Top 5 Best Indoor Surfing Venues and Wave Pools in the USA

Last Updated March 17, 2023

When the Beach Boys released their massive hit “Surfin’ USA” in March of 1963, they could have never imagined a day when the lyrics “everybody’s going surfing” could be followed by “in an indoor surfing venue in the USA!”

It only makes sense that we can replicate ocean surfing in indoor venues now since we do the same for activities from rock climbing to hitting golf balls to target practice and more.

Indoor surfing venues offer a way for nervous first-timers to try their luck at surfing in a controlled environment and for seasoned surfers to practice when they cannot make it to the beach.

We have all the information you need on how to surf in wave pools, and our roundup of the top 5 best indoor surfing and wave pool venues in the USA below.

Can You Learn to Surf Indoors?

surfboard quiver lined up at indoor surfing wave pool USA

Some skeptics might wonder if you can learn to surf indoors, especially those who have never dipped their toe in a wave pool. But the answer is “absolutely! You can learn to surf indoors!”

Learning to surf indoors may prove easier for you for a variety of reasons.

The first and most obvious reason is location. If you do not live anywhere near a coastline, surfing seems out of reach as a hobby. Even if you travel to the beach for an annual summer vacation with your family, one week is a short time to conquer the waves or build your skills.

Wave pools offer a way for those who are landlocked to experience the same thrill as those who are fortunate enough to live near salt water and sand.

For others, indoor surf venues and wave pools also offer a controlled environment where nervous first-timers may be more confident about trying to surf. Rather than paddling out into the unknown, newbie surfers can try out some consistent waves they feel comfortable with instead of wondering what sort of swell might lie ahead.

Staff members and instructors at wave pools can also guide nervous beginners with important safety tips and tricks for getting up on the board. By practicing in a controlled environment first, surfers can master some important skills before testing their luck in ocean waves.

Additionally, wave pools give experienced surfers another avenue for training and working on stance, balance, and more.

What Is Indoor Surfing Called?

If you have spent time at any wave pools or water parks, you might be familiar with the terms “Flowriding” or “Flowboarding” and think they are synonymous with indoor surfing.

Any ocean surfer will quickly tell you there are some distinct differences between the two. Indoor surfing is ultimately the same as outdoor or ocean surfing. Flowriding, on the other hand, is a popular activity that incorporates some elements of surfing along with skills used in bodyboarding, wakeboarding, skimboarding, snowboarding, and skateboarding.

There has always been a considerable amount of overlap among these sports, especially considering the many crossovers between surf culture and skateboard culture.

A FlowRider produces a consistent “sheet wave” that does not move forward, so the rider can perform carving and jumping tricks over the water as it consistently flows over a stationary surface. Flowriding is now so popular that it has its own league (Flowriding League of the World, or “FLOW”) and a world championship for its top competitors.

Indoor Surfing and Wave Pool Locations: The Best in the US

Wave pools are popular destinations all across the globe, giving thrill seekers worldwide a chance to jump on a surfboard no matter how far they live from the beach. Thankfully there are numerous choices in the US, making it fairly easy for any American to experience that “surf’s up” feeling.

If you are ready to give indoor surfing (or outdoor wave pools) a try, check out some of our favorite venues below.

Kelly Slater Surf Ranch


Location: 18556 Jackson Avenue, Lemoore, California, 93245

Schedule: Limited availability (learn more here)

Few names are as synonymous with surfing as Kelly Slater’s, and his surf ranch in Central California is one of the most sought-after experiences for surfers thanks to an incredible system that produces the longest open-barrel artificial waves anywhere.

The waves at the Surf Ranch measure between 3 and 8 feet in a pool that operates on a simple plow system. Surfers can bring their own boards or choose from an outstanding selection of boards onsite.

In addition to surfing, visitors can take advantage of outstanding accommodations and amenities, hanging with other surfers around the fire pit, relaxing in the hot tub, or enjoying local, organic dishes prepared by an onsite chef.

The only downside of the Surf Ranch is its limited availability to the public, but if you are one of the lucky few who gets a chance to ride the waves here, it will be an experience unlike any other.

Skudin Surf at American Dream


Location: 1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ 07073

Schedule: Open year-round, with surf sessions available from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 8:00 p.m. to midnight

Located just 15 minutes away from New York City, Skudin Surf at American Dream gives urban dwellers a chance to get out of cramped apartments, cold winter temperatures, or boring office cubicles and transport themselves to far-flung places like the North Shore, all thanks to an indoor wave pool where everyone from beginners to seasoned surfers can catch some incredible waves.

Skudin Surf indoor surfing wave pool

Private or public sessions are available to surfers, and the park also offers more than 50 different boards that can be used on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The water temperature is 80 degrees year-round, so visitors can surf comfortably even when the temperatures outside are frigid. Waves are as small as one foot for beginners and up to four feet for more advanced surfers.

Splash House Indiana


Location: 2601 S. Adams Street, Marion, Indiana,

Schedule: Memorial Day through Labor Day, closed Mondays, open weekends after August

This seasonal Indiana park is home to the state’s highest surfable wave giving landlocked Midwesterners a chance to experience the thrill of surfing despite the 500-mile distance from the Atlantic Coast.

Splash House Indiana also boasts a lazy river, slides, a whirlpool, and a kiddie pool, making it a favorite family destination in the summer months.

Surf’s Up New Hampshire


Location: 100 Adventure Way, Nashua, New Hampshire

Schedule: Open Wednesday through Sunday; hours vary; contact for reservations

New Hampshire’s SkyVenture is a thrill seeker’s dream, with indoor skydiving and indoor surfing in one location. There is also rock climbing in a tropical setting for those who want to experience the feeling of an island vacation without leaving New England!

This park boasts a 32-foot Surfstream with seven different wave types and is enjoyed by everyone from beginners to experienced surfers.

Surf sessions at SkyVenture include instruction and all the gear you need, and they can be booked as standalone packages or combined with the other attractions. Reservations may be booked in advance online, and after your session, you can enjoy food and beverages in the Oasis Café.

Waco Surf


Location: 5347 Old Mexia Road, Waco, Texas 76705

Schedule: Reopening March 2023

While Waco may be three-and-a-half hours away from Texas’s popular Galveston Beach, it still offers some of the best surfing in the Lone Star State. This incredible park boasts opportunities to surf and wakeboard with a cable or just enjoy a float along the lazy river.

Guests can stay overnight in a variety of accommodations: the park hotel, cabins, larger private houses, or in their own RVs with hookups on site! Experienced surfers can bring their own boards, but first-timers can also rent boards from the park.

Advance reservations are a must for Waco Surf Park, with sessions typically booked months in advance. You can choose from wave settings in private sessions designed for different skill levels. Public surf sessions are released four to six weeks out, with whatever space is available after private and Stay and Surf sessions are filled.

Water slides, a lazy river, and cable wakeboarding offer fantastic recreational opportunities for family members who may not want to surf, and there is also a bar and restaurant on site.

Flowriding in the US

For those who want to give the aforementioned Flowriding (or Flowboarding) a try, there are also a number of options around the United States.

The Flowrider Locator can help you find the one closest to you: they are located in water parks from South Carolina all the way to California. So even in the small town of Williston, North Dakota, participants can experience the thrill of waves.

Flowrider offers a variety of wave machines to water parks and recreational facilities; you may find them as standalone attractions in some areas, featured in hotels and resorts, or even located on cruise ships.

Indoor Surfing: Our Best Tips for Beginners

Surfing is a thrilling adventure (and great exercise as well!), but many people are hesitant to give it a try for a variety of reasons. Some people are reluctant to try it, whether it’s fear of the unknown, concerns about getting injured, or even the fear of being embarrassed by a wipeout.

The most important thing to bear in mind is that everyone will experience a wipeout, even the most talented surfers. Additionally, with proper training, gear, and techniques, you can mitigate your risk of injury and ensure you have a great experience in the waves. If you are ready to try indoor surfing, follow these tips to make the most of your surf session.

Tip #1: Listen to the Pros

Surf instructors at indoor surfing venues and wave pools are your best resource for hands-on training. Be sure to take their advice on the specifics of the venue; they will be intimately familiar with the type of waves you can expect, what sort of sessions work best for your skill level, and any safety procedures specific to their parks.

They can acquaint you with the differences in boards and other gear you will use, and they will also guide you through the safest way to paddle out to the waves and exit the pool area when you are finished.


Tip #2: Bigger Is Better

If you are a beginner, go for the biggest boards. The bigger the surfboard, the more buoyant it will be in the water. This gives you the best chances for success, and in time you can move to a smaller board as you gain more confidence and your skill level increases.

Tip #3: Practice Pop Ups

You might feel silly practicing pop ups on dry land, but this is critical when preparing to surf. If you have never surfed before, you need to acquaint yourself with how you will need to move your body on a surfboard before immersing yourself in the waves.

Drills on dry land help would-be surfers understand what is needed in those crucial seconds as the wave approaches, and this practice should never be skipped. Best of all, you can practice pop ups anywhere, from your living room to your backyard!

Tip #4: Relax!

This may sound easier said than done, but one of the primary reasons beginners struggle to surf is the fact that their bodies tense up and nerves prevent them from working with the waves. Your instructor will help you find the sweet spot when it comes to a surfboard stance that is powerful and stable but not so stiff that you end up falling.

Tip #5: Get Knocked Down (But Get Up Again!)

Wipeouts are inevitable and will often happen as you first try to surf. Do not be discouraged if you repeatedly fall in the beginning. All it takes is that one successful popup and riding that first wave for your confidence to grow, and it will become easier over time with more practice.

Surfing can be incredibly fun and enjoyable, but not if you allow yourself to get discouraged by every wu. Laugh it off and try again!

Tip #6: Know Your Limits

To avoid injury, be mindful of the wave sizes and do not try to overdo it. Just because you are a confident swimmer, for example, does not mean you should go in a wave pool as a newbie surfer and expect to ride the advanced waves. Work up to those over time once you have mastered the smaller ones.


From Indoor Surfing to the Real Thing: A Few Final Thoughts

Indoor surf venues are a great way to train before hitting the beach but remember that these indoor venues are controlled environments. Surfing in the ocean is much more challenging, and beginners should always keep safety at the forefront of their minds.

A relatively inexperienced surfer should never go out on their own. Go with more experienced surfers or ensure you are surfing where lifeguards are present.