As a family with young kids, we are always looking for new places to enjoy that are fun, family-friendly, and affordable. A few weeks ago, our family of four had an opportunity to head up north to enjoy KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark and Resort. Before our trip there, I had an opportunity to check out their website and found great information to aid us in our stay – from events and activities overviews to the different food offerings to Waterpark guidelines and hours.
General Location & Surroundings
As a southwest surbuban family from Chicago, the drive to KeyLime Cove was quick, easy, and under an hour north up I-294. (We left around 1 p.m. on a Friday afternoon). Even though our stay was just one overnight, I was pleasantly surprised with how close the Resort is to Six Flags Great America (Key Lime Cove is the official resort of Great America) and Gurnee Mills Mall and that Key Lime offers complimentary shuttles, Ride n’ Slide packages with Great America, and brochures to tell you a bit more about these area attractions.
In addition to these two major highlights, their website also highlights additional area attractions here.
Upon entering the hotel, you are immediately greeted by the beach – complete with beach lounger chairs, sand, palm trees, and beautiful island decor. As you walk through the automatic doors, the first thing we see is a beautiful waterfall over a rock wall and more island foliage. My boys immediately gravitate towards this centerpiece. As I walked towards check-in, there was a great lounge area with wicker furniture, a canopy and a view overlooking the Waterpark. Guest services & reception were helpful and quickly assisted those waiting in line.
My favorite part of my initial impression was Duval Street. Designed just like a major thoroughfare in the real life Key West, Duval Street has shops and Island Temptations – your local coffeehouse meets bakery meets chocolatier & candy-maker. It even had a gas station “rest” area that looked truly authentic. The oversized windows do wonders to entice the eye to the focal point of the resort – the Waterpark.
The beach theme continues throughout the Resort’s rooms. With carefully selected plantation-style furniture to luxurious bathroom fixtures to towels folded carefully much like you’d see at a resort in the Caribbean, KeyLime Cove gets the details right.
KeyLime Cove offers a variety different room types to suit your family’s needs: King Stateroom, King Spa Stateroom, Queen Stateroom, Queen Deluxe Stateroom, Queen Grand Stateroom, Queen Verandah Stateroom, Family Stateroom, Mangrove 1-Bedroom Suite, Toucan 2-Bedroom Suite, and Captain Dave’s Two-Bedroom Luxury Suite. The various rooms/suites accommodate between 2-8 people and include tv with cable, WiFi, iPod compatible alarm clock/radio, coffee maker, table or desk, in-room safe, and can provide a pack ‘n play for your stay if necessary. (We utilized this last option and loved the convenience of not having to lug something extra for our short stay).
KeyLime Cove offers a variety of dining experiences that speak to the palates of each of your different family members. During our stay, we tried The Crazy Toucan restaurant for dinner and enjoyed the casual atmosphere. While we were dressed in normal clothes, I saw several families dining as they were in beach cover-up attire – this made me feel comfortable knowing that the Waterpark was just steps (or even just a meal) away. At the recommendation of **staff**, Jim tried the pulled pork sandwich and thought it was delicious. The fresh cucumber salsa was a surprising (and yummy) appetizer. The staff was attentive and seemed ready to meet our eating needs.
D.W. Anderson’s was closed for the evening we were there, but that was my number one choice to try – if you happen to test it out, let me know what you think! Island Temptations was our double-stop and I highly recommend it. Enticing us with its wide-glass candy & fudge-filled shelves and heavenly smells, Island Temptations was the perfect stop for an evening Hot Cocoa nightcap and a sweet treat for the kiddos. (Charlie thoroughly enjoyed his chocolate and M&M covered pretzel). The shoppe also provides such conveniences as bottled juice, water, and pieces of fruit for keeping those bellies full! Learn more about the rest of KeyLime’s restaurant options here.
Lost Paradise Waterpark
The Lost Paradise Waterpark is a 65,000 square foot waterpark with tons of fun for each person in your family to enjoy. One of my favorite features about this waterpark is that it is exclusive to resort vacationers which means that it is not open to the general public without a room rental – a huge plus because it never gets so crowded that it can’t accomodate something for everyone.
The Waterpark has a few separate features within it – Toukie’s Tower (five waterslides totaling nearly fout football fields in length), Toukie’s Big Deluge (a giant interactive play structure for kids of all ages), Lil’ Limers Play Pond (pool and play area for the little ones), Tsunami Washout Wave Pool (ocean wave simulator), KeyLime Creek (lazy river), and KeyLime Grotto (Adults only whirlpool area).
While waterparks are something my family loves, our personal favorites were Toukie’s Big Deluge, Lil’ Limers Play Pond (Charlie, almost 3, could get up and down the slides himself with minimal assistance and loved feeling “big”), and KeyLime Creek. (Jack, 9 months, loved just floating along with me throughout the river as we got a relaxed tour as we wound throughout the park).
Upon first entry, the waterpark is a nice 80 degrees (a particularly nice feeling in late September as the Chicago air tends to get crisper) and there is no overwhelming chemical smell of chlorine.**Lockers and life vests are available for personal use as well. Plenty of options for seating were available. The lifeguard staff is plentiful and each are properly trained to the highest of standards. Mr. Plezak made it very clear that while they may answer a question of patrons here or there, their job is to protect the swimmers. Although the waterpark does not have multiple rooms like others do, it still offers the majority of what other waterparks have. For my younger family, I actually liked the fact that we could all be in the same general space, but being enjoying different aspects of the area.
Other Helpful (and in some cases, Fun!) Information
Smart Wristband Technology
As a mom who schleps around at minimum 2-3 bags everywhere for my two boys AND who constantly loses keys, wallet, cell phone, or a combination thereof, I was incredibly impressed with the cashless wristband system. The state-of-the-art RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) Smart Wristband technology enables you to have keyless access to guest rooms and lockers, works for all on-site purchases, including food, beverages, shops, vending machines, and arcade tokens. You even have the option of pre-loading older children’s wristbands or giving them room access. It was so nice not to have to worry about a wallet getting stolen at the waterpark or be concerned about having it ready for a quick snack or dinner when the kids were hungry. The wristband is on at all times and really makes life simple!
RipTide Reef Arcade
Despite having younger boys, we really enjoyed the Arcade our second day there. With 8,000 square feet of games, there are games from the youngest to oldest in your crew. We spent a bunch of time at the Wheel of Fortune game (Charlie LOVES that show!) And even walked away with a few goodies for the boys as a result of our ticket winnings!
Paradise Mist Spa and Enchanted Lagoon Kids Spa
My two favorites for on-site entertainment were the Paradise Mist Spa and Enchanted Lagoon Kids Spa. I had an opportunity to view the Paradise Mist Spa during a Pink Party held to raise money for Breast Cancer Research. With its posh rooms, relaxing decor, and various services available, the Paradise Mist Spa is THE hotspot for moms (and dads alike) to enjoy some relaxing time away from the kids! I would definitely recommend this to any parents out there when visiting KeyLime Cove.
The Enchanted Lagoon Kids Spa is an underwater-themed kids’ spa that offers manicures, pedicures, facial masks and makeup applications for your daughters to enjoy! This place was adorable and I love the possibilities of doing group-themed parties there with my niece and her friends. It’s a great option for the kids in your group that need a break from all the splash fun!
Meeting and Banquet Space
KeyLime Cove has 6,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space. Call anytime to inquire more about these services – the possibilities are endless!