Believe it or not, it’s possible to have a warm family vacation without dropping a grand or more on plane tickets. Indoor waterparks located around the region offer an easy escape where kids can splash and play the day away—even in the midst of a North East winter. Parks vary in their size, prices, and accommodations, and with a variety to choose from in the tri-state area, it’s easy to find one to suit your family’s style and budget.
West Berlin, N.J.
This 60,000-square-foot waterpark features a range of water rides to suit all ages, plus dining, arcades and private-birthday facilities. Visitors can enjoy the world’s largest ropes course (SAMAZON), the state’s only indoor surfing simulator (The Flowrider), along with body slides, raft slides, tube slides, a lazy river, and more. This summer, the park opened a massive outdoor waterpark with almost two acres of eave pools, leisure-swim areas and toddler sections, and the indoor park has a retractable roof, which is opened when the weather is nice. The park also hosts a special needs night throughout the year where families can enjoy judgment-free evenings at a significantly reduced rate.
Tip: Special discounts are offered to AAA members, military, birthday guys and gals and straight-A students (report card required).
Mt. Laurel, N.J.
This 55,000-square-foot waterpark resort just over the bridge from Philadelphia is another easy area getaway with plenty of splash attractions for the kids. From the aquatic jungle gym to the thrilling water slides to the toddler wading pool, there’s a little something for every age—including an adult-only spa area where the stress just melts away. Too tired to drive home after a day in the water? The park is connected to The Hotel ML, with 280 guestrooms, restaurant, and other standard hotel amenities. Day passes and overnight packages are both available.
Tip: Coco Key is running a Philadelphia Zoo package until the end of the year, which includes an overnight stay, two-day access to the waterpark for up to four guests, and four tickets to the Philadelphia Zoo.
Lake Harmony, Pa.
Up in Big Bolder/Jack Frost ski country, you’ll find a 48,000-square-foot indoor water world at Split Rock Resort. The park features Pennsylvania’s first indoor Flowrider along with dare-devil slides that drop four stories. Packages are available for visitors who want to stay at the resort, but an overnight stay is not required if you want to splash around for the day. The resort is also known for its golf course, and has a bowling alley, arcade and movie theater.
Tip: During high-season you may want to call ahead—day passes may be limited when the resort is at capacity.
Another waterpark tucked away in the Poconos, Great Wolf Lodge beckons chilled visitors with its balmy 84-degree, 79,000-square-foot waterpark open exclusively to its overnight guests. The waterpark features a water roller coaster, slides, wave pools, whirlpools, water activities and Fort Mackenzie, a four-story, 12-level interactive tree house/water fort with suspension bridges, cargo nets, web crawls and more. The resort also keeps the tikes entertained out of the water with a host of furry mascots, like Wiley the Wolf and Oliver Raccoon, an arcade, an indoor glow golf course and pint-sized bowling alley. If you’re nerves are fried from all the activity, parents can take a moment to unwind in Elements Spa (kids can chill at Scoops Kid Spa with ice cream-themed treatments) as well as at the Camp Critter Bar & Grille. While the resort offers both premium and standard suites, we recommend fully embracing the wilderness vibe by staying in one of the many themed suites, which feature in-room caves, tents and cabins in which your kids can sleep.
Tip: Check-in at the resort is 4 p.m., but the waterpark is open to guests as early as 1 pm on the day of their arrival and all day on the day of departure.
Located in the heart of Amish (and outlet shopping) country, Caribbean Indoor Water Park is connected to the Budget Host Inn and open to guests of the hotel, along with a few other partner hotels in the area (be sure to request the waterpark package when booking). This small park offers water slides, water agility courses, and plenty of play equipment for kids.
Tip: Check the park website for hours; it is often closed mid-week.