WATER PARK FUN
Top 10 Indoor Water Parks in the U.S.
No matter how cold it gets outside, you'll always find temperatures in the 80s in these indoor water parks, where you can do everything from surfing 35-mph waves to riding a lazy river, water-park style.
Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Indoor Waterpark, Galveston, Texas
Meet the chain that invented the lazy river—a concept so popular that it's now practically a requirement at any water park worth its salt. The latest outpost from Schlitterbahn—a family-owned operation with four parks in the U.S.—has put a twist on the concept by adding waves to a river that is nearly a quarter-mile long (called Torrent River, this splashy adventure is anything but lazy). The company has another first under its belt with this Galveston Island park, too; it's the first "convertible" water park in the world, which means that it can convert from indoor to outdoor, depending on the weather. Of the dozen indoor attractions at the 26-acre park, the steep, 60-foot-high Rohr! is a favorite, where riders break speeds of 30 mph while whooshing down a 244-foot-long body slide. 2026 Lockheed St., Galveston, TX, 409/770-9283, schlitterbahn.com. Day passes from $26.
Short drive from Houston (50 miles), Austin (215 miles).
Water Park of America, Bloomington, Minnesota
This 70,000-square-foot water park is right next to the gargantuan Mall of America, refreshing tired shoppers with more than 300,000 gallons of water daily. The park's signature is a 10-story-tall tower waterslide for raft riders that drops and curves for more than a mile (the enclosed-tube ride is so long that it even takes a loop outside the building!). No water park would be complete without a surf simulator, and the Water Park of America delivers with a wave-maker that moves water between 25 to 30 mph. For younger children there are three body-slides and activity pools. After drying off, kids can hit the huge arcade with more than 100 games. 1700 American Blvd. East, Bloomington, MN, 952/ 698-8888, waterparkofamerica.com. Day passes from $30.
Short drive from Minneapolis (13 miles), Cedar Rapids, Iowa (266 miles).
Massanutten Resort, McGaheysville, Virginia
Massanutten offers more than just warm water temperatures and eight big attractions: The 42,000-square-foot glass-walled, pyramid-shaped structure also has views of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. As for rides, the Melting Mogul body slide sends folks on a heart-stopping descent into total darkness, and the Peak Splash slide is more than 440 feet high and moves 2,000 gallons of water per minute. Parents can recover from it all in the Shenandoah Hot Springs, an indoor/outdoor hot tub that's open year round. 1822 Resort Dr., McGaheysville, VA, 540/289-9441, massresort.com. Day passes from $38.
Short drive from Richmond (106 miles), D.C. (146 miles).
KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort, Gurnee, Illinois
Part of a 414-room resort, KeyLime's 65,000-square-foot water park is decorated in dazzling colors, easily brightening up any Midwest winter. The real claim to fame is the dizzying Hurricane Vortex, which shoots raft riders 40 mph into an orange-and-yellow swirling bowl and then drops them on a 44-foot plunge. Kids can't get enough of a pair of body slides named Wahoo and Screaming Banshee (the names really say it all), and parents are pleased with the adults-only whirlpool at the KeyLime Grotto. 1700 Nations Drive, Gurnee, IL, 877/360-0403, keylimecove.com. Park access for resort guests only; double rooms from $190 (includes water park tickets).
Short drive from Chicago (40 miles), Milwaukee (50 miles).
Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark, Kellogg, Idaho
Idaho's largest indoor water park was built especially with teens in mind. The park's calling card is Hoop Lagoon—a court-sized, three-foot deep, warm-water pool with real basketball hoops suspended overhead for friendly games. There's also a Flow Rider surf wave that moves at 35 mph and the Crossing, where kids can jump between floating obstacles like lily pads. For together time, families flock to the Moose Sluice, a raft waterslide that sends parties of four careening through a dark tunnel. 610 Bunker Ave., Kellogg, ID, 866/344-2675, silvermt.com. Park access for resort guests only; rooms from $179 (includes water park tickets and sleeps four).
Short drive from Spokane (68 miles), Missoula, Mont. (129 miles).