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17 Top Waterpark Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to pack for a waterpark
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A day spent playing in the water is always a good time. But, what if you don’t live near a beach? Maybe that’s one of the reasons waterparks have become increasingly popular! Waterparks also combine the best parts of a trip to the beach and visiting an amusement park. Adults can lounge around and watch the kids play. The more adventurous parkgoers can get their thrills on the waterslides.

Another great thing about them is that you don’t have to pack nearly as much stuff as you do for the beach. Leave the sand toys, snacks, drinks, and cooler at home. Grab your bathing suit and some extra clothes and you’re ready to go! Ok. So that’s an oversimplification. If you’re wondering what you need to take for your trip to the waterpark, indoor or out, you’ll find everything you need below. Plus, we’ll let you know what to leave at home, what to wear, and some answers to common questions about waterparks.

See our product selection criteria and guidelines here.

What to Pack for the Waterpark – 17 Essentials

  • 1. Packing Cubes

    We are all about making life easier, and that includes traveling. That’s why we love these packing cubes so much. They let you separate your items how they make sense (clothes, toiletries, swimsuits, etc) so you can find them easily and they aren’t getting all mixed up between home and your hotel.

    Packing Cubes

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  • 2. Waterproof Phone Case

    More than likely, you won’t be taking your phone on any of the water rides with you. But, we always recommend storing your phone in a waterproof case whenever you’ll be around water. Waterparks can be crazy environments and kids are prone to get a wild hair. Make sure your phone is safe and sound between snapping pics of all those memories!

    Universa Waterproof

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  • 3. Travel Towel

    These compact guys are the perfect companion for the waterpark. They don’t take up much space in your bag and they’ll get you dried off quickly with the soft microfiber fabric. Conversely, they also dry quickly. Left out in the sun between uses and you’ll never have to worry about drying off with a damp towel again!

    travel towel

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  • 4. Flip-Flops

    Shoes that are easy to get on and off are an absolute “must” for waterparks. Between attractions, that pavement can really scorch your feet. Most waterparks won’t let you wear regular shoes (including sandals) on rides, but they come in handy if you’re just hanging out watching the kids/grandkids or if you’re taking a break and hitting up the snack stand.


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  • 5. Neck Wallet

    Neck wallets have become one of our favorite items to take on trips of any size. They’re a convenient size and you can keep your important cards close without having to worry about a bulky wallet in your pocket. Women will love them too because it negates the need to carry around a big, heavy purse while you’re out and about.

    Neck Wallet

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  • 6. Water Socks

    If you don’t like wearing the sometimes bulky water shoes but want to protect your feet from the hot cement, rocks, etc at the waterpark, water socks are the solution. They’re like slippers, so they don’t get bogged down as much as shoes when wet. Plus, they should be allowed on most rides.

    Water Socks

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  • 7. Cooling Towel

    Are you more the type to sit back, relax, and watch everyone else have fun while you sunbathe? We get it. Sometimes it’s nice just to sit out for a while. But, it’s easy to get hot at outdoor waterparks in the summer, so be sure to take a cooling towel. Just get it wet (you won’t have trouble finding somewhere to do that!) and it will keep you comfortable for 30 to 60 minutes.

    cooling towel

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  • 8. Backpack

    Wet bathing suits aren’t the most comfortable things after you’re done playing in the water for the day. Be sure to pack some extra clothes, underwear, and shoes in a backpack for changing into before you leave. (Most waterparks have lockers you can rent.) Don’t forget your toiletries too!


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  • 9. Waterproof Camera

    It can be easy to forget to take pictures at the waterpark, especially if you’re involved in the fun! Plus, you know, electronics don’t usually mix well with water. Take a waterproof camera so you don’t miss out on capturing memories and you won’t have to worry about ruining an expensive camera!

    Waterproof Camera

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  • 10. Sun Hat

    Some people are more sensitive to the sun than others, whether it be their skin or their eyes. If you’re one of these people or you plan on laying out quite a bit, be sure to wear a sun hat. Aside from bodily protection, it makes reading a book and checking your phone a lot easier in the sun too.

    Sun Hat

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  • 11. Sunscreen

    This one should just go without saying, right? With everything else to remember, it can be easy to forget something obvious. Since you’ll likely be spending most of the day outdoors, be sure to get sunscreen that has both a high SPF rating and is water-resistant. Even still, don’t forget to re-apply every now and then, especially if you’ve been in the water.


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  • 12. Beach Towels

    Although we recommend the travel towel already for convenience, it’s still nice to have some oversized beach towels, especially if you plan to lay out in the sun on a lounger. Those things can get smoking hot in the sun, even the light-colored ones, so be sure to spread a towel out on them first to keep from burning yourself.

    Beach Towels

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  • 13. Lip Balm

    We’ll admit, this can be an easy item to overlook too. Sunscreen should be good enough, right? Wrong. Your lips are just as sensitive to the sun as the rest of your skin. Sun and wind can be harsh. Make sure to use a lip balm with sunscreen in it for maximum protection.

    Lip Balm

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  • 14. Wet Bag

    You’ll often see parents who use cloth diapers use wet bags, but they come in super handy for wet bathing suits too. Instead of wrapping them up in towels or leaving them in the bottom of your bag just to soak the whole thing, get a wet bag to keep swimsuits separate and from making a big mess in your backpack or bag.

    Wet Bag

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  • 15. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    Forget to charge your phone the night before? Do yourself a favor and stick one of these convenient portable chargers in your bag ahead of time. That way you can still listen to your audiobook, check your social media, and more while you’re relaxing at the waterpark. Bonus: They charge your phone surprisingly fast!

    Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

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  • 16. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    Whether you’re taking it to the waterpark, your hotel, or both, you will thank yourself for getting one of these handy hanging bags. Not only does it keep your stuff nice, neat, and separated, you won’t have to worry about sitting it down on wet (or dirty) surfaces when you’re getting ready.

    Hanging Toiletry Bag

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  • 17. Travel Insurance

    For big trips or small, we always recommend getting travel insurance when it’s available. (Any trip over 100 miles away from your home.) Nobody wants to think about bad things happening on trips, whether it’s someone getting hurt, belongings getting stolen, or having to cancel your trip for whatever reason. But, it’s smart to plan ahead and cover your bases for those rare events, just in case. We use to compare policies from top companies to find the best option for us.

    Travel Insurance

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What to Wear at a Waterpark

Keep it simple when packing for the waterpark. After all, you don’t want to be hauling your entire suitcase with you! Your attire will depend on one thing: will you mostly be swimming or will you mostly be lounging around? If you opt for the latter, be sure to wear cool, lightweight, comfortable clothes; shorts and a t-shirt or tank top are good options. If you’re not wearing flip-flops, make sure your tennis shoes have good tread to lessen your chances of slipping on wet surfaces.

If you’ll be spending most of your time in the water, choose water shoes or socks and a modest bathing suit. (Waterparks are family-friendly places, after all.) You might also bring flip-flops/sandals and a coverup or sarong for when you’re taking a break, grabbing a snack, etc.

What Should WOMEN Wear? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

You’ll want a bathing suit that is comfortable, first and foremost, whether that’s a one-piece or two-piece. Make sure to bring some sun protection too for when you’re taking a break from the water fun, like sunglasses and hats. (Remember to take them off before you go on any slides!) If you’re mostly going to be hanging out poolside, a sundress will help keep you cool on those extra hot days.

What Should MEN Wear? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

Other than the swimming attire and coverups, men will need about the same items women do. A rashguard swim shirt is a good idea if you’re prone to burning easily. Since many men wear watches, be sure you take a waterproof one to the park. Boat shoes, a ball cap, a t-shirt, and shorts make a casual outfit if you’re sitting out most of the day.

Dressing for the Seasons

SUMMER – June, July, August

(For outdoor waterparks) Lightweight and light-colored clothing is the name of the game during the hot summer months. You’ll also want simple footwear like flip-flops to easily slip on and off. Don’t forget your bathing suit, of course! Use coverups and hats for extra sunburn protection. Speaking of, make sure your sunscreen has a high SPF (30 or more) and is water-resistant so it lasts longer between applications. Temperatures will vary depending on what part of the country you’re in. Most outdoor waterparks tend to be open from Memorial Day until Labor Day when temps are in the mid/upper 70s to 100+°F.


WINTER – December, January, February

(For indoor waterparks) Indoor waterparks are a great way to beat the winter blues when it’s too cold to do much outdoors. (And they can keep you and your kids from going completely stir-crazy!) Since they keep it warm in these, you can expect to wear (and pack) the same things you would for an outdoor waterpark. The only things you won’t have to worry about are sunscreen, sunglasses, and, well, any other sun protection. During really cold times, it can feel a bit chillier, even indoors, so you may want to wear pants instead of shorts and tennis shoes instead of flip-flops.
Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)
Lounging: For lounging between water time, a swimsuit and sarong or coverup will suit women well. Men might bring an extra shirt to wear. For both, don’t forget your sun hat and sunglasses!

Swimming: All you really need is a swimsuit or swim trunks. We highly recommend water socks or shoes too so you don’t feel like you’re walking across hot coals from one slide to the next.

Snacking: More than likely, you’ll want to wear about the same things you would for lounging around. Coverups will protect you from the sun and your suit from any food crumbs. For men, an extra shirt will do. And, of course, sandals, sunglasses, and hats.

What NOT to Bring to a Waterpark

You’ll want to pack as light as possible so you don’t have to lug around a heavy bag all day…Or worry about trying to fit it in one of the lockers! Here are some items you can definitely not worry about bringing to the waterpark.

  • 1.DON'T Bring Too Many Clothes

    You’ll be in your bathing suit for the majority of the time, whether you’re going to an indoor or outdoor waterpark. No need to bring your whole wardrobe with you.

  • 2.DON'T Bring Unnecessary Valuables

    Leave your Kindles and expensive cameras at home, in your hotel room, or at least not unattended.

  • 3.DON'T Bring Your Own Food and Drinks

    Most places don’t allow it because they have their own vendors. That said, we highly recommend taking your own water bottle if it is allowed. Stay hydrated in that sun!

  • 4.DON'T Bring Bluetooth Speakers

    Most people aren’t going to want to listen to your music. Besides, some places already have their own music playing.

  • 5.DON'T Bring Alcohol

    Most waterparks are family-friendly places, so it won’t be allowed anyway. Plus, water activities and alcohol don’t generally mix well.

  • 6.DON'T Bring Lots of Cash

    You’ll want to bring some for food, drinks, locker rentals, etc. But, leave the $50s and $100s at home.

What NOT to Wear to a Waterpark – (Click to expand)
You can dress just about however you want at the waterpark. But, there are some items you should avoid, both for comfort and safety reasons. First of all, there’s no need for fancy clothes of any sort. Waterparks are laid-back places. Plus, you’d risk ruining formal clothing. Second, try not to wear dark colors. These only absorb heat more readily and make you hot faster. Finally, don’t wear high-heeled sandals or flats. Both pose slip hazards. Nobody wants a twisted ankle!

FAQs about Waterparks

  • 1. What can you do at a waterpark?

    What can you do at a waterpark?

    There are all kinds of things to do at a waterpark. Whether you’re into thrills or just chilling out, there is something for everyone. Most waterparks offer water slides, lazy rivers, wave pools, splash pads, and kiddie areas. Some might also have a baby pool and a regular swimming pool. There’s also the option to sit back and relax in the sun or under an umbrella with an ice cold beverage and snacks.

  • 2. When did waterparks become a thing?

    An entrepreneurial man named George Millay opened the first official waterpark in Orlando, Florida in 1977. Since then, innovators have been creating more thrilling water attractions and ever bigger parks.

  • 3. What are some of the best waterparks in the U.S.

    What are some of the best waterparks in the U.S.

    There are amazing waterparks scattered all over the U.S., both in remote locations and busy urban areas, indoors and out. Some of the most well-known, highly-rated ones include:

    • Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas
    • Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin and
    • Water World in Federal Heights, Colorado.
  • 4. When is the best time to go to a waterpark?

    If you’re wanting to beat the majority of the crowds, get there as soon as they open in the morning or wait until later in the afternoon. (Usually 3-4 hours before a place closes it starts clearing out significantly. Everyone wants to get home to eat.)

  • 5. Why are waterparks becoming so popular?

    Why are waterparks becoming so popular?

    There are several reasons for this. One, they tend to be safer than oceans, lakes, and other large, natural bodies of water. Waterparks are a controlled environment; controlled chaos, if you will. There are a lot of variables when it comes to natural bodies of water, such as rip tides, sharks, and jellyfish. Waterparks are also convenient. You don’t have to pack as much stuff as you do for a beach trip and you’re more likely to find one close to you. Finally, it’s thought that regular pools just don’t hold as much appeal as they used to.

  • 6. Which is better: an indoor waterpark or an outdoor one?

    Which is better: an indoor waterpark or an outdoor one?

    That all depends on your personal preferences! Both have their pros and cons. Indoor and outdoor ones can both be great during the summer to beat the heat. Indoor ones provide a nice escape when it’s too cold for outdoor parks. Plus, many of these have hotel accommodations as well, so you can save some money by staying “in-house”. Indoor ones can be a bit loud since the sound of everyone’s voices and squeals of pleasure are reverberating off the walls. There is definitely more space to spread out at outdoor waterparks. Both can be very busy. Outdoor ones tend to have a lot more attractions to offer since there’s more area.

  • 7. What is the biggest waterpark ever?

    Chimelong Water Park in China is currently the largest waterpark in the world at a whopping 450 acres. It boasts both the largest wave pool and longest lazy river in the world.