By: Jennifer Prince | From: Southern Living

Summertime brings carefree days and lingering daylight, but it also comes with extreme temperatures, especially in the South. While Southerners have concocted many ways to stay cool, from pools to lakes, it's the leisurely river experience that has stayed under the radar.

Not only will you often find less crowds, but Southern rivers are one of the best ways to connect with the region's unique landscape. Float with the current or swim downstream—no matter how you spend your time on picturesque Southern rivers, you'll be surrounded by nature. Whether you've never boarded a kayak or are an avid stand-up paddleboarder, there are a host of ways to explore these inland waterways. Here are eight of favorite destinations for a relaxing time on the river.

San Antonio River - Texas

Even if you haven't been to San Antonio, Texas, you've probably seen images of its colorful riverwalk area, which lies along the San Antonio River. Kayaking in a more urban environment is prevalent, whether you head north of downtown to the Pearl District or further south to the King William District. Mission Adventure Tours rents kayaks and leads tours, one of which is paddles through the downtown area during the height of the holiday season to view the River Walk aglow with lights. For a genuinely leisurely time without having to expend much energy or get into the water, hop aboard one of the sightseeing vessels to explore the area—no bathing suit required.