A water park getaway is one of those family travel destinations that kids crave while parents cringe.
Fortunately for grownups traveling with kids, water parks have come a long way. Most water parks today cater to crowds of all ages while giving moms and dads traveling with kids some incentives all their own.
Here are a few of our favorite water parks.
Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort: Nestled into picturesque, canyon and waterfall-laden Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois, Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort is a mid-sized indoor water park with a wave pool, tube and body slides and hot tub. The faux-rustic lodge, villas and cabins give way to Enchanted Forest, an adjacent amusement park. Blinking light overload ensues as full-on rides–from a Tilt-a-Whirl and Ferris wheel to a Vertical Plunge, coaster and swing-you-around Grizzly–induce fright. Countless video games and enough rides for young ones–not to mention a mini golf course, weather permitting–leave everyone happy. Take a break from it all and hike the trails–there’s a lot of history (and jaw-dropping vistas) to unearth.
Chula Vista Resort: The Wisconsin Dells is the epicenter of water park heaven. Our favorite is the Chula Vista, which is the beaten path in the Dells. Chula Vista is more luxurious than most water parks–by a long shot. Comprised of 200,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor fun, it offers inclusive packages where all meals, drinks, snacks and activities are covered. (Crab legs at the buffet, a scoop of ice cream in the parlor or Stella Artois at the bar, anyone?) Even if you’re going during winter, the scene doesn’t disappoint. From the lazy river to a coaster, giant tipping bucket and multi-story slides, there’s plenty to keep boredom at bay. And couples take note: There’s also a scenic outdoor hot tub with forest-fringed views.
World Water Park: Get your heart pumping at this Edmonton, Canada, indoor water park, which claims to have the world’s largest indoor wave pool, plus fast, dark slides, tube slides and even a bungee jump. There’s a family tube slide, private cabanas and, yes, a bar, too. It’s all part of the larger West Edmonton Mall complex, which houses a mini golf course, ice palace and Galaxyland, a dizzying indoor amusement park.
Coco Key Water Parks: There are 10 Coco Key indoor water parks—six in the Midwest and four in the northeast. The one near Rockford, Ill., is a smaller park best suited for younger kids. But when it’s cold outside, even tweens and teens can find something to do in a place where it’s always 84 degrees. The parks often have Internet specials that include a room and a day at the water park. Or, if you’re lucky enough to live nearby, you can purchase day passes to the water park, which are available when the park isn’t already filled to capacity with families staying onsite.