With the warmer temperatures Mississippi has been experiencing, it’s hard not to dream about escaping to a tropical wonderland. Luckily, you can do just that without ever leaving the state. It’s true. The Magnolia State is full of locales that are like Caribbean paradises in the summer; here are 10 of our favorites.
1. Sardis Lake
Each year, thousands of visitors flock to Sardis Lake and its recreation area, which includes three beaches. Aside from swimming, the pristine blue water is perfect for boating, water sports, and fishing. Visit the Sardis Lake Recreation Area at 29049 Hwy. 315, Sardis, MS 38666.
2. Pep’s Point
This "laid back country waterpark" has been around since 1939 – and it’s been a local favorite for nearly just as long. The perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day, the lakeside park has a white sand beach, canoes and paddle boats, a pavilion, picnic tables, volleyball nets, miniature golf, and water slides that flow directly into lake. And since the lake is spring-fed, the water is nice and cold - no matter how hot it is outside. Visit Pep’s Point at 382 Peps Point Rd., Hattiesburg, MS 39401.
3. Starkville KOA
Starkville KOA is situated on the sandy shores of Oktibbeha County Lake. A great summertime visit, the incredible campground includes charming cabins, a private beach, and its own water park. Day passes for the waterpark and beach are available, so you don’t have to actually stay at the campground to take advantage of its incredible amenities. Visit Starkville KOA at 2661 County Lake Rd., Starkville, MS 39759.
4. Presley’s Outing
This "little slice of paradise" has been attracting locals for well over 40 years – and for good reason. Centered around Goode’s Mill Lake, it’s the perfect place to spend a hot summer day. Aside from a beautiful beach, the lakeside retreat features boat rentals, grills, an on-site restaurant, and more. Visit Presley’s Outing at 10501 Presleys Outing Rd., Moss Point, MS 39562.
5. Flint Creek Waterpark
Promising "water fun for the whole family," this hidden gem features a lake, beach, water slides, and more. With so much to offer, a visit to the park is sure to make your summer complete. Visit Flint Creek Waterpark at 1216 Parkway Dr., Wiggins, MS 39577.
6. Okatibbee Waterpark
Perfect for a day of fun in the sun, this state-run waterpark features an activity area, water slides, and water playground. There are also cabins and a camping area, so you can turn your day trip into an overnight adventure. Visit Okatibbee Waterpark at 9283 Pine Springs Rd., Meridian, MS 39305.
7. Paradise Ranch and Resort
Paradise Ranch and Resort is a 105-acre campground with a lot to offer, including a stocked lake, and a fantastic pool. Known as the Blue Lagoon, the pool is fed by an artesian well and surrounded by a white sand beach, creating one of the best swimming spots in the state. Visit Paradise Ranch and Resort at 660 Hwy. 48 West, Tylertown, MS 39667.
8. Geyser Falls Waterpark
Part of the Geyser Falls Water Park, Clearwater Key features eight acres of white sand beaches and a pool filled with crystal clear water. The Caribbean-themed attraction even includes poolside cabanas, a hot tub, and an onsite café, making it ideal for a quick tropical getaway. Visit Geyser Falls at 209 Black Jack Rd., Philadelphia, MS 39350.
9. Old Bridge Beach
This secluded beach is tucked away in the unincorporated community New Site. But with pristine white sand and crystal clear water, this hidden gem is definitely worth the effort it takes to get to. Visit Old Bridge Beach at Hwy. 4 and Prentiss County Rd. 3501, New Site, MS 38859.
10. Ship Island
Featuring white sandy beaches, beautiful water, and the possibility of a dolphin-sighting, a trip to this barrier island should be on everyone’s summer to-do list. Luckily, Ship Island Excursions offers transportation to and from the island, so accessing it is a breeze. The tropical adventure begins at the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor, 1133 20th Ave., Gulfport, MS 39501.
So, have you ever been to any of these waterfront locales? Know of another great spot to cool off on a hot summer day? Tell us in the comments section!