Texans, you may have heard, are esteemed for possessing a prodigious appetite for life and its delights. Which makes sense, given they live in a state that offers a hearty variety of pleasures, from savory barbecue to an oversized sporting scene. They also live in a state where the average summer high temperature hovers around 94 degrees, which is the perfect weather to frolic in the refreshing waters of aqua parks or ride one of the country’s swiftest roller coasters.
Football may be Texas’ first love, but when the games conclude, a wealth of delightful amusement and water parks beckons. Here are some of Texas’ most entertaining hot spots for families to cool off while smiling profusely.
Arlington/Dallas/ Fort Worth
Six Flags Over Texas is a 212-acre theme park in Arlington, between Fort Worth and Dallas. Opened in 1961, the park features 10 themed areas and 50 rides, including 13 roller coasters. Six Flags Over Texas provides several one-of-a-kind experiences, including the longest-operating, double-looping coaster in the world, featuring back-to-back vertical loops that rise 70 feet. Groups of 10 to 99 that purchase in advance can take advantage of special group discounts. Dallas is also home to Zero Gravity Thrill Park, an amusement park that offers thrill rides such as the Skycoaster, where patrons glide more than 100 feet off the ground; the
Texas Blastoff, a ride resembling a giant slingshot that rockets 150 feet into the air; and Nothin’ But Net Freefall, where thrill seekers drop from a 16-story tower with only a safety net below to catch their fall.
Located in Southeast Texas 90 miles east of Houston, Beaumont is home to Gator Country, the largest alligator adventure park and sanctuary in Southeast Texas. Gator Country houses more than 450 American alligators, crocodiles and other reptiles, including Big Tex, the largest live-captured nuisance alligator in the country, measuring in at 13 feet, 8½ inches.
Home to Texas A&M University, College Station resides 90 miles northwest of Houston. It is also the location of Texas World Speedway, one of only seven superspeedways of two miles or greater in the United States. The speedway enables visitors to practice their driving skills or attend open track days as a spectator and watch other drivers in action.
Corpus Christi,Galveston/New Braunfels/South Padre Island
Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resorts are located in Corpus Christi, 130 miles southeast of San Antonio; Galveston, 50 miles southeast of Houston; New Braunfels, 32 miles north of San Antonio; and South Padre Island, a barrier island near the state’s southern border. The first of the parks opened in 1979 in New Braunfels and features 51 attractions across 70 acres and miles of rivers. Tube chutes, rides, tube slides and pools use spring-fed river water to carry visitors across the park. Guests can also surge atop a continuous wave on the Boogie Bahn, fly high over the park on the Sky Coaster, tube on the intense Torrent wave river and be rocketed uphill on the Master Blaster Water Coaster. Schlitterbahn, with a variety of admission and meal options to suit groups’ needs, offers a group rate for a minimum order of 15 admissions.
Wet ‘n’ Wild Splashtown is Houston’s largest water park offering more than two million gallons of summer fun. Highlights include the Stingray Racer, a thrill slide featuring six water slide lanes standing 55 feet high; the Big Kahuna, a mega-thrill raft ride that takes a whitewater journey filled with twists and turns; and the Tornado, a slide that begins on a platform75 feet in the air, where daring riders plummet down a 132-footlong tunnel and are launched into a giant open-ended funnel. Groups of 15 or more receive a special discounted price when tickets are ordered at least three weeks in advance.
While Plano sits 20 miles north of downtown Dallas and a healthy 1,376 miles from San Diego, visitors itching to surf can visit the Aqua Shop, the first Flow House to bring indoor surfing to the public. Through artificial waves created by a FlowRider, groups can experience the joy of riding waves indoors.
Located 19 miles north of Austin, Round Rock sports the Rock’N River Water Park. The park underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation in 2016, doubling in size and providing new attractions including Splashville, a huge sprayground play area that includes 51 play features, and The Quarry, an adventure area providing a 12-foot jumping platform and rock climbing wall.
San Antonio is home to Six Flags Fiesta Texas, an amusement park spanning 200 acres that features 17 roller coasters, 16 water park rides and a host of other activities. Six Flags Fiesta Texas has programs and packages for all groups, from company outings to reunions to birthday parties. SeaWorld San Antonio is a 250-acre marine mammal park, oceanarium and animal theme park and is the world’s largest marine-life theme park. The park offers six thrill rides and numerous animal exhibits and shows. Groups can save $15 per person with group-rate admission.
Wonder World Park in San Marcos, is 31 miles south of Austin. The park offers a guided tour of the nation’s only true example of an earthquake-formed cave. The park also has an anti-gravity house where water flows uphill, a train ride that takes passengers through the waterfalls of Mystery Mountain and a chance to mingle with animals at the Texas Wildlife Petting Park.
Temple resides 65 miles north of Austin and is the residence of the Lions Junction Family Water Park. The park offers a pair of three-story waterslides, a deep-water pool with a diving board and a rock climbing wall. The park also features a lazy river, beach-entry pool and a railroad themed water feature for children.