When it's cold and the kids start to go stir crazy, pay a visit to one of these indoor water park resorts. With options across the country, all it takes is a car and a weekend to escape the chilly weather -- just close your eyes and pretend the 80-degree temps are outdoors, too.
Written by Lissa Poirot
Written by Lissa Poirot
Great Wolf Lodge - Multiple Locations
Great Wolf Lodge is one of the best resort chains for families, with several locations across the country (our favorite being Great Wolf Lodge New England). All resorts feature indoor water parks so massive that you won't even miss the outdoor water parks open during the warmer months. You'll find multi-story forts, 1,000-gallon soaker buckets, wave pools, lazy rivers, waterslides 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, arcades and organized activities keep you from leaving the lodges to brave wintery winds.
Kalahari Resort - Multiple Locations
With locations in Wisconsin, Ohio, and soon, the Poconos, Kalahari Resorts offer gargantuan water park environments; in fact, Kalahari Resorts & Conventions - 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. Rent a cabana to enjoy comfortable chaise lounges, a flat-screen TV, refrigerator and privacy, and at the end of the day, retreat to your spacious guestroom or suite; some suites offer up to 10 bedrooms!
Wilderness Hotel & Resort - Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
There's not just one indoor water park, or two, or even three at Wilderness Hotel & Resort -- 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 get a tan on sunny days, just like you're at the beach! Kids will love the Wild West Waterpark at the Wild West Region for bumper boats, and the Klondike Kavern at the New Frontier Region for climbing and activity play in the water. Tiny tots will enjoy 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. There are also five onsite dining options.
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. A kiddie play area, activity pools, body and tube waterslides, surfing simulators, rafting rides, lazy river, whirlpools and a climbing 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 at a chain hotel -- with family suites offering bunk beds, refrigerators and microwaves, and onsite restaurants keeping you from having to brave the elements.
Hope Lake Lodge - Cortland, N.Y.
The only indoor water park in central New York, Cascades Indoor Waterpark can be found at Hope Lake Lodge & Conference Center in the Finger Lakes. The water park contains more than 150,000 gallons of water in its 41,000 square feet of space. A wave pool, 500 feet of slides, toddler activity pool, indoor/outdoor heated pool and an activity tower with a 500-gallon bucket dumper are on offer and kept at 84 degrees, even in the dead of winter. The lodge is also an all-suite hotel, meaning families will enjoy spacious accommodations with kitchens.
Castaway Bay Resort - Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky is best known for Cedar Point Amusement Park during the summer, but during the winter, Castaway Bay Resort steals the spotlight with warm weather -- a consistent 82 degrees -- in an indoor water park. The park, a five-story amusement center set amidst palm trees, is divided into age-appropriate areas that include a toddlers' tide pool, a larger wave pool, a lazy river, waterslides, dunking bucket and a number of climbing and activity 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.
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 are available in eight layouts accommodating up to eight people. The fun happens in the 65,000-square-foot water park with RipTide Reef Arcade, Leapin' Lizards adventure spot and Pinki's Pet Palace. The resort also offers onsite restaurants, such as a thatched-roof grill and an old-fashioned soda fountain.
Wilderness at the Smokies - Sevierville, 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, including 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.
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 Grand Harbor Resort & Waterpark. Inside, its 25,000-square-foot water park offers a lazy river, rope ladders, tube rides, waterslides, water cannons, squirt guns and pools aplenty. When the chlorine becomes too much, the kids can visit the resort's game room or kids' club.
Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center - Alexandria, Minn.
Located in the Lake Region of Minnesota, Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center 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.
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10 Best Indoor Water Park Resorts