Earlier this year, readers of USA Today voted on a selected group of twenty indoor water parks shortlisted by a panel of experts. Aquatopia at Camelback Resort was once again voted the best indoor water park in North America.
So this summer, my family took a road trip to the Poconos to see why it is repeatedly crowned the best place for indoor water thrills and family fun.
What Makes Aquatopia So Special?
No matter the weather outside, inside Aquatopia, it is 84 degrees and sunny every day. This weather-proof vacation is a big convenience when planning a family getaway year-round, as weather is uncontrollable.
When you enter Aquatopia, its sheer size and transparent roof are astonishing. It covers 125,000 square feet in total and houses 13 slides, a huge wave pool staffed with lifeguards, a lazy river, the challenging forever-wave FlowRider, and multiple play areas for younger kids and toddlers. And that’s just the start of it.
Aquatopia has seven pools, an indoor/outdoor hot tub, and Kartrite’s Quest – the world’s first multi-level aqua play structure equipped with 84 interactive water effects. This is ideal for those family members afraid of heights or tube rides. The Lost River isn’t a typical lazy river but more like an adventure river ride through an enclosed jungle before emerging into daylight and a surprise waterfall. Even babies can join the family fun, sharing a tube with a parent as long as they wear a life jacket.
The Storm Chaser Water Coaster is the longest ride of its kind in the world and a favorite of our family. It is a true hybrid of a waterslide and a rollercoaster. You’re launched at the beginning of the ride and again three more times as you splash, laugh, and zoom high above the whole water park.
Another one-of-a-kind ride, the Venus SlydeTrap, is a 608-foot-long, fully-enclosed family rafting experience with a record-breaking sphere and open wall. It seems intimidating when viewed from below. But my preschooler was tall enough to ride and loved it, asking me to go again and again.
Its newest slide, Mountain Mayhem, is a high-tech immersive, interactive adventure with four slide scenarios, all including multi-colored lighting effects, music, and exciting visuals projected inside the slide. Riders can try them all out more than once.
While other indoor water parks across America close around dinner time, Aquatopia is open until 8 pm during the week and 9 pm on the weekends. It is lit with gentle neon lights and makes for a different water park experience that’s slightly dark and almost party-like. So whether you arrived for check-in late or took a break for an earlier dinner, don’t pass up the chance to get wet and soak up the nighttime water park experience.
Where Is Aquatopia?
Camelback Resort is in Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains. This central location on the East Coast makes it a driveable vacation spot for millions, easily accessed via six nearby interstate highways. It’s about 2 hours from New York City and Philadelphia and an easy vacation drive from Albany, Harrisburg, Syracuse, and Washington D.C.
Aquatopia Is More Than Just a Waterpark; It’s a Part of a Four Season Resort
An iconic four-season Pennsylvania family destination in the Poconos, Aquatopia is just one piece of the 560-acre Camelback Mountain resort. It attracts 1.6 million outdoor adventurers a year. In the winter, it offers the best skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing in Pennsylvania, day and night. At a 2,100-foot elevation, there are 166 acres of terrain with 39 trails to explore.
Swing through the state’s biggest outdoor adventure park in warmer seasons. Thrill seekers three years of age and up can fly down the mountain on a 4,500-foot steel-track mountain coaster. Additionally, choose one of the zipline tours or the less intense tree top adventure, depending on your comfort level.
During the summer, you can double your water park fun at the resort’s second water park, Camelbeach. This outdoor water park sits at the base of the ski mountain. It will keep your family busy for at least one day. Pennsylvania’s largest outdoor water park offers a 1,000-foot-long lazy river, giant wave pool, and 35 slides across the mountain. A shuttle bus connects the two water parks for guest convenience.
Camelback Resort Accommodations
Depending on your group size, preferences, and budget, there is a wide range of accommodation options. They have over 450 units, from hotel rooms with modern mountain decor to condo-style resort rooms accommodating as many as 14 guests.
The hotel-room style suites offer two queen beds with a pull-out couch sleeping six or a bunk-bed configuration that can sleep up to eight people. Guests looking for more privacy can book a one, two, or three-bedroom condo offering private bedrooms, living rooms, multiple bathrooms, and a full kitchen.
They offer a handful of dog-friendly rooms to pups under 50 pounds. You’ll pay an extra $150, and dogs must be on a leash outside your room. They can accompany you throughout the resort except for Aquatopia, Camelbeach, and the gym. So enjoy mountain walks and end the day at Trails End’s patio for dinner.
Resort Dining Options
Whether you’re enjoying Aquatopia for the day or staying overnight, there’s a wide variety of dining options inside the waterpark and throughout the resort.
For a casual family meal, head to Hemispheres right off the main lobby for breakfast or dinner paired with beautiful mountain views. Or, go to Graffiti Pizza to build your own pie. Enjoy Berrelli’s Italian Chophouse serving prime-dry-age steak, pork chops, and seafood in a rustic A-frame for elevated options.
No matter the season, make a reservation for a meal at Trails End Pub & Grille. This American brew pub-style restaurant is open every day of the week and offers patio seating during warmer seasons and campfire smores during colder ones. My kids still talk about the German-style soft pretzel as big as their heads. The adults still bask in the memory of our delicious and quiet meal as the kids ran off the play with other young ones in the grassy areas under the ski lift. Everyone enjoyed the surprise dinner guests; a family of deer also came for a meal.
Coffee lovers will be thrilled with the La Colombe Cafe in the lobby, offering not just their famous Draft Latte but alcoholic drinks plus breakfast sandwiches and small bites like salads and pastries.
More Family Fun at Arcadia Family Indoor Adventure Center
Adjacent to Aquatopia is the resort’s newly expanded, enormous arcade, which was a hit with our entire family. It has over 30,000 square feet and two levels of entertainment. You can take your pick from more than 100 video and interactive games.
The newest additions include Axe Master, VR Rabbids, All New Mirror Maze, Lift Your Loot Escape, and Escape Space Obscura. My youngest enjoyed even the low-tech fun, mining for jewels in the upstairs arcade.
You’ll Want to Return to Aquatopia
A family getaway to Aquatopia is so easy yet fun-filled that you’ll want to come back again. The good news is that 2022 brought for the first time season pass and multi-use pass options.
Depending on your preference and how close you live, pick from one of four options: Unlimited, Value Spring, Value Summer, and Value Fall. They include no black-out dates, general parking, additional discounted Aquatopia and Camelbeach tickets for up to four guests, and discounts for lodging, food, and beverages.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Monica Fish helps her fellow adventurers live a financially savvy life so they can travel and explore our beautiful world no matter their budget. She writes about smart timeshare ownership, vacation tips and tricks, NYC Metro Area trips and activities, and frugal yet rich living at PlannerAtHeart.com.