It’s cold, so let’s go to a water park

A typical Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park, with giant water bucket (courtesy thedriscolls5 on flickr CC)No, I haven’t lost my mind.

As noted in the Miami Herald, hotels with indoor water parks are becoming very popular, and for good reason. They allow families, including weak swimmers and non-swimmers, to enjoy watery fun year-round.

I’ve taken the kids to Juliplatz indoor water park in Japan and Mosaqua in the Netherlands, but nothing on the scale of the properties in the article.

I can, however, vouch for the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia. We stayed there in a very nice, big room for one night last summer, and I learned something.

A giant facility like that with hundreds of hyper kids is not normally my idea of fun, but as I wrote over at the Perceptive Travel blog, sometimes the traveling parent faces a hotel reality check:

“The enormous indoor water park section of the hotel was spectacular, I must say, and much easier to enjoy than tromping around a spread-out, hot, open-air water park. Still….I guess I just don’t tend to look for indoor water parks in my hotels. The kids, naturally, were in heaven. I don’t think I physically saw my son for about two hours in the water park, as he went from ride to ride and up and down slides. Sitting in the park, surrounded by screaming, laughing wet children and adults and 300,000 gallons of water, I had time to reflect about getting over myself. Maybe I need to build a few more of these kid-focused places into our trips, even if they aren’t my cup of tea.”

There’s more to Great Wolf than the water park, and you’ll see it as soon as you walk into the soaring lobby, decorated in Great North Woods rustic style with lots of animals and a big fireplace.

Just in case your kids don’t get enough video games, there is the Northern Lights Arcade, a whole blacklighted room with more than 100 games. I saw families going all over the resort playing Magiquest, a live action adventure game/treasure hunt with special Harry Potter-like wands.

In milder weather, there are outdoor pools with cabanas, a rock climbing wall and the Howl in One 18 hole putt-putt golf course. The Elements Spa/Salon pampers adults, and a variety of in-house restaurants cover meal requirements.

Rooms are not cheap; they start at around $200/night, but considering that they include waterpark admission and other amusements, that may work for your budget, especially if you take advantage of in-room kitchenettes to prepare meals.

Look for seasonal specials, particularly right now in wintertime.