There is something about a lazy river -- a meandering path of water with a current just strong enough to keep an inner tube moving along -- that somehow transforms a simple swimming pool into an irresistible destination. Along the 30 miles of Alabama's Gulf Coast, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are home to several hotels and condos featuring this favorite floating amenity. Note that each facility provides its own tubes; if you have a favorite tube you prefer to bring, it's wise to check ahead of time that yours is an appropriate size.
Relax Year-Round on a Heated Lazy River
With one 24-story glass tower and the other reaching 30 feet in the air, Turquoise Place gulf front condominiums are hard to miss. Each condo comes with three, four or five bedrooms, and has a fully-equipped kitchen, laundry room, gas fireplace, flat-screen television and beachfront balcony with hot tub and outdoor grill. The lazy river is among the area’s most sophisticated: located on D Tower’s fourth floor, the 450-foot stretch is seasonally heated for year-round enjoyment. There are five additional swimming options: two heated indoor pools, a kiddie pool, and two outdoor pools (including one zero-entry), should guests ever get tired of floating.
Lazy River Meets Silly Slides
The lazy river is just one of the many sources of recreation at the Caribe Resort. Within the property -- which reaches from the Bay to the Gulf -- guests can enjoy tennis, lawn bowling, putting greens, fitness facilities, an indoor swimming pool, fishing dock, boat ramp, and even classic regional dining at the Cobalt restaurant. But the outdoor wet options here really stand out: multiple swimming pools, some with zero-entry areas, large curling slides and fountains, and a lazy river that wraps around the lovely landscaping. With the poolside Oasis bar serving light meals and drinks, adults on the lazy river can even float along with a refreshing cocktail in hand.
Keep the Kids Entertained
Standing 16 stories high, Crystal Tower isn't Gulf Shores’ largest complex, but the outdoor pool certainly is enormous -- and it includes a simple lazy river that forms a quaint loop aside the pool’s main body. With an additional indoor pool and a game room packed with arcade-style machines, it’s not surprising that Crystal Tower is a family favorite. The complex is across the street from the beach, but an air-conditioned skywalk makes passing over West Beach Blvd towards the beach club an impressive stroll.
Float Through an Oasis
Whether you plan to stay on the premises or somewhere else in town, The Wharf -- home to shopping, dining, performances, a marina, a Ferris wheel and other outdoor events -- is an essential stop for anyone visiting the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area. But those who do choose to unpack their suitcases here for the week are rewarded with access to the Oasis Pool: a sprawling, beautifully landscaped escape featuring a zero-entry wave pool, lagoon, waterfalls, sandy beaches, a hammock island and a whirlpool spa. Guests relish floating past palm trees and sunbathers on a spectacular lazy river that stretches farther than the eye can see.