skin by applying sunblock. Not all sunblock is created the same so look for:
- SPF 40 [the American Academy of Dermatology says 30 and up is fine]
- Spray on if you don’t burn easily; cream if you do.
- Broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays
Cover your entire body — including your lips. It’s skin too and often overlooked.
- SuperGoop Unseen Sunsreen SPF 40 [Lotion]
- Banana Boat SPF 50 Sport Ultra Reef Friendly Sunscreen [Spray]
- Banana Boat SPF 50 Ultra Sport Sunscreen [Lotion]
- Banana Boat SPF 100 Ultra Defense Max [Spray]
- Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 50 [Lotion]
- Black Girl Sunscreen for Kids SPF 50 [Lotion]
Mosquitos love water too. Be sure to spray the kiddos with some water-resistant mosquito repellant before they enter the water and periodically throughout the day to keep the bugs away.
- Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
- Badger Organic Insect Repellent
- Babyganics DEET free Travel Sized Bug Spray
Speaking of the sun, protect yourself and the kiddos from direct sunlight by using a sun visor. I personally prefer visors over caps because they cover more of the face without trapping heat on their heads. Also, if you have girls with natural hair as I do, the headband style of the hat is easier to place on their hair.
- Large Brim Sun Visor Hat for Women
- Roll Up Straw Hat for Women
- Kid Adjustable Sun Visor Hats
- Roll Up Straw Hat Visor for Kids
Hot pavement is brutal on little and big feet alike! Protect your feet by wearing swim shoes around the park. Plus, they are safer and less likely to fall off than flip-flops or sandals.
- Aqua Sock Shoes for Kids [these are a personal favorite because they fit like socks and are extremely comfortable]
- Aqua Sock Shoes for Adults
- Kid Water Shoes [comes in multiple colors and styles]
- Men Quick-Dry Water/Beach Shoes
There are a lot of people in and out of the water in the water parks so they really crank up the chlorine. If your kiddos are like mine and their eyes are easily irritated, add swim goggles to your water park essentials list.
Swim | Beach Towels
I like big towels and I cannot lie. I use swim towels year round — even when we’re not at a pool. Even when we aren’t swimming. I just really like big towels. But their intended purpose is for swimming and man, do they handle that purpose well. Our towels are large enough for the girls to use to dry off and then use the entire towel as a quasi-dress as we’re leaving. Great water park essential to include in the bag.
- Cabana Stripe Beach Towels [set of 2]
- Quick-Dry Towel with Storage Bag
- Adorable Hooded Towels for Kids
Waterproof Cell Pouch
You’ll want to keep your phone with you — not only to take cool pictures of all the fun you’re having but also in case of emergencies. Purchase a waterproof cell phone pouch to wear around your neck to keep your phone safe from the water. It’s also useful for carrying your ID, debit card, and some cash.
- Universal Waterproof Phone Pouch
- Waterproof Dry Bag [isn’t see-through but can fit several phones and guarantees dryness]
Some water parks [like Schlitterbahn – a fun weekend family getaway from Houston] allow you to bring your own picnics into the park but some are more restrictive. Even if they don’t allow food, almost all allow you to bring in one factory-sealed plastic water bottle per person. It’s summer and it’s hot to staying hydrated is essential. And considering that a bottle of water inside the park may cost you around $5, it is well worth it to bring your own.
I hate sweating. As someone who lives in Texas where everything is outdoors, I’ve learned to find creative ways to keep myself cool. Or as cool as I can get – especially when visiting an outdoor water park in the summer. This portable misting fan is legit! You can use it with or without the water but it is powerful enough to give a breeze you can feel while you’re hanging at the water park.
Change of Clothes
We rinse thoroughly after leaving the water but we don’t fully shower or change at the water park because it feels like an extra hassle on top of everything else. But we still bring a change of clothes to get out of their wet swimsuit before getting into the car.
Sandals to Wear as You Leave
When figuring out what to bring to a water park, don’t forget the things you will need when it is time to leave! Bring a different pair of shoes or sandals to wear as we leave the park since their swim shoes are usually wet.
Bring a gallon-sized storage bag [or reuse a grocery bag] to store your wet clothes and shoes in after your water park adventure. It will keep all your other water park essentials from getting wet and make laundry a snap when you return home. Just empty the bag straight into the washer.
It might sound counter-intuitive to bring cash to a water park because it might get wet but trust me. You’ll want to bring at least $20 in cash. Just store it in the waterproof pouch with your cell phone.
If you still happen to forget any of these items after reading this handy dandy list, the cash will come in handy. More than likely you can find everything you need at the water park gift store. It will come at a premium, of course, [$$$] but well worth the expense to make sure your family has everything you need.
You might also want to rent a locker to protect your valuables. Some venues provide a complimentary locker for your water park essentials but most charge a nominal fee and some are cash only.
FREE Water Park Essentials Printable
Download a free printable list of these water park essentials here!
Budget Tip: If you’re balling on a budget this summer but still need to stock up on water park essentials, head to your nearest Five Below store! With the exception of our swimsuits, we were able to get everything we needed for $5 [or less] per item!
What are your favorite water park essentials?