Some families just don’t like to travel during cold weather or snow. But their kids are anxious to do something — maybe even dive into the water. But where? A number of destinations are now beginning to offer at least some options, many within a reasonable driving range of where you live, for avoiding the winter blues no matter what the thermometer might read — with indoor, family-friendly snow alternatives. Great WolfThe Great Wolf has several locations in the U.S., such as Kansas, Ohio and Michigan. Their 38,000-square-foot indoor water park in Kansas City has eight waterslides, three pools and a four-story tree house waterfront. And the place is big — it uses 200,000 gallons of water — and features: • Fort Mackenzie, a four-story tree fort that has 12 levels of water activities. A 48-foot-high bucket dumps water onto the entire fort every 3 to 5 minutes. • Alberta Falls is a pair of tube slides that twist and turn inside and outside the water park and is 626 feet long. • Totem Towers has two 3-story body slides. • Howling Wolf is a three-person ride that travels 336 feet throughout the water park. • For parents, there’s even Elements Spa. It has a feng shui ambience that offers more than a dozen massage selections, including aromatherapy, hot stone, foot reflexology, deep tissue, stress-relief chair massage and more.Great Wolf is also opening a new location on January 10, 2008, in Grapevine, Texas. This location will have an 80,000-square-foot indoor water park — the size of two football fields! (800) 905-WOLF, http://www.greatwolf.comThe Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor WaterparkLocated in the Adirondacks of Lake George, N.Y., this water park — White Water Bay — has nine total rides. The Tall Timbers Treehouse is a multilevel play structure that looks like an Adirondack lodge (make sure you stand under the huge wooden bucket that spills water on you and your kids). Choose from nearly 160 fun, interactive water features, such as an array of colorful slides: • The Boogie Bear Surf creates a continual sheet wave for body boarding and surfing, so there’s no need to head to the coast to hang ten. Whether you’re a pro or trying boarding for the first time, the simulated waves are fun for all. • On the Tak-it-eesi-Creek, you ride on an inflatable tube, and water sprays you. • The Avalanche is a raft ride, and you go down a 41-foot drop with simulated white water. Here's an obvious tip: Don’t fall out! • Lott-a-watta-Bay is a lagoon with a basketball hoop. • For the little ones, Tip-A-Kanu-Beach is a shallow activity pool for tots and young children.
The lodge has an Adirondack theme and an arcade. A one-day pass costs $34.99 and reservations are required. The current package (which expires February 14): For a family of four, the package starts at $149 and includes lodging and admission to the water park. (888) 708-2684, http://www.sixflagsgreatescapelodge.comH2Oasis Indoor WaterparkDid you ever imagine swimming in warm water in Alaska? Even during the summer? Well, you can enjoy about 84-degree water year-round at the H2Oasis Indoor Waterpark in Anchorage (it even offers swimming and kayak lessons). And if you need exercise or a little therapy, try walking against the current in their Riverwalk, which occurs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Guests can also enjoy: • The Lazy River, a 575-foot-long river that circles the park, where you can ride on a tube or kayak. • Wave Pool, which simulates 3- to 4-foot waves, and a Children's Lagoon and Pirate Ship. • The Master Blaster is a water coaster that is 43 feet high and 505 feet long. $21.95 for adults and $16.95 for children for day passes. The Riverwalk costs $6. (888) 522-4420, http://www.h2oasiswaterpark.com/North Clackamas Aquatic ParkLocated in Milwaukie, Ore., this water park features Dive-In movies on the last Friday of each month. On January 25, 2008, the park will be showing Surf’s Up. The park also has:
- Three slides, a wave pool, a sandy volleyball play area.
- A hot tub for adults only and water fitness classes.
Due to the high school swim season, the lap pool is sometimes closed, so be sure to check the schedule ahead of time. The Dive-In movie costs $5 per person. Nonresident fees are $9.99 for adults, $6.99 for 9- to 17-year-olds, and $4.99 for 3- to 8-year-olds. Tube rentals also are available. (503) 794-8080
Castaway Bay at Cedar PointLocated in Sandusky, Ohio, it has a five-story structure with a vaulted wood ceiling, palm trees, huts and inland lagoons. The park includes: • Cargo Crossing, a play area where you cross a pool of water by balancing on floating lily pads and clinging to a cargo net. • Creature Cove, a pool area with basketball hoops and flotation devices. • Rendezvous Run is a 35-foot-high, 520-foot-long water roller coaster. It propels riders uphill with water jets, and the coaster travels through the water park and shoots you into an enclosed slide. • The Lookout Lagoon Family Funhouse is a huge multistory play area with more than 100 different water devices.On some days, the park is closed, so be sure to check the schedule. Day passes are $29 each. (419) 627-2106,Important cautions for all of these destinations: These are indoor water parks, not day care centers. Parents need to be responsible and watch their young children. It's also a good idea to bring extra towels. Don't just depend on the resort to supply an endless number of them.
And finally, keep in mind that some of these water activities at almost every indoor water park have height requirements, so make sure to check, or else you might have a disappointed kid.
Peter Greenberg is TODAY’s Travel editor. His column appears weekly on TODAYshow.com. Visit his Web site at .