Even though it’s a busy (and expensive) time of year to travel, my family always tries to go away for at least a few days right after Christmas. Since my kids and my husband have the time off, it’s a great time for some family bonding. This year, we chose to drive about 5 hours from our home west of Boston to the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos.
The Great Wolf Lodge is a chain with resorts located in the United States and Canada. Most of the resorts offer the same amenities and room sizes, so even if you visit a different location, you are likely to have a similar experience. The big draw is the indoor water park, which is only open to lodge guests (and birthday parties), but there are lots of other fun things to do as well.
Guests arriving at the Great Wolf Lodge can either self park or valet park for an additional fee. Luggage assistance is available, if needed. We arrived a little before check-in time but found that our room was ready – surprising, since the hotel was booked to full capacity. At check-in, we had the option to purchase a bundled package of amenities – something I chose to do since I knew my kids would want to do most of the activities. Water park admission is included in the room rate, but the bundled package (called the Paw Pass), includes other things like the interactive MagiQuest game, tokens for the arcade, a game of bowling, and a plush toy with outfit. These things can really add up, so keep that in mind before visiting the Great Wolf Lodge – this is not a cheap place to visit!
We spent the evening of our first night playing the MagiQuest game. It’s an interactive game when kids can sign up for a quest and travel around a section of the hotel completing little missions. You pay for both the magic wand and activation of the game, but both are included with the Paw Pass. My kids loved the game – perhaps even more than the water park. They wanted to stay at the lodge for an extra day just so they could continue with their quests.
The next day, we spent most of the morning at the water park, which is clean and well staffed. My kids loved the family slides (they are both under 48 inches and couldn’t go on the larger slides alone), as well as the wave pool, lazy river, activity pool, and splash structure. Despite the fact that it was snowy and cold outside, the water park and the water were both really comfortable and warm. The water park also offers a shop, a food counter, and a small bar.
We didn’t end up spending much time in our room, but it was actually a great room. There are over 400 suites at the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos, with several different sizes and styles. Our room was a standard family suite – a large room with two queen beds, a pull-out couch, refrigerator, microwave, and small table. Other suite types include the wolf den, which has a separate area for the kids to sleep.
The Great Wolf Lodge also offers an indoor mini golf course, several small bowling lanes, an arcade, two restaurants, a Starbucks, a sweet shop, a huge gift shop, and a spa with a kids’ spa. You never have to leave the property – we didn’t since the weather outside was so bad. It’s a great spot for a long weekend – I think three nights would be the perfect length of stay.
Disclosure: We received a discounted media rate for two nights at the Great Wolf Lodge.
Article and photos by Jodi Grundig of Family Travel Magazine.