When the muggy dog days of summer arrive, keep the positive vibes humming along by planning a refreshing water escape where body, mind, and soul can rejuvenate. For those ready to jump in, here are a handful of noteworthy water park vacations you can’t miss when it’s hot and humid.
Discovery Cove is a marine park that sits in the nation’s well-known entertainment mecca of Orlando — and includes renowned water park experiences as well. Teeming with magical immersive sea encounters, this hidden-gem all-inclusive park, however, also offers something a little different. Wearing a dive helmet, take a SeaVenture and walk around a reef surrounded by sea life or experience the thrill of swimming with dolphins. If joining a flamboyance (a flock of flamingos) has been on your bucket list, sign up for the early morning Flamingo Mingle to socialize with flamingos under the supervision of a resort aviculturist.
Nassau’s luxurious resort Baha Mar recently unveiled Baha Bay, a stunning 15-acre water park with unobstructed views of the ocean. If you’re staying in any of the destination’s three hotels, you have full access to this top water park, which offers all varieties of tingling rides like Thunderball and the Devil’s Backbone which — spoiler-alert — includes a drop from a trap door. For extreme adventurers, ride the white-knuckling Dueling Riptide Coaster, propelled using jet-propulsion — the only one of its kind in the Caribbean.
For a splash of original, look no further than aviator-themed Wings and Waves Waterpark, adjacent to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville. As a teaser, it includes a slide which ejects you out of a real Boeing 747 — a feat in keeping with their mission to help guests soar. The indoor, year-round park has 10 slides, including the Mach 1, a ride for those with nerves of steel and a unique, combination wave pool/movie theater — a 91,000-gallon wave pool beside a large movie screen which continuously plays family-friendly films.
In the Yucatan Peninsula’s Playa del Carmen, Xcaret is a top water park that features a culturally-enriching experience in an unspoiled playground of three underground rivers built by Mother Nature. Relax and slowly float with a life-vest in the 5-foot-deep transparent waters, pulled along by a gentle current past Mayan sinkholes, rock formations, and marine fossils. You’ll drift through natural caves — dazzling with flickering sunbeams — before ending in the mangroves where pink flamingos roam. At a calm inlet, learn to snorkel in an area believed to be where Mayans launched their canoes.
At New Orleans’ Audubon Cool Zoo, part of Audubon Zoo, kids will go wild with the animal-themed water activities, whether being splashed by water-spitting snakes or hurtling down the alligator waterslide. Hop aboard an inner tube and cruise the cool 750-foot, 3-foot-deep winding lazy river called Gator Run — but be on the lookout for water cannons sensing your passing, sure to give you a full-body soaking!
It’s often said that the nation’s capital was built on a swamp. To escape the sticky humidity, head just 19 miles east and find relief at Hurricane Harbor, the water park at Six Flags America in Maryland. Admission grants you access to the theme park, accommodating those who’d like to greet the day on a roller coaster before careening like a cannon down the park’s 25+ waterslides or bobbing in the Hurricane Bay wave pool, enlivened with vibrantly-painted sea-life murals.