Come on In! The Water’s Fine! Beaches and Water Fun
By: Mary Ball
We are all familiar with the routine: rub and spray little bodies and faces (don’t forget your own!), pull on the suits, find the goggles and water toys bag, pack the snacks, remind everyone to grab a towel. And a hat. And sunglasses. We go to great lengths to get ourselves and our kids ready to head outside and enjoy the nature! The combination of sun and water can’t be beat for a great day in the South, and I have a collection of water activities for you to enjoy!
Rivers and Creeks
Mississippi has several rivers and creeks to explore. There are a few that also have small rapids that even the young paddlers in your group can manage. The Okatoma River in Seminary offers an opportunity for canoeing and kayaking. There are spots to stop for swimming and picnicking. Check the water levels before you go. If there’s a drought, the creek partially dries up which isn’t fun, unless you like carrying your canoe! Look up Chunky River Kayak and Canoe Rental. You can rent inner tubes, kayaks, and canoes to enjoy this relaxing river featuring sandbars, rope swings and little rapids, if the water is high. Also, good spot for fishing.
If you like a concrete bottom to your water adventures, Mississippi has many waterpark options. In Collins, visit Grand Paradise Waterpark. It’s my recommendation for younger children because it’s small and close to the Jackson area. Also, there is a kiddie pool with slides that all end up in the same large pool. But it’s great fun for all ages, and parents can keep an eye on their little ones and see most of the park from anywhere.
Geyser Falls in Philadelphia has fun kids’ sections as well as a wave pool. It’s a big park! There are many places to purchase food and beverages, but you can save money by eating your own packed lunch at the picnic area outside the park. Enter and exit with a wristband. The coast has several places to play, including Buccaneer Bay, which overlooks the Gulf. Grab an inner tube and ride a big wave in the wave pool. You can also speed down one of two giant waterslides, enjoy the Lil’ Smuggler’s Cove kiddie pool, or just lounge by the pool in a chair. Also consider Gulf Islands Waterpark with a great kids’ area with lily pads and nets to climb.
Looking for sand, salt and sun close to home? Try a visit to Ship Island. The 50-minute ferry trip departs daily from Gulfport and Margaritaville Hotel (Biloxi). On summer Saturdays boats are frequently full. Try to arrive a minimum of 30 minutes before your scheduled trip. It is so convenient to spend a day there without lugging too much with you: food service and beach items are available on the boats and island (cash only on boat), and you can rent chairs and umbrellas on the island. You’ll find restrooms, showers, drinking water and a shaded picnic area on the island.
This list is not exhaustive. Check out other locations, like Dunn’s Falls in Enterprise, D’Lo waterpark, and Dry Creek park. And if you plan a trip to the Jackson or Hattiesburg zoos, pack a towel to enjoy their splash pads!
Before you go, check each location’s website for more information and details of costs and hours and remember sunscreen, rash guard shirts, towels, swim diapers, resealable plastic bags and a marker for better organization and storage, sunglasses, bug spray, goggles, snacks and water. Have fun!!
Mary Ball is a Travel Advisor living in Madison with her husband and four children, who love finding adventures. If you need help planning your family trip, feel free to give her a call at 601-201-0912 or visit www.magnoliatravelgroup.com.