When the kids begin to go stir crazy this winter, consider one of these indoor water park resorts. With locations across the country, all it takes is a car and a weekend to escape the cold weather. (Close your eyes and pretend the 80-degree temps are outdoors.)

1. Great Wolf Lodge, Multiple Locations

Great Wolf Lodge is one of the most family-friendly resort chains, with nearly a dozen locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas, Michigan, Virginia and Niagara Falls. All resorts feature indoor water parks so massive that you won't even miss the outdoor water parks open during the warmer months. Here you have multi-storied forts, 1,000-gallon soaker buckets, wave pools, lazy rivers, water slides of varying heights and speeds, raft rides, whirlpools, kiddie pools and just your average pool -- all indoors at a balmy 84 degrees. Lifeguards are plentiful and life jackets are available. With families in mind, resort rooms can accommodate large groups, and onsite restaurants keep you from leaving the lodges to brave wintery winds.
Great Wolf Lodge

2. Kalahari Resort, Multiple Locations

With locations in Wisconsin, Ohio and Virginia, Kalahari also offers its own gargantuan water park environment with indoor options aplenty. The Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells is actually America's largest indoor water park, at 125,000 square feet. Attractions include water slides, water coasters, tube rides, surf simulators, a wave pool, lazy river and whirlpools. More than 500 rooms are available in all sizes, and onsite restaurants cater to kids. Rent a cabana for comfortable chaise lounges, a flat-screen TV, refrigerator and privacy, then hibernate for the weekend while pruning in the water.
Kalahari Resort

3. Wilderness Resort, Wisconsin Dells, Wisc.

There's not just one indoor water park... or two... or even three at Wilderness Resorts -- there are four! Choose the 70,000-square-foot Wild Water Dome at the resort's New Frontier Region for an enormous pool beneath a dome of windows -- you'll tan on sunny days, just like at the beach! Kids will also love the 70,000-square-foot Wild West Waterpark at the Wild West Rehion for bumper boats, and the 65,000-square-foot Klondike Kavern at the New Frontier Region for climbing and activity play in the water. Tiny tots will love Cubby Cove's shallow and quieter waters. The resort offers four different lodging accommodations from hotels to cabins to villas, all able to accommodate large families, as well as five onsite restaurants. They aren't kidding when they say "resort!"
Wilderness Hotel & Resort

4. Water Park of America, Bloomington, Minn.

Minnesota doesn't just have the biggest mall in the country -- it also has an enormous indoor water park that's perfect for anyone tired of negative-degree temperatures and ice skating. A kiddie pool, activity pools, body and tube water slides, surfing simulators, rafting rides, lazy river, whirlpools and a climbing/play structure will make kids forget about building snowmen. If that's not enough, there is also an arcade with video games. More than 400 rooms are available at the park's Radisson Hotel Bloomington by Mall of America -- yes, this is a water park inside a Radisson -- with family suites offering bunk beds, refrigerators and microwaves, and onsite restaurants again keep you from having to brave the elements.
Radisson Hotel Bloomington by Mall of America

5. Hope Lake Lodge & Indoor Water Park, Finger Lakes, N.Y.

The only indoor water park in Central New York, Cascades Indoor Waterpark can be found at the Hope Lake Lodge in the Finger Lakes region. The water park contains more than 150,000 gallons of water in its 41,000 square feet. A wave pool, 500 feet of slides, toddler activity pool, indoor-outdoor heated pool and an activity tower with a 500-gallon bucket dumper is kept at 84 degrees, even in the dead of winter. The lodge is an all-suite hotel, meaning families will enjoy spacious rooms with kitchens.
Hope Lake Lodge & Conference Center

6. Castaway Bay Resort, Sandusky, Ohio

Sandusky, Ohio may be known for its amusement parks in the summer, but during the winter, Castaway Bay Resort still provides warm weather-style amusement in its indoor water park. It's always 82 degrees inside Castaway's water park, a five-story amusement center set amidst Caribbean-like palm trees. The massive park is divided into age-appropriate areas that include a toddler's tide pool, a larger wave pool, a lazy river, water slides, dunking bucket and a number of climbing and activities centers. When the kids' fingers start to shrivel up and they need a break, visit the arcade or return to family suites that sleep up to six people.
Castaway Bay Resort

7. KeyLime Cove Indoor WaterPark Resort, Gurnee, Ill.

Can't make it to Florida to escape the winter's cold? Spend a weekend in the Key West-themed KeyLime Cove Indoor WaterPark Resort, just a short drive from Chicago. Tropically decorated rooms (more than 400) are available in eight layouts accommodating up to eight people. The fun begins in the 65,000-square-foot water park with RipTide Reef Arcade, Leapin' Lizards adventure spot and Pinki's Pet Palace. The resort offers onsite restaurants, such as a thatched-roof grill and an old-fashioned soda fountain.
KeyLime Cove Indoor WaterPark Resort

8. Wilderness at the Smokies, Tenn.

Visit this Smoky Mountain retreat to explore the largest indoor/outdoor water park resort in the southeastern U.S. Wilderness at the Smokies features three water parks, include the year-round Wild WaterDome indoor park. The five-acre indoor park includes a wave pool, surf rider, and two thrill rides. The water park is shared by two lodges: Stone Hill Lodge, with hotel rooms, and River Lodge, with condos.
Wilderness at the Smokies

9. Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center, Alexandria, Minn.

Located in the Lake Region of Minnesota, Arrowwood is a large family resort with a number of amenities, recreation and room types, ranging from standard rooms to four-bedroom townhouses and cottages. It makes our list for its Big Splash Minnesota Indoor Waterpark, a 38,000-square-foot water park featuring a lazy river, lily pad waterwalk, splash bucket, water fort area with water blasters, basketball shoot out and a tropical whirlpool spa. Guests of the hotel may have admission included in their stay, and non-guests can purchase daily passes.
Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center

10. Grand Harbor Resort & Waterpark, Dubuque, Iowa

When the plains of the Midwest are empty of crops and the view to the horizon is nothing but snow, head to the Mississippi for the Grand Harbor Resort & Waterpark. Inside, its 25,000-square-foot water park comes complete with a lazy river and water slides. When the chlorine becomes too much, the kids can visit the resort's game room or kids' club.
Grand Harbor Resort & Waterpark

For more water fun, check out:
  • 10 Best Hotel Swimming Pools
  • 10 Best Water Sports Resorts

    Visit our Forums for more discussions on pools and water parks in Family Water Sport Vacations.

  • Find Your Family Vacation
    My Kids' Ages:

    Popular Family Resorts:

      FREE Family Travel Newsletter
    • Family Travel Tips   (4 New)

      Family Planning and Tips

      • 10 Best Orlando Resorts for Families
        So many hotels and resorts to choose from! Which ones really are the best for families in terms of theme-park access, amenities, and accommodations? Here are our favorites in the Orlando area! 1. Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creak Maybe it is the Hilton's water park with two zero-entry pools, a 3-acre ...
      • Skip This: Do That!
        Deciding where to go for your next family vacation? Often it's the most popular destinations -- from mega theme parks to world-famous beach towns -- that come to mind first. It's tempting to pick a familiar place and just go with what you know, but do this and you could be missing out on some fantas...
      • Disney Wonder Alaskan Cruise
        Join us onboard Disney Wonder's first exploration into Alaskan waters and ports as Family Vacation Critic Editor Lissa Poirot and her two tots take you on a tour. Be the first to see a sample of Disney's Alaskan Port Adventures, as well as glimpse the Disney Wonder's onboard fun, in our first-ever d...
      • Family Volunteer Vacations
        Away from the hectic pace of our everyday lives, any vacation is a chance for families to reconnect. There's no soccer game, no piano recital, no working late, so finally you have that precious day together. Yet, if you really want a meaningful break from your usual schedule, one that might change t...
    • Twitter
    • Facebook