By Marie Roberts / Guest writer
The Meridian Star
Now that school is out and temperatures continue to rise, locals are seeking out shady spots of relaxation and fun to ring in the long summer days.
“I refuse to sit inside on a pretty day this summer. There’s too many places around here to take the kids for an adventure,” said Maggie Smith, a mother of three and long-time Meridian native. “Even if we just pack up the car and go to Clarko for the day, it gives us all something to do,” Smith said.
Area favorites for summertime recreation include Clarko State Park, an 815-acre property, located just south of Meridian near the Mississippi-Alabama state line. Amenities available include camping, cabin rentals and water sports.
Boat launches, tennis courts, nature trails and picnic spots are also favorites among Clarko’s frequenters.
“We like that it’s close to home but offers a lot of choices on what we can do on our day off,” said Smith, whose 4-year old son Landon likes the jungle gym closest to the water.
For water-loving residents who crave a thrill, Geyser Falls Water Theme Park in Choctaw, as well as Splashdown Country just off Pine Springs Road, are two options for cooling off and having fun.
“I usually always plan a water park day for the kids during the summer,” said LeKendrick Miles, a resident of the Little Rock community. For his family of five, a day at Splashdown Country is looked forward to each year. “We just pick a day and plan on having a lot of fun,” Miles said. “My kids usually bring some friends and they really enjoy being able to spend time with us all during the summer.”
Annie Coon, a native of House, takes an annual trip to Geyser Falls with her grandchildren each July.
“They like the fast slides and wave pool, while you can usually find me floating along in the lazy river,” Coon said.
This summer, Geyser Falls is offering $5 off the general price of admission for guests presenting selected soda cans at the time of ticket purchase. One can is valid for up to six guests.
The area also has plenty to offer for the boating fanatics out there. Archusa Creek Water Park, located in Quitman just off Highway 45, boasts a 450-acre lake with large quantities of bass, catfish, perch and bream. The whole family can enjoy camping, boating, swimming, water skiing and picnicking. Seadoos and skis are also commonly seen flying across the water.
Turkey Creek Water Park's 250-acre lake is a popular skiing spot for locals and travelers alike. Located near Decatur, the lake offers bass fishing and boat rentals in addition to camping. Outdoor enthusiasts can also enjoy hiking or biking the park's nature trail, and spot area wildlife including, deer, squirrels, ducks, turkeys, and more.
Bonita Lakes, the city-owned 3,300-acre park, offers three lakes and features nature trails, jogging and walking tracks, horseback riding, picnic facilities, boat ramps and fishing.
“I usually get in a late afternoon walk around the property this time of year. It’s so pretty just to watch the summer sun set over the lakes,” said Joy Fitzgerald, who has lived in Meridian for more than 60 years. “Summer time can be terrible if you let the heat get to you. Go cool off and enjoy the scenery while you can.”
As for keeping the kids entertained this summer, Coon said, “Don’t let them sit inside all day. Get them out and doing something fun!”