If you are planning a trip to an indoor water park for your family this year, you might be asking yourself, what is the best indoor water park for toddlers, are indoor water parks safe to visit right now, what is the best indoor water park and hotel near me and even will my toddler have fun at an indoor park. Well if any of these questions crossed your mind, keep reading! Recently, we took a quick road trip to Kalahari Resort and Spa in Sandusky, Ohio as a surprise to celebrate my son’s 7th birthday. Traveling with a seven year old, four year old and three year old is no easy feat. So, I am sharing these 5 tips that made our road trip to Kalahari Resort and Spa in Sandusky, Ohio stress-free and most importantly, FUN!
Before I get into the tips, I’ll start by sharing that the decision to travel right now was not an easy one. However, after a year of being cooped up in the house we all needed this little road trip and we had so much fun. As a mom, vacations with the kids are rarely fun for me, because I am too busy trying to plan out all of the details and anticipate everyone's needs. Traveling during a pandemic requires even more planning to limit the number of stops, pack our own food to avoid eating out and lots and lots of hand sanitizer. But I was on a mission to make Preston’s Birthday special, although it wasn’t easy keeping our trip a surprise (more on that later).
We live in Pittsburgh, and there are a couple of options for indoor water parks, but we decided on Kalahari Resort and Spa in Sandusky, Ohio based on a recommendation of a friend who took her toddlers and they had a great time, so we said, why not! The drive was about three hours from Pittsburgh. On the way there we decided to make a stop for breakfast and split the trip into two parts. On the way home we took more of a road warrior approach and made no stops. The kids did great thanks to their tablets and some magnetic board games that kept them busy #momwin!
Ok, now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s get into the 5 tips that will take your next water park trip from good to great!
Tip #1 For the road trip to and from the indoor water park charge up tablets so each child can watch movies or play games that do not require WIFI. Now this next part is critical… test that the games work without WIFI! You can download movies to the tablet from Netflix, too. If you have multiple children like we do, you can have them swap tablets to watch a different movie, so no one get bored. I purchased some headphones and extra chargers to bring with us to ensure no one’s tablet died. The headphones allowed Mark and I to listen to music and podcast uninterrupted and enjoy some quality time together in the front of the car.
Tip #2 The next tip is helpful for navigating check-in. If you are traveling with two adults, have one adult check in while the other adult stays with the kids in the car. The check-in space was more crowded than I would have liked. This made me think we should have planned to
arrive about 30 minutes earlier, but either way, there were plenty of safety precautions in place that I did feel safe. Keeping the kids in the car until check in was complete and room information is obtained can take some stress out of the process. Now, do I say and not as I do, we valeted the car and did not follow this tip and I felt very anxious the entire time. In the end, we made it to our room just fine. Kalahari features these cool wristbands that are used as the room key and can even be connected so that purchases can be charged to your credit card right from your wristband.
Tip #3 is pack water shoes. Water shoes are permitted on most water slides and just made me feel better than the kids walking around the indoor water park barefoot. The water shoes especially come in handy when you have to take the kids to the restroom. You can grab water shoes like these one from Amazon. I hope the kids can still fit their water shoes this summer for our trips to the spray park.
Tip #4 is bring your own breakfast. I ordered oatmeal cups on Amazon and we used bottles of water and heated them up in the microwave in the room. This was nice because we were able to have a hearty warm breakfast and it saved us time getting on the road to come home. We also had some cereal bars to have as a snack. Speaking of snacks, I packed a lot of snacks because I knew we would not be stopping at rest stops like we normally would. I focused on more savory snacks like chips and crackers, to avoid a sugar rush while on the three hour drive. I also stocked up on bottled water and capri suns and loaded them into a cooler bag, like this one. As a family of five, bringing along lots of snacks and our own breakfast saves us time, money and headaches. Cranky kids are easily soothed with snacks!
Tip #5 if you want to maximize your time at Kalahari Resort and Spa in Sandusky, Ohio I definitely recommend staying at least two days, especially during the summer when the outdoor attractions are open. Our children were so tired after a fun filled day inside the indoor water park they were literally falling asleep at dinner. We had to call it a night early and they weren’t able to use the remaining points on the game card for the arcade. There were also parts of the waterpark we didn’t get a chance to explore because they were tired and needed a break before we got cleaned up for dinner. So I definitely recommend staying at least two nights. The great thing about how the resort packages are that admission to the indoor water park is included with the hotel stay. You can also purchase day passes if you live close enough. Kalahari also allows guests to access the water park after checking out, so you could technically spend time in the water park a second day, then shower and go home later in the afternoon. Staying at least two days will allow you to maximize your trip and not feel rushed during your stay because there is so much to do.
Earlier, I told you I would tell you more about the surprise birthday aspect of this road trip, so I guess this is later! We decided not to tell the kids we were going to Kalahari Resort and Spa for a couple of reasons, one we didn’t want them pestering us everyday leading up to the trip. Two, we didn’t want to get their hopes up and then need to cancel due to something that was outside of our control, which is very plausible in these unprecedented times. Three, we wanted the trip to be an epic surprise! I am pretty sure we achieved our goal, as they had no idea where we were headed. We woke them up super early on Sunday morning and told them we were going on a road trip. The suspense had them guessing the whole ride there and finally, when we pulled into
the resort Preston figured it out. So that was the surprise, a road trip to Kalahari Resort to celebrate Preston’s 7th birthday!