Don’t have the time or cash to head someplace tropical this winter? An indoor water park is a pretty good substitute, with the bonus of no air travel hassle and guaranteed delightfully warm water! Whether the family is in need of a one-day fun day or a longer escape, there are plenty of indoor water parks within driving distance of NYC. We’ve rounded up the best right here. Read on to get your slide on!

photo: Six Flags Great Escape

New York

Great Escape Lodge
Located right by Lake George, Great Escape Lodge in the Adirondacks attracts tourists and locals alike; especially because it’s part of the well-known and established Six Flags family of theme parks. Not only do fun characters like Scooby-Doo, a moose, and a fox come visit kids in the Lodge’s lobby, the indoor water park is literally just off the lodging area — so you can walk from your hotel room right into the water park in your flip-flops without ever going outside.

The water park is 38,000 square feet, maintained at  a warm 82 degrees, and splashy attractions include the Tall Timbers Treehouse (great for pre-school aged kids) which features water jets, steering wheels and a gigantic water bucket above that can soak you down below at any time. Older kids can float down the “lazy river” on inflatable tubes;  splash in the lagoon, where cascading jets of water douse guests below, enjoy “Avalanche” tubing on a large raft that seats four, and twist their way down slippery slides. If you’re traveling with a toddler, bring them to the mini pool area, which features very shallow water, baby swings, a baby slide, and wildlife-themed fountains. Johnny Rocket’s is on site serving up burgers, and kids can blow off even more steam at the hotel’s arcade.

Good to know: When booking your reservation, you can request that costumed character bring your kids some cookies before bedtime. For the parents, there’s an adults-only heated spa dubbed “Soakum Spring” and if you love massages and facials, there’s a day spa on-premises.

Six Flags Great Escape Lodge
9 Six Flags Dr.
Queensbury, Ny
518-824-6060
Online: sixflagsgreatescapelodge.com

Palm Island Indoor Water Park
Probably a bit far from NYC (about five hours) to merit a trip on its own, but Palm Island is a nice stop if you’re upstate visiting family or passing through en route somewhere. Located inside the Clarion Hotel Batavia, this indoor water park is just four years old, and no matter how cold it is outside, local kids and tourists flock to this cute and clean water park that’s accessible from inside the hotel. The 12,000-square-foot water park is home to two large body slides that loop around the outside of the hotel and drop sliders back inside the park; a waterfall with a basketball hoop; a kiddie pool and play section, and an underwater-lighted pool. (Plus: a hot tub for adults.)

Good to know: Hotel guests get first dibs on the use of the water park, so day passes are available if the room capacity at the Clarion Hotel isn’t sold out.

Palm Island Indoor Water Park
at Clarion Hotel Batavia
250 Park Rd.
Batavia, Ny
858-344-2100
online: palmislandindoorwaterpark.com

 

photo: Rocking Horse Ranch

Rocking Horse Ranch
Generations of families have visited Rocking Horse Ranch, an all-inclusive resort known for its year-round outdoor horseback riding (yes, even in the middle of winter). Guests like the personalized attention they receive here, and although the Ranch’s indoor water park isn’t as grandiose as others, it’s the perfect place to visit and enjoy in one afternoon, without the large crowds. Big Splash Indoor Water Park is kept at a comfortable 85 degrees, features a 250-foot flume for kids who can’t get enough of water slides, water geysers, aqua stations with mini-slides, fountains, large dumping buckets, and more.

Good to know: The ranch is also home to outdoor water slides, should you want to make a trip in warmer months.

Rocking Horse Ranch
600 State Route 44/55
Highland, Ny
845-691-2927
online: rockinghorseranch.com

Totem Towers

photo: courtesy Great Wolf Lodge

Pennsylvania

Great Wolf Lodge
Located in the Pocono Mountains, Great Wolf Lodge offers some really awesome indoor water park attractions for kids of all ages. Younger kids will enjoy the indoor mini-pool with spray-and-play features as well as well as a tree house to play in. Older kids gravitate towards The Big Foot Pass, where they “walk” from one end of the pool to another by hanging on to a rope and a signature water slide using a large raft called “River Canyon Run.” Great Wolf is also home to twin, three-story slides that provide an escape route out of the wet Fort Mackenzie tree house, tons of slide drops, and a one-of-kind water slide/roller coaster dubbed the “Hydro Plunge.”

Good to know: Visitors can rent an on-site cabana for the whole family.  These indoor cabanas include seating for six, complimentary locker rental, fresh fruit and a large cooler is stocked with an assortment of non-alcoholic beverages, premium towels and a designated tube to use on approved attractions.

Great Wolf Lodge
1 Great Wolf Dr.
Scotrun, Pa
570-688-9899
Online: greatwolf.com

aquatopia_camelbacklodge_indoorwaterpark_springbreak_national_redtricycle

Camelback Lodge and Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark is unique in that it offers visitors places to slip and slide both inside and out. For wet and wild fun, there’s Aquatopia, a 125,000-square-foot, multi-level indoor waterpark where it’s always a pleasant 84-degrees. The balmy bubble features seven pools and 13 slides — including the Venus SlydeTrap, the first Aqua-Sphere-Manta slide of its kind in the world, and a wave pool. It’s also home to the Storm Chaser, the longest indoor watercoaster in the U.S.

Good to know: Camelback also offers plenty of opportunity to have fun in the snow, with a full ski resort and the largest snowtubing park in the country.

Camelback Resort Lodge and Aquatopia Indoor Water Park
301 Resort Dr.
Tannersville, Pa
570-629-1661
Online: camelbackresort.com

For an Indoor/Outdoor Experience: Kalahari Resorts

photo: Kalahari Resorts

The Kalahari Resort
Also located in the Poconos, The Kalahari Resort is a 100,000-square-foot indoor waterpark featuring twisting waterslides, a lazy river, indoor/outdoor family whirlpool, spots for little ones to play and body-board and stand-up surfing opportunities for bigger kids (and adults). Poolside cabanas are available for rent here and it’s got a retractable roof for when the temps rise.

Good to know: That’s just the beginning. “Phase II” of the park is underway, scheduled to open this spring. When completed, Kalahari will be loaded with even more slides and rides (and a wave pool), measure 200,000-square-feet and take the title of the largest indoor waterpark in the country!

Kalahari Resorts
250 Kalahari Blvd.
Pocono Manor, Pa
570-580-6000
Online: kalahariresorts.com

Connecticut

CoCo Key Water Resort
The CoCo Key Water Resort Hotel & Convention Center of Waterbury offers 50,000 square feet of indoor fun. Features include a kiddie area with an interactive, parrot-themed play island, an adventure river for those who love to float, three 40-feet body and raft rides, and a lily pad adventure for the tiniest of visitors.

Good to know: For when you’re not in the water, there are restaurants and an arcade on site.

CoCo Key Water Resort
3580 East Main St.
Waterbury, Ct.
203-706-1000
Online: cocokeywaterbury.com

SaharaSams

photo: Sahara Sam’s Oasis

New Jersey

Sahara Sam’s
While this massive 60,000-square-foot park provides plenty of fun for people of all ages, it is a great option for families with toddlers. The park’s Lizard Lagoon is a feature dedicated entirely to young children and infants (it’s a play area with small slides) and tiny visitors will also enjoy TimBukTu, a play area outfitted with numerous interactive water features. The indoor water park has a retractable roof (it opens in the summer), and private cabanas for rent, adding to the tropical feel of the park regardless of the season. Cool water rides for those who love to surf, slide, soak, or be sprayed include The Flow Ride indoor surf simulator, The Congo Bongo (a leisurely float around the park in a tube), tube slides, the Crocodile Flats obstacle course, and more. If the whole family’s ready for an adventure, check out Mount Kilimanjaro, a towering, massive water slide on which up to four people ride a raft into a large pool.

Good to know: Kids under two get in free, and the park holds special events for kids on weekends, such as cookie decorating, games and giveaways with a DJ, or even visit from a large dump truck.   Also, be sure to check the park’s events calendar for events for kids with special needs.

Sahara Sam’s
535 North Route 73
West Berlin, Nj
856-767-7580
Online: saharasams.com

 

coco-key-water-resort
photo: via CoCo Key Water Resort Facebook page 

CoCo Key Water Resort
This indoor water park and hotel offers day and overnight passes to guests who want to make a splash on their vacation or staycation. You’ll find a mini wading pool that’s great for toddlers, a lily pad cargo net adventure, an aquatic jungle gym, and a 300-foot lazy river ride with little surprise splashes along the way. The resort is also home to a plethora of slides with various heights, speeds, and twists such as the Parrott’s Perch, which is three slides of different heights in an interactive play area, and the Barracuda Blast, a dark voyage down the loops and turns of over 350 feet of tube slide fun. (The resort’s slides measure an impressive 1,000  in total!) Adults, meanwhile, will appreciate the park’s giant whirlpools.

Good to know: Additional features include an on-site arcade with skee-ball, Guitar Hero, and more, plus dining areas, and special movie nights.

CoCo Key Water Resort
915 NJ-73
Mt. Laurel, Nj
856-234-7300
online: mtlaurelcocokey.com

cover photo: Kalahari Resorts

What’s your favorite New York area water park? Share it in the comments below!

—Rachel Sokol