Brrr … it’s cold outside, so put on your bathing suit and head for the water. No, I don’t mean outside, I mean head to one of several indoor waterparks that are an easy drive from Buffalo. While all of these waterparks are open year-round, they are especially fun as a winter destination when it’s freezing outside and you’re longing for summertime fun. Most waterparks are kept at a balmy 84 degrees, so they’re a perfect place to warm up on a cold day.
While most people who go to the waterparks are overnight guests at the hotels connected to them, the facilities usually have a limited number of day passes available to those not staying overnight; always call first to check availability if this pertains to you.
Palm Island Indoor Waterpark
Located in the Clarion Hotel in Batavia, Palm Island is smaller than some of the other waterparks described in this article. But that makes it especially attractive to families with younger children since its smaller size makes it easier to keep track of little ones. Note: Even though these facilities have plenty of lifeguards, parents still have to be vigilant in watching their kids around water.
This 12,000-square-foot water park has two 24-foot-tall body slides, a pool with a waterfall and basketball hoop, a hot tub, children’s pool and play area, as well as an arcade, gift shop and a food concession serving casual kid-friendly fare like pizza, hot dogs and chicken fingers.
It is strongly recommended to book an overnight stay during school holiday weeks, such as the President’s Day winter break, Easter week, etc.
Palm Island Indoor Waterpark (Clarion Hotel), 8250 Park Road, Batavia, (585) 344-2100, www.palmislandindoorwaterpark.com, www.clarionbatavia.com. The water park is open Friday-Monday during the winter months.
This 125,000-square-foot water park, located on the top of the Casino Niagara parking garage, connects to three Falls Avenue resort hotels via an indoor walkway and is about a two-minute walk to the Falls. The water park, which opened in 2006, features 16 waterslides, an indoor wave pool, an adults-only whirlpool, a tiny tots splash park and play area, and even an outdoor heated sun deck and pool that is open year-round. The water park is close to Clifton Hill and other Niagara Falls, Ont., attractions.
Fallsview Waterpark, 5685 Falls Ave., Niagara Falls, Ont., (905) 374-4444, www.fallsviewwaterpark.com.
Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls
Great Wolf Lodge has about a dozen waterpark resorts throughout the United States and Canada. Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls is located about 3 miles north of the Falls. The 103,000-square-foot water park features 13 waterslides, a 4-foot deep activity pool, the Niagara rapids water roller coaster, kiddie slides, a four-story interactive tree house, a wave pool, lazy river and an outdoor pool that is open during the summer. There also are several places to eat located within the resort.
As with the other water parks, it is best to book an overnight stay at their hotel to fully enjoy the park. A limited number of day passes are available for guests not staying at the hotel; it’s best to call first during peak times, such as school breaks since day passes are only available if the water park is not at capacity.
Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls, 3950 Victoria Ave., Niagara Falls, Ont., (905) 354-4888, www.greatwolf.com/niagarafalls.
Waves Indoor Waterpark at the Americana Resort
This 25,000-square-foot glass-enclosed water park is the only one in Niagara Falls that has a retractable roof. Located several miles from the Falls along touristy Lundy’s Lane, it features tube slides, body slides, a wave pool, kiddy pool and seasonal themed activities. The hotel features a full-service spa, and there is a restaurant on site.
Waves Indoor Waterpark, Americana Resort, 8444 Lundy’s Lane, Niagara Falls, Ont., (905) 356-8444, (866) 707-0030, www.americananiagara.com.
Splash Lagoon in Erie, Pa., about a 90-minute drive from Buffalo, has been a popular place for people from Western New York to visit since it opened in 2003. The 120,000-square-foot Polynesian-themed water park is Erie’s No. 1 year-round tourist attraction. It has the largest indoor wave pool in the United States, as well as a variety of attractions from tame to extreme.
My husband and I, along with our two youngest children, visited Splash Lagoon several months ago. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, one of the three hotels that are connected to the water park.
While the kids, age 12 and 19, enjoyed the wilder attractions, with names like shark attack, python plunge, black hole and big kahuna, as well as the hurricane hole, which drops you in 6 feet of water, my husband and I were content to grab inner tubes and float down the lazy river and get our feet wet in the wave pool. The resort also has several hot tubs, a tiki tree house with 12 levels, and a play area for smaller children.
In addition, the facility has an arcade, a 30-foot-high ropes course, and a gift shop. There also are several food and beverage concessions at the water park. A number of national chain and local restaurants are also a short drive away.
Splash Lagoon, 8091 Peach St. (Exit 24 off I-90), Erie, Pa., (866) 3-SPLASH, www.splashlagoon.com.
Cascades Waterpark at Greek Peak Resort
Cascades, which opened in 2009, is located at Hope Lodge at Greek Peak Ski Resort, about a five-hour drive from Buffalo. It is the only water park in Central New York and the first water park in the Finger Lakes region. The 41,000-square-foot water park has multiple body slides, activity pool, wading pool, white water wave pool, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, an outdoor pool that is open year-round and an interactive play structure. Overnight accommodations, as well as day tickets are available by advance purchase only.
Cascades Waterpark at Greek Peak Resort, 2000 NY 392, Cortland, (855) 444-8696, www.cascadesindoorwaterpark.com