Hopping in your car or on a flight to see one of the 10,000+ cities worldwide with your family might be on the top of your vacation list. But sometimes you want a break from the part-time job planning a vacation nowadays. You want to get away close to home, have a blast with your kids and make fun-filled family memories without the hassle of vacation planning. That's the beauty of indoor water park resorts cropping up in destinations across America and the globe.
After our first indoor water park resort experience at The Kartrite, New York State's largest indoor water park inside a modern, premium hotel, we see why families love this vacation. Set in New York's southern Catskills, this all-in-one family resort is a fun mountain escape that's only 100 miles from New York City.
9 Things We Loved About The Kartrite
When talking to friends and family about our trip, we mention these nine things the most. Additionally, adults will appreciate the sophisticated, upscale design elements that make the Kartrite feel more like a premium resort and less like a kitschy children's water park.
An Indoor Water Park Resort Can Be Fun And Stunning
When entering the water park itself, you'll see the beautiful Catskills mountains views from a stories-high, clear roof. Additionally, the park gives off tropical island vibes with its 84-degree year-round temperature and abundant tropical vegetation throughout the rides and attractions. While the world's largest transparent roof made of Texlon material is awe-inspiring, it does allow the sun's rays through, so don't forget to apply sunscreen.
With 13 rides and attractions, plus more fun on Kartrite Island and the Puddle Ducks toddler area, there's plenty of fun to last more than one day. From head-first fast tube races on a foam mat to the Time Warp raft slide that feels more like a roller coaster or the stories high Noreaster that will give you that weightless feeling, there are plenty of options for thrill-seekers. For those looking for a challenge, take a crack at riding the quick-moving forever wave of the Flowrider. My 10-year-old loved it, even on his first try!
If you'd like to catch your breath, pick one of the relaxing water park attractions. Grab an inner tube and float your cares away on the Empire Bay lazy river that feels more like a Caribbean jungle excursion than an indoor water park attraction. Or take a dip in Affinity Springs, an indoor/outdoor oversized hot tub-style pool.
If your kids are ready for more action but you'd like a break, grab a seat (and an adult beverage from one of the bars). You can watch them conquer the neighboring Canonballer's water basketball area or Later Gator Crossing. My preschooler and 10-year-old both loved repeatedly doing both.
Before the park closes, visit Kartrite Island, with 100 water features, including multiple slides for smaller ones, endless water canons, and a giant water bucket.
The waterpark is open from 11 am to 7 pm every day. If you live nearby or are staying in the region already, reserve a day pass and enjoy all the water park has to offer without paying for a Kartrite resort room.
6 Additional Resort Activities Outside of the Water Park
Even though Kartrite is the state's largest indoor water park, it's just the beginning of resort activities. So whether you hit them up right after breakfast while you wait for the water park to open or make it a late night, here are the numerous other on-site activities the resort offers.
1. Outdoor Play Space: Games, Obstacle Course, and More
We loved the courtyard area with a wooden obstacle course, ample lawn space, and three outdoor games to choose from. Each morning we went out to play after breakfast and enjoyed the oversized Connect 4, chess, and bean bag toss games.
In the evenings, we returned and were pleasantly surprised at the spontaneous group games formed with other kids, like tag and dodge ball. Parents could relax by the firepits, enjoying a cocktail and chatting with other guests.
2. Firepits Perfect for Smores
Make sure to bring smores ingredients, including sticks, from home. If you forget, Pop's Sweet Shop on the lower level of the resort sells kits with everything you need for a Catskills mountain evening around the fire.
3. On-Property Hiking Trails
You'll see signs for Kartrite's five hiking trails near the oversized lawn games. With 6 miles of scenic trails that give you a taste of The Catskills' beauty, pick from a gentle stroll on the Sullivan Trail or more adventure on the Thompson Trail or Togoggan Trail. None of the options are overly strenuous for beginners or families with little kids.
4. Daily Movie Night in the Lobby
Pop some popcorn in your room microwave and head down to the comfy chairs and couches in the lobby for family movie night. Every evening they show a popular animated movie on a giant projector. It's the perfect after-dinner activity to fill the time before bed!
5. Oversized Arcade, Laser Tag, Escape Room Bowling Alley, Climbing Wall, and Ropes Course (Additional Cost)
Gamers and climbers will lose their minds over the options at The Kartrite. You will find it located right at the water park entrance. It is impossible to avoid spotting the oversized, over-the-top arcade games from movie franchises or the over-head adventure ropes course. Our kids happily spent their allowance money, and then some, on arcade games to earn tickets for fabulous prizes. When we were short 50 tickets for one of the items, the employee happily rounded our total up, making it possible to get their first pick prize.
For tweens, teens, or non-video gamers, check out their four-lane miniature bowling alley over by the elevators, laser tag arena, or Escape Room.
6. Craft Projects (Additional Cost for Some)
If you take the stairs down to the water park each morning from the lobby, you'll see a craft desk set up daily. Small free craft projects are available, while larger ones like Build-A-Bear, tie-dye, and sand art are an additional cost. If your kids like to collect souvenirs from vacation, check out what the complimentary craft offering is each day for an affordable trip keepsake.
On-Site Dining Options for Both Grown-ups and Kids
There are seven restaurants, cafes, and snack shops throughout the property, including a quick-service restaurant on the first floor of the water park. Numerous Kosher options are available throughout The Kartrite as well. If you've been to other indoor water park resorts and feel that it's all children's food or fast food options, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the grown-up meals and restaurant options at The Kartrite.
We enjoyed a casual family dinner at Harvey's Wallbanger with killer cocktails and an extensive children's menu. I had an oversized Cobb Salad, my husband had a steak, and even my picky kids finished their kids' meals. Our waitress was friendly and very warm and didn't blink an eye when my son knocked his entire drink all over the floor.
A Variety of Room Options and Discounts are Available
From expanded hotel-style suites to condo-style accommodations with one, two, or three bedrooms, visitors have various options and price points. We stayed in a two-bedroom unit with two private bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a separate living/dining room space that included a micro-fridge, microwave, and Keurig coffee maker.
If you have picky-eaters like us, bringing food you know they will eat and can prepare in the space makes a trip less stressful. If you're trying to stick to your vacation budget, you can bring pre-made or instant-style food from home and re-heat it in the room microwave. We brought paper plates, plastic silverware, and disposable cups from home to eat some meals in our room. If you head to the outdoor courtyard at night, you'll see families who also prepared easy meals in their rooms and carried them out to the patio tables and chairs.
Before booking a stay, check out their special offers that can save guests 20 to 50% off room rates. If you're interested in visiting the nearby Legoland New York Amusement Park, purchase theme park tickets at The Kartrite and save $20 off each ticket.
It's Easy to Get To The Kartrite Resort
The Kartrite is approximately 45 minutes from the New York Thruway's Woodbury Commons exit, making it an easy drive from the region's cities and suburbs. You'll know you've taken the right exit for The Kartrite with a large stone sign welcoming you to the road leading to the resort. Electric car charging stations are plentiful in the resort parking lot, and we spotted open stalls many times.
For those living in New York City without a car, you can take a Coach USA bus directly from Port Authority to The Kartrite. The trip takes 2 hours one way as there are no stops.
It Looks Like We're Not the Only Ones Who Enjoy This Type of Vacation
After thoroughly enjoying our hosted stay at the Kartrite, I'm not sure why we waited so long to try out an indoor water park resort. But now I get why so many families are visiting these types of resorts across the globe.
According to the IAAPA, the premier trade association of the attractions industry, there is a rise in indoor water parks because they have proven to be successful year-round vacation spots. “Guests are no longer just going to them when it's cold outside, but also when the summer heat is extreme,” explained Caitlin Dineen, IAAPA Director of Communications.
This originally appeared on Savoteur.
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.