Road Trip!: Indoor water parks

| Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

It's the dead of winter, so it's time to go skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing. And don't forget, of course, swimming.

Swimming? In January and February? In this region? Yes, you can, and you don't have to fly to Florida or Arizona. Numerous indoor water parks attract warmth-craving visitors to Pennsylvania and Ohio year-round, and visitors may be especially eager to visit in the winter so they can escape the snow, cold and slush.

“The popularity of indoor water parks like Cedar Point's Castaway Bay has certainly grown in recent years, as more families redefine the traditional idea of a vacation,” says Annie Zelm, spokeswoman for Sandusky, Ohio-based, Cedar Point. “Rather than waiting until the summer months, many people are opting to escape the cold with a weekend getaway at a resort destination that feels like a tropical paradise but costs a lot less.”

Castaway Bay, Zelm says, has activities that appeal to many age groups, so the entire family can join in on this road trip.

You can do an easy day trip in Western Pennsylvania — either to nearby Butler or farther north to Erie — or take a four-hour road trip to Ohio for an overnighter. In Sandusky, Ohio, alone, you can pick from five water parks, and maybe visit all of them.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7824 or kgormly

Pirates Cove Waterpark at Conley Resort

Conley Resort — located in Butler, just a county north of Pittsburgh — offers its own little indoor water park for family fun. Pirates Cove features two slides, a sauna, a hot tub, a pirate ship with a water cannon and a party room. The overall resort offers more than the water. You can enjoy year-round golf, with several golfing packages available, and a 56-room hotel for a weekend escape. Conley officials say that Pirates Cove is popular during the winter.

Details: 724-586-7711 or

Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park

In a quick, two-hour drive, you can take an easy day trip to Erie and enjoy Splash Lagoon, one of the country's biggest indoor water parks. Even on the most bitterly cold winter day, the temperature inside Splash Lagoon remains a consistent 84 degrees. Features include the 200,000-gallon Wild Waters Indoor Wave Pool, the Tree Tops Indoor Rope Course, the Big Kahuna and Black Hole slides, Lazy River and Hurricane Hole. At Splash Lagoon, palm trees and tropical flowers fulfill the South Seas theme.

Details: 866-377-5274 or

Cedar Point's Castaway Bay Indoor Waterpark

This Sandusky, Ohio, park features wet fun for the whole family year-round with a tropical, Caribbean-island theme in a 38,000-square-foot facility. Adventures include a water coaster, slides, kiddie water play areas, a wave pool and visits from Snoopy and his Peanuts friends. The Cedar Point Resorts also include restaurants, retail stores, a day spa, an arcade and more. During Cedar Point amusement park's operating season, which begins May 11 this year, visitors staying overnight get discounted tickets to the water park.

Details: 419-627-2106 or

Great Wolf Lodge

This place has the feel of a rustic hunting chalet in the great north woods, rather than a tropical theme, and is geared especially toward families with younger children. Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, which maintains an 84-degree temperature, offers water entertainment in a 33,000-square-foot area that includes the Fort Mackenzie interactive tree house with two Otter Run slides, the 100-foot Totem Towers slide and the four-story Alberta Falls slide. The lodge itself includes restaurants, an arts-and-crafts area for kids, numerous family suites, a new Scooops Kid Spa for ages 4 to 12, and a new MagiQuest live-action game attraction.

Details: 800-641-9653 or

Kalahari Resorts Indoor Water Park

This place, said to be America's largest indoor water park, has an African theme and is geared toward adult thrill-seekers and older children. In 86-degree temperatures, you can ride the Zip Coaster uphill water roller coaster, surf on the FlowRiders, ride a zipline or race down the Zimbabwe Zipper or Zig Zag Zebra slides. The resort offers a spa, 11 restaurants and bars. This year, Kalahari Resort will undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation and development, which will include new guest-room amenities and improvements at the Sandusky site.

Details: 877-525-2427 or

Maui Sands Resort & Indoor Waterpark

This Sandusky resort — which re-opened in 2012 under new ownership, after closing as a result of a bankruptcy a few years earlier — will re-open its Hawaiian-theme Indoor Waterpark in February. The 45,000-square-foot park in a tropical-garden setting includes water attractions and slides like Liquid Lava, MakaMaka Treehouse, Coconut Cove and Pineapple Bay. You also can say “Aloha” to Hawaiian-theme hotel rooms and suites at Maui Sands Resort.

Details: 419-621-7357 or

Quality Inn & Suites Rainwater Park

For travelers on a more limited budget, try the Quality Inn & Suites Rainwater Park, which has a smaller, rain-theme water park and lower admission prices, and it's free for hotel guests. The Sandusky park includes a 50-foot tower where guests can shoot down two giant water slides, each more than 250 feet long. The hotel complex includes activities like bowling, betting on horse races and laser tag.

Details: 800-654-3364 or

Fort Rapids Indoor Water Park Resort

If you like the old Wild West, you can head out to the frontier in this Columbus-based wet-and-wild resort. The resort includes attractions such as the Kiddie Korral and Rascal Round Up, and four thrill slides that shoot from the top of a 40-foot Slide Tower. These western-theme water rides include Shoot Out Racer, Black Out Pass, Ambush Alley and Raging Bull. Adults can enjoy a 30-person hot tub. The resort offers numerous tower guest rooms and villa family suites.

Details: 877-337-7527 or

CoCo Key Water Resort at Cherry Valley Lodge

This park — located about 25 miles east of Columbus, Ohio, in Newark — features 50,000 square feet with a tropical, Key West theme, and it's always 84 degrees in there. The park has slides for younger children, water cannons and a huge bucket that dumps hundreds of gallons of water every few minutes. CoCo Key Water Resort also has a location in the Cincinnati area.

Details: 800-788-1200 or

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