Splashpad at Lakeside Park
Lakeside Park in Pell City is home to the splashiest splash pad in the area, with slides, water-pouring buckets, a tree that rains and much more. Snacks and drinks are available to buy, or you can bring your own. Admission is $3 for kids ages 3 and up, and free for kids younger than 3. Adults get in free if accompanying children. The 65-acre Lakeside Park offers several walking trails and picnic areas.
Piedmont Aquatic Center
Piedmont’s impressive $1.8 million aquatic center features a twisting, two-story water slide into a 12-foot-deep outdoor pool, as well as several other water features, changing rooms and a concession area. The pool is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. An all-day pool pass is $5; children 2 and under are free. A four-member family season pass is available for $100; each additional family member costs $25. The pool will open Memorial Day, Monday, at 10 a.m.
Oxford Lake Park
The popular splash pad opens for the season on Monday. It will be open everyday except Tuesday, 8 a.m. until dark, and the city pool, which opened for the summer this weekend, is open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 1-4:30 p.m. A pool pass is $2 per person; season passes, which are good from Memorial Day until Labor Day, are $40. Family passes are $65.
Zinn Park Splash Pad
The Anniston Parks and Recreation Department opened a splash pad at Zinn Park to give local parents a free place to take kids and cool off during the heat of the day. The concrete pad features jets that spray water into the air like a giant sprinkler. The splash pad is open every day from 10 a.m-6 p.m. Children of all ages are allowed with adult supervision.
Norwood Park Splash Pad
Norwood Park in Anniston also has a splash pad, open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting June 3. Admission is free, and children of all ages are allowed with adult supervision.
Coldwater Creek Park
The section of Coldwater Creek near the intersection of Highway 78 and Highway 202 in Oxford is popular with families with small children. The creek is very shallow in most spots — more like a wading hole than a swimming hole. It’s shady, and there is a parking lot and a few picnic tables. Be warned: The water is really, really cold. The creek comes by its name honestly.
Crystal Springs Lake
Located in Wellington, this spring-fed swimming hole has been an area favorite for decades. It opened in 1939, and is family-owned and operated. Christine Watkins has been the owner since 1959. The lake has a diving board, a beach with volleyball courts, swings and a café. A family membership for the lake’s full season, from mid-May to Labor Day, is $150. Individual memberships are $50. A single-day pass is $5 for ages 12 and over, or $3 for ages 11 and under. The lake is open from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. seven days a week.
Cheaha State Park is one of the cheaper places for families to enjoy a day in the water. The park’s six-acre, man-made Cheaha Lake is open from Memorial Day until Labor Day, and features a playground, beach, diving platform and several shaded pavilions with picnic tables. Park admission is $5 for ages 12 and older, or $2 for children ages 6-11 and seniors ages 62 and over. Admission is free for children 5 and under. Visitors can also rent paddle boats or a jon boat for fishing. You can also order a picnic and pick it up at Cheaha Restaurant. Cheaha Lake opens at 10 a.m. and closes at sundown.
Devil’s Den and Salt Creek Falls
There are at least four waterfalls near Cheaha State Park in the Talladega National Forest: Devil’s Den, Cheaha Falls, High Falls and Salt Creek Falls. None are located inside the state park. Neither are they for the faint of heart — all require a hike over potentially dangerous terrain.
Devil’s Den, located about 1.5 miles up the Chinnabee Silent Trail, which starts at Lake Chinnabee, is popular with young adults because it features a rock outcropping perfect for jumping into the icy-cool pool about 10 feet below.
Another popular spot is Salt Creek Falls in the Talladega Wilderness off Cheaha Road. It may be the largest and most beautiful cascading waterfall in this area, but it’s also the most dangerous of all the falls in the National Forest. At least three people have been killed falling from the slick rocks at the top of the 45-degree-angle waterfall. The hike is also very steep, so visitors should be in good shape and exercise extreme caution.
Tubing on Choccolocco Creek
Floating Fun in Oxford offers float trips on nine miles of Choccolocco Creek (or on the Tallapoosa River if water quality is an issue). Visitors can rent a single tube and float three different sections of the creek for $10, $15 or $20, depending on the length of the section chosen. Double tubes are available for double the rate. Inflatable kayaks called fun-yaks are also available for $15, $20 and $25 (rates include a paddle). The float times usually last between an hour and four hours, depending on water conditions and how far you want to float. Outside tubes or floats are not allowed, but you can bring your own kayak or canoe for $10 and Floating Fun will provide transportation. Children must weigh at least 40 pounds. Floating Fun is open Thursday-Sunday from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Tubing and kayaking in Talladega
Talladega Creekside Resort offers kayak and inner-tube rentals to float 2.5 miles. The float takes around two hours in a kayak and around four hours in an inner-tube. If you bring your own kayak or tube, they offer shuttle service for $10. The trip down Cheaha Creek offers shade for fishing, swimming and floating. Trips depart on weekends from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Weekday trips are by appointment only with 24 hours’ notice.
Kayaking in Piedmont
Kayaking is more popular than ever, and there are now three outfitters offering kayak and canoe rentals on Terrapin Creek in Piedmont. (To avoid the crowds, try going on a weekday.) The outfitter that’s been there the longest is Terrapin Outdoor Center; owner Mike Warren says his rental operation puts thousands of canoes and kayaks on an almost eight-mile section of Terrapin Creek during the busy season, from about March to Labor Day. Single-boat rentals cost $30, and a two-person canoe is $50. Children in boats must weigh a minimum of 70 pounds. They offer 3 and 5 hour floats; shuttle service is included. You can bring your own canoe or kayak and shuttle service will be provided for $10. The other outfitters offering rentals and floats on Terrapin Creek are the Redneck Yacht Club and No Worries Kayak Rentals.