Whether the temperature outside is below freezing or hot and humid, you can dive into the fun year ‘round at one of Michigan’s indoor water parks. Escape to a place where temperatures stay above 80 degrees and gigantic dumping buckets, water slides and lazy rivers can take you out of the winter doldrums or cool you off in the dog days of summer. Many of the indoor water parks are connected to resorts and hotels. Call ahead and ask about day passes for a wet and wild dip as part of your Pure Michigan vacation travels. All of the water parks offer shallow areas for tots and deeper depths for swimming and tubing.
If you are heading to the Upper Peninsula, reserve a stay at the Fairview Beachfront Inn & Water Park in Mackinaw City. Water cannons, geysers, dump buckets and more fun fill the 5,000-square foot indoor water park. Adults can enjoy a huge 25-person Jacuzzi. Day passes and packages are available and the inn is only minutes away from the Mackinac Island ferries. During summer months the private sandy beach is perfect for picnics and a view of Mackinac Island.
Voted one the top ten indoor water parks in the nation by Budget Travel, Avalanche Bay at Boyne Mountain is an 88,000-square-foot water playground, the largest in Michigan. Enjoy five water slides, a lazy river, hot tubs, interactive play structure, wave rider surf pool and climbing wall. Skiers, who travel to Boyne for mountains of downhill and cross country skiing or snowboarding, take advantage of the water park to warm up and relax. Lodging options include hotel rooms, chalets and charming Austrian-themed houses.
Traverse City offers the Great Wolf Lodge, a hotel and four-story water park with 250,000 gallons of fun and eight water slides, five pools and a giant water fort. Fort McKenzie is an interactive tree house with suspension bridges, soaking spray stations and more. A 1,000-gallon water bucket dumps down at intervals to add to the fun. A three-person toboggan ride winds 336-feet through the water park and there’s a 25-foot rock climbing wall with secure harness equipment. Adults can retreat to Aveda, a full-service spa. Rustic suites accommodate four to eight guests.
Northern Michigan also offers an indoor water park at Comfort Suites Lakeside in the resort town of Houghton Lake. This 9,000-square foot water park offers water slides, a lazy river, kid’s pool and a hot tub. Boaters can dock nearby and take in a round at one of five golf courses.
Located in Rothbury near Muskegon, the Double JJ Resort is home to a 60,000-square foot Gold Rush Indoor Waterpark. Guests can play water basketball, try out the water slide, float down the lazy river and venture into the wave pool or water fort. Take a thrill ride on the white water raft, a choice of tubes and Michigan’s tallest indoor waterslide. There’s an indoor/outdoor family hot tub and one just for adults. Visitors not staying at the ranch can purchase day pass to the water park, which is open weekends for winter months. Call ahead for exact times and dates.
Saginaw Valley Area
The Bavarian-themed town of Frankenmuth offers two types of water adventures. At the Bavarian Inn Lodge guests can dip into five indoor pools and three whirlpools. One pool features a waterfall and another is just for adults. A special pool is designated for toddlers and there is a two-story children’s play village. Kids and parents can play a round of indoor miniature golf or more than 100 arcade games. The lodge offers dining, 350 rooms and suites, and several packages for families, groups and special occasions. The inn overlooks the Cass River and it’s a short walk to the Bavarian Inn restaurant and Main Street shops.
Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Indoor Waterpark, just one mile from downtown Frankenmuth and next door to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, offers 30,000 square feet of aquatic adventures. The huge dumping buckets pours out 400 gallons of warm water and there are two, four-story tube slides, a lazy river, toddler area, water geysers and sprays and a hot tub. The 146-room hotel also offers a game arcade, snack bar and dining for breakfast and lunch. Many packages include dinner at Zehnder’s Restaurant on Main Street. Guests may use the free shuttle to dine and shop in downtown Frankenmuth.
Not far from downtown Detroit is the 248-room Best Western Sterling Inn in Sterling Heights. Plunge into the 22,000-square-foot indoor water park that includes a three-story water slide, lazy river and geysers. Kids can enjoy a 2,300 square foot interactive Splash Play Park. The inn also has an indoor running track, basketball court, video game arcade and a fitness center.
There are more indoor water park adventures available at the Holiday Inn Express South in Grand Rapids. The Big Dip Indoor Water Park has a three-story double figure eight water slide, kiddie pool, hot tub, whirlpool and a Jungle Jim. Splash Universe in Dundee is reopening March 3rd after a massive tornado came through. Every room, slide and water feature is better than ever and it remains 84 degrees year round. If you want to splash around when visiting the Battle Creek area stop in at the Full Blast Family Entertainment Center that offers an indoor and outdoor water park with slides, interactive play areas and a lazy river. The 18,000-square foot Surfari Joe's Indoor Wilderness Water Park in Watervliet, just northeast of Benton Harbor, is open on weekends for splashing good fun. Check ahead before you go for times and dates. The park includes water, body and tube slides, a toddler’s water play area, lazy river and hot tub. There is also a video arcade. Surfari Joe’s hotel packages are also available.