Tag Archives: Fun Things to do with Kids in Virginia

A Weekend Getaway to Great Wolf Lodge

greatwolf_sasha

When it comes to family getaways, I’m not usually one to opt for the all-inclusive resort or “themey” vacation. Our trips tend to be more DIY; I like to piece it together, and where we stay is more of a home base for adventures beyond our lodging, not where we plan to spend the bulk of our time.

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This is much of the reason why, until very recently, we had never been to Great Wolf Lodge. I’d been hearing about it for years from friends who had been to the indoor water park resort in Williamsburg, VA. I’d also heard about it from my kids, who’d heard about it from their friends, and asked many times if we could go. So when I received an invitation for my family to experience a stay at the lodge, it seemed like a good time to compromise on my own getaway preferences and take the Great Wolf plunge — literally (it’s a water park, after all).

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And I am so glad I did because we had one really fun weekend! As you might imagine from a resort with a water park among its amenities, Great Wolf Lodge caters to families. From the moment we checked in on Friday evening when they gave us all head bands with wolf ears as a kiddie dance party was going on in the lobby with a Great Clock Tower as its centerpiece, there were treats and activities to be enjoyed by all ages.

So many great bonuses come with the Paw Pass

So many great bonuses come with the Paw Pass

Treats!

Treats!

The kids each received a Paw Pass, which granted them all kinds of fun and games: A magic wand for MagiQuest (more on that in a sec!), yummy snacks, arcade tokens, a round of mini golf, photos, swim goggles, temporary tattoos, stuffed animals, a leather bracelet, and more. There was so much it took them all weekend to redeem everything.

The Majestic Bear Suite also has kitchen area and separate bedroom

The Majestic Bear Suite also has kitchen area and separate bedroom

The suites are all designed with families in mind. There are many room options at varying rates, and they all have a cozy, lodgey feel. Some even have a separate Kids Camp or Treehouse area with bunk beds for kids. Rooms also come with a mini fridge, microwave, and coffee maker for added convenience, plus you can bring in your own food, so you don’t have to buy everything from the resort snack stands and restaurants. (KFDC tip: There’s a Wal-Mart less than a mile down the road, where you can pick up snacks and beverages to keep in the room.) We stayed in the Majestic Bear Suite, which was very spacious, and I have to note the beds were especially comfortable!

Dining in the Loose Moose

Dining in the Loose Moose

We arrived pretty late on Friday, so most of our fun started on Saturday. We began with breakfast in the Loose Moose Bar and Grill, a huge buffet with myriad options, including healthy ones (same with dinner, which we also ate there). There is also a Dunkin Donuts in the resort if you want something quick and less expensive, plus a couple of other snack bars.

Selecting a wand in the MagiQuest Marketplace - it's like the GWL version of Ollivanders

Selecting a wand in the MagiQuest Marketplace – it’s like the GWL version of Ollivanders

After eating, the kids picked out their wands for MagiQuest: Guardians of the Realm Portals. So, Great Wolf Lodge is WAY more than a resort with an indoor water park. Among the many fun activities for kids and families is this live-action game that takes kids on an adventure around the lodge with a magic wand and interactive displays. It’s like a virtual Harry Potter experience and kind of enchanting with hallways covered in forest designs and “magical” portals lining the walls. The kids loved this game, and we felt comfortable letting them roam the floors themselves to play (and saw many others doing the same).

On a quest for fun and adventure

On a quest for fun and adventure

greatwolf_slides

Of course, we spent much of the day at the water park — and it was a total blast. There are several big slides, some the whole family can ride down on a raft, so you enjoy the thrill together. The Howling Tornado, a fast ride that drops into a funnel and spins you through to the end, was our favorite, but we enjoyed them all many times over — the waits in line were never too long, so the fun was ongoing. There is also a water fort to climb up and slide down, a wave pool, lazy river, a mellow pool area especially for toddlers, an obstacle course, plus two hot tubs — one for all ages and one for adults. There is also a food stand right in the water park area for poolside dining (and they sell beer!). And you just can’t beat the convenience of throwing on swim suits and walking down the hall to access it all!

greatwolf_wavepool

greatwolf_kiddiepool

We finally left the water park to enjoy some of the other activities around the lodge. We caught a “movie” at the Howly Wood XD Theater, an immersive 4-D adventure that really makes you feel like you’re part of a thrill ride. We did the Oliver’s Time Challenge, the kids used their Paw Passes, and of course, there was a lot of MagiQuest. And as the kids wandered, Levi and I grabbed some comfortable chairs and a bottle of wine for some relaxation. (And here I should note that our kids’ ages allowed for this… parents with younger children shouldn’t let them roam alone.)

Storytime in the lobby

Storytime in the lobby

Namaste!

Namaste!

There are also lots of free activities and programs to join throughout the day, many that younger children can enjoy, like storytimes, craft sessions, character appearances, family yoga, dance parties, and more. You can usually find one of them happening in the lobby at any given time. And for additional fun, you can conquer a ropes course, play mini golf, or go bowling.

On the mini links with the Howling Tornado looming in the backgroun

On the mini links with the Howling Tornado looming in the backgroun

More of the same fun ensued on Sunday. And though we left by early afternoon, guests are welcome to spend the entire day at the resort, even after the 11am check-out time (and starting at 1pm on check-in day.) They really do want you to pack in the fun.

greatwolf_kids

So, as skeptical as I was about the whole water park resort experience, I have to give Great Wolf Lodge huge props. It really was a fantastic and convenient weekend escape for our family. And we’re aiming for a winter weekend next time, when we can don swim suits and enjoy some water park fun indoors while it’s parka weather outside.

Great Wolf Lodge has many locations around the country, the closest to DC in Williamsburg, VA, about a three-hour drive away. Rates vary depending on when you go and which room you select, but all stays include water park access and daily programs. Special offers are always running, so be sure to see what’s available before you book.


Disclosure: I received most of our getaway complimentary of Great Wolf Lodge, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.


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Filed under All ages, Destination from DC, Getaway, Indoor Play, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Enjoy the Ride(s) and Then Some at Kings Dominion

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Ever since we visited Kings Dominion back in May for a day at the Soak City Waterpark, the kids have been asking (no, begging) to return to experience the rest of it — the rides, roller coasters, and all of the other amusement packed in to the park. So, it worked out quite well that we were invited back to enjoy it all during KidsFest, when there are extra treats especially for children, like concerts, games, craft activities, and shows during a couple of weekends in July.

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It would have worked out even better if the day we opted to go hadn’t turned out to be one of the hottest of the summer. But we made the best of it. Spinning around and zipping along on the rides actually provided a rush of air that helped cool us off a bit.

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Kings Dominion has a nice variety of rides for all ages and levels of thrill seekers. There are several big roller coasters and exciting rides for those who want an adrenaline rush. And there are plenty of options for amusement park-goers who prefer a more “mellow” experience.

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Planet Snoopy is a whole section just for young children (and parents who aren’t so keen on the coasters) with gentler ways to whirl around, zip along tracks, and spin through the air. There is also a bounce house, and during KidsFest this is where the extra activities were located.

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I stuck with Sasha on the easier rides, since she was a few inches shy of the minimum height for the large coasters (that’s the reason I’m going with, anyway), while Levi and Owen went for the big thrills. Both kids had a blast, and we also joined up for a few family rides (tip: the White Water Canyon practically guarantees you’ll get wet if you want to cool off).

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While KidsFest only took place July 17-18 & 23-24, there is still tons to enjoy at Kings Dominion for all ages. Though I do recommend not going on the hottest day of the summer.

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Kings Dominion is located in Doswell, VA, about 75 miles from Washington, DC. It’s open daily through August, then on weekends through October. Hours vary, so be sure to check opening and closing times before you go. Admission prices vary — you can get an all-day ticket for $50, an after 4pm tickets for $40, and two-day tickets for $69. And you can often do a Google search to find special promotions or coupons to save on the entry fee.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I only promote places and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under All ages, Destination from DC, Live Entertainment, Outdoor, Park, Sponsored Post, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Make a Splash in Soak City at Kings Dominion this Summer

soakcity_slide

Water inspired activities are a staple of summer, so it was fitting that we kicked off the season at Soak City, the 20-acre water park within Kings Dominion. When we were offered the opportunity to check out the attractions and rides over Memorial Day weekend, I immediately accepted. The kids had actually been begging to visit the amusement park near Richmond for awhile, plus I dig water slides and splashy rides myself. We were all pretty excited for our day there.

soakcity_entrance

And Soak City did not disappoint. Several water slide complexes, a wave pool, a “river” raft ride, and play areas for little ones offer something for everyone — all ages and all levels of thrill seekers. Guests do need to be at least 48″ tall to ride most of the slides, and 42″ for the wave pool, but children who don’t hit that height can enjoy smaller kid-sized slides in the splash areas.

soakcity_cabana

Upon our arrival, we decided to get a cabana, so we’d have a dedicated place to keep our belongings and also chill out when we weren’t going on rides. They also offer lockers for guests to store valuables, and there are plenty of chairs and tables throughout the park, they just aren’t guaranteed.

soakcity_wavepool

soakcity_wavepool2

Since Tidal Wave Bay was right next to our cabana, that was our first stop and a fun way to ease into our water park adventure. We were able to get wet, swim around a bit, and ride the waves. From there, we hit the nearby Hurricane Heights, a colorful tangle of several different slides winding all around and offering a variety of thrills. We rode inner tubes down and through Aqua Blast, which is mostly enclosed until it shoots you out for a steep plunge into the water.

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My favorite, though, was the Paradise Plunge, a body slide that starts in an enclosed chamber where you wait for the floor to drop from under your feet, sending you straight down a chute for a fast and twisty thrill ride to the bottom.

soakcity_slidecomplexes

After a ’bout of wild sliding, we opted for a more chill ride on the Lazy River, a pool that meanders in a 1/4 mile loop in the middle of the park. A few spins around in the comfort of an inner tube was quite relaxing and a nice way to wind down before lunch, which we ordered at our cabana.

soakcity_lazyriver

So, while Soak City did not disappoint, the weather, unfortunately, did. A huge storm rolled in while we were eating, and the hourly forecast showed no indication of it letting up, so we had to cut our visit short. But what we did get to do was super fun, and now we have good reason to go again. Not to mention it’s a fantastic way to stay cool on a hot summer day. And when you’re done (or before) playing in the water park, you can enjoy the rest of Kings Dominion, since admission gets you into both!

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soakcity_coaster

Soak City is open on weekends May 28 – June 10, then daily June 10 – September 5. Admission to Kings Dominion, which as mentioned also gets you into Soak City, is $45 if you buy tickets online, $66 at the gate. There are also season passes available. Kings Dominion is located just north of Richmond, about 75 miles from Washington, DC.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I only promote places and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under All ages, DC, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Sponsored Post, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend