Such an easy getaway: point the car toward the nearest resort that has its own indoor water park, with crazy slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, and dunking buckets. Some places add an outdoor water park in summer. (Meanwhile, in some climate zones, resorts can offer outdoor lazy rivers and water-slides year-round.)
Great Wolf Lodge
The wildly popular Great Wolf Lodge chain of indoor water park resorts is set to open its first New England property in the Boston area in June 2014. At 68,000 square feet, the indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge New England will be the largest in Massachusetts.
Photo courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge.
It's the big name, in the world of indoor water park resorts: Great Wolf Lodge started in Wisconsin Dells and has opened ten other Lodges since, in the Poconos, Sandusky OH, Williamsburg VA, and more. Signature features -- besides great water parks-- include: a Grand Lobby with animated Clock Tower, and nightly story-telling; all-suite guestrooms; Cub Club; and special seasons Howl-o-Ween in October, and Snowland in December ending with "Snowball" on New Year's Eve.
Kalahari Wave Pool, photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Dells Chamber of Commerce.
This little burg started the indoor water park trend, as one resort after another built private indoor water parks for guests. Visitors to "The Dells" will find family resorts with giant water parks and state-of-the-art thrills such as "Tanzanian Twister" waterslide (40 mph, 127 ft.; "toilet bowl" flush). Plenty of tamer slides and fun for little kids, too. Some resorts have extensive "dry play zones" as well.
Photo courtesy of the Kalahari Resort.
The Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells has a giant indoor water park and pretty much every type of waterslide you could think of (uphill water rollercoaster, "Swahili Swirl" vortex slide...) plus river float, wave pool, kiddie play zone, FlowRiders
for surfing, and lots more. In summer, the Zambezi Outdoor Waterpark adds more wet fun. Incredibly, this is not the biggest Kalahari indoor water park: that one's in Sandusky Ohio.
Photo courtesy of Cedar Point Amusement Park/Resort.
Sandusky Ohio has been drawing visitors for decades thanks to a sandy beach on Lake Erie and to the Cedar Point amusement park with legendary roller coasters). These days, Sandusky also has a cluster of indoor water parks at family resorts. There's a Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky, a Kalahari Sandusky (which claims the country's "biggest indoor water park" at a resort), and the Castaway Bay waterfront hotel.
Photo courtesy of Six Flags Great Escape Lodge.
This Adirondack-themed family resort is part of the Great Escape theme park, and is also the first hotel with an indoor waterpark in New York state. Location is 50 miles from Albany, 210 miles from NYC. (The theme park is open seasonally; the Lodge with indoor water park is open year-round.)
Photo courtesy of Six Flags Great Escape Lodge-- one of the picks for Best Indoor Water Parks.
About.com's Guide for Theme Parks covers indoor water park resorts in detail, and selects ten places that make a big splash.
Cherry Valley Lodge indoor water park; photo courtesy of CoCo Key Water Resort.
CoCo Key Water Resorts are typically mid-sized indoor water parks that have been added onto existing properties such as a Sheraton hotel or Marriott. In Orlando, meanwhile, the CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort Orlando has an outdoor water park and a Key West theme that continues throughout the hotel.
At resorts in the right climate zone -- Phoenix, say, or the Caribbean -- guests can splash in outdoor water parks year-round. Also, some resorts with indoor water parks open outdoor play zones in summer-time.