Cincinnati Staycation: Great Wolf Lodge

Have you ever been to Great Wolf Lodge? Ben’s family has been going every year since he was a teen. It started as a birthday present for his little sister one year, and quickly become a tradition. The best part is that winter is the off-season for Great Wolf Lodge. How crazy is that?! Ben and I laugh each time we go, sure seems like an indoor water park would be a favorite when you can’t swim outside. But hey, makes us winter winners. If you have littles and are looking for a quick and easy “get-away” right here in Cincinnati, a one night stay at Great Wolf Lodge is perfect!


Booking Our Room

This year the Great Wolf Lodge trip was a gift to all of our families from Ben’s parents. We searched through the room options at GWL and were between two different suite types: the themed suites or the Grizzly Bear suite. The themed suites are so dang cute and fun for the littles, however we ended up going with the Grizzly Bear suite because of the two seperate rooms. We were not sure how Adelaide would do in the rooms. Originally I planned on setting up the pack n’ play in the room with the single bed so that she wouldn’t wake Isaac up. Then we would be in the room with two queen beds with Isaac.

More importantly, at the time of booking the price difference was only ~$50. Since we were only doing one night, this didn’t add up to anything ridiculous. This is also a huge reason why I love the one night overnight, you can splurge a little in the room department. IMPORTANT if you have really littles who might not sleep the best!

But it was even better than that! Adelaide and Isaac ended up sharing the room with 2 queen beds; it was the first night Addie ever slept in a big girl bed! When we go next year, we will definitely be booking one of the themed suites. I know Isaac would love all the cute décor, and they will both be pros at sleeping in big kid beds.

Packing for an Overnight

The best thing about doing a Cincinnati Stay-cation is the proximity to home. We were in no rush to get moving or going because GWL is only a 27 minute drive from our house. We packed a million snacks (way more than was necessary) a change of clothes for leaving the next day, a pair of pajamas for everyone, and the always packed swim bag.

Again, we packed way too many snacks. I originally packed a few different snacks I could keep on hand while in the pool area, a pop tart for everyone for breakfast and a few apples. Then Ben went to Kroger and came home with donuts, chips, beef jerky, and that all came as well. Too much.

Keep snacks to a minimum. Our kids are 3.5 and almost 2 and there were not thinking about snacks at all. We had to make them sit down to snack and drink water.


PACK WATER BOTTLES! I cannot stress this enough, you are going to be instantly dehydrated being in that pool area. Bring water bottles, and bring extras. And when you’re in the pool area DRINK DRINK DRINK. At one point Isaac started coughing, and I knew he hadn’t drank enough water. There is something that us ex-swimmers like to call chlorine lung, drinking water keeps this at bay.

What to Expect from Your Kids

To reiterate, our kids are 3.5 and almost 2. They absolutely love the water. I am talking Isaac swims in the bathtub, submerging his whole head. They are water babies through and through, but Isaac was still really hesitant about the slides as we talked about our “trip” in the days leading up.

“I can do the little slides mom, the big slides too scary,” he told me on multiple occasions. To this I replied he could do only the little slides if he wanted, but he could try the big slides if he wanted to too! As soon as he went down the little slide that first day he wanted to do ALL of the slides. And I mean all of them. I should probably explain a bit more.

There are a few different “sections” in the pool area. There is the wave pool, a “toddler area”, a huge climbing house, the lazy river and lily pad cross, the hot tubs, and then a bigger pool with hoops. The toddler area is a shallow walk in pool that has four different slides, all slow and easy for even the 2 year old to get to herself. There are a few water sprinkle ‘attractions’ and then a mini water basketball court. This is where we spent the majority of our time. Both kids could walk the entirety of this pool, and the four slides are just enough to keep them entertained. Until of course Isaac was seeking a bigger thrill!

My advice with littles is to not push them, but keep options open and remind them that there is more to see!

And after all that fun, there is one thing to keep in mind:

They Are Going to Be Worn Out

After spending a night somewhere new, as well as several hours in water, your kiddos are going to be knocked out. Mine were absolutely exhausted. And not just when we got home, or just the next day. They were still not back to normal for a week after our trip, and neither were we!

I couldn’t believe how darn tired I was after this mini trip. FOR DAYS! It was really great because the kids burned a ton of energy that they hadn’t been able to in the cold months. Of course the cranky that happened in the days to come was a pain in the ass, but it was truly worth it. Isaac has asked me twice in the last week alone if we can go back to “that inside pool.”

And now I can’t WAIT until our Florida trip, and the summer to come with these kids!

Let us know in the comments if you have been to Great Wolf, and what you thought! And if you have any questions about our stay, or recommendations with the little ones, our inbox is open!

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