BEAT THE HEAT WITH WATERPARKS
Ahhh, summer! The days are longer, the temperatures are soaring, and people start getting desperate for any opportunity to cool off. For some, that means cranking the A/C and trying not to think of the sky-high electric bill coming their way. For others, especially the young and the young at heart, getting out and getting wet is the way to go. If you fall into the latter category, Florida has plenty of opportunities for a splashing good time. Experience some thrills while you chill at these waterparks in and around the Jax area.
Shipwreck Island Waterpark
1944 Beach Blvd., (904) 685-6071, www.jacksonville-beach.adventurelanding.com
Adventure Landing’s flagship location is home to plenty of fun things to do, but the big draw in the summer months is their Shipwreck Island Waterpark. The local institution is home to several common waterparks features, the Little St. Johns’ Lazy River, a massive wave pool, the Shipwreck Island Play Village, and four extreme slides not for the faint of heart.
FLAMINGO LAKE RV RESORT
3640 Newcomb Rd, (904) 766-0672, www.flamingolake.com
And now for something completely different, the Flamingo Lagoon and Waterpark can be found on the Northside in the Flamingo Lake RV Resort. The park’s spring-fed, 17-acre lake is home to large floating inflatables sure to keep kids of all ages thoroughly entertained. Thankfully, campers aren’t the only ones who get to have all the fun. Day passes are available for locals.
ST. MARYS AQUATIC CENTER
301 Herb Bauer Dr., St. Marys, GA, (912) 673-8118, www.stmarysga.gov/department/aquatic_center
For families with young children, the St. Marys Aquatic Center is a great option. Splash Mountain is sure to be a hit with its slides, water cannons, sprinklers and big bucket dump. A lap pool and lazy river are perfect for unwinding and the Orange Crush slide is a winner for those who crave a little speed.
210 S. Riverview Dr., Jekyll Island, GA, (912) 635-2074, www.jekyllisland.com/summer-waves
About an hour north of Jacksonville is Summer Waves, a Jekyll Island gem perfect for beating the heat. Huge slides, splash pads, a lazy river, and the Frantic Atlantic wave pool are the big draws. This summer is a particularly great time to make the trip if you have little ones. Summer Waves unveiled their new kid zone Shark Tooth Cove in May and a fireworks show is held on select nights in honor of the park’s 30th anniversary.
3766 Old Clyattville Rd., Valdosta, GA, (229) 219-7080
South Georgia is also home to Wild Adventures, a fun little theme park with a big draw during the summer months: the Splash Island Waterpark. From rapids to wave pools, slides to splash pads, there’s a little something for everyone at this park. New this year is Ohana Bay, a Hawaiian-themed oasis boasting seven slides, plenty of shady seating and some just-for-kids attractions that look like a lot of fun. Best of all, admission to Splash Island is included in your Wild Adventures ticket! Viva waterparks!
BOB’S RIVER PLACE
2878 NE 340 Hwy., Branford, (352) 363-7582, @bobsriverplace2019
To call Bob’s a water park is a bit of a misnomer. This Swiss Family Robinson-esque destination is, according to owner Bob Hawkins, a swimming hole. Born from a simple treehouse and rope swing, this little slice of nostalgia has grown over the years to include slides, jumping platforms, floating docks, water volleyball courts, a log roll and a whole lot more. Even with all the renovations over the years, Bob’s is still as old school as you can get, right down to free admission. A modest parking fee (around $10) is all you have to pay to play in this Suwannee River paradise.
Universal Resorts in Orlando, Florida
The newest buzz on the waterparks front is Universal Studios Florida’s brand new water theme park, Volcano Bay in Orlando. A two hour drive south, Volcano Bay has more than 30 experiences including a multi-directional wave pool, winding rivers, raft rides, body slides where the floor is dropped out from beneath you, an aqua coaster that rivals, cabanas you can rent and relax in, bars serving locally brewed beer, fun cocktails, tacos, curry, and a great surf rock soundtrack. Also! No lines! There is a brand new wearable technology called TapuTapu where you virtually tap into line and are buzzed when it’s your turn to head to the ride. Another genius point, you never have to carry a float. The rides that require them convey them up on a belt and are waiting for you up top.
“Universal’s Volcano Bay sets a new standard on every level – from the attractions to how our guests experience them,” said Tom Williams, Chairman & CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts. “Our new water theme park is the perfect complement to the rest of our incredible destination. It provides our guests with spectacular entertainment experiences and innovative technology that helps them enjoy more of what matters most – connecting with each other and having an amazing time together.”
Re-opening of Spring Park Pool
The citizens of Green Cove Springs finally have their pool back. The Historic Spring Park Pool got a major facelift during the lengthy, $2.2 million renovation project and it’s better than ever.
The spring-fed swimming pool was completely rebuilt and a splash pad was added for optimum fun. Residents can also take advantage of the new two-story pavilion, which is available for parties and gatherings.
The pool is open 11am to 7pm, Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $2 for kids (2-17), $3 for active military personnel and senior citizens 65+, and $4 for adults. Summer passes are also available for purchase and are $42 for children, $63 for active military and seniors, $84 for adults and $200 for families. Visit www.greencovesprings.com/departments/city_pool.php for more info.