Baby it’s cold outside, but not in these spots. The east coast and much of the U.S. have been in a deep freeze for the last week, and there’s no doubt many of us are thinking , “why don’t I live somewhere warmer?” I’m ready to tape wings to my back and fly south.
Alas, many of us don’t have the opportunity to simply move to paradise and we’ve read our Greek mythology and know the whole attaching-wings-to-a-human thing doesn’t end well. So, what to do? I suggest finding a place filled with warm air, warm water and with plenty of palm trees – all within driving distance. Where is this fantasy land (you ask as you shovel another foot of snow from your walk)? The answer: an indoor water park.
The last decade has seen a rapid proliferation of these indoor oases of warmth. I did some research and compiled a list of some of the most interesting ones.
If you live on the east coast you have a couple of options. The kid-friendly Great Wolf Lodge has multiple locations on the eastern seaboard, like the Poconos in Pennsylvania; Niagara Falls, Ontario; Williamsburg, Virginia; and Charlotte, North Carolina.
I know, I said “kid friendly”, and that’s usually not our thing here at No Kids, Will Travel – but desperate times call for desperate measures. The parks boast large, 84-degree water parks with multiple slides and pools. The park in North Carolina has a six-story funnel slide called the Howlin’ Tornado and cabanas are available for rent that include TV and a stocked non-alcoholic mini fridge (just in case you’re too exhausted to get to your room).
The Jersey shore can be cold and windy this time of year so Sahara Sam’s in West Berlin, New Jersey has 58,000 square feet including a lazy river and indoor surfing simulator.
If you live in the Midwest, Avalanche Bay outside Traverse City, Michigan is an 80,000 square foot Bavarian-themed park with rides like the Splasherhorn water roller coaster. The 900 foot lazy river is also available if you prefer a more relaxed pace. The Swiss-style Mountain Grand Lodge is nearby, home to one of the largest spas in Michigan.
The Kalahari Waterpark Resort in Sandusky, Ohio has the slides and pools you’ll find at most indoor water parks, but the cabanas it offers come with couches and private attendants to make sure your day is as stress-free as possible. If you want some more excitement the Zip Coaster is more than 500 feet long and uses conveyor belts to launch its rafts into a series of free-fall drops. The Kalahari also has a location in Wisconsin.
Have vacation time and some extra budget to burn? Hop a flight to Tropical Islands in Krausnik, Germany. The 808,000 square foot resort is housed in a converted airship hanger and is the largest building by volume in the world. The resort is divided into themed areas like the Tropical Village with buildings form Borneo and Bali. The dome also hosts the world’s largest indoor rainforest, with more than 50,000 plants. The main pool spans 43,000 square feet and is designed to look like the waters of a coral island complete with white sandy beach. The resort even offers options to stay overnight in the dome in guest rooms and campsites. I think this is one amazing park that I’d fly transatlantic to see.
So if you need to warm up and have some fun, look around for an indoor water park (ideally within a day’s drive – let’s be honest, a day’s drive is almost always going to be cheaper than a quick flight to the tropics).