Water parks offer perfect opportunities for staycations. Without having to drive for hours or catch a plane, you can enjoy a day or two in a world that feels miles from home. Three Dallas-Fort Worth hotels feature water parks: JadeWaters at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, which opened last July; Paradise Springs at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, which added a $5 million expansion recently; and Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, which has been around since 2008.
The parks listed here are open only to those staying overnight at the hotels (overnight guests may bring friends for a fee). The hardest part is deciding where to go. Thankfully, we've been to all of them and can help you choose where to make a splash.
Point of pride: This new $20 million addition to the Hilton Anatole is more resort than water park. From the natural shade and 46 new pieces of art to the direct-to-chairs food service, JadeWaters offers a more upscale water park atmosphere. Plus, it's located near downtown Dallas, making it easy to head to attractions such as the Dallas Arts District, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and Klyde Warren Park. Open Memorial Day through Labor Day; the leisure pool is open year-round.
For the littles: The children's section boasts a climbing structure, a few small slides and plenty of water for splashing. It also has zero-depth entry, and the seats surrounding it make it easy for parents to watch their children.
For tweens and teens: They'll love the two new 300-foot water slides; one is tubed, the other open. There's also an activity pool with three basketball hoops (in Mavs colors, naturally).
For adults: In an effort to appeal to young professionals as well as families, JadeWaters has a leisure pool directly next to televisions, a bar and plenty of seating. Adults are allowed to take their alcoholic drinks into the pool.
Other features: The hotel is also home to the luxury Verandah spa, a fitness center, restaurants and more.
By the numbers: The splash bucket empties every minute, there's a 630-foot lazy river, and there are 900 total seats.
- Details: 2201 N. Stemmons Freeway, Dallas. For hotel guests only. Two additional passes per room can be purchased for $25 each. hiltonanatolehotel.com.
Point of pride: Like all of the Gaylord Hotels, the Gaylord Texan is regionally-themed, meaning even the water park has Lone Star flavor (note the giant Texas flag splash bucket). New attractions in the park's $5 million expansion will keep the kids entertained, and parents and other adults can enjoy alcoholic beverages in the calm lazy river. An abundance of seats (1,300!) ensures there's a place for everyone to sit. Open Memorial Day through Labor Day.
For the littles: The expansion, which is called the Corral, is essentially a giant water treehouse that keeps children entertained for hours at a time. And when they get tired of that, they can still use the lazy river and the family lagoon pool (which includes a designated toddler pool).
For tweens and teens: One of the most distinctive features of this park is the zip line that zooms directly above and into the water. There's also a winding water slide and room to play. And most likely, teens and tweens wouldn't mind spending some time at the Corral.
For adults: Guests 21 and older can purchase alcoholic beverages, and drinks are allowed in the water. While kids make the most of the expansion, parents can relax with their margaritas (or whatever suits their fancy) in the lazy river or in one of the many chairs.
Other features: The Texas theme is maintained throughout the resort. In addition to 1,511 rooms, the Gaylord Texan also boasts an annual SummerFest (this year's has a Lone Star theme), seasonal celebrations (including a light show with over 2 million lights at Christmas and the "Ice!" sculpture exhibit), indoor gardens, an area that looks like the San Antonio River Walk, shopping and more.
By the numbers: The splash bucket empties every 2.5 minutes, the lazy river stretches 600 feet, and there are 1,300 total seats.
- Details: 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine. gaylordtexan.com. Prices start at $199 per night for a room with a maximum occupancy of four guests. Two additional passes per room can be purchased for $35 each.
Point of pride: With 16 different locations, Great Wolf Lodge's nationally-recognized brand helps draw crowds. It's known for being kid-oriented, with lots of add-ons for extra fun (and money). In true Texas style, however, the Grapevine location's water park is 50 percent bigger than any of the ones at the other Great Wolf Lodges at a whopping 162,000 square feet. And that doesn't even include the hotel's other attractions, such as a ropes course, scavenger hunts and more. The indoor portion is open year-round, and the outdoor is buzzing April through October.
For the littles: Both the outdoor and indoor areas have pools with zero-depth entry. An entire corner with mini-slides is geared toward toddlers, and the multi-level Fort Mackenzie will interest older children.
For tweens and teens: You'll find a large activity pool with a variety of features (such as rope monkey bars and basketball hoops) and plenty of water slides. The six-story Howlin' Tornado (complete with a funnel) and the Alberta Falls tube ride are just a few of the many slide options.
For adults: Around 6 p.m., the adults-only hot tub fills up as exhausted parents take a break from running around. An added bonus: Alcohol is permitted inside the hot tub. Other places to escape the kids include a fitness center and the Elements Spa Salon.
Other features: In addition to plenty of food, Great Wolf Lodge offers Main Street Attractions (a "Vegas for children"), which includes lots of arcade games, a mani-pedi shop geared toward children, a glitter tattoo shop, personalized name items, a photo booth, a build-a- stuffed-animal store and two different scavenger hunts, one of which extends through all eight floors of the building and takes about six hours. There's also a four-story ropes course outside.
By the numbers: A 1,000-gallon splash bucket empties every five minutes, the lazy river is 431 feet long and there are more than 1,000 seats (with more than 700 inside and more than 300 outside).
- Details: 100 Great Wolf Drive, Grapevine. Prices start at $199.99 per night for a family suite accommodating four. Overnight guests can purchase additional water park passes for friends who want to join them, limited to the one for each person in the suite. (For example, four people could get four extra passes at $40 each.) greatwolf.com/grapevine.