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Get Wet? You Bet!

Riding the crest at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Arlington.

Water—lots of it—is the only real relief from Texas summer heat. Thankfully, our sunny state is home to some splashing good entertainment. Hurtle down a near-sheer drop, fly through watery darkness, or drift lazily along a flowing river, fingers and toes cooled by refreshing water while your body is warmed by the sun. Sound good? Grab your sunscreen, a towel, and this guide to Texas water parks, and have a refreshing summer.

Water Park Tips

Water parks have lots of stairs, so be prepared for a workout. If ice chests are allowed, they will be checked for glass and alcohol (both no-nos, although many parks serve beer). Water shoes are a must for hot pavement and bathrooms. Goggles are a good idea, as are one-piece bathing suits for women and girls.

Every park has locker rentals, but if you wear a small fanny pack for your keys, cash, and credit cards (which can all get wet), you can leave the rest of the valuables in the car and you may not need a locker. All parks require (and sell) swim diapers. All offer season passes and group rates, and most can accommodate private parties and offer birthday packages.

Call ahead regarding hours and wheelchair accessibility.

1. SCHLITTERBAHN opens weekends in May, then daily through the summer, and again on weekends from late Aug. to mid-Sep. Admission: $29.99 (tax included), $24.84 ages 3-11, free age 2 and younger. Free parking, tubes, and life vests. Free shuttles between the parks. Outside food and drinks allowed. Reservations recommended for the resort, motel, cottages, apartments, and duplexes. At 305 W. Austin St., New Braunfels 78130; 830/625-2351; (Admission, tax included, for the new tropically flavored SCHLITTERBAHN BEACH WATERPARK on SOUTH PADRE ISLAND: $28.16, $23.32 ages 3-11, free age 2 and younger; 956/772-SURF.)

2. SIX FLAGS SPLASHTOWN opens from late Apr. until the end of Sep. No coolers allowed, but a shaded picnic area lies just out–side the entrance. Limited food selection inside. Parking: $6. Admission: $24.99, $17.99 kids under 48 inches tall, free age 2 and younger. At 21300 I-45 N., Spring 77373; 281/355-3300;

3. SIX FLAGS WATERWORLD has free life jackets and free tubes for rides that require them, although renting one cuts down on lines and is the only way to tube the moat. Parking: $6. Admission to WaterWorld is included with an AstroWorld ticket: $37.99 plus tax, $26.99 plus tax age 55 and older, $22.99 plus tax kids under 48 inches, free age 2 and younger. Open late Apr. through Labor Day. At Reliant Park, Houston (on Loop 610 across from the Astrodome); 713/799-1234;

4. ADVENTURE BAY has free parking and allows picnics. Rent tubes, or wait in line for free ones. Admission: $16.99, $13.99 kids under 42 inches, free age 2 and younger. Open weekends in May, daily from Jun. 1-Aug. 12, then weekends again through Sep. 9. At 13602 Beechnut, Houston 77083; 281/530-5979;

5. SPLASHTOWN SAN ANTONIO opens weekends in Apr., May, and Sep. and daily June-Aug. Free tubes and parking, outside picnic area (food and ice chests not allowed inside). This park had the most reasonable food prices. Admission: $21.99, $16.99 kids under 4 feet. At 3600 I-35 N., San Antonio 78219; 210/227-1100;

6. SIX FLAGS HURRICANE HARBOR opens weekends at the end of May, and daily June through Labor Day weekend. Admission: $27.99 plus tax, $17.99 plus tax for kids under 48 inches, free age 2 and younger. Parking: $7 per car. Coolers allowed. At 1800 E. Lamar, Arlington 76006; 817/265-3356;

7. NRH20 opens May 18 through Sep. 8, 2002. Admission: $13.45, $11.45 kids under 48 inches. Season passes start at $59.95. Free tubes and parking. At 9001 Grapevine Hwy., North Richland Hills 76180 (just northeast of downtown Fort Worth); 817/427-6500;

8. HERO'S WATERWORLD opens Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Free parking; ice chests allowed. Call for prices. At 12300 E. Bus. Loop 20 (US 80 West) Odessa 79765; 915/563-1933;

9. VOLENTE BEACH on Lake Travis opens weekends beginning in Apr., daily from late May through mid-Aug., and weekends through Sep. Parking: $3, with free shuttle. Admission: $14.95, $11.95 kids under 42 inches, free age 2 and younger. At 16107 FM 2769, Leander 78641; 512/258-5109;

10. TEXAS WATER RAMPAGE opens weekends in mid-May, daily from end of May through Aug. Admission: $12.98 plus tax, $5.50 plus tax kids under 4 feet and age 62 and older. Season passes, group rates, and birthday packages. Free parking. Coolers allowed for $5. At 6602 Brownfield Hwy., Lubbock 79407; 806/796-0701.

11. LOST LAGOON, SEAWORLD SAN ANTONIO opens Mar. 9-Sep. 15 (closed Fri. from Apr. 5-May 17). Admission is included in SeaWorld admission: $36.99, $26.99 ages 3-11, free age 2 and younger. Tubes and life jackets free. SeaWorld is on Westover Hills Blvd.; exit Texas 151 West off US 90. Parking: $7. For more information, call 210/523-3611, or go online at to purchase tickets, season passes, and gift certificates.

12. THE REEF opens daily Memorial Day-Labor Day. Call regarding dates open during off-season. Lifeguard on week–ends only. Admission: $8.50, $7.50 ages 13-18 and seniors, $6.50 ages 6-12, free age 5 and younger. Scuba divers $20. Group rates. At 4800 Schurmier Rd., Houston 77275-3224. Information 713/812-3501; park number 713/991-3483;

13. PALM BEACH, MOODY GARDENS in Galveston opens daily in summer, along with other attractions. One-day admission to Moody Gardens is $29.95, 2 days $39.95. Palm Beach admission (only): $7.95. The hotel pool is practically a water park itself. At One Hope Blvd.; 800/582-4673;

Where to Stay

Hitting several Houston-area parks in one trip? Stay downtown. The CROWNE PLAZA HOUSTON–DOWNTOWN (713/739-8800) is conveniently located, and when you're ready for some dry entertainment, a free shuttle takes you anywhere in the downtown area. Ask about weekend parking rates at nearby garages.

LEXINGTON HOTEL SUITES, 1607 N. Watson Rd., Arlington (817/640-4444), is only minutes from Six Flags Hurricane Harbor and NRH2O. The hotel offers a free full breakfast to fuel up for a day at the water park. Refrigerators and microwaves in the rooms mean you can whip up an easy supper for your pooped waterpuppies.

Accommodation choices abound near SAN ANTONIO water parks. Contact the San Antonio CVB at 800/447-3372;

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