Northwoods-Style Suites Above Massive Indoor Water Park
High above Fort Mackenzie—a four-story waterlogged treehouse that recalls the Swiss Family Robinson and Pirates of the Caribbean with swinging cargo nets, suspension bridges, and treetop slides—a 1,000-gallon bucket slowly fills with water. Suddenly, the bucket topples, drenching adventurers gathered below in a torrent of water. The splash-filled attraction joins 10 others at Great Wolf Lodge – Sandusky’s 84-degree indoor water park, which is connected to a comfy resort filled with spacious suites. You can spend the day careening down several tunnel slides, lounging in the Manitoba Tubs jumbo whirlpools, and playing water basketball in the Raccoon Lagoon before ending the night relaxing by the Grand Lobby’s fireplace.
The temperature-controlled aquatic arena is just one of the hotel’s many activities. At Scooops Kid Spa, staff members offer manicures, pedicures, and free ice cream to pintsize guests sitting on banana-split thrones. The Northern Lights Arcade features more than 100 games that cater to kids and adults alike. You can play a round of MagiQuest, a live-action adventure game that takes place in an enchanted kingdom filled with goblins, dragons, and pixies.
A family of up to eight can comfortably slumber in a Loft Fireplace Suite, which features a loft bedroom and a private balcony. Smaller broods can tuck into the Family Suite, and the Wolf Den and KidCabin Suites come with an in-suite miniature log cabin for the kids, replete with bunk beds and a TV. For dinner, head to one of Great Lodge’s onsite restaurants, which range from classic American fare at Gitchigoomie Grill to snacks and sodas at the water park’s Klondike Cafe.
Sandusky, Ohio: Roller Coasters on Lake Erie
Located on the banks of Lake Erie and almost exactly halfway between Cleveland and Toledo, Sandusky earned a spot on
Forbes’s list of Best Places to Live Cheaply for its picturesque lake views and premier theme parks. Foremost among them is Cedar Point, the self-proclaimed roller-coaster capital of the world and the country’s second-oldest operating amusement park where you can ride 15 coasters among more than 70 rides. For an unforgettable 40-second thrill ride, climb aboard the Wicked Twister, which speeds up to 72 mph as it whips into a series of 450-degree spirals.