By Randy Yagi
With temperatures rising all across the country, one of the best ways to keep cool while soaking up the summer sun is to take an inflatable tube and relax on a lazy river. Clearly one of the calmer and gentler attractions at a waterpark, lazy rivers come in a variety of shapes and sizes with typically shallow and pleasantly cool waters with a barely noticeable current. While there are many other lazy river attractions around the country that feature a bit more turbulence and pace, here are five of the most relaxing lazy rivers to enjoy in America.
Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park
1534 Blizzard Beach Drive
Orlando, FL 32830
As the world's most visited vacation resort, Walt Disney World might not easily be seen as a suitable place to unwind and relax. While it's no secret that this mega-resort's premiere attraction, the Magic Kingdom, has the largest annual attendance on the entire planet, its least visited water park can be the perfect remedy to get away from the heavy crowds of summer and kick back in a tube to enjoy the cool waters of a 3,000-foot long lazy river. Located at Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park, Cross Country Creek winds its way around the polar-themed water park, with seven access points onto mildly flowing waters that average a very comfortable 80 degrees. Depending upon the number of people floating on the river, it takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to ride the entire length of Cross Country Creek, by far the largest lazy river in the Orlando area and among the longest in the country. Blizzard Beach also features thrill rides like the Toboggan Racers and attractions for smaller children like Melt-Away Bay and Tike's Peak. Disney's busier water park, Typhoon Lagoon, also features a relaxing lazy river - the 2,000 foot long Castaway Creek.
1410 Wisconsin Dells Parkway
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965
There is absolutely no shortage of lazy rivers in a community that calls itself the "Waterpark Capital of the World". In fact, with more than 20 indoor and outdoor waterparks, it's safe to say Wisconsin Dells back ups that claim and then some. Boasting the title of largest "waterpark in the entire country," Noah's Ark covers 70 acres and features dozens of waterslides and attractions, including two lazy rivers. The Endless River is the more relaxing lazy river of the two, although Adventure River can be just as delightful even for young children, with its calm waters and mini-waterfalls. Also available to small children for a limited time over the summer is the Endless River Kiddie, with a convenient zero depth entrance pool. For visitors looking for a waterpark with overnight accommodations, excellent spots to stay include Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari Resort and Wilderness Resort, the largest water park resort in the country.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort
400 N. Liberty Ave.
New Braunfels, TX 78130
It's often said that everything is bigger in Texas and that also applies to waterparks and lazy rivers. In fact, at 3,600 feet long, The Falls in the Tubenbach section of the original Schlitterbahn Waterpark is considered to be the world's longest waterpark ride. The Falls are equipped with an AquaVeyer, a conveyor belt transport system that allows riders to extend their endless river excursion. As alternatives, there are two other lazy rivers, along with multiple other attractions at this extraordinary water park that's been named the best in the world for nearly 20 consecutive years by Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards. The other lazy rivers are located in the Tubenbach and Surfenburg sections respectively of the park - the equally entertaining Deluge and the utterly relaxing Kristal River. Among the dozens of other attractions at the flagship Schlitterbahn are Dragon's Revenge Water Coaster, Congo River Expedition and the six-story Master Blaster Uphill Water Coaster, a consistent winner as the World's Best Waterpark Ride.
Water Country USA
176 Water Country Parkway
Williamsburg, VA 23185
It's not nearly as famous as its neighbor down the road, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, but Water Country USA might prove to be far more relaxing, particularly for families with small children. What's more, it's been named one of the world's best water parks by TripAdvisor and features not one, but two lazy rivers among its many other fun attractions. Of the two, the Rambling River at Rock 'n' Roll Island is the most relaxing, albeit measuring just 736 feet long, with calm waters to cool off from the typically hot and humid summer months of Southeastern Virginia. Although it's up for friendly debate, the water park's other and more popular Hubba Hubba Highway lazy river could pass for a relaxing ride, as long as it can be defined by a moving current and the occasional spray from water guns manned by mischievous spectators along its 1,500 foot long waterway. Other popular kid friendly rides to enjoy at Virginia's largest water park and the largest in the entire Mid Atlantic region are waterslides like Malibu Pipeline and Wild Thang, and the park's newest thrill ride, the perfectly named Colossal Curl. Multi-park passes are available for those who also wish to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg. For overnight accommodations, visitors might enjoy the AAA Four Diamond Kingsmill Resort, which just happens to have its very own lazy river and a free shuttle to Water Country USA.
Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
6902 E. Greenway Parkway
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
With temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees in the summer, the lazy rivers at resorts and water parks in Phoenix are a refreshing and invigorating way to escape the desert heat. Among the best for relaxation is the 900-foot lazy river at the AAA Four-Diamond Westin Kierland's Adventure Water Park, which also features a 110-foot long waterslide, an Adventure Pool, a children's play area and the Kieran Flowrider, a surf simulator described as the "Ultimate Surf Machine." Also on the stunning, multi-award-winning Westin complex in North Scottsdale is the adult pool Aguamiel with cabana rentals based upon availability, a world-class golf club and one of the finest meeting facilities in North America. Among the many other notable choices for lazy rivers in the Phoenix area are the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa and the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa, featuring a 7-acre water park that's ranked among the best in the country by the Travel Channel.
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