Just when I thought I knew every beach, watering hole, waterpark, and pool in the tri-state area, I was introduced to what may be my new favorite family outdoor day trip: Dutch Springs in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The “Aquapark” is a deep, cool, clean natural spring-fed swimming hole filled with massive rafts and water slides in a well-patrolled swimming area. Another part of this ancient limestone quarry is the premier diving center in the area. (If you’re SCUBA certified, or getting your certification, this is wet-suit fun park, with a submerged school bus and helicopter among the treasures deep down below.)
The teens and tweens I brought with me loved the thrill of climbing up the massive iceberg floats, trying the floating “Wibit” obstacle courses, and, for the sheer live-to-tell-the-tale adrenaline rush, scaling the platform of the “Big Boy” float to then jump to launch, and then be launched, off the end (no, I did not try it).
In fact the Aquapark turned out to be on of the highlights of our summer. I spent most of my time floating in the super clean spring water watching all the action around me while the kids had a blast. And extra kudos to Dutch Springs for the abundant life guards, mandatory life vests, and overall friendliness and cleanliness of the entire “Springs” park area.
Bonus: As part of the price of admission, you can also take a swing on the dry land ropes course and climbing wall, a nice value-add perk.
There are lounge chairs available for free, but you have to be here at opening to grab them (and since the area is open for camping, which many SCUBA divers take advantage of, you really have to be quick off the gun to grab one). Instead, bring beach chairs and perhaps a pop-up tent for shade to set up on the grassy slopes.
A snack bar offers subs and pizza at reasonable rates (around $6 for a 6″ sub), but lines are huge on weekends (we waited for an hour). Instead, bring your lunch and head to snack bar late afternoon for some locally made ice cream.
Bethlehem is quick 90 minute ride from my starting point of Montclair, NJ, and is located in Lehigh Valley (where you’ll also find kid favorites such as The Crayola Experience). Be sure to check out the coupon section of the tourism web site for Dutch Springs discounts.
4733 Hanoverville Road
Bethlehem, PA 18020
Cost: Ages 10 and older: $30 / Ages 5 – 9: $19 on weekends and Labor Day