greatwolfThe mall is not the only place for indoor winter fun.  Go west to PA’s Pocono Mountains for one of the country’s biggest indoor waterparks, located inside the newly built Great Wolf Lodge in Scotrun.  Or shred, ski or tube at Big Boulder Park.

Here you’ll find 91,000 square feet of pure entertainment, including a mega water park, arcade, spa and fitness room. Though the crowds can get pretty thick, the 11 waterslides, six pools and treehouse water fort are well worth it. One disclaimer: If you’re squeamish about germs and frantic parents, this may not be the place for you. It’s sort of like a free-for-all and you’ll be face-to-face with the body parts of scores of strangers.  

But this is the kind of place where you can see your kids in the morning and then not again for hours. But you’ll know they’re safe and they’ll come back to you at the end of the day having burnt off a phenomenal amount of excess energy and with smiles that stretch from ear to ear. Just don’t book a long stay. Two—or even one—night is plenty. 

To stretch your vacation, take an extra day and head to nearby Big Boulder Park for tons of snowboarding, tubing and skiing. This ski area boasts terrain parks on 50 percent of its property, which translates into dozens of rails and boxes to hit on skis or boards. Even if it’s unseasonably warm, you can count on it being open; it’s got some of the best snowmaking technology around. Ski pros can jump on the sister slopes at Jack Frost, just a few miles down the road, where there are serious elevations and ultra-challenging courses. 

If you’re going to visit the Poconos, please be prepared for a small shock: For the most part, this region doesn’t seem to have moved out of the 1970s. Many of the resorts, ski areas and towns have not been renovated one iota. Though this translates into decent prices, it also means gaudy décor straight out of The Love Boat, piped-in music from your old collection of ‘45s and flashbacks of your grandma reminding you to eat your string beans. For info, go to www.800poconos.com.

Kara Mayer Robinson is a journalist and mother of 2.