There is something about water parks that brings out the kid in all of us. As the weather gets warmer, Alabama residents flock to their municipal and local private water parks to cool off and have some fun with the kids. There are parks with high-speed slides that will drop you at almost a free fall, or you can take a Lazy River and glide around in your tube. Here are the best Alabama water parks. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Alabama Splash Adventure
2.Spring Valley Beach
3.Water Parks in Alabama: Waterville USA
5.Fayette Aquatic Center
6.Water Parks in Alabama: Point Mallard Park
8.Water Parks in Alabama: Hartselle Aquatic Center
9.Cullman Wellness and Aquatics Center
10.Water Parks in Alabama: Red Bay Water Park
10 Best Water Parks in Alabama
- Alabama Splash Adventure, Photo: Alabama Splash Adventure
- Spring Valley Beach, Photo: Spring Valley Beach
- Water Parks in Alabama: Waterville USA, Photo: Waterville USA
- Water World, Photo: Water World
- Fayette Aquatic Center, Photo: Fayette Aquatic Center
- Water Parks in Alabama: Point Mallard Park, Photo: Point Mallard Park
- Palmore Park, Photo: Palmore Park
- Water Parks in Alabama: Hartselle Aquatic Center, Photo: Hartselle Aquatic Center
- Cullman Wellness and Aquatics Center, Photo: Cullman Wellness and Aquatics Center
- Water Parks in Alabama: Red Bay Water Park, Photo: Red Bay Water Park
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of mariakraynova - Fotolia.com
More Ideas in Alabama: Ave Maria Grotto
The Ave Maria Grotto is a 4-acre park, home to 125 miniature replicas of the world’s most well known Catholic shrines and historic buildings. Each handcrafted piece was made by Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of the St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama. The pieces were made over a period of more than 40 years, starting in the year 1932. The small buildings are a combination of cement, stone, marble and other donated materials. In 1933, a railroad derailment nearby in Vinemont, Alabama sent a freight car of Alabama marble tumbling, crushing much of the contents. No longer usable by the owner, the marble was donated to St. Bernard’s and carted in wheelbarrows by the monks to the Abbey. Much of the later material such as colored beads and glass, broken tile, pieces of marble and costume jewelry, was donated from all over the world by people who had seen the earliest construction and were inspired to assist in the later creations. Each piece is a replica of a historically famous building, church or shrine. The pieces are laid out on “hillsides” which follow a path through the woods. The grotto proper is a small artificial cave containing a statue of the Virgin Mary surrounded by monks, nuns and hanging stalactites made from marble fragments.
History: Brother Zoettl (1878-1961) was born in Landshut, Bavaria. In January of 1892 when Father Gamelbert Brunner traveled to Europe in search of candidates for the St. Bernard Abbey, the young Zoettl was eager to sign up. Brother Zoettl spent years as a monk and housekeeper in Benedictine missions throughout Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama. Throughout this time he endured abuses and became homesick. A hunchback from a childhood accident, Brother Zoettl could never become a priest due to rules that prevented those with disabilities from being ordained. By 1911, he was working 17-hour days at the powerhouse in the St. Bernard Abbey of Alabama. He would continue this daily routine for 30 years. By 1918, to pass the time during the monotonous, isolated work, he had begun making small creations using cement. His creations soon became a small attraction, and were popular with visitors. By the mid-1920’s, he was making small grottoes the Abbey would sell to support the missions. By 1932, the Abbey had sold over 5,000 of Zoettl’s grottoes. The Ave Maria project began that year. Soon, the vast number of visitors required the site to be moved from the monastery’s recreational grounds, and a new site was dedicated in 1934. Zoettl continued to work on it for the rest of his life. In 1958, he built his final model, the Bascilica in Lourdes. Brother Zoettl passed 3 years later in 1961 at the age of 83 and was honored by the monks with a burial in a special bronze coffin, a rarity for the day. Today, visitors come from all over the world to witness the miniature land, which covers over 3-acres at Alabama’s first and only Benedictine Abbey. The Grotto has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Group tours of the Ave Maria Grotto may be arranged by scheduling in advance.
The Bloomin’ Festival is a weekend event which takes place each April on the grounds of Ave Maria and the adjoining school. Over 140 exhibitors attend each year to showcase their art, crafts, baked goods and more. The festival includes family friendly activities and performances. All proceeds fund the St. Bernard prep school.
The book “Miniature Miracle” by John Morris is a thoroughly researched biography of Zoettl. “Brother Joseph the Movie” is a full-length documentary that frames Zoettl’s life as a classic fairy tale, told through reenactments, interviews and archival illustrations and footage. Both the book and the movie can be purchased at the Grotto bookstore.
What’s Nearby: Ave Maria Grotto is on the grounds of the St. Bernard Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery established in the 1840’s by monks from the Metten Abbey in Germany, to serve an ever-growing German speaking population in Alabama. The Grotto’s website includes a number of suggested 2-day itineraries which combine a visit to the Ave Maria Grotto with a tour of the Monastery’s church and grounds, as well as the nearby Cullman County Museum. Guests may stay at the Abbey’s retreat center, which offers 46 rooms as well as dining services.
1600 St. Bernard Drive, SE, Cullman, AL 35055, Phone: 256-734-4110
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More Ideas in Alabama: Spring Valley Beach
Located in Blountsville, Alabama approximately an hour north of the city of Birmingham, Spring Valley Beach is a family-operated water park featuring 10 water slides and the largest family pool area in the southeastern United States. Spring Valley Beach was the vision of Blountsville resident Allen Gilliland, who purchased the former Burgess Spring Lake facility in 1972 for the purposes of creating a water park for the Blountsville area.
Opened to the public in 1975 as Burgess Lake, the water park grew throughout the later part of the 20th century to include a number of innovative modern water slides, including the 360Rush ride, the first of its kind installed by its parent company, which won the World Water Park Association Industry’s Innovation Award in 2011. As Spring Valley Beach, the park has become one of the premiere waterpark facilities in Alabama, serving as a popular family tourist and travel destination.
Today, Spring Valley Beach spans more than 25 acres at the site of the original Burgess Spring Lake property, featuring a variety of mild and high thrill water attractions for visitors of all ages. As a vacation getaway destination, the park has been recognized by a number of industry publications and travel organizations as a “Tennessee Valley Treasure” and top Alabama tourist attraction. The park is the only remaining water park in the American Southeast that allows visitors to bring their own picnic lunches and grills to the facility for private dining. A number of other unique amenities are also offered at the family-owned facility, including free suntan lotion and free visitor parking.
10 water slides are offered at the park, including the award-winning 360Rush slide, designed by Splashtacular Entertainment. As the only ride of its type to launch two riders from its bowl simultaneously, the slide launches riders down a 58-foot entrance to parallel 32-inch tubes, allowing riders to “race” down the slide at peak accelerations of approximately 30 miles per hour. As a World Water Park Association award winner, the slide has been featured in spots on Travel Channel and other amusement industry programming.
Other park slides include the four-story tower slide Sidewinder, which allows up to two guests to freefall together at a time, and the Black Out, which sends riders through a twisting and turning completely-dark tunnel area. Mat sliding experiences are offered at the Need for Speed slide, geared toward family sliding thrills. The Circle S slide also offers classic twisting thrills mild enough for the entire family, and four classic slides of varying sizes service the facility’s main pool area.
As the largest water park pool in the American Southeast, the park’s two-acre main pool area offers relaxation and play for the entire family. A Kid’s Zone is located on one side of the pool, providing shallow play opportunities for children and parents. Visitors may bring floats and flotation devices into the pool’s main area, and poolside grilling, picnicking, and sunbathing are permitted.
More than 20 gazebo and pavilion areas are offered at the park, available for visitor rental on a reservation basis. All pavilion rentals require a non-refundable, non-transferrable rental fee paid in advance, either via phone upon booking or at least one day prior to the day of rental at the water park’s offices. Each pavilion facility offers one covered picnic table and are able to be used rain or shine, except in the event of extreme weather conditions that close the facility. Locker rental is also offered next to the facility’s main restrooms, requiring a refundable deposit at time of rental.
In addition to allowing visitor-brought food, the park also sells standard American fare concessions at its concession stand, including hot dogs, burgers, pizza, and nachos. Alcoholic beverages are not sold or permitted on park premises. A traditional conservative swimwear dress code is required for all visitors, and all swimwear, including jeans and other cover attire, must be free of exposed rivets or metal pieces. Diving is not permitted at the facility’s main pool, and radios, weapons, and graffiti materials are not permitted on premises. Pets are also not permitted within the park, with the exception of licensed assistance animals.
General admission tickets are available for purchase at the facility’s main gates, including discounted admission rates for children and seniors. Toddlers ages two and under are admitted free with paying adult admission. Season passes are available through the facility’s website for visitors ages 19 and older. Group admission rates are also offered for visitors attending private special events such as birthday parties, family reunions, and company picnics. Special accommodations may be made for large groups by contacting the facility directly prior to event date.
2340 County Highway 55, Blountsville, AL 35031, Phone: 205-429-2075
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More Ideas in Alabama: Bellingrath Gardens and Home
Bellingrath Gardens and Home, created by Mr. And Mrs. Walter Bellingrath, first opened to the community in 1932, when Mr. Bellingrath placed an ad in the paper inviting anyone to come and see the spring gardens for free. Due to the overwhelming response, in 1934 the Bellingraths decided to open their gardens to the public all year round. The Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Alabama is now an icon for the Gulf Coast region, displaying thousands of exquisite flowers and plants. The beautiful gardens have made it an ideal venue for community occasions, including special events, birthdays, and weddings.
There is always something in bloom throughout the year at Bellingrath Gardens. In the springtime, stunning azaleas are everywhere, while beautiful hydrangeas, roses, and tropical plants take over in the summer. In the fall, visitors won't want to miss the amazing cascading chrysanthemums. Winter brings more than 400 varieties of camellias, a flower that Walter Bellingrath called the "aristocrat of Bellingrath Gardens" as well as the state flower of Alabama.
In January, guests can see camellias, pansies, winter berries, and violas. February brings tulips, hyacinths, and Taiwan cherries. Over 250,000 vibrant azaleas appear throughout the gardens' 65 acres in March, along with petunias, hydrangeas, daisies, and Easter lilies. Bellingrath's award-winning rose garden is the highlight of April, while June brings gardenias, crepe myrtle, southern magnolia, and tropical hibiscus. In November, visitors can view hundreds of colorful, 4-foot-long cascades of chrysanthemums throughout the gardens in the country's largest outdoor chrysanthemum display.
The Bellingrath Home, constructed in 1935, spans 10,500 square feet and comprises 15 rooms. Designed by George Rogers, the home's exterior includes handmade brick recovered from Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont's 1852 birthplace in Mobile. The result was called an "English Renaissance" by Rogers. Rogers wanted visitors to not think of the house as a mansion, but as a home, and therefore it was designed to give the impression of being a more modest residence. The architect wanted it to be reflective of the region's architectural heritage as well.
Today, the Bellingrath Home looks as it did during the time the Bellingraths lived there, and is now open to the public for tours. The couple's complete collection of original furnishings is on display throughout the house. Visitors can see the bathrooms of 1935, considered "ultra modern" for their time, as well as view the butler's pantry, filled with a collection of china, crystal, and silver, and the kitchen with its original German silver sinks and countertops.
In 1967, the open garages of the Bellingrath Home were enclosed and renovated into a visitors lounge and the Delchamps Gallery of Boehm Porcelain. The fine collection of porcelain sculptures were created by Edward Boehm, and is the biggest display in the country of its kind. Less than 10 years into his artist career, Boehm's work had already been noted by Eisenhower, and soon Boehm's porcelain sculptures were sent as gifts from the president to dignitaries of other countries.
12401 Bellingrath Gardens Road, Theodore, AL 36582, Phone: 251-973-2217
More Alabama things to do
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