By Jessica Else
Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center in Round Rock, Texas
In the center of the biggest indoor waterpark in America sits a little cabana, topped with a roof of thatched leaves and surrounded by a shallow pool. It’s an oasis amid a menagerie of rides and waterslides, playing families, and happy kids—and not only because it’s a quiet spot to take a break from the action. The cabana hosts an adults-only swim-up bar that serves craft cocktails and snacks; you don’t even have to leave the water to grab a drink.
The water park resort sprang up just outside of Austin in the winter of 2020 and boasts 223,000 square feet of indoor water park fun for the whole family, including slides and games, an Escape Room, a bowling alley, and large meeting rooms for corporate conventions. And amid all of that is the meandering pool grotto where you can swim away from the kids and up to the bar for a cocktail.
“Kalahari Resorts are authentically African-themed, and the Round Rock resort features a one-of-a-kind modern African design with a local Texas spirit,” said Todd Nelson, owner of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in a statement about the newest Kalahari location.
He continued, “The resorts were inspired by a Nelson family trip to Africa more than 20 years ago, and the family traveled to South Africa, Ghana and Tanzania to hand-select 1,000 pieces of African art, sculpture, furniture and retail items for the Round Rock resort.”
The waterpark and convention center provides entertainment for kids and adults alike, making it one of the several amazing swim-up bars, grottos and rooftop bars on our list of the best party places for Summer 2022.
The Island Resort Grotto in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
You can enjoy the pool bar even if you don’t want to go for a swim at the Island Resort Grotto in the Florida panhandle. The swim-up bar is situated under a dreamscape of rock formations and waterfalls and has a walk-up option for those who don’t want to drink in the pool.
“In the summer, we have DJ pool parties at the grotto pool which makes this spot even more fantastic,” said Island Resort’s general manager Jim Swaim. “And at night when the sun goes down, the Grotto is illuminated by color-changing lights in the Grotto for a completely different experience.”
The grotto hosts live music and other activities, including a Meet A Mermaid event on select days.
The Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa Grotto in Maui, Hawaii
minute and lounge in the cool, cave-like rock structure that houses the grotto. Grab a drink from the bar and watch the game or take it over to a secluded little pool with your sweetheart.
The grotto is surrounded by waterfalls and isn’t technically a swim-up bar. You must get out of the water to order a drink, but the bar is just a few feet away from the pool.
Harrah’s Resort, Southern California
Harrah’s claims the title of having the only swim-up bar in Southern California, and it’s home to more than 1,600 slot games and 50 table games. The pool bar is surrounded by the rest of Harrah’s pool facilities and is marked with a thatched roof and bungalow-style décor. You can swim up to one of the dozen or so bar stools in the shallow pool area or grab one of the few situated poolside on the other side of the bar.
Camden on the Lake Resort, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Take in the lake while you’re swimming in the downtown vibes of Camden on the Lake Resort. The small, trendy resort has a swim-up bar separated from the Lake of the Ozarks by just a sidewalk-sized concrete barrier.
You can grab a drink from the bar and then swim over to the other side of the pool and watch the action on the lake while you sip a cocktail in the peaceful and shallow waters of the Camden pool. The bar is open seasonally and hosts beach games like Cornhole and Giant Jenga. DJs spin music on weekend afternoons.
Pool bars and grottos aren’t the only seasonal summer hangouts that are reopening their doors for Summer 2022. Rooftop bars across the nation are welcoming the warmer weather and plenty of patrons to grab a cocktail and take in the view from one of their rooftop vantages.
Spire 73 at the Intercontinental, Downtown Los Angeles
At Spire 73, you get to take in the City of Angels from the 73rd floor and the view doesn’t disappoint. Grab a craft cocktail and a seat at an upscale fire pit and take in views of the entire cityscape. According to the Intercontinental, it’s said to be the tallest rooftop bar in the Western Hemisphere.
LondonHouse LH Rooftop Bar, Chicago
LondonHouse technically has a couple of rooftop bar spaces in their downtown Chicago location, and all of them boast views of the entire city. Grab a drink and some deconstructed American fare food at the outdoor LH Rooftop Bar and enjoy the lights of the city from tall cocktail tables. The indoor LH Lounge is on the 21st floor and will keep you out of the weather if the Windy City decides to flaunt its namesake. Step out of the breeze but keep the views in the LH Lounge, which serves the same reimagined American fare and craft cocktails.
Waterproof, Dallas, Texas
This rooftop bar offers the best of both worlds and always requires adherence to a dress code. A luxurious pool is open during the day with a bar serving specialty drinks and craft cocktails. Reserve a cabana and kick back with bottle service, take a dip in the pool and enjoy sweeping views of Dallas. At night, the daytime pool vibes are exchanged for an exclusive, upscale experience that includes cocktails, live music, and a small menu of select appetizers and lite Italian fare.
As Summer 2022 takes center stage, rooftop bars, poolside grottos, and swim-up bars are gearing up to give you the ultimate sun-saturated and luxurious experiences. But remember that dress codes, mask mandates, and other COVID-19-related requirements could be in effect in some places. Resort and restaurant staff members urge you to refresh yourself on establishment rules before going out to ensure you get the maximum amount of fun in this summer.