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Huge. Massive. Enormous. The new Kalahari Resorts Round Rock is America’s largest indoor waterpark. Located 20 miles north of Austin, it’s a must visit for families, with over 1.5 million square feet of fun to explore. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
The writer was hosted on this trip.
After 20 years of driving three hours north of Austin to visit our nearest hotel with an indoor waterpark, I was delighted when Kalahari Resorts and Conventions announced a new resort was coming to Round Rock, a mere 15 minutes from my home in Texas Hill Country. I made reservations before construction was complete and eagerly arrived with my 8-, 12,-, and 14-year-old on opening weekend in November 2020. We returned recently and my kids’ reviews remain unanimous: the resort is huge, exciting and has the most thrilling selection of waterslides in Texas. Just how many? Read on.
Kalahari: The Water Park Pros
Kalahari Texas is the first of its kind in the southwest and is now the largest Kalahari resort in the United States. It joins existing Kalahari water parks in Wisconsin Dells; Sandusky, Ohio and Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.
In the 1.5 million square foot complex (!), you will discover 30 waterslides, three acres of outdoor pools, a huge indoor adventure park complete with a roller coaster, an indoor/outdoor spa, a convention center, 20 places to dine, a bowling alley, an event barn, and nearly 1,000 guest rooms. Bring comfortable shoes—there’s a lot of ground to cover!
Kalahari’s Texas Sized Waterpark
The main attraction at Kalahari Texas is, of course, the humongous 223,000-square-foot waterpark. There is truly something for all ages here, from kiddie pools to private cabanas with personal jacuzzis. Choose from thrilling family raft rides (my kids recommend the slightly terrifying Barreling Baboon), body slides like Tazmanian Twister where you free fall into the seven-foot deep catch pool, lazy rivers or the wave pool.
With 30 waterslides, 20 activity pools and whirlpools, a FlowRider, a large indoor/outdoor family jacuzzi and three acres of outdoor pools, there are endless water attractions to enjoy. Guests of the hotel get free admission to the waterpark, but day passes are available for purchase as well.
TravelingMom Tip: Lockers of varying sizes are available for $15, $20 and $25, so stow your valuables and go get wet without worry. At check-in, you can attach your credit card to your wristband for purchases, so you won’t need to carry anything into the waterpark. You can choose to allow your kids to make purchases with their wristbands as well. Towels and lifejackets are available for free inside the waterpark.
Big Fun for Toddlers at Kalahari Texas
What I appreciate most about Kalahari’s waterpark is that there are so many areas for small children to play. In the indoor waterpark alone, there are three huge sections designed for little swimmers. Here you’ll find low-key waterslides, water tables, water swings and even a one-foot deep lazy river.
Tiko’s Watering Hole
My 8-year-old enjoyed playing in Tiko’s Watering Hole, which was mostly empty from 7-9 p.m. after many families had already left for the day. She made a few young friends and they enjoyed racing down small slides together.
Coral Cove is another pool area for smaller kids. This area is hidden at the back of the waterpark and was uncrowded. It has several water swings, including a parent-and-me swing.
TravelingMom Tip: Another great place to get away from the crowds is above Zulu Grille. Follow the stairs at the side of the restaurant for additional seating and you will discover a nice rooftop view of the entire waterpark. There are tables and chairs but not many people.
Thrills and More for Tweens and Teens
Drop slides, backward in-the-dark slides and high-speed flying up a wall tube slides—pick your pleasure. My tween and teen sons tried them all. They took a break from the rides during dinner and returned later when the slide lines grew short. By 8:30 p.m., they could walk up to any ride and hop right on. When the park closed at 9 p.m., they wanted to head next door to Tom Foolerys, which stays open until 10 p.m.
Tom Foolerys Adventure Park
Tom Foolerys is like Dave & Buster’s on steroids. It’s loud, it’s bright and there is action everywhere. Games and rides in this giant arcade and indoor adventure park are not included with your stay at Kalahari in Round Rock. If you think your kids will want to try the attractions (spoiler: they will—you have to walk through Tom Foolerys to get to the waterpark, so there’s no hiding it from them), you may consider buying an unlimited All Day Attraction Pass. This pass includes the Ropes Course, Laser Tag, the XD Dark Ride, Big Air Coaster, Mirror Maze, Drop Tower and more. It does not include arcade games, bowling or escape rooms.
Kalahari Texas Dining Guide
There are so many places to eat at Kalahari that guests are spoiled for choice. We started with ice cream and cotton candy from the Candy Shop. I don’t think that counts as a meal, but the kids enjoyed it!
Breakfast at Kalahari
Breakfast is not included at Kalahari Texas (and there are no coffee makers in the room), so I recommend starting your day at Marrakesh Market with a cup of Starbucks, a $4 breakfast taco and a half-dozen Round Rock Donuts. Seriously, those donuts are famous around here and the chance to not have to wait in line for them is too good to pass up. We even ate them in the afternoon!
Dinner Options Include Live Music
For dinner, we had a quick meal at Sortino’s Italian Kitchen. We ordered a family-size pizza for less than $20 and ate it outside while listening to live music being played in the resort’s Amatuli entertainment district. It was a lovely evening.
Kalahari has five sit-down dining options, so I hope to go back and try more. In addition to Italian, you can eat TexMex at Cinco Ninos, a luxury meal at Double Cut Steakhouse or a burger by the bowling alley at B-Lux Grill and Bar inside Tom Foolerys.
TravelingMom Tip: Kalahari in Round Rock is a great outing for locals, too. With free parking, free live music on weekends and so many onsite restaurants to choose from, it could be a perfect date night or family night out.
Speaking of date night, Kalahari Texas has plenty of options for kid-free fun. From its best-in-class spa (hello, couples massage!) to the sprawling adults-only pools in the Grotto to its eight bars and lounges, there are lots of places to sneak off to if you can arrange some adult time. Sortino’s Vinoteca Wine Lounge offers a cozy spot to snack on a charcuterie board and Redd’s Piano Bar & Lounge opens every night at 7 p.m. for hand-crafted cocktails.
Plan Your Stay at Kalahari Texas
Book a room 30 days in advance to get the best deal. Click on the “Check-in” date button to see the rate for each day, to save even more. Rates are as low as $213 for a family of four, which includes waterpark admission the full day of your arrival and the full day of your departure. ($50 per person is added to your room rate if your family is larger than four people.) Day passes for the waterpark are between $60 and $100, depending on the day you plan to visit, so it’s generally cheaper to book a room and enjoy two days at the resort. Visit www.kalahariresorts.com/texas to plan your stay. You can also get a great deal right now on Groupon for a stay that includes Tom Foolery passes.
TravelingMom Tip: Book a room on the ground floor with a back patio that faces the outdoor pool area. This gives you easy outdoor access to pools, restaurants and live music.
About Kalahari Resorts and Conventions
Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, Sandusky, Ohio, the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, and now open in Round Rock, Texas, deliver a beyond-expectations waterpark resort and conference experience all under one roof. The authentically African-themed Kalahari Resorts, privately owned by Todd Nelson and his family, are home to America’s largest indoor waterparks.