europe quick trips
Heidesee lake offers swimming, waterslides in a bucolic setting northwest of Stuttgart
By JOHN VANDIVER | Stars and Stripes | Published: August 8, 2019
Germany’s hottest summer on record has meant more family trips to the local swimming pool than years past, but repeated dips in familiar water can get old.
On a recent scorcher, we went in search of someplace new for a temporary respite from the latest wave of insufferable weather.
About a one-hour drive northwest of Stuttgart, we found what we were looking for. In the village of Forst, a lake called Heidesee is a great spot to swim and sunbathe in a bucolic setting.
There are large waterslides on the grounds with a combined length of 225 meters. With two beach volleyball courts, a children’s pool and a playground for younger kids, there are entertainment options for everyone.
The lake, which is about the size of 35 football fields, is colder than your average pool. My teeth chattered just a little.
The lake is divided into sections, with a roped-off shallow area that is 3 feet deep. Beyond the rope you can also swim freely in deeper water, and fishing is also possible.
There is also a sandy beach where kids can dig. Next to the beach are manicured lawns, with shade for spreading out in comfort. About 30 acres of grassy area surrounds the lake, which means bumper-to-bumper bodies can be avoided.
On our recent weekend visit, there were surprisingly few visitors despite the heat. We sprawled out on a prime piece of shady turf and meandered back and forth for leisurely plunges in the cool lake water.
The lines at the snack bar on our visit were short, and the food was cheap. An overflowing portion of fries and a large bratwurst cost less than 5 euros. There is also an Italian restaurant on the grounds that sells pizza.
Another convenience: free public parking with 500 spots on-site.
Given the relatively convenient location — roughly halfway between the military communities of Kaiserslautern and Stuttgart — Heidesee is worth a visit for anyone in search of a new place to dip.
DIRECTIONS: From Kaisersalutern, take the A6 east, picking up the A5 south just past Hockenheim and take the exit for Forst. From Stuttgart, there are multiple routes. It is best to consult a GPS for the fastest route based on traffic conditions. Address: 1 Weiherer Strasse, Forst 76694
TIMES: Monday- Friday, 11 a.m.- 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.- 7 p.m.
COSTS: Adults: 6 euros; children: 3 euros; children under 6: free
FOOD: There are snack bars, a beer garden and an Italian restaurant at the complex.
INFORMATION: Phone: 07251 780-0; Online: heidesee-forst.de