Our unpredictable weather means that just because it's summer, it won't necessarily be warm enough to play at an outdoor water park. Luckily, the Midwest is blessed with plenty of indoor waterparks as well. These three western Michigan venues are worth a weekend away.
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There are 11 Great Wolf Lodge resorts throughout the United States, including one in Wisconsin Dells and one in Traverse City, Michigan, in the northwest portion of the lower peninsula. Not only is this a fun spot for indoor recreation, but Traverse City is near the gorgeous Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, one of the prettiest spots in America, and the place you'll want to be if the weather cooperates.
Great Wolf Lodge offers accommodations for up to eight guests -- with some unique options for families with kids, and waterpark passes are included in the overnight rate. We stayed there for a night and my kids loved the KidCabin® Suite with their own little sleeping area, complete with bunk bed and its own television. My husband and I, meanwhile, loved having our own space as well.
But it's the huge, 84-degree indoor waterpark that's the big attraction. It has eight huge slides, five pools, a giant water fort, a lazy river and more. Every few minutes a giant bucket dumps 1,000 gallons of water on anyone standing below, and for the littlest guests, there's a kiddie pool and slide too.
Outside the water, there are fun activities -- from the MagiQuest adventure game to an arcade. Great Wolf Lodge is only about five hours from Chicago. If you plan to go, become a fan on Facebook and sign up for e-mails that include special offers and deals.
This dude ranch in Rothbury, Michigan, has plenty of outdoor activities--especially its miles of horseback riding trails--but the indoor waterpark is the newest attraction. It includes Michigan's tallest indoor water slide, a lazy/crazy river, wave pool, and kids' play areas. There are four pools, hot tubs, and even a rope suspension bridge over the waterpark.
The resort has a long list of daily activities, ranging from Silly Putty making to a stunt show, all included in the overnight accommodation price. And every Saturday, there's a real rodeo that is well worth the extra charge.
For sleeping accommodations, there are options for rooms or suites for up to 13 people, family cabins that sleep up to six, and one- and two-bedroom log homes. Check the website before you book to find waterpark deals as well as horseback deals. The resort also has a golf course and golf deals.
The Double JJ Resort is located near Muskegon, Michigan, less than four hours from Chicago.
This unassuming Holiday Inn is home to the Big Dip indoor waterpark with a three-story, double-figure-eight water slide, hot tub, zero depth toddler pool, and 10,000-square-foot pool.
The hotel doesn't have special family rooms, but standard rooms come with four water park passes. The two-room suite with a king bed and separate room with a sleeper sofa and second TV comes with six waterpark passes. In addition, the hotel offers free wifi and one another feature that helps make this one of the most affordable indoor water parks: kids eat free.
Grand Rapids is about three hours from Chicago.
• Deb Steenhagen is the social media manager for TravelingMom.com and the mom of three beautiful girls. You can also find her on Twitter -- she's @DebMomOf3.