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Photo courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge.

Take a Family Vacation at Great Wolf Lodge

The resort's resident Santa, 50,000-square-foot waterpark, and gingerbread house dining experience are sure to be a hit with the kids.

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Snowfall has had a slow start this winter, but luckily there’s a place in Colorado where it’s guaranteed to snow twice a day. The nearly-year-old Great Wolf Lodge is known best for its 50,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, Snowland. The weekend after Thanksgiving marked the beginning of Snowland’s celebratory season, when the resort, which sits in northern Colorado Springs, transforms for the “howlidays. If you’re a Front Range family—with kids from toddlers to pre-teens—it’s a seasonal treat not to be missed. Here are four tips to pack with you on a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge:

Winter Wonderland: If the twice-daily snow is not enough to get your family in the holiday spirit, try eating dinner inside a giant gingerbread house (reservations required), or check out the Snowland story times, carolers, and visit from Santa each weekend. Many of the resort’s activities are tough on the wallet (see tip number four), but this month-long holiday party provides a whole roster of freebie programs to hit.

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Accommodations: Book a room as soon as you know you’d like to visit the Great Wolf Lodge. If your family wants anything more than a standard hotel room—which is way nicer than your run-of-the-mill establishment—they recommend a 60-day gap between making reservations and your stay. Beyond the two-queen with a pull-out option, there are special options including a room with a cave-themed kids’ area with bunkbeds up to a two-bedroom suite that sleeps up to nine people.

Eats: Do a little meal planning before you stay at the Great Wolf Lodge. There is the buffet-style breakfast and dinner eatery, and much more. If you can get your kids to sit tight for a few minutes, try the Barnwood “farm-to-fork” restaurant where ingredients are sourced from within 150 miles of the Great Wolf Lodge. (Tip: Everyone at our table liked the street tacos.) For a family with kids not eager to stop bouncing from the waterpark to the other activities, it was the hand-tossed pies from Hungry as a Wolf  that curbed the hunger. Other on-site options include a pool-side grill, a Dunkin’ Donuts, and a Ben & Jerry’s for your sweet tooth. You can—and should—easily pack in breakfast, snack, and lunch options (and some adult beverages) into your room’s mini-fridge to save your wallet and fend off any ill-timed hanger pangs.

Enjoy the Barnwood “farm-to-fork” restaurant at Great Wolf Lodge. Photo by Lindsey McKissick.

Activities: It is easy to get overwhelmed by the lengthy to-do list for every kid at Great Wolf Lodge. If you intend on letting your kids try everything—zipline, personal wizard wand making, the Lodge’s version of Build-a-Bear, putt-putt golf, rock climbing, and more—spring for an attraction ($50-$100) or Adventure Park pass to cut down on the pay-per-activity costs. Hint: Don’t miss the free nightly dance party and morning yoga sesh, mats provided. When it comes to taking on the resort’s main draw, the water park reserved for hotel guests only. Make sure to have your kids get their height measured right at the beginning. If they have the right colored wristbands, determined by height, they can ride. If not, getting your kids measured early will avoid the major disappointment at front of the line when they’re just a tad bit short.

Check out the Great Wolf Lodge’s indoor waterpark. Photo by Lindsey McKissick.

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