These Las Vegas water attractions are the coolest, man

When you visit Vegas in the summertime, keeping cool isn’t a philosophy, it’s a necessity. This is the desert and it can get pretty hot. We’re talking triple digits, baby. Fortunately, we have plenty of water attractions to help keep you hydrated during your stay.

A wet and wild ride

As the name and photo suggest, Wet ‘N’ Wild is a water park with lots of wild water rides. The original was located on the Las Vegas Strip, and a huge draw for locals and tourists alike. I spent most of my awkward preteen years floating on the Lazy River, eating soft serve ice cream cones from the snack shop and praying that my less-than-filled-out bikini top wouldn’t fall off when I splashed into the water at the bottom of Der Stuka (if you ever rode Der Stuka, you know what I’m talking about). Anyway, I digress. The new Wet ‘N’ Wild is about a 20-minute trek from the Strip in the Southwest Vegas valley and also a huge draw for locals and tourists. The park has more than 25 slides and attractions, including the 1,000-foot winding Lazy River and a 400,000-gallon wave pool.  By the way, another water park recently opened in Henderson, called Cowabunga Bay. It also has tons of cool water rides and presumably, awkward preteens.

All the water’s a stage

The performers in Cirque du Soleil’s “O” (a play on the French word for water) and “Le Rêve – The Dream”  will show you their breast strokes and wow you with their water acrobatics. Both shows take place in or around a huge pool of water. “Le Rêve” even offers a package that lets you watch the show underwater, if you’re scuba certified. It’s sort of like that underwater scene from “The Great Muppet Caper” when Miss Piggy fantasizes about doing a synchronized swimming routine. But with less pork.

A historic trail

Nestled between sandy beaches, colorful caves, coves and active hot springs, the Black Canyon Water Trail flows along the Colorado River, ending at the historic Eldorado Canyon on Lake Mohave. The 30-mile trail was recently designated as a National Water Trail — one of 16 nationwide, the first in the Southwest and the only one that passes through a desert. The trail is home to a variety of wildlife such as desert bighorn sheep, owls, chuckwallas and ducks. Once a rafting tour guide even spotted some Cirque du Soleil performers doing stunts along the waterway. (That form of wildlife, however, isn’t native to the area.) Starting at the base of Hoover Dam, the trail is a popular spot among outdoor enthusiasts for recreational activities like rafting, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and fishing. And its less than 30 minutes from the Strip.

Behold the Bellagio Fountains

Swimming in the 375,000-square-foot lake that comprises the world-famous Fountains of Bellagio is frowned upon (so I hear), but you can cool off by watching this dazzling display of 17,000 gallons of water shoot 24 stories into the air. On a windy day, you might even feel some fountain splash-back. Also worth checking out, and right next door: The water features at Aria.

Cool in the pool

Vegas is the Pool Capital of the World. That’s not an official title. Actually, I just made it up. But it seems reasonable given the large amount of hotel pools in this city. We’ve got big pools, little pools, pools with water slides, pools with waterside blackjack, pools that look like beaches and, of course, pool clubs. Even some of our suites have pools (or our pools have suites, rather).

The royal flush

If reading about water attractions is making you want to find the closest restroom, you’re not alone (I’ve made several trips while writing this). You’re also in luck. Our city is home to some of the coolest public restrooms and hotel suite bathrooms around, such as the Penthouse bathroom at Monte Carlo’s Hotel 32 (pictured above). Hooray for indoor plumbing! Read more about the Top Bathrooms in Las Vegas.

Something is fishy

Vegas is home to lots of aquariums. But these aren’t your average fish tanks. The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay (pictured above) is the only accredited aquarium by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association in Nevada. Only 10 percent of aquariums are accredited nationwide, making Shark Reef one of the most prestigious facilities of its kind, along with the San Diego Zoo and Sea World. Meanwhile, the Silverton Aquarium,  The Mirage lobby aquarium and the aquarium at The Forum Shops at Caesars are also quite extensive with hundreds of species of aquatic life, including scuba diving women dressed like mermaids at the Silverton. See, turns out you don’t have to go to Disneyland to see a little mermaid.

Whatever floats your boat

The Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers a variety of water activities from water skiing to boating and rafting. The Desert Princess at Lake Mead is a is a three-story, Mississippi paddle-wheel boat offering Champagne brunches, dinner cruises and sightseeing tours on Lake Mead. It’s not exactly a booze cruise, but there is indeed booze on this cruise. If you prefer to stick to the Strip, the gondola ride at The Venetian co-mingles the charms of Venice with the sins of Vegas.