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7 water attractions in Alabama

Summer is heating up in Alabama, making it a great time to hit the water. Photo by Gennadiy Poznyakov/

Those high summer temps getting to you? Don’t sweat it. From American Ninja Warrior–style water courses to man-made rapids to surfboards that practically fly, there are plenty of hot new ways to cool off across the state. So pack the sunblock and a few towels and check out 7 top water attractions in Alabama. 

1. Race the rapids

There’s nothing lazy about Montgomery’s newest river. A water park like no other opens its floodgates July 7, bringing the Appalachian wilds into city confines and giving kayakers, rafters, and stand-up paddleboarders the chance to shoot Class II–IV rapids a mile from downtown. The 2 man-made, pump-fed channels at Montgomery Whitewater cater to all skill levels. There’s a family-friendly course and an Olympic-style, competition-level course on the recirculating river. Rates start at $25.

In the coming months, adventurers will find even more challenges throughout the 120-acre park, including mountain biking, a rock wall, and zip-line courses. The much-anticipated outdoor venue offers slower-paced fun, too. Guests can grab a meal at the full-service restaurant overlooking the water or watch a show at the outdoor amphitheater. And, of course, flat-water paddling is available steps away on the Alabama River (pumps not included).

You may also like: 10 thrilling summer activities you have to try in Alabama

2. Pools of light 

Ditch white water for the neon kind. Along the southern coast, the new Sea View Tours offers night paddlers a light show in clear-bottom kayaks. Owner Zion Bethel and his crew lead family-friendly “Crab Grab” tours after nightfall in the protected waters surrounding Orange Beach’s Caribe Marina. Light-up kayaks cast pools of glowing color around each two-seater craft, illuminating the white-sand seabed below.

During the hour-long trips, paddlers disembark at nearby Bird Island. “We look for birds and different types of wildlife,” Bethel says. Some critters, like the tour’s namesake crabs, might even grab back. “We only use our hands to touch them. It’s a lot of fun.” Sunset tours are also available. $80 per person.

You may also like: Dauphin Island, Alabama’s sunset capital, offers fun for everyone

3. Family chill time

Girl gasping as she goes down a water slide

Bessemer’s Splash Adventure offers fun for everyone. Slide down the new Rocket Racer before landing in the pool. Photo by Alex Ramsey

On the newest waterslide at Bessemer’s Splash Adventure, the competition may be hot, but the finish line is very cool. Riders atop the 50-foot-tall Rocket Racer line up across 6 lanes and mount foam mats before barreling down 400 feet of slide and into the landing pool. Looking to slow things down? Take the littles to the new Cocoa Island. The tangle of chutes, showers, and splash pads is an oasis where families can chill. 

Woman and young girl on an inner tube

Looking to slow things down? Take the littles to the new Cocoa Island. The tangle of chutes, showers, and splash pads is an oasis where families can chill. Photo by Alex Ramsey

Check out favorites such as a 4,600-square-foot water maze, scream-worthy slides like Upsurge and Twister, and entertainment all summer long. (Pro tip: Don’t miss the 5 p.m. dive show. Performers light themselves ablaze before jumping from heights of up to 80 feet.) The free sunscreen and fountain drinks are pretty nice, too. 

Or catch a breeze on the latest family roller coaster, Cheddar Chase, on the double whammy water-and-amusement-park’s dry side. “We’re focused on families and making sure people get a good value when they come to the park,” says Alex Ramsey, marketing manager for the park. Adults and children taller than 4-foot-4, $45; children under 2, free.

You may also like: How to have a magical visit to Birmingham

4. Over-sea adventure

Couple riding hydrofoil surfboards

Thanks to an electric motor and an airplane wing-shaped fin, hydrofoil surfboards can lift half a meter above the sea surface at Foil Gulf Coast. Photo by Sydnie Lee/Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism

The hottest new sport on the water, hydrofoil surfing looks an awful lot like regular surfing, until riders pick up serious speed. “When you lean back and the board lifts off the water, everything goes silent and it’s the smoothest feeling I’ve ever experienced on the water,” says Gavin Rudolph of Orange Beach–based Foil Gulf Coast. “All the noise just disappears.” 

Thanks to an electric motor and an airplane wing–shaped fin, hydrofoil surfboards can zip along half a meter above the sea surface. Foil Gulf Coast teaches newbies how to ride these boards anywhere between Louisiana and Pensacola.

After 30 minutes of on-land instruction, students take to the water for 90-minute sessions with Rudolph or one of his parents. (All 3 are experienced instructors.) Expect to get a little wet along the way, he says. “If you’re inclined to do other water sports, if you’re willing to play in the waves, then this is for you. It’s a ton of fun.” 2-hour session with lesson, $275.

You may also like: 3 waterfalls in Alabama worth a road trip

5. Rolling on a river

The waterways around Wetumpka may be the state’s most enjoyable ones to play on. Avid paddlers flock to the roiling water of the Moccasin Gap rapids. Anglers certainly know the joys of kayak fishing for Alabama spotted bass, bream, and crappie along the Coosa River. But relatively few have spent a night on the water. 

Coosa River Adventures offers day trips on 7 miles of its namesake river, and more adventurous paddlers can book multi-day voyages on the Tallapoosa. Bird-watching, fishing opportunities, and abundant wildlife await along the 51-mile stretch. Kayak rentals start at $34; multi-day trips start at $100 (not including food, drinks, or camping gear).

You may also like: Alabama’s 7 natural wonders: How many have you seen?

6. Do the wave

Pool and water slides inside Foley's Tropic Falls

Make a splash at Foley's Tropic Falls water park, which includes a 30,000-square-foot outdoor wave pool. Photo courtesy OWA Parks & Resort

Down in Foley, the waves just keep coming. Tropic Falls, a unique indoor-outdoor water park attached to the OWA Resort, opened its doors in summer of 2022. The latest addition from the $70 million–plus water park expansion debuted in March with the opening of Big Water Bay, a 30,000-square-foot outdoor wave pool.

With an extra-large screen atop the wave generator, the pool is a cool spot to enjoy the entertainment the park has planned all summer long. (Don’t miss the weekend-long extravaganza planned around the Fourth of July.)

Guests playing in the water at Tropic Falls

Have fun in the sun (or in the rain!)--a retractable roof means it's splash time any time. Photo courtesy OWA Parks & Resort

But wait, there’s more in store. Within the beach-like chill space, Coastal Curl gives guests the chance to bodyboard and more in the new surf simulator. A retractable glass roof at Tropic Falls means it’s splash time, come rain or shine. Admission starts at $63.

You may also like: A fun family vacation on Alabama’s Gulf Coast

7. Ninja warrior splash

First the Palomino RV Resort in Cullman opened with campsites. Then came Insta-chic glamping tents. In 2021, the minds behind the family-friendly accommodation unveiled their latest: the Slippery Summit

At Alabama’s largest inflatable aqua park, guests can bounce along walkways, climb blow-up mountains, and speed through American Ninja Warrior–esque stumbling blocks. And should a few racers slip into the cool water? Even better. The sprawling combo of slides, towers, and launchpads may be reminiscent of popular obstacle-course television competitions, but this one is open to both park guests and the public. One-hour sessions, $15.

Travel pro and tour host Jessica Fender makes a splash in the South and beyond at 

You may also like: 5 epic Alabama road trips

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