New Orleans Mom is all about sharing family traveling tips whether your next adventure from New Orleans is to the mountains, Disney, or the beach! If you love the beach but are looking for a one-day or weekend trip, consider the Mississippi Gulf Coast, such as Gulfport or the nearby gorgeous beaches of Pensacola, Florida. There is also a list of drivable destinations from New Orleans for every budget available here. And if you end up staying put in New Orleans, here are dozens of ideas for kid-friendly outings in New Orleans.
Best Family Vacay Ever: The Great Wolf Lodge
Disney World? Did it!
Another Beach Trip? Been there; done that!
Texas? Not again!
This was our thought process when my husband and I saw that our kids were going to have a 5-day Fall Break. We decided to earn some cool parent points and surprise them with a fun weekend getaway. But, we wanted to do something different yet not blow through savings which limited our family of 7 to driving. We were being a bit picky as this would not be our typical summer vacation. We knew what we didn’t want; therefore, we needed this Fall vacay to check off the following criteria:
- Cheaper than Disney
- Drivable distance with littles
- Not another beach trip
- Low maintenance (it’s a vacay, after all)
- Something for ages 18mo – 9yo could enjoy
We racked our brains for a few months trying to find THE perfect little surprise vacay for the kids. We thought about Tennessee, but with a little one in a stroller and a high-maintenance toddler in tow, activities such as hiking, walking lakes, and basically requiring plenty of physical activity moving from one place to another every day was just not appealing. But, where could we go that would cater to a variety of ages and interests yet require as little effort on our part as possible???
May I present to you The Great Wolf Lodge!
When I tell you this was the BEST family vacay ever, I’m not only quoting myself but my kids as well! We drove to Atlanta, Georgia’s Great Wolf Lodge, and it was one of the best decisions we have ever made for our family. This place checked off everything on our requirements list and more! Only a short 5 ½ hour drive, the Great Wolf Lodge offered us a fun hotel room, water activities, adventure activities, interactivity 24/7, an app for food service and communication, short lines, and all indoors and on the grounds!
The Indoor Waterpark
Holy Cow! There are so many great things to say about this facet of the trip. Not only were we encouraged to visit the waterpark while waiting for our check-in time, but there were so many cool parts to this park that my kids never tired of it and even found something new to play in each day. The jaw-dropping playground includes a wave pool, 6 giant slides that are adult-friendly as well, a large toddler area, a multi-level splash pad fort that blows any local splash pad out of the water, a water-basketball pool, a lazy river, a fun lagoon challenge for all of my “Floor is Lava” fans (my kids LOVED this one), two restaurants, and a bar with TVs.
Lined around every play area of the park are lightweight chairs that can be moved to your liking so you can set up camp however and wherever you like. Now, you cannot physically see every water area from one spot, however, I set up right between the two play areas for the little ones so that I could at least keep tabs on my non-swimmers versus my older swimmers. The deepest pool area was only 5 ft (wave pool) and most water attractions were only 2.5-3 ft deep – my 4yo even swam the lazy river without her puddle jumper just fine. And, speaking of those pesky puddle jumpers, you don’t even need to pack them! The waterpark has a plethora of swim vests ranging from infant sizes to adult sizes. In addition, every single playground in this park had a lifeguard that paced back and forth and had their heads on a swivel the entire time. Test dummies were even thrown into the water at random points to keep them alert and on guard. It was very safe and put this Mama Bear Wolf at ease.
And then, there’s the indoor Adventure Park.
When booking, you’re prompted with an option of passes: Pup, Paw, and Wolf. I highly recommend you purchase the Wolf Pass – this gives you access to try everything in the Adventure Park one time and gives you a discounted rate if you want to do anything else a second time. “What else is there to do,” you ask. Well, too much for one day, which is great because this helped us manage our time, so we didn’t have to necessarily spend sun-up to sun-down at the Waterpark. We were able to partake in fun attractions such as rock climbing, bowling, a mining experience, fun arcade games, mini golf, an impressive ropes course (my personal favorite), and the lodge’s featured attraction of an interactive Magiquest game.
Let’s talk about MagiQuest for a minute.
This was such an awesome feature of the trip. With the Wolf Pass, each child received a “magical” wand that was linked with their name, birth date, and chosen Wizard name. The wand gives you access to a live-action game throughout the entire lodge. During our long weekend stay, the kids were able to wave their wands any time we passed a treasure chest, gem, hidden star, or mounted photograph, and each would come alive, light up, or speak. There is an actual game tied to the wand that requires you to seek out hidden portals throughout the lodge and earn points to be knighted, but honestly, my kids were young enough to not care too much about that aspect and only get excited to wave their wands every time we walked from one point to another (however, we spotted several adults playing this fun game and running all over the place trying to earn their knighthood, so there’s more fun to be had here). This made waiting in line for food or walking back to the room an enjoyable experience (Bonus: the wands will work for future bookings as well).
Great Wolf Lodge is just Extra.
In addition to the parks and the attractions, Great Wolf had so many extra free and engaging events for the entire family throughout each day. Since we visited during the month of October, everything was Halloween-themed and kids were encouraged to dress in costumes. Each day we had the option to participate in Howl-o-ween yoga, Trick-or-treating, Howl-o-ween arts and crafts, games, Character meet and greets, Epic Storytimes, and a Monster Bash Dance Party every night. The fun is endless and always there no matter what time of day!
The only reservation needed at the Lodge other than your hotel room:
The Yards by Topgolf Swing Suite
This place was AWESOME and even my non-athletic kids enjoyed it. The Yards is a full-on gaming space where the entire family can compete and play interactive games. There’s a long list from which to choose, but we played the soccer challenge, quarterback challenge, pitching challenge, hockey goal challenge, and Zombie Dodgeball all in just an hour. I highly recommend this attraction as a fun bonding experience.
I cannot say enough great things about this indoor vacay spot. It’s a parent’s dream come true where family vacays are concerned. I sat and sipped and watched my kids have a blast. My hands were free to take all the pictures, and we never once needed to think about the weather. I could participate in what I wanted as an adult or not. If you’re looking for easy but fun, this is the place for you! You’re welcome, in advance!