by Lisa Meyers McClintick
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
- Water Parks
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
Play water basketball or let kids test their balance on the floating activities in the Chinook Cove Activity Pool.
Float in a tube along the current of the winding, endless lazy river.
Cub Paw pool allows little ones to play with spray features and swim in a 1.6-inch deep zero-entry pool.