- Kristin Finan American-Statesman Staff
It’s hot. Triple-digit hot. Burn your bare feet on the sidewalk hot. And it’s starting to feel like it may never end.
Whether this is your first Central Texas summer or your 40th, there’s no denying that finding new ways to beat the heat by the time late July and August roll around can be a challenge.
Here’s the good news: The Austin area is also home to some spectacular water parks, many of which are either new or newly updated for the summer season. Here are six Central Texas water parks that offer the perfect antidote to the dog days of summer.
Note: Most area water parks close for the season on or just before Labor Day — check park websites for details.
The scene: Rock’N River Water Park in Round Rock is freshly scrubbed and sparkling from the multimillion-dollar renovation it received in early 2017 that doubled its physical size and increased capacity from 600 to 1,200. The lazy river, frog slide and train-theme water feature that enticed visitors before the renovation are still there, joined by new features such as a humongous tipping bucket that provides monsoon-like downpours in the Splashville water playground and a rock wall where there’s no need for a harness — the pool below will break your fall. There’s also a new Hitching Post food truck circle that includes carnival-style concessions, a Mexican grill and a snow cone stand with treats as sweet as the pop music blaring from the stereo. With admission prices of $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and children 3-17 and $5 for children 2 and younger, it’s more affordable than most comparable options in the area.
Don’t miss: The 12-foot platform in the new Quarry area, which provides a cliff-jumping-like experience sure to stretch your sense of adventure (and your fear of heights).
Tip: Time your visit to the water park with a Round Rock Express baseball game at the Dell Diamond, which is just down the street. If you arrive to Rock’N River at 5 p.m. or later, admission is always half-price — splash for a couple hours, then make your way to Dell Diamond, where baseball games typically start just after 7 p.m.
Info: 3300 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock. 512-218-5540, roundrocktexas.gov. Adult general admission is $10. Closed Wednesdays.
The scene: If you want the thrills of a big water park but only have a few hours to spare, Typhoon Texas may be just what you’re looking for. Located 40 minutes from downtown Austin in Pflugerville, Typhoon Texas opened in May 2017 in the spot previously occupied by Hawaiian Falls. The renovated space now includes the Gully Washer children’s playland with seven slides, 100 spray areas and an 800-gallon water bucket that douses the entire space; the Buckaroo Bayou splash pad specifically for children ages 4 and younger; Tidal Wave Bay, a wave pool that generates waves as high as 3 feet tall; and the Lone Star Racers head-first competitive waterslide. There’s a second Typhoon Texas in Katy near Houston.
Don’t miss: The Challenge Course, a three-level, 45-challenge obstacle course sure to bring out your inner Spider-Man. It’s appropriate for all levels of climbers and is included in the the price of your ticket.
Tip: The park has a stage and regularly hosts live music and movie nights. Check website for details.
Info: 18500 Texas 130 North service road, Pflugerville. 512-782-2592, typhoontexas.com/austin. Adult general admission is $29.99 weekdays, $34.99 weekends and holidays.
The scene: They don’t call it the “hottest coolest time in Texas” for nothing. Since opening in 1979, this local institution has become a must-see destination for people across the country. It currently spans more than 70 acres and is home to 51 attractions ranging from exhilarating classics like the Cliffhanger tube chute and Soda Straw body slides to family-friendly features such as the Polywog Pond Kiddie Park and Kinderhaven wading pool. Heading to South Padre Island, Corpus Christi or Galveston this summer? You can find Schlitterbahn locations there, too.
Don’t miss: Torrent River in the Blastenhoff section of the park, which is like a lazy river on steroids. Crashing waves at every turn make for hours of exhilarating floating.
Tip: Make a night of it by staying at the on-site Schlitterbahn Resort New Braunfels — resort guests receive special benefits including early access to the Blastenhoff section of the park before it opens to the public each day.
Info: 400 N. Liberty Ave, New Braunfels. 830-625-2351, schlitterbahn.com/new-braunfels. Adult general admission typically ranges from $57.99-$64.99. Buy tickets online for a slight discount.
The scene: Every summer Texans find themselves drawn to the blue-green waters that wind their way through New Braunfels. If you’ve been seeking a spring-fed experience in a safe, controlled environment, look no further than Landa Park Aquatic Complex. The spring-fed pool has steady year-round temperatures around 72 degrees and includes a variety of hard-to-find features including a rope swing, a climbing net and several slides, all overseen by lifeguards.
Don’t miss: Admission also includes access to the Olympic-size pool and kiddie area located at the top of the hill, a perfect option for little ones who find the spring-fed pool to be too chilly.
Tip: Carve out a few hours to explore the rest of 51-acre Landa Park, where you’ll find a miniature train, winding hiking trails, paddle boats, a playground and more.
Info: 350 Aquatic Circle, New Braunfels. 830-221-4360, nbtexas.org/1434/Aquatic-Facilities. Adult general admission is $5.
The scene: There’s only one word to describe this new San Antonio water park: magic. Morgan’s Inspiration Island — the sister to Morgan’s Wonderland theme park — is the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park, designed with special-needs individuals in mind but available and welcoming to everyone. The water park, which cost $17 million, includes rides and water play areas that incorporate water cannons, geysers, tipping buckets and more.
Don’t miss: The River Boat Adventure, which twists and turns visitors through a lush rainforest jungle.
Tip: Plan to stay the entire day. Because your ticket includes admission to Morgan’s Wonderland theme park as well, you’re going to want time to experience everything.
Info: 5223 David Edwards, San Antonio. 210-495-5888, morganswonderland.com/inspirationisland. Adult general admission, which includes access to Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island, is $27. Admission for those with special needs is always free.
The scene: Want to hit the beach without leaving town? Volente Beach Water Park is the place for you. Located on the shores of Lake Travis, this small but entertaining water park features a variety of attractions ranging from a family-friendly pirate ship to a relaxing lazy lagoon to some higher intensity rides that thrill-seekers will love. There’s also a beach, volleyball courts and picnic tables. When you’ve worked up an appetite, grab dinner at the adjacent Beachside Billy’s restaurant.
Don’t miss: The Sidewinder thrill ride, which flings riders up and around the edges of a giant curved saucer.
Tip: Volente Beach Water Park sometimes partners with the Alamo Drafthouse to host Jaws on the Water — as in you watch the movie “Jaws” while floating in Lake Travis. Sounds terrifyingly fantastic, right? Check website for future dates.
Info: 16107 FM 2769, Volente. 512-258-5110, waterparkaustin.com. Adult general admission is $21.