The ultimate way to stay cool in the Southern heat is to splash, soak, spray, swim, and slide at one of these awesome southeastern water parks. Five of these seven parks are actually part of an amusement park, so you are getting a two for one deal. One is a stand alone attraction offering a welcome respite from a beach vacation. The final one is a destination all its own.
Stay Chill This Summer at these 7 Southeastern Water Parks
I can remember being super excited as a kid to visit friends with a pool. Absent that invitation, we’d cool off with the sprinkler oscillating in the front yard. Those paltry rain drops are nothing compared to the super slides, lazy rivers and thrilling water coasters available today. Here are seven southeastern water parks worthy of a stop during your vacation.
1. Waterville USA, Gulf Shores, AL
Waterville USA is a well known southeastern water park for those that frequent Gulf Shores, Alabama. The 20-acre waterpark also houses an amusement park. Guests get the best of two parks for one ticket price. The water park has some 17 water slides, a lazy river (my personal favorite), a classic wave pool, Shrimp Boat Village, Wa-Wa World and Flowrider (a surfing type ride) within the waterpark. No slouch, the amusement side includes attractions such as Go-Carts, Cannonball Run Rollercoaster, mini golf, Trampoline, an arcade and kiddie rides.
2. Dollywood Splash Country, Pigeon Forge, TN
A visit to Dollywood isn’t complete without some time at Splash Country. Although I have not been, I asked friends about their favorite rides and slides. They mentioned Daredevil falls, which is your quintessentially steep water slide that ends with a big splash. The closer to the front you sit, the wetter you get. Another favorite is the six-seater raft on the Smoky Mountain River Rampage. This river ride full of rapids and splashes leaves your sneakers pretty soaked, so wearing sandals is a good idea.
3. Soak Ya Water Park, Chattanooga, TN
Soak Ya is part of Lake Winnie Amusement Park which is technically in Rossville, Ga., but it’s so close to Chattanooga, it claims the Tennessee address. You won’t find any major crazy water coasters here, but you will find interesting slides, a lazy river and acceptable lines, plus lots of areas for little ones to splash and play.
My twelve-year-old and I found it a perfect end to our day at the Lake Winnie Amusement Park, a throwback in time with classic rides like the Ferris Wheel, and carousel. Once we got to Soak Ya, we could almost hear the sizzle as we submerged ourselves in the lazy river.
Another great thing about Lake Winnie is the park is smaller, so the parking lot isn’t too far away if you’d rather beat the lines and soak in the morning and enjoy the rides in the afternoon.
Bonus: on Fridays through August 4, 2017, bring a can from any Dr. Pepper or Coke product and buy one unlimited ride pass at full price and receive a second unlimited ride pass at half price.
4. Splash Island Water Park, Valdosta, Ga.
Splash Island in the Wild Adventure theme park in Valdosta Georgia expanded in 2017 with the opening of Ohana Bay. Ohana Bay brings seven new slides, additional seating and shade to the water park. Fly down water slides with tropical names like Alani Falls, Polu Plunge and Oma Oma O Racers.
In addition to amusement rides, this park also has a safari adventure. Stay hydrated and cool while you are there by purchasing an unlimited refill cup. For $24.99 drink as much as you want, all season long.
One of the things I like best about this park is the location. If you are traveling through Georgia to Florida (or vice versa), Wild Adventure is one of the most accessible water parks in Georgia since it is located just off I-75.
5. Hurricane Harbor, Austell, Ga.
Bring your bathing suit when you visit Six Flags Over Georgia near Atlanta for some of the most exhilarating water slides in the state. Hurricane Harbor has rides with names like Tsunami Surge and Bonzai Pipelines.
Once you get tired of the water, check out the new Justice League: Battle for Metropolis ride. The ride puts you in the middle of a battle to save your favorite Super Heroes from the evil villains. It’s a dark, continuous loading ride, similar to a Toy Story at Disney, or Kingdom Quest at LEGOLAND Discovery Centers.
Save on Six Flags Over Georgia tickets by buying online, which saves you as much as $20 per ticket. If you visit more than twice, consider a season pass. Bonus: season pass holders also receive bring a friend passes for select days.
6. Summer Waves, Jekyll Island, Ga.
If you need a break from the sand on the Jekyll Island beach, take a day out to visit Summer Waves Water Park. This park is a stand-alone water park (meaning it’s not housed within a theme park), and includes slides, a lazy river and wave pool. My kids like hanging out in the wave pool, as well as the lazy river, but there are three different slides to cruise down. They also have a section with smaller slides for the little ones.
If you’d rather hang out on the beach during the day, get a discount on Summer Waves admission during night splash hours. Weekends after 3 p.m., weekends after 4 p.m. Call first to confirm times and rates.
7. Great Wolf Lodge, Charlotte, NC
An indoor water park that covers over 80,000 square feet? Great Wolf Lodge Charlotte has super slides, awesome splash pads, and best of all you can enjoy it even in winter. This water park is located within a hotel, and offers accommodations with kid-friendly rooms and suites big enough for an extended family vacation.
Great Wolf Lodge isn’t just a water park. There is bowling, arcades and a really cool treasure hunt called Magic Quest that my tween enjoyed just as much, if not more than the water park. Magic Quest uses a wand to make the hallways at the Great Wolf Lodge come to life. Find some time to slip away and head to the spa, or bring your little one with you for some mommy and me pampering.