By Anastasia Mills Healy
The iconic image representing the Poconos has morphed from a couple sitting in a giant Champagne glass-shaped hot tub full of pink bubbles into kids careening down a water slide or snow tubing. The Pocono Mountains, about two hours from Fairfield County, are much more known now for family fun than kitschy honeymoons.
Resorts like Great Wolf Lodge, Camelback, and Kalahari are geniuses at creating excitement for kids. Enormous indoor and outdoor water parks can happily fill entire days; but wait, there’s more. A recent visit to Great Wolf Lodge revealed nonstop activities including Magic Quest, a highly interactive scavenger hunt throughout the property adaptable to the player’s age; plus an arcade, bowling alley, mini-golf, beauty salon, candy store, story time with giant animatronic animals, daily craft time, and family yoga, bingo, and dance parties in the lobby where it was “snowing” inside. Add an in-season outdoor area with a ropes course and life-size games like Connect Four, chess, and checkers; energetic music pumped in through speakers; and seasonal offerings like Santa, an Easter egg hunt, and Halloween trick-or-treating and you have extremely active kids who are so in love with their vacations that they might completely forget about wanting to go to Disney. Save the airfare! Go to the Poconos.
Great Wolf Lodge recently completed a major renovation, adding attractions like an interactive mining experience, Build-A-Bear Workshop, and Illumination Station, which sells light-up items perfect for evening dance parties. Its 401 rooms have been updated with new beds, flooring, and furnishings in a “Northwoods” theme. Twelve suite styles include one with bunk beds inside a log cabin, wolf den, and camping tent alcoves; the gift shop sells fort-building items to enhance the indoor camping experience. The resort runs at 85 percent occupancy year round so they are doing something right!
Just down the road, Camelback Lodge is connected to the Aquatopia water park and the Camelback ski area, which has the largest snow tubing area in the country. There’s also a mega-arcade, indoor laser tag, virtual reality experience, a three-story ropes course and rock climbing, and a paint-your-own-pottery studio.
Nearby Kalahari resort’s 220,000-square-foot indoor water park is America’s largest. It also has a virtual reality experience, arcade, spa, and more to keep guests in its 977 rooms busy. If you build it they will come…
It’s possible to pay admission and experience the water parks at Kalahari and Aquatopia without staying at the resorts whereas you have to be a guest at Great Wolf to participate in their activities.
If by some miracle you find yourself bored or just want to venture out into the region, antiques stores and retail outlets, white water rafting and horseback riding, golf and fishing, exploring caverns and hiking are all options.
If you are intrigued by the Champagne glass hot tub, check out https://www.covepoconoresorts.com.
For a luxury, serene, kid-free (children under 16 not allowed) Poconos escape, head to The Lodge at Woodloch whose spa and gourmet dining receive consistent accolades. Set on 500 acres that include a 15-acre lake, the lodge has only 58 guest rooms and nary a water slide in sight. A range of fitness programs, educational forums, and events are offered but guests are welcome to simply unwind with a massage or nature trail walk. The hammock grove and forest bathing offerings are particularly intriguing. Woodloch Pines Family Resort, TripAdvisor’s number-one ranked family resort in the country, is two miles away. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Tourism information: https://www.poconomountains.com.