Close your eyes and picture it: You’re draped comfortably over an inflatable tube, drifting slowly and peacefully, passing waterfalls and gentle fountains. You’re soaking up the summer sun, your cell phone stowed out of sight and out of mind. The river carries you with ease, eventually depositing you right back where you started. Just in time to cozy up with a cold drink and a good book.
Sounds great, right? While floating down scenic rivers is a favorite Southern pasttime, sometimes you just want an adventure-free getaway to just be. We’re happy to share that there are plenty of luxuriously lazy man-made rivers in the South, too. From a Texas-shaped behemoth in Houston to a rooftop lagoon in Mississippi, these are the South’s best lazy rivers.
Omni Homestead | Hot Springs, VA
7696 Sam Snead Hwy., Hot Springs, VA 24445 • (540) 839-1766
For those traveling to Hot Springs, VA, for, well, hot springs, head to the Omni Homestead. The on-site two-acre water park, known as Allegheny Springs, uses natural spring water for its pools and water features. Soak in the large family pool, zip down two 100-foot water slides, or experience the ultimate relaxation in the spring waters of the 400-foot lazy river. The property is situated on more than 2,000 acres of scenic landscape, so keep your eyes open as you float through. The river provides unparalleled views of the historic hotel and its lush surroundings.
Marriott Marquis | Houston, TX
777 Walker St., Houston, TX 77010 • (713) 654-1777
Located in the heart of bustling Houston, the four-star Marriott Marquis is a destination for all types of wayfarers. While the skybridge connecting the hotel to the neighboring George R. Brown Convention Center is noteworthy for business travelers, the hotel’s sixth-floor water attractions are enough to delight the whole family — or tap into your inner child. The Altitude Rooftop & Pool is home to a photo-worthy lazy river that takes a full 15 minutes to navigate from beginning to end. Why? Because everything’s bigger in Texas, and the state-shaped lazy river is no exception.
Gaylord Opryland | Nashville, TN
2800 Opryland Dr., Nashville, TN 37214 • (615) 889-1000
Nashville’s enormous Gaylord Opryland Resort has long been a destination, no matter the season. The 2018 indoor and outdoor SoundWaves waterpark addition only upped the ante on family fun. Open year-round, the indoor portion surpasses 110,000 square feet of upscale attractions, including family-style and individual waterslides, multi-level play structures, a double surfing simulator, and not one lazy river but two. If relaxation is the goal, head to the Down Tempo Lazy River that winds peacefully through cavernous rock, or try the adventurous Up Tempo Rapids River for more thrill — the water moves swiftly past waterfalls and spray features.
Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate | Orlando, FL
1500 Masters Blvd., Championsgate, FL 33896 • (407) 390-6664
There are several resorts with lazy rivers throughout sunny Florida, though the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate is one of the best. The resort is an entertainment mecca in a town known for just that, with a 36-hole championship golf course, a full-service spa, and a luxury waterpark. Welcoming kids and adults alike, the 850-foot lazy river houses water features like shooting cannons, water spouts, and a waterfall while floating through tunnels, rapids, and hidden canyons. The lavish landscape lining the river will transport you straight to the tropics. Kids are welcome on the river, though there is a separate adults-only pool and jacuzzi with private cabanas.
L’Auberge Casino Resort | Lake Charles, LA
777 Ave L’Auberge, Lake Charles, LA 70601 • (337) 395-7777
While the game floor may seem like the primary draw to the L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles, there are plenty of amenities and on-site activities to keep you busy without ever stepping foot off the property. The outdoor oasis welcomes families to enjoy the heated pool, ornate lounging areas, and a winding lazy river with a swim-up tiki bar serving frozen cocktails. If you’re traveling without kids, there’s a separate full-service adults-only pool with luxury cabanas. A rental includes a couch, fan, personal ice chest, refrigerator, safe, outdoor TV, and personalized attendant.
Turquoise Place | Orange Beach, AL
26302 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL 36561 • (877) 720-5864
Situated along the Gulf of Mexico in coastal Alabama, Turquoise Place is an expansive resort with large, well-appointed condominiums perfect for a family vacation. While the area’s white-sand beaches are a natural draw, the lazy river at Turquoise Place keeps visitors coming back repeatedly. The 450-foot water attraction is located on the fourth floor of the complex’s west tower, and while it’s open beginning at 8 a.m., the underwater lights and 11 p.m. closing time keep the fun going long after the sun goes down.
Naples Bay Resort & Marina | Naples, FL
1500 5th Ave. S., Naples, FL 34102 • (239) 530-1199
There is no shortage of water activities in Naples, Florida, and the Naples Bay Resort & Marina is a one-stop destination for basking in the sun by the sea or pool. Resort guests can enjoy access to the private club, which boasts a waterfall and five pools, including a family pool, an adults-only oasis, an infinity pool, and a winding lazy river that weaves through lush gardens. Each pool offers lounge chairs and cabanas for rent. On rainy days or after hours, other resort amenities include a TopGolf Swing Suite, a full-service spa, and a shuttle service to and from Downtown Naples and Naples Beach. Luxury boat rentals are also available.
Margaritaville Biloxi | Biloxi, MS
195 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS 39530 • (228) 271-6377
The tropical lagoon at the Margaritaville Biloxi isn’t found on the ground but on the rooftop of the 23-story resort. Open to resort guests only, the waterpark includes a lounge pool, slides, a ropes course, and an impressive 450-foot lazy river. Enjoy laps around the playground, then pull up a chair to 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar for a signature margarita. The rooftop overlooks the Mississippi Sound — the primary body of water off the state’s coast — offering stunning views, especially at sunset. For an escape from the sun, the Jimmy Buffett-inspired resort also houses an indoor adventure center with a 55,000-square-foot arcade, a rock wall, a bowling alley, a ropes course, and more.
Here’s to actually relaxing on vacation!
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