What to Bring to a Water Park: 18 Items You Can’t Forget

My family and I recently visited our first indoor water park resort: Kalahari Resort in the Poconos (highly recommend, by the way). While I packed many of the essentials, there were a few times I found myself saying, “Wow, I wish we had brought that.” Based on my experience, I put together a comprehensive list of things to bring to a water park — from sunscreen to water shoes to the right type of bag for a locker.

Foldable bag

Water park lockers are often small, which makes it important to pack light and use a bag that is pliable and easy to stuff into a tiny space. The ALOHA Tote and SHYLERO Beach Bag — two of our best beach bag picks for 2024 — work well since they can also be emptied and folded down if necessary. Something like the Bogg Bag, on the other hand, is not ideal for a water park locker.


This one goes without saying, but we’re including it because if you’re not planning to wear your swimsuit to the water park, you might just forget to throw it in your bag. It can happen to the best of us.


A swim cover-up is nice to have if you decide to grab lunch at one of the water park restaurants.

Water shoes

To protect your feet both in and out of the water, choose a closed-toe shoe like Crocs or quick-drying water socks that aren’t likely to fall off.


If you’re heading to an outdoor water park, don’t forget to pack the sunscreen (which will be a lot more expensive to purchase at the water park, if it’s available at all). Sunscreen lip balm is also a good idea.


Consider bringing a cheaper pair of sunglasses, assuming they might fall off and get scratched at some point during the day.

[Read: The 12 Best Beach Hats of 2024, According to Reviews]

Swim diapers

Swim diapers are required for non-toilet-trained children. There are plenty of disposable options, but for a reusable diaper that is absorbent and washes well, check out the swim diapers by green sprouts. They’re available in a variety of patterns and sizes up to 4T.

Reusable water bottle

Don’t forget to bring your reusable water bottles from home. You can use them at water refill stations in the park.

Wet bag

Pack a reusable wet bag to put your swimsuits, soiled swim diapers and other wet gear in at the end of the day. The ALVABABY wet bags are some of the top rated and come in a two-pack of varying colors and patterns.

First-aid kit

You don’t have to bring the whole medicine cabinet, but it can’t hurt to bring a few Band-Aids and some Neosporin. Also pack some ibuprofen or aspirin.


Don’t forget to pack the goggles. If you’re looking for a new pair, the Victoper goggles are well rated and easy to remove thanks to a snap in the back (no painful hair pulling here); they come in a two-pack. Frogglez are also popular for the soft, full-head strap and the lens coating that helps prevent fogging.

Life jacket

Many water parks require that young children wear life jackets in the water and thus provide a variety of life vest sizes for guests. However, depending when you arrive, availability may be limited. To ensure your child has the best fit, bring a Coast Guard-approved life jacket like this option by Oceans 7, available in multiple sizes.


Some water parks provide towels, while others do not. Research this ahead of time to determine whether or not you need to bring your own.

Change of clothing

If you plan to wear your swimsuit to the water park, remember to pack a full change of clothing, including underwear.


You’ll inevitably find yourself at the water park snack bar, but you might be able to save some coin by packing a few of your own snacks, too. Just double-check water park policies on bringing outside food before you visit.

Waterproof phone case

If you want to take selfies on the lazy river or capture your kid coming down the world’s longest waterslide, get yourself a waterproof phone pouch. This Hiearcool pouch comes in a two-pack with adjustable lanyards. The pouch is securely locked so your phone is fully protected from the water.

Waterproof camera

If you don’t want to risk using your smartphone near the water and/or you want to capture some underwater photos, invest in a waterproof camera. Many buyers like the pocket-sized Olympus Tough TG-6, noting that it takes great photos both in and out of the water.


If you and/or your littles have long hair, you’ll want to pack a hairbrush to comb through the inevitable knots that accumulate in chlorinated water. Wet Brush makes travel-sized brushes that are convenient in this scenario.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Amanda Norcross used her recent experience as well as advice from other parents to curate this list of water park essentials.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Amusement Parks in the U.S.

Vacation Packing List: The Essentials for Any Trip

Beach Packing List

More from U.S. News

The 28 Best Water Parks in the U.S. for 2024

18 Top Indoor Water Park Resorts in the U.S.

The 19 Best Amusement Parks in the U.S. for 2024

What to Bring to a Water Park: 18 Items You Can’t Forget originally appeared on usnews.com

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