Updated March 2022

When the weather outside is frightful, many folks plan an indoor water park getaway to take advantage of toasty 80+ degree indoor temperatures, regardless of weather conditions. But how do you choose the right water park resort for your vacation? Allow us to introduce you to the indoor water park resorts of Shores & Islands Ohio. Want to know the inside scoop on staying at each resort? Be sure to click on the review at the end of each description. Please note, Castaway Bay is temporarily closed but is expected to open in May 2022. Please visit castawaybay.com for updates and future reservations.

Great Wolf Lodge

Theme: Northwoods lodge

Family fun: 33,000 sq. ft. indoor water park features a lazy river, four-story fort, giant tipping bucket, and more. Day passes are now available for outside guests in limited quantities, an amenity not formerly available through Great Wolf Lodge resorts. Other activities offered include the Cub Club arts and crafts, character appearances, story time, and the Great Clock Tower show as well as a prize-winning arcade.

Food features: Snack bar located within the water park; take-out pizza, sandwiches, and salads; sweet shop featuring coffee, ice cream, pastries, and homemade fudge; on-site Dunkin’ Donuts open morning and afternoon; full-service Gitchigoomie Grill offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with a full-service bar.

Overnighting: Get deals on overnight stays here, including a great Early Saver deal when you book at least 60 days in advance. Don’t miss a variety of standard, themed, and premium suites.

Unique attributes:

  • Sweet suites – This all-suite hotel features fabulous themed suites, including the “Wolf Den,” “Kid Cabin,” “Royal Bear,” and loft fireplace suites.
  • MagiQuest – Play this fun, interactive game and turn Great Wolf Lodge into your own personal playground. Purchase a magic wand and set off on a quest throughout the resort, where you’ll unlock a world of adventure. Great for family play!
  • Build-A-Bear Workshop – Create Great Wolf Lodge characters including Wiley the Wolf and Sammy the Squirrel using of a wide assortment of plush clothing and accessories. This make-your-own experience will allow guests to leave with a one-of-a-kind, special souvenir. 

Wellness & Cleanliness Protocols: Great Wolf Lodge’s Paw Pledge program, a company-wide initiative to keep families healthy and safe while they play together at the indoor waterpark resort, was developed in conjunction with medical professionals, sanitization specialists, industrial engineers and public health officials. The program focuses on disinfection and sanitization, physical distancing, personal protection, and minimizing surface interactions in all guest areas across the resort.

Review: Ohio blogger Mike Mixon, from 6 Kids 1 Tank, shares his Great Wolf Lodge experience with six kids in tow!


Kalahari Resorts & Conventions

Theme: Authentically African

Family fun: 173,000 sq. ft. indoor water park features a number of thrilling slides, a water coaster, lazy river, wave pool, special kids' areas, and more! The resort also features an outdoor water park in-season, with a five-slide tower! Other fun includes the Safari Outdoor Adventures Park which offers zip-lining, ropes course, rock-climbing wall, and the Safari Adventures Animal Park. Kids’ activities are offered daily, including crafts and character appearances, plus a huge family arcade with indoor glow golf, laser tag, virtual reality, and more.

Food features: There is truly something for every taste with a variety of onsite dining choices; everything from a quick-service pizza pub, deli, buffet restaurant, full-service dining options, room-service, sweet shop, and several lounges. Many guests enjoy B-Lux Grill & Bar - home of handcrafted burgers and shakes. This restaurant captures the latest craves through its robust influence of American-style food with fresh ingredients that are locally sourced. New for 2021 is Sortino’s Italian Kitchen featuring family Sicilian favorites.

Overnighting: So many overnight specials and packages are offered here, including multi-night discounts and fun stay enhancements. Need a break from your virtual classroom? Check out the Schoolaway Getaway, which features a safe place for learning filled with fantastic breaks.

Unique attributes:

  • Authentic African décor/artwork – Don't miss the décor all throughout! The Nelson family has a passion for Africa – beginning with the family's first trip to the continent in the mid-90s, the family continues to regularly visit for inspiration and to purchase authentic items for their resorts, including hand-carved seating and tables, tribal masks and sculptures, hand-woven textiles and more.
  • Storm Chaser – The Storm Chaser Slideboarding Adventure integrates gaming, skill, speed, and competitive sports into an experience that will define the water parks of the future. Storm Chaser features an interactive multi-level game built within a waterslide. It uses a smart gaming system that tracks your progress and scores your run down the waterslide as you hit your targets for points, and unlock new levels.
  • Become a Mermaid/Merman – Unique water park experiences abound at Kalahari, where you book a lesson to learn to become a mythical underwater creature, or learn to “hang ten” on the Flow Rider surf simulator.
  • Spa Kalahari – Pamper yourself during your getaway with a visit to Spa Kalahari, featuring a Himalayan Salt Halotherapy Room and Spa Kalahari, Jr. for younger guests.
  • Float Experience at Spa Kalahari – In water temperatures that match your body’s own internal temperature, you float, suspended in a bath of Epsom salt or magnesium sulfate. Learn how to relax in the deepest sense of the word—weightless, silent, peaceful.

Wellness & Cleanliness Protocols: As a family-run business, Kalahari Resorts & Conventions is committed to do what’s best for their guests and team. They want to ensure confidence in your getaway, so you can focus on family memories and not worry. Read more about what Kalahari Resorts & Conventions is doing to ensure a safe getaway for your family this season.

Review: Check out this Kalahari review from Pennsylvania blogger Rachel Cunningham Ravis, from Third Stop on the Right.


Cedar Point’s Castaway Bay

Theme: Caribbean paradise

Family fun: 38,000 sq. ft. indoor water park features large wave-action pool, indoor/outdoor hot tub, water coaster, kids’ areas, and more. Water park day passes are available for non-hotel guests. Win prizes at the state-of-the-art arcade and participate in daily family-fun activities at Camp Castaway, detailed in the Island Times newsletter available at the front desk. Be sure to check operating days and hours throughout the winter, as the park operates mostly on weekends, with increased hours during peak times.

Food features: Snack bar located within the water park; quick-service deli; breakfast buffet restaurant; attached Quaker Steak & Lube full-service restaurant; room service is also available, including pizza.

Overnighting: Castaway Bay recently underwent renovations to their guest rooms. A number of overnight packages are offered, which include accommodations, food, and activities combined at a savings. Cedar Point Gold and Platinum pass holders can receive discounts on select room types as well.

Unique attributes:

  • Affiliation with Cedar Point – Cedar Point amusement park ticket packages are available during the operating season, and as a Cedar Point hotel guest you have access to discount tickets and admission to the park one hour prior to opening to the general public.
  • PEANUTS™ characters – Join Snoopy and the PEANUTS™ gang for nightly story time, special family activities (dance party!), movies, and character meet-and-greets.

Wellness & Cleanliness Protocols: Please note, Castaway Bay is temporarily closed for renovations but is expected to open in May 2022. Please visit castawaybay.com for updates and future reservations.

Review: Formerly-from-Michigan blogger Kelsey Bunker Robertson, from Kelsey & Co., dishes about taking her family of seven to Castaway Bay.

With so many great water park and accommodations features, it may be hard to choose! One thing is for sure, you'll definitely have a swim-tastic time in Ohio's Lake Erie Shores & Islands. The area’s water park resorts definitely make the ideal getaway for your family this winter!