Consider the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City as a great family golf resort
One of the unintended consequences of taking a golf vacation to northern Michigan is the guilt that comes with it. The feeling that you’re spending too much money and time away from the family can be self-defeating: You’re there to relax but it’s really stressing you out instead.
I’ve found a perfect solution: Get your golf in and still give the family a vacation they’ll remember by staying at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. This ultra-cool indoor water park, one of a family scattered nationwide, isn’t known as a golfer’s haven.
I’m here to argue otherwise. It’s a no-brainer for a golf trip/family vacation, a perfect place for guilt-free golf. While you’re off playing a round at any of the area’s great courses, the family you left behind will hardly notice you’re gone. Great Wolf Lodge is a wonderland for children. Throw in a massage at the onsite Elements Spa or some downtime for your significant other to create a great getaway for all.
The lodge in Traverse City sits off a main drag near a Meijer store but its northern woods décor gives off the vibe of an out-of-the-way escape. You never have to leave to be entertained or fed (the food is high quality with menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner).
Many of the unique suites sleep a family of 4 to 8 people comfortably. The KidKamp suites my family of four stayed in recently featured a main room with a couch, bed, TV and fireplace. The “den” where the children slept was enclosed with a bunk bed, a third bed and another television so we didn’t have to fight over the remote. A kitchenette with a fridge, sink and microwave were convenient additions.
During the spring and fall – when the weather is good enough for golf, but iffy for the beach – the constant climate of 84 degrees at the indoor water park seems like a perfect way to spend a day.
You can get wet any way imaginable on the four-story Fort Mackenzie, but the most dramatic way is when the 1,000-gallon bucket atop the structure dumps its load. The walk-in kiddie pool is perfect for toddlers with a slide and climbing playhouse on a smaller scale. The bigger pool offers leap pads and a giant snake to play on with a separate area for water basketball. The lazy river attracts younger children, while the more adventurous love the speedy waterslides.
The outdoor water park and putt-putt course with animatronics open between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Since he’s not much of a swimmer, my son probably liked the dryland activities the most, the arcade and an addictive game called Magiquest, an interactive scavenger hunt where players gather pixie dust and slay dragons. It’s great fun for the crowd ages 7-14.
At Christmas time, the “Snowland” festivities celebrate the holidays in style. It really snows three times a day inside the polar-themed lobby, thanks to snow-making machines hidden in the rafters. Kids can decorate Christmas cookies and send letters to Santa.
As for the golf, Traverse City is loaded with great courses … the three at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa are the headliners. Grand Traverse Resort’s Bear course is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Golf heaven at the four-course Shanty Creek Resorts or the A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort are less than 45 minutes away.
Golf and goggles … it doesn’t get much better than that for a family with different motives while on vacation. For more information, visit greatwolf.com/traverse/waterpark.
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