A plaster pirate wearing a red cloak stands guard atop the lookout tower of a replica schooner at the Ramada Tropics Resort & Conference Center. Within the view of his telescope, there's a bubbly hot tub, palm trees, a tiki bar, and a massive water slide that twists like a corkscrew into the aqua pool below. Altogether, the indoor water arena measures up at 18,000 square feet of aquatic fun, which can be enjoyed year-round, rain or shine.
The park lies just a short walk from the resort's guest rooms, which are outfitted with a pair of queen-size beds set amid earth-toned decor. After a day at the water park, lodgers can meander to Castaways Bar & Grill for savory steaks, seafood, and pasta dishes.
Des Moines, Iowa: Eclectic City amid Midwest Scenery
Iowa's capital city lies along the Des Moines River in the center of the state. The brick-paved streets of the eclectic East Village are lined with art galleries, trendy cafés, and historical buildings. Larger entertainment establishments include the Des Moines Botanical & Environmental Center, Adventureland Park, and the Veterans Memorial Auditorium—where, in 1982, Ozzy Osbourne infamously bit the head off a bat and was immediately elected governor.
For outdoor fun, head to Jester Park, which encompasses a golf course, campgrounds, and 8 miles of hiking trails. Bison and elk herds roam the land just as they did 200 years ago; you can watch the animals from viewing stations or check out accompanying art exhibits.