Top 6 Indoor Water Parks
Most parks offer a mix of waterslides and kiddie pools — something for children of all ages. Throw in drier diversions, such as video games and quiet areas for parents who'd rather just read, and these spots make any town pool seem dull.
Encompassing 88,000 square feet of wet and wacky fun, the Bavarian-themed Avalanche Bay outside Boyne City, MI, is the biggest indoor water park in the state. The park opened its doors to record crowds on Memorial Day 2006 and has been a hot spot for vacationing families ever since.
Some of the rides beneath the facility's expansive Fiberglas roof include the Splasherhorn water roller coaster, the Rip Zone surfing simulator, the Vertigo Cannonball tube slide and a 900-foot lazy river. The place also features hot tubs, video arcades and a protected toddler areas in an environment that stays at a balmy 84 degrees all day long.
Nearby, the Swiss-style Mountain Grand Lodge is a great place for families to relax. The hotel boasts 220 suites — perfect places for youngsters to kick back and watch cartoons after a morning of splashing around. Mom and Dad can relax here, too, as the property's Spa at Boyne Mountain (which is Michigan's largest) offers an entire menu of stress-eliminating treatments and massages.
Because of Avalanche Bay's proximity to the Boyne Mountain Ski Resort, many families visit as part of a larger ski vacation. Guests here can choose from 9 different restaurants so everyone can find something to please their palate.
Caribbean Cove Waterpark
Nearly 1,000 miles separate the Caribbean and Indianapolis, IN, yet island culture is alive and well at Caribbean Cove Waterpark. At 50,000 square feet, the facility is the largest in the entire Hoosier State, and it is connected on 2 levels to the city's Holiday Inn North.
Youngsters line up to try out the Raging Rapids Super Flume tube slide, a twisting ride that drops 40 feet and empties into a giant wave pool. In addition, while most water parks have only 1 body slide, this place has 2: the 292-foot-long Tropical Twist and the 267-foot-long Jungle Rumble Aqua Whiz. Try saying the name of that second one 5 times fast.
Caribbean Cove also has tamer rides, such as the Leisure River, which calmly circles the property like a meandering brook, and Kastaway Kidz Island, which offers a water-bucket-dumping station, a wading pool and a kiddie slide. The only downside is that visitors cannot use the park unless they're guests of the hotel.
The hotel itself is a standard Holiday Inn — 344 clean and comfortable rooms with relatively few frills. The San Remo Grille is the best of 5 on-site restaurants; for a better meal, venture into Indianapolis to Dick's Bodacious BBQ, where the beef brisket and Texas hot links transport you to the Deep South.
Great Wolf Lodge
With 11 locations around the country, the Great Wolf Lodge is an ideal family getaway whether you live on the West Coast, the East Coast or somewhere in between. Accommodations are provided by the lodge, making it easier than ever to travel with your family.
When the kids are ready to hit the pools, the first place they'll probably want to go is Fort Mackenzie. This 4-story tree house is fully stocked with suspension bridges, swinging cargo nets and a 1,000-gallon bucket hanging from the (indoor) treetops, waiting to drench your little ones. When you're all set to join the kids in the water, hop on the Howling Wolf in a 3-person toboggan to make your way down the winding 336-foot waterslide.
In addition to the water park, you'll find a spa for kids, bowling, miniature golf and Magiquest — an interactive adventure that guests of all ages can explore with magic wand in hand. While the children are occupied, check out the Manitoba Tubs, which include an adult-only jumbo whirlpool.
Kalahari Water Park
Sandusky might be smack in the middle of Ohio, but at the African-themed Kalahari Waterpark Resort, the surf is up year-round. The park opened in 2006 as the Buckeye State's largest; today, it boasts both indoor and outdoor pool rides for 80,000 square feet of water fun, as well as a second location in Wisconsin.
Most of the main attractions are indoors. Pint-sized visitors flock to the Flowrider, a surf simulator that spits out sets of 5-foot waves. For water lovers with less-than-perfect balance, there's also the Zip Coaster, which whisks tube riders up speedy climbs and down gut-wrenching drops. Small children love an area called the Wild Kingdom, which includes net crawls, water guns and a variety of tame waterslides.
Who says you can't have luxury at an indoor water park? Like many of the fancy resorts in Las Vegas, Kalahari offers private cabana rentals, complete with private attendants and fresh linens. Most cabanas also include flat-screen televisions, comfy couches, refrigerators and iPod docking stations.
More formal accommodations are found at the adjoining 308-room Kalahari Resort. Masks and other tribal artifacts adorn these rooms, and a life-size rhinoceros sculpture greets guests in the lobby. For dinner, check out the Kahunaville Restaurant & Bar and order the coconut shrimp, a house specialty. Kids also will love the virgin Shirley Temples, which bartenders mix with dramatic flair.
At New Jersey’s largest indoor water park, Sahara Sam's, guests will find 58,000 square feet of water fun, including the region’s only indoor surfing simulator, the Flowrider. Among the many attractions are a lazy river, an obstacle course and a kiddie slide for toddlers. If it’s warm enough to take your vacation outside, then check out the Samazon Ropes Adventure, the world’s tallest ropes course.
There are a variety of hotels nearby that will offer a discount to any guests who mention Sahara Sam’s “Stay & Play” while making a reservation. In addition to the discount, a few of the local hotels offer packages to make planning your trip easier than ever. For example, the Philadelphia - Mount Laurel Wyndham offers 4 1-day passes to the park, plus breakfast, with your reservation. Because this park is open all year long, any week can be spring break here.
As if there weren't enough distractions at the cavernous West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, the facility's 5-acre World Waterpark is one of the largest in the world. In all, the Canadian park boasts more than 20 water activities — ample opportunities to soak even the driest mall rats.
The park was built in 1985, but it recently added the Raging Rapids ride, an enclosed slide that sends daring tube riders through strobe-lit darkness, and the Tropical Typhoon, a dizzying funnel slide that spins thrill-seekers in circles before dropping them into a splash pool. Other new features include bungee jumping, hot tubs and a Caribbean-themed interactive area for parents and toddlers to enjoy together.
Elsewhere in the mall, there's certainly no shortage of ways to spend the day. The mega center includes more than 800 shops, some of which are included on Europa Boulevard, which is designed to mimic a Parisian street. Additional kid-friendly attractions are Galaxyland, an amusement park; Sea Life Caverns, an aquarium; and Deep Sea Derby, a bumper-boat adventure on an indoor lake.
The mall also incorporates 2 hotels: the zany Fantasyland Hotel, which has assigned themes, such as African safari and ancient Rome, to 118 of its 354 rooms; and the smaller and more intimate West Edmonton Mall Inn, where the only theme among the 88 rooms is luxury.