Cabin-Style Suites Above Massive Indoor Waterpark
High above Fort Mackenzie—a four-story waterlogged treehouse that feels like it could be a part of Swiss Family Robinson or Pirates of the Caribbean—a 1,000-gallon bucket slowly fills with water. Suddenly, the big bucket topples, drenching those gathered below in a torrent of water. Heated to a balmy 84 degrees, Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound’s indoor waterpark and its more than 10 splash-filled attractions draw visitors to this aquatic getaway no matter the season. In addition to braving Fort Mackenzie, you can crash into 3-foot waves at Slap Tail Pond, careen down a six-story funnel slide at Howlin’ Tornado, and unwind in the South Hot Springs warming pool.
The 56,000-square-foot waterpark is the pièce de résistance among many activities on the hotel's entertainment campus. During the MagiQuest live-action adventure, kids can wield magic wands and journey through a kingdom to encounter mythical pixies and dragons. More than 100 games such as skee-ball and virtual pinochle attract gamers to the Northern Lights Arcade, with prizes and games geared toward all ages. Scooops Kid Spa offers manicures and pedicures for pintsize patrons perched atop ice-cream-cone stools and banana-split thrones—free ice cream tops off each visit. Use your $30 or $60 restaurant credit at the Loose Moose Cottage for breakfast and dinner buffets or Camp Critter Bar & Grille for Northwoods-style cuisine, including pistachio-crusted atlantic salmon.
Up to six vacationers can comfortably sleep in the family suite, which features natural-log bed frames on its two queen-size beds and a sleeper sofa for extended hibernation. Each KidKamp or Wolf Den suite comes with separate sleeping quarters for kids with bunk beds and a TV.
Thurston County, Washington: Nature and History near Olympia's Hub
Near the southernmost tip of Puget Sound and anchored by the state capital, Olympia, Thurston County is made up of diverse terrain that contains the Chehalis River and Mount Rainier, the continental United States' fifth-tallest mountain.
Not far from the resort, downtown Centralia is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its 1900s-era architecture, including a post office and train depot. Along Tower Avenue, old-fashioned streetlights light the way as shoppers stroll to outlet stores and antique shops filled with vintage knickknacks.
Nearby, nature preserves such as the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve sprawl over the South Sound's hills, providing a habitat for endangered wildlife, indigenous plants, and nature's growing teddy-bear population.