Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City

3575 N US Highway 31 S, Traverse City, 49684, MI

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Overview

Set on a bluff overlooking a field of bison, this resort feels nicely separated from the retail hub along Highway 31 south of Traverse City. This was the third Great Wolf Lodge in the United States with the total number now up to 11.

The Great Wolf Lodge nicely complements the area’s concentration of lodging. While much of the lodging is along Lake Michigan and boasting of beaches, Great Wolf does fine without the sandy scenery. It instead focuses on indoor entertainment that makes this a favorite family getaway in any season of the year or weather.

Toddlers and preschoolers, in particular, will love donning pajamas for story hour with a singing clock and critters in the grand lobby. Each floor also features parts of the interactive MagiQuest game. There are so many school-age kids with wands bringing animals, paintings, faeries and dragons to life that it sometimes feels like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Older kids gather at the water parks, shops and the black-light arcade offering more than 100 games. It’s a combination of activities that has made this chain a success across the country with 11 locations.

Highlights include a 39,000-square-foot water park with Howling Wolf, a three-person tube slide, four other slides and multiple ways to get wet. Additionally, there is an animated song and story hour each night in the lobby, MagiQuest (an interactive game with computerized wands to activate wizards), fairies and dragons, Scooops Spa for kids and Elements for grownups, family suites with wolf-dens, a room within a room that has woodsy-themed bunk beds and a TV, playful up-north decor, seasonal programming, crafts and kid-friendly dining.

Great Wolf also specializes in seasonal decor, whether it’s holiday buffets, Halloween trick-or-treating or transforming the lobby into a Christmas village complete with snow.

Bottom line: Great Wolf offers a family-focused weatherproof vacation year-round and a welcome winter escape when cabin fever hits.

Find more Great Wolf Lodges by reading about Great Wolf Lodges.

Our Editor Loves

  • Indoor and outdoor water parks
  • Animated clock tower show and storytime
  • Northern Lights Arcade and MagiQuest

Family Interests

  • Water Parks

Family Amenities

  • Cribs
  • Family Room 5+
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Game Room
  • Kids' Theme Meals
  • Kitchenettes
  • Laundry
  • Onsite Dining
  • Pool

Room Information

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With the entire lodge catering to the family audience, it's all kid-friendly with eight styles of rooms from basic doubles to eight-person lofted fireplace suites. Rates vary by season. Themed suites are popular with both kids and parents. They blend a touch of whimsy with some extra privacy for mom and dad by creating a room within a room: bunks in a cave-like setting for Wolf Den suites or bunks in a campsite for Kids Kamp Suites. Most rooms sleep four to six guests with sleeper sofas in the sitting areas.

If you need more room, the Kid Cabin Suites can sleep up to seven people with the sofa sleeper, queen bed and a kids' area with two bunk beds and a day bed. Loft fireplace suites with three queen beds (one in the loft) and sofa sleeper accommodate up to eight, as do Majestic Bear Suites with two queens, a king and sleeper sofa.

Rooms include a microwave, mini-fridge, flat-screen TV with pay-per-view, Wi-Fi, coffee makers, ironing board and iron, hair dryer and clothesline for drying swimsuits, vanilla-scented soaps and bubblegum-scented bath gel. Most rooms include a balcony or patio.

STANDARD SUITES

The Family Suite sleeps four, with a maximum of six people. The room has two queen beds, a full-size bath, living area with a full-size sleeper sofa, a 27-inch TV and a balcony or patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffee maker and hair dryer.

The Queen Sofa Suite sleeps four people. There is a queen bed, full bath, a full-size sleeper sofa, a 32-inch TV and a private balcony or patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffee maker and hair dryer. This room is handicap accessible.

THEMED SUITES

The Wolf Den Suite sleeps four, with a maximum of six. The room has a cave-themed sleeping area with a bunk bed and TV. The main area has a queen bed, a full-size bath, full-size sleeper sofa, a 27-inch TV and a balcony or patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffee maker and hair dryer.

The KidKamp Suite sleeps four, with a maximum of six. The room has a tent-themed sleeping area with a bunk bed and TV. The main area has a queen bed, a full-size bath, full-size sleeper sofa, a 27-inch TV and a balcony or patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffee maker and hair dryer.

The KidCabin Suite sleeps six, with a maximum of seven. The room has a cabin-themed sleeping area with a bunk bed, day bed and TV. The main area has a queen bed, a full-size bath, full-size sleeper sofa, a 27-inch TV and a balcony or patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffee maker and hair dryer.

PREMIUM SUITES

The Whirlpool Fireplace Suite sleeps four people, with a king bed, full-bath, whirlpool tub, 27" TV, full-size sleeper sofa and private patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffee maker and hair dryer.

The Loft Fireplace Suite sleeps six people, with a maximum of eight. The main floor has two queen beds, full bath, two 27-inch TV's, a living area with full sleeper sofa and gas fireplace. Upstairs is a queen bed, 27-inch TV and a half bath. There is also a balcony or patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffee maker and hair dryer.

The Majestic Bear Suite sleeps six people, with a maximum of eight. The master bedroom has a king bed and 27-inch TV. The main area has two queen beds, full sleeper sofa and 27-inch TV. There is also a private balcony or patio and a breakfast bar. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffee maker and hair dryer.

Reviews

Amazing first time experience

by michellecarriveau

Our family just had our first stay at the Traverse City Great Wolf Lodge and we were blown away. Everything was kid friendly and there were so many events and attractions for the kids that we always came back to our room completely exhausted from all the fun. We will definitely be back!

Great for larger families!

by Amy W

Excellent experience! We went with our four kids (9, 7, 4, 1) and had a blast. They have rooms that can sleep up to 8 guests, which is unusual. The water park was loads of fun for a variety of ages. The lifeguards there are hyper-vigilant. Staff courteous and very helpful. They have food options to fit different budget levels. And their Camp Critter restaurant is great for those with food allergies and sensitivities.

Family Activities

Indoor water park
Where you go in the waterpark will depend on the age of your kids. Thrill-seekers beeline for slides like River Canyon Run and Alberta Falls. Little ones are attracted to Fort Mackenzie's 1,000 gallon bucket of water ready to tip and drench everyone underneath. For kids who prefer submersion in the water, the Crooked Creek lazy river winds through the park, and Chinook Cove provides a hub for water basketball and practicing swimming. Big Foot Pass challenges kids to hop across floating lily pads without falling in. For some relaxation, adults can soak in a kid-free or family-friendly whirlpool.

Alberta Falls
Alberta Falls is four stories tall and twists in and out of the building before dropping into a plunge pool. The tube is enclosed so the temperature doesn't change. Children under 42 inches tall must ride with an adult and can only take the double tube.
Big Foot Pass
Kids test their balance, jump on lily pads and try not to fall into the water in Big Foot Pass. Children under 48 inches tall are encouraged to wear a lifejacket.
Chinook Cove Activity Pool
Play water basketball or let kids test their balance on the floating activities in the Chinook Cove Activity Pool.

Crooked Creek
Float in a tube along the current of the winding, endless lazy river.

Cub Paw Pool
Cub Paw pool allows little ones to play with spray features and swim in a 1.6-inch deep zero-entry pool.

Fort Mackenzie
Four-story Fort Mackenzie, in the center of the park, attracts the climbing crowd of kids who want to crawl across cargo nets and suspension bridges, slip down three-story slides and feel the rush of 1,000 gallons of water dumping on them every few minutes. Looking for a fast escape out of Fort Mackenzie tree house? Use the twin three-story Totem Towers waterslides.
River Canyon Run
River Canyon Run, one of the park's signature slides, allows families to ride together in a big raft. Children must be at least 42 inches tall in order to ride.

Outdoor Area: Thunder Bay Water Park
Summer visitors craving sunshine and a big open pool can find it at Thunder Bay, a seasonal 120,000-gallon outdoor pool up to four feet deep. The pool includes slides, a play area, spray features and water basketball.

Resort Activities
There are a number of amenities and fun for the kids that do not require swimsuits.

Cub Club
At Cub Club, kids can pick out craft projects such as T-shirts, bags and picture frames to color and decorate for a hands-on Great Wolf souvenir. (A small fee is charged for crafts.

Daily Activities
The centerpiece of every lobby is the tree-like clock tower that opens up for an animated story time. A group of critters sing about the "Rhythm of Nature" in a "Circle of Life" kind of send-up. Afterwards, a staffer accompanied by a resort mascot (Violet or Wiley the Wolf) reads a story to the kids nestled up in their pajamas. Go early for the best spots on the carpet.

Staffers take kids on a free educational walk through the resort each morning to talk about the different woodland animals, including wolves, bears and moose. Kids also have the opportunity to go watch the bison herd in the field across the parking lot, weather permitting.

Howl in One Mini Golf
The 18-hole mini-golf course challenges players with golf ball-eating fish, floating greens and giant beavers that provide chatter and commentary after successful shots.

MagiQuest
With computerized wands and a book of clues for acquiring runes and solving quests, kids and parents set off on this game that starts near the lobby and climbs to the fourth floor. When the kids find the right objects, their wands open treasure chests, bring paintings to life, illuminate jewels, talk to fairies and slay animated dragons.

Each game is about $12, plus the cost of wands, which usually start at $15. Kids may clamor for accessories, too, such as dragon and unicorn add-ons for wands, rune amulets, wand belts, hats and crowns, velvet and satin capes.

Great Wolf guests can keep using their wands to animate additional objects throughout the lodge such as squirrels that teeter-totter, an otter that belches and lights that illuminate above tables at the Camp Critter restaurant.

Compass Quest is a new layer of MagiQuest that players must unlock. A compass leads players on an interactive adventure of magic, mystery and discovery in nine new quests.

Northern Lights Arcade
This family-friendly arcade is full of games ranging from games of skill for older ones to games of chance for little ones.
Scooops Kid Spa
Tucked into the aromatic adult Aveda spa on Great Wolf's lower level is Scooops Spa, a separate ice cream themed area just for kids. Girls ages 4 to 12 can get their own version of a grown-up pedicure and manicure with scrub balls scented like vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream and a complimentary nail polish kit when they're done.
Ten Paw Alley
The Ten Paw Alley was made for families with little kids. It has ten short lanes, five-pound balls and no rental shoes. Kids have a blast at this bowling alley where their chances of hitting pins are greater.



Family Dining

Great Wolf has a number of on-site dining options for families, from grab 'n go stations to buffets.

Bear Paw Sweets and Eats
Muffins, pastries, doughnuts, fresh fruit and Starbucks coffee make Bear Paw Sweets and Eats popular for the morning crowd. For afternoon and late-night sweets cravings, look for truffles, Edy's ice cream and homemade fudge in flavors such as cotton candy, root beer, Superman and traditional variations of chocolate. (Word of advice: Kid-sized cones are big enough for even adults.)

Other desserts include glazed nuts, caramel corn, cheesecakes flavored with candy bars and big-enough-to-share bars such as S'more Bears that lump together teddy grahams, marshmallows and chocolate.

Camp Critter Bar & Grill
For something you won't find at other Great Wolf Lodges, try Michigan Whitefish (beer-battered, pan-fried with almond lemon butter or lightly blackened with pineapple-cilantro butter sauce) or Great Lakes walleye. There is also a half-pound of tender local venison steak with hunter's sauce and a medley of wild mushrooms.

For families with young kids, these items are especially easy to share: pulled pork and slaw on mini rolls, baskets of four beef or buffalo sliders. The 12-inch pizzas can also feed several kids.

For toddlers and little nibblers in the bunch there's the Kids Camp Critter Collection, a blend of apples, bananas and pretzels with lodge-made peanut butter dip, carrots and ranch dressing as well as strawberries with fruit dip.

Most kids rank dessert as their favorite part of the meal, and Great Wolf has always had a sugary showstopper. Currently it's a tabletop chocolate fondue -- a dip-your-own feast with marshmallows, Rice Krispy treats, strawberries, bananas and cream puffs for dipping into warm chocolate.

Cub menu choices are a little pricey and include a fairly standard mix of macaroni, pizza or sandwiches, but they do come with souvenir wolf ears kids can wear. Drinks are extra.

Hungry as a Wolf
Hungry as a Wolf is a quick and easy lunch or dinner option. The menu includes homemade pizza, bread sticks, salad and a Wolf-It-Down family meal. Order take-out and pick it up on the main level, then you can take it back to your suite to eat.
Spirit Island Snack Shop
The waterpark snack bar serves up the usual hot dogs and burgers, but has a few twists such as curly fries creatively served coiled around a stick. Plus there is no need to pause the fun and leave the waterpark for lunch when you can feed everyone at the Spirit Island Snack Shop.

Planning & Tips

Check in
Guests can arrive as early as 1 p.m. Rooms may be available or you can get water park wristbands or head to MagiQuest. Official check-in begin at 4 p.m. and check out is at 11 a.m. Guests can take a beach bag or rent a locker to stay the rest of the day at the water park.

Discounts & deals
Always check the web site for current deals and packages that might include MagiQuest or stay-and-dine packages. If you have flexibility in your schedule, the lodge's rate calendar lets you find the most affordable times to visit.

Some deals are ongoing, such as the Heroes discount, a 20-percent savings for guests who are in the military service or serve with police, fire or emergency medical services departments.

Cribs and rollaways
Pack-and-Play cribs (complimentary) and rollaway beds (for a small fee) are first-come, first-served. There are usually enough, but if you're arriving late during a full-capacity weekend, consider taking a sleeping bag or your own portable crib.

Resort fee
The $9.99 daily resort fee covers a daily newspaper, use of the business center, Internet service and other amenities.

Packing
Don't forget to pack sunscreen, extra swimsuits, cover-ups, flip-flops, beach bag, waterproof camera, earplugs and goggles, and a plastic bag for carrying wet suits home.

The Art of Smart Timing
Families who want to avoid crowds and enjoy better rates may want to visit in early September to mid-October. April and May are also ideal times to vacation here, as the weather gets balmier, but summer crowds have yet to arrive.

Mid-October in particular is an ideal time to visit, with the month-long Howl-o-ween weekends that include nightly costume contests and trick-or-treating through the resort.

While it may not be the quietest month, guests rave about December with the Snowland decor that turns an already whimsical lobby into a full-blown North Pole. There's also a New Year's Eve party with a disc jockey.

Getting There
It's about a five-hour drive from Chicago and four hours from Detroit.

You can fly to the Cherry Capital Airport, which is served by American Eagle, Delta and United Express. There are several cabs and shuttles available, as well as seven major car rental companies.

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