This March break we decided to get away without going too far away. I've been thinking about Great Wolf Lodge for quite awhile but heard there were closer and cheaper options in New York State. A little online research and I found the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge near Lake George New York.
How far is it?
By the map it's about 4.5 hours. It took us closer to 6 or so including bathroom breaks, the wait and the border and lunch.
We drove through Montreal, though you can also drive through Ogdensberg. The Montreal route is longer but on faster roads. The route down the 416 takes you through smaller towns at slower speeds.
Either route takes you through the mountains and it's quite a lovely drive. There isn't as much as usual to be seen along the highways as I usually see on our trips to the States though - not a single Cracker Barrel between Ottawa and our destination, but fortunately there was an Applebees :)
What is there to do there?
Indoor Water Park
The indoor water park is included in your stay at the hotel (so is the outdoor amusement park when it's open) and it has a lazy river, a treehouse, a toddler area, 3 4-story enclosed slides and a boogie board ride.
My kids aren't very adventurous so they were thrilled with the lazy river and the slides in the treehouse. I was really impressed with the lifeguards on staff. They were monitoring everything very closely and are constantly showing that they are doing visual checks of all sections of the water. We were comfortable letting the kids have free run of the lazy river and treehouse on their own at ages 5 and 8.
I didn't really understand what this was before we arrived but in the end we invested and I'm really glad we did.
The hotel has an indoor video game called Adventure Trek. You need to buy a wand (about $30) and then you use the wand to complete missions. Once you've completed all the missions in one section of the game you get to play a game on a big video game screen.
We only bought one wand for the three kids. Most of the groups of kids we saw had each kid with their own wand. We were fine with just the one. We also didn't get the upsell of fancy toppers for the wands nor did we buy them adventure capes. We're the boring parents apparently ;)
What was great about this is that it kept the kids moving even when we weren't in the water park. They were running all over the hotel, up and down the stairs from floor to floor, to try to find all the things they needed in each mission. We always had one of us with them while doing this but had the twins been a bit older we would happily have left them to their own devices.
The perk here is that your kids get to go running around the hotel and it's perfectly acceptable and part of the way the hotel works!
They have a kids' club that was great for keeping the kids entertained. We went and coloured a few times, and the twins also spent some of their pocket money on colouring t-shirts.
There are mascots that make appearances daily and one night we had bedtime stories with Scrappy Doo which the twins really enjoyed. At eight and a half, my older son was pretty uninterested in the mascots though. There's also an arcade. The kids loved this but it's just a typical arcade with the tickets and prizes.
This area is mostly closed down in the winter. I would love to go back when we could take advantage of the hiking, the outdoor mini putt, and the amusement park. There are outlets and lots of restaurants, though many were closed for the season. There's also skiing but we aren't winter sports people :)
Overall, this was a great trip and I'd definitely go again. I think that for the winter months two nights would have been enough and three pushed it a bit long with only the adventure trek and the water park to keep us busy.