Summer hits you hardest when you step out of one of DFW's air-conditioned sanctuaries -- say Central Market, Barnes & Noble or the Rave Ridgmar -- and directly into the blast furnace we call home. With triple-digit temperatures searing and 25-mph winds blowing, you'd swear the devil himself is laughing in your face.
But North Texans are tough. We've sizzled our way through many 100-degree days already in 2011.
Truthfully, though, the only way to keep from melting into a puddle or spontaneously combusting is to get wet. A lot.
This summer alone has brought several cool new options, from swanky hotel pools to water parks to an event devoted to dunking your tush in the Trinity.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to get soaked.
Along the Trinity
Rockin' the River
What it is: A twice-monthly tubing-and-music series that will run through August. Put on by the Trinity River Vision folks, it's a great excuse to cut out of work early on a Thursday and float into the weekend with good friends and an icy adult beverage. Oh, and you can listen to some great local music, too. Josh Weathers and the True+Endeavors played the first Rockin' the River, on June 9. On Thursday, it'll be Eleven Hundred Springs.
Who it's good for: Anyone longing for a little Austin vibe in Cowtown. You park in the old Tandy lot and hop a school bus to Panther Island Pavilion, just south of the Main Street bridge. Tubes are free to the first 600 people, the Yum Yum Food Truck is there, and we think it is the very definition of chillin'.
Don't forget to: Bring sunscreen. A stocked cooler helps, too. Oh, and you might want to leave any 'tude about the Trinity being unsafe behind. We dipped our precious body bits in there and survived just fine.
Details: 4-8:30 p.m. Thursday and July 28, Aug. 11 and Aug. 25; www.trinityrivervision.org/tubing
What it is: A cable wakeboarding park in the shadow of downtown Fort Worth that opened July 2. On a 5-acre lagoon next to the Trinity River, you'll be pulled around -- think water-skiing but with a board -- at about 20 mph. Depending on your skill level, there are obstacles and ramps. Or you can simply cruise until you get your sea legs.
Who it's good for: Owner Tommy Fambrough says it is good for beginners and pros, though if you've never wakeboarded before, you might want to try the "early bird specials" every day before noon. For $25 you get two hours of wakeboarding time, plus equipment, and the cable will be running a little slower.
Don't forget to: Check the wake park's website for summer camp and birthday party options, if your kids get into the whole wakeboarding thing.
Cost: $20 for an hour; $36 for an all-day pass; equipment rental $10-$25
Details: 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. daily, 1301 E. Northside Drive, Fort Worth (across from the UPS facility), 817-717-1384; www.cowtownwakepark.com
What it is: A tiki-themed water park with four area locations. The newest one just opened in Roanoke and features the Mega Waterworld -- three-lane racer, family raft ride, 1,000-gallon dump bucket and more.
We have been fans of the Mansfield location, where there are big water slides, little water slides, the Kona Kooler "lazy river," the Waikiki Beach wave pool and, of course, the wedgie-inducing Torpedo slides.
Who it's good for: Families and teens. The Keiki Kove splash area is great for the little ones, but the Tiki Towers, several of which are enclosed and sorta spooky, will be enough of a thrill for teens. The slides are not as intense as those at Hurricane Harbor, but neither is the wait.
Don't forget to: Bring your dance moves; there are contests. Also, stock a cooler with lunch, drinks and snacks and snag a covered table early (but check the water park's website for food and beverage restrictions). Weekly dive-in movies start Friday with Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, so mark your calendar.
Cost: $23.99 for those 48 inches and taller, $16.99 under 48 inches, free under age 2, season pass $79.99; free parking
Details: 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday through Aug. 21; then weekends only through Labor Day. 490 Heritage Parkway S., Mansfield, 817-853-0050 and 290 W. Byron Nelson Blvd., 817-853-0099; www.hfalls.com
What it is: North Richland Hills' way-cool water park, which gives the Big Daddy in Arlington a run for its money. The wave pool is great, but the Green Extreme, a seven-story watercoaster, is the ride of all rides at this park, which is big enough to slide the day away but small enough that kids won't lose their parental units. Free tubes for the lazy river. And coolers packed for a picnic are welcome. The Viper, a new ride, is slated to open this summer.
Who it's good for: Kids big and small, and teenagers wanting to show off their sculpted bods on the sand volleyball court.
Don't forget to: Bring your iPod, unless you love '80s pop music. (It's piped throughout the park.)
Cost: $23.99 for those 48 inches and taller, $19.99 under 48 inches, free under age 2, season pass $84.99; free parking
Details: Open daily at 10 a.m., but closing times vary; check the website for details. 9001 Boulevard 26, North Richland Hills, 817-427-6500; www.nrh2o.com
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor
What it is: The turbo water park you see when you drive down Interstate 30 in Arlington. With more than 20 rides, ranging from mild (Boogie Beach) to moderate (Caribbean Chaos) to max (The Tornado), Hurricane Harbor is, well, the Six Flags of water parks. It is the largest water park in North Texas, covering 47 acres.
Who it's good for: Teens, 20-somethings and thrill-seekers. Hurricane Harbor features six- and seven-story-high slides, like Geronimo, that can be fairly extreme. It also has plenty of rides aimed at the little ones, though. Expect long lines at this park on the weekend, especially for The Tornado, which is the blue and gold funnellike ride that drops you 60 feet into 5,000 gallons of churning agua.
Don't forget to: Leave your coolers at home. Unlike Hawaiian Falls, you can't bring in food, which will add to your overall cost if you plan to stay all day. On the bright side, the place does have funnel cakes and alcohol for sale.
Cost: $27.99 for those over 48 inches, $21.99 under 48 inches, free under age 2, season pass $64.99; parking $11.11. (Discounts available online.)
Details: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday-Friday; 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, through Aug. 14; then days and times vary until the end of September. 1800 E. Lamar Blvd., Arlington, 817-265-3356; www.sixflags.com/hurricaneHarborTexas
What it is: Paradise Springs, a new 10-acre Western-themed pool area at the Gaylord Texan resort in Grapevine, opened Memorial Day weekend. It has a lazy river, a 27-foot-tall winding water slide, two "hot pools" and an outdoor games area with our favorite, shuffleboard.
Who it's good for: Staycationers who are looking for a less kid-centric option than Great Wolf Lodge. There are plenty of places to lay out, and a poolside bar and food service. (Note: You must stay at the hotel to use the pool area.)
Don't forget to: Get your freak on at the Glass Cactus, a cool music space on Lake Grapevine that features a lot of '80s music. The Spazmatics play there Saturday.
Cost: Room rates start at $179, and packages start at $219.
Details: 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine, 817-778-1000; www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-texan
Great Wolf Lodge
What it is: A mountain lodge-style hotel with an indoor water park that features nine slides, seven pools, a wave pool, a lazy river and a parent's best comeback -- a 48-foot-tall tipping bucket that douses nearly 1,000 gallons on your critters about every five minutes. On the River Canyon Run, the whole family can pile into a raft to ride the slide together. There's also an outdoor pool -- Raccoon Lagoon -- that is open during the summer.
Who it's good for: A family in need of a staycation. The toddlers will enjoy the storytelling and kiddie pool, the teens a gaming station and the three-story slides. But you must be a guest at the all-suite resort to enjoy the water park.
Don't forget to: Maximize your water-park time by checking in early and staying late. Even though check-in is at 4 p.m., guests can arrive early and get wristbands for the park. There are changing areas and lockers inside the park. You can also stay until closing after you check out. Just keep your wristbands on.
Cost: $279.99-$659.99 per night, which includes at least four park passes for the entire stay. Discounts on stays and a dinner package online.
Details: 100 Great Wolf Drive, Grapevine, 817-488-6510; www.greatwolf.com/grapevine