Summer is (Hopefully) a Series of Water Parks

We stayed last month at the new Sheraton Flowood The Refuge Hotel (outside Jackson), Mississippi which has a lazy river. It’s not long or particularly interesting, but part of our traveling now involves the kids expecting to be impressed by a hotel’s swim features. Just a pool apparently = y a w n.

Sheraton, Flowood MS

Sheraton, Flowood MS

We stayed here on points; it was fine. In Jackson, we usually like the Hilton because it’s close to so much we like to do and their breakfast is, compared to the usual  Hilton standards, huge.  We’ve stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn a couple or so times, too — that’s the Lamar Life Building, where Eudora Welty’s father, Christian, was the general manager and VP, then President. We’ve stayed at plenty of the less interesting Hilton and Marriott brands in Jackson; the Westin is still pretty new, but where I’d like to stay with more character: Fairview Inn and the Old Capitol Inn.

Sheraton, Flowood MS


BTW, we stayed two nights on this trip at the Shreveport Holiday Inn on points and…well, ha, yawn.  I thought: whatever we’re missing out on by staying at a HI, we’ll make up for in proximity to downtown and maybe we’ll just walk everywhere, but nah. It might be the case that the more interesting hotels in S’port/BC are the casino hotels, especially considering they have a Margaritaville Casino/Hotel (we really do like the M’ville Hotel in Pensacola). I really just wanted to cash in on using our IHG points, so staying there was okay considering it was ‘free’, but I’d definitely choose something else next time.

The architecture in Shreveport — both commercial and residential, though, is incredible. This documentary on the Wiener brothers helps explain:

Also, the food here is fun. Strawn’s pies, esp (peaches are in season, so we got a slice!). Southern Maid Donuts. Herby K’s. Really want to go to Fertitta’s next time.

Southern Maid Donuts, Shreveport LA

Herby K's, Shreveport LA

Oh! And we visited the American Rose Center — nice.


So it was off to Dallas. We missed the Dallas Museum of Art this time, but had *so* much to do at the hotel for a convention. The kids were thrilled we were staying at the Gaylord Texan again, because it truly is their favorite water park. I don’t even have images of it, because I intentionally keep my phone in the room so I’m not even thinking about taking pics of this or that. The hotel, on the other hand, I like to photograph. The rooms here are nice (always get an atrium room if possible) and this time we were upgraded to a suite:

Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, Grapevine TX

Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, Grapevine TX

Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, Grapevine TX

Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, Grapevine TX

Most people, rather than walk to it, take their shuttle to the private waterpark. It has a large family lagoon, what’s likely our favorite hotel lazy river, and a pool with waterslides and a portion where you can hang from a bar (a little like a zipline) to jump into the water.

We like just walking around the hotel, too. Some of these are from this, and some are from previous visits:

Gaylord Texan Hotel, Grapevine TX

Gaylord Texan Hotel, Grapevine TX

Gaylord Texan Hotel, Grapevine TX

Gaylord Texan Hotel, Grapevine TX

Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, Grapevine TX

Gaylord Texan Hotel, Grapevine TX

The view from our balcony this visit:

Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, Grapevine TX

I really want to get the kids to the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort because although it’s well away from SA and the Riverwalk which we usually do, its water park looks really, really great. We spent some time considering whether we were going to San Antonio on this trip (though everything schedule-wise got messed up last year, we try to do SA every other year) but the JW didn’t have any availability on points, and the per-night rate was well over $1k. That was a nope, because almost as a game, we tried to see how little and how well we could stay several days away on just points.

I told one of my friends that now, the boys expect some kind of volcano coming out of a pool to be impressed. When I was a kid, staying at a Holiday Inn Holidome in the ’80s was the absolute zenith of vacation luxury in my mind.


One more thing: the restaurants at the Gaylord Texan are somewhat limited. There’s the Riverwalk Cantina (pretty good), which you can see from our balcony pic above, a sports bar, the Old Hickory Steak House which we haven’t done here but is really good at the Gaylord in Nashville, and Zeppole Coastal Italian, which we actually ended up having supper at twice. I really didn’t intend this but it was delicious and we didn’t want to leave the hotel with so much going on. Have you ever checked into a gigantic they-don’t-want-you-to-leave convention hotel like this and you see people with big Yetis on their luggage cart? This is why. There was seriously a point I thought we should have tried to have fun with some cold-food camping with deli sandwiches and that kind of thing. There’s just not a world of choice here. But anyway, yes! Zeppole was delightful!

Zeppole Coastal Italian, Gaylord Texan, Grapevine TX

Zeppole Coastal Italian, Gaylord Texan, Grapevine TX

Caesar salad:

Caesar Salad, Zeppole Coastal Italian, Gaylord Texan, Grapevine TX

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese:

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese, Zeppole Coastal Italian, Gaylord Texan, Grapevine TX

Chicken Marsala:

Chicken Marsala, Zeppole Coastal Italian, Gaylord Texan, Grapevine TX

…and at the end of the meal, the waiter thanked us for being the tier we are with Marriott, and brought a complimentary dessert — little thumbprint cookies, and this creme brulee creation was beyonnnddddd

Zeppole Coastal Italian, Gaylord Texan, Grapevine TX


More water parks and fun hotel swimming in our future this summer. I really want to pack in the fun because we’re all coming out of over a year of going basically nowhere, and the future travel seems somewhat iffy. What’s the fave water-centric hotel for your family?