Ah, summer in East Tennessee. For many of us, the next couple of months hold some of our dearest memories throughout the year. Churning homemade walnut ice-cream on the front porch, attending neighborhood barbecues, blasting off fireworks as the kids watch with sparklers in hand, hiking to waterfalls, and lazy mornings spent fishing on the lake. The garden is finally coming in, with fresh corn on the cob every night, baskets of green beans waiting to be snapped, and tasty blackberry cobbler for dessert. You go to sleep with the window cracked so you can hear the cicadas and katydids singing their evening melodies. Yes, summer in Tennessee is wonderful, but there is one thing that always seems to make people forget about how much fun it can be…the heat.
Over the last few weeks, much of the country has experienced record heatwaves. Of course, it doesn’t help with us having that good ‘ole humidity approaching the hundred percent mark. While it may make our Smoky Mountains smoky, it does nothing but make life miserable for those of us stuck down here in the valley. Folks have a few ways they can combat the high temps. You may choose to hover in front of an air conditioner inside and watch a hundred new videos of wannabe chefs frying eggs on their sidewalk or baking cookies on their dashboards. You’ll also watch your electric bill rise faster than the thermometer. A far more fun way to beat the heat is by visiting one of the many waterparks scattered throughout our region. With it being the South, there are a LOT!
Wetlands Water Park –
Many of us don’t have time to drive hours away to waterparks in neighboring states. For those late afternoons after work where you’ll do just about anything to cool down, Wetlands is the perfect local escape. A splash area, waterslides, and lazy river cover just about all the waterpark basics. Volleyball courts, a full-service cafe, and plenty of chairs for sunbathing round out the amenities here. Keep an eye open for special events offered throughout the week, from swimming lessons and discount days to Fun for All Fridays which include an outdoor movie for the whole family. Tickets are $9 for children and $12 for adults who don’t have a season pass.
Dollywood’s Splash Country –
Arguably the best-known waterpark in the region, Splash Country offers enough fun to keep you busy for an entire day. Relax in the wave pool, brave the plunge of Fire Tower Falls, and ride the first water coaster in Tennessee! While the park hasn’t added anything new this year, 2017 saw the opening of Tailspin Racer, a six-lane racing slide which only adds to the park’s collection of thrill slides. Tickets are a bit steep at $49, but locals are much better off purchasing a season pass so they can enjoy the fun all summer!
Wilderness at the Smokies –
This sprawling resort sits just a few miles up the road from Dollywood’s Splash Country and features three mini waterparks, one of which is indoors. New for 2018 is Treehouse Springs, an interactive kids play area featuring water cannons, dumping buckets, and waterfalls. Exciting slides include The Wall, Cyclone Racers, and Wild Vortex (a drop pod slide). Day passes are not available here, so potential visitors will need to book a room at the resort to take part in the fun.
Kentucky Splash Waterpark –
Located in Williamsburg, this family waterpark is located only a few miles north of the state line. Here you’ll find all the regular offerings, from wave pools and lazy rivers to some not-so-standard attractions, such as Kentucky Falls Miniature Golf. Tickets are surprisingly cheap, with $10 entry for everyone over two years old.
Nashville Shores –
This park has perhaps the best setting, being located on Nashville’s J Percy Priest Lake just a few miles from downtown. A plethora of modern slides sporting names such as Music City Racers and Tennessee Twisters offer thrills for the adventurous. Nearby, the sandy beach entices those looking for a more relaxing experience. New for the season is Aqua Park, an inflatable obstacle course on the lake which looks like something from the tv show Wipeout. Guests can also rent cabanas, jet skis, and pontoon boats to enjoy even more time at the sprawling resort.
Six Flags White Water –
Atlanta is home to region’s largest waterpark, boasting 69 acres and dozens of attractions. Just a few miles from Six Flags Over Georgia, White Water is included in the Six Flags Membership and makes a worthy destination in itself. For the biggest thrill, visitors should check out Dive Bomber, a ten-story slide where the floor drops out from beneath you, as well as Wahoo Racer. The park also offers dive in movies on a weekly basis, with fun titles such as Star Wars and Pixar films.
There are several other great waterpark destinations just a few hours away which make great weekend getaways. Alabama Splash Adventure in Birmingham features amusement park rides and a combined waterpark. 2016 saw Carowinds open Carolina Harbor, a massive complex included with admission to the regular theme park. Lastly, Louisville’s Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay has become one of the best waterparks in the area, with new attractions each and every year. As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the park has an amazing offer for out-of-state visitors. $39 gets you in the park for two days and includes free drinks the duration of your visit! Check out kentuckykingdom.com for this great discount!