With summer finally coming to an end and Fall and Winter kicking into full gear, what better time to start thinking ahead and daydreaming once again for next summer. But of course, while the nations supply of indoor water parks continues to grow and more and more heated pools are being built, swimming has really turned into a year-round experience. Those swimmers who don’t get to swim much at home will especially want to be selective about picking a hotel with an extraordinarily fun pool. So without further ado, here is the grand countdown.
1. Wilderness Territory, Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
In the self-proclaimed “water park capital of the world,” the Wilderness’s 3 indoor water parks combine to include 240,000 sq ft, making it the largest indoor water park in North America. The Wilderness has 4 indoor and 4 outdoor water parks totaling nearly 500,000 square feet (that is over 12 football fields of water fun!), along with two indoor, 3-D, black light mini golf courses; outdoor mini golf; zip lining; go-karts; laser tag; the Wild Rock Championship Golf Club; and award-winning spa services at Sundara Spa. Whether you are looking for guest rooms, condos, villas or cabins, Wilderness has something perfect for any budget.
You’ll never want to leave your resort!
2. Nickelodeon Family Suites (Orlando)
Can’t seem to get the kids away from their favorite TV shows on Nickelodeon? Then why not make these experiences come into the “real world” when staying at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort. Decorated in a myriad of colors with characters providing entertainment throughout the day and featuring the zero-entry Lagoon pool features seven waterslides and flumes and a splash playground with water jets, climbing nets and a slime dump from the 400-gallon dump tank. Head over to the more intimate Oasis Pool for more waterslides and flumes and a preschooler-friendly splash zone.
It lives up to it’s Nickelodeon name!
3. Mandalay Bay (Las Vegas)
Featuring an 11-acre beach spread with a Euro-inspired topless pool with plush daybeds called the Moorea Beach club, a meandering river, and some of the cushiest cabanas in town. It is surrounded by lush palm trees, fountains and waterfalls, and the temperature actually seems to drop inside this pool complex, which is more of a water park than a swimming hole. There are eight pools altogether, including a 1.6 million gallon wave pool wave pool with a 2,700 tons of real sand beach, a beachside casino, a retail shop, restaurants and bars. The only downside is that it is located at the far end of strip, but it still just steps away (or a monorail ride away!) from all the fun at the nearby CityCenter complex and Bellagio and Caesars Palace Resorts.
How many other hotels have their very own wave pool?
4. Golden Nugget (Las Vegas)
This 200,000-gallon, shark-filled aquarium is located right in the middle of a swimming pool. The Shark Chute three-story water slide takes you right through the center of the tank. The Golden Nugget’s $30 million water complex allows you to swim side-by-side with a dozen sharks (including sand tiger, brown, black tip, nurse and zebra varieties). It is not quite as large as the Mandalay Bay hotel but it offers a more innovative experience! The only downside is that it is located in downtown Las Vegas rather than on the nearby strip.
Swim though a shark tank!
5. Aulani Resort (Oahu Hawaii)
This $800 million beachside resort features an all-inclusive vacation destination that runs at roughly $400 a night. It is part of the Disney Vacation Club and has been a huge hit since it first opened in 2011. Look for Mickie and Minnie Mouse to be walking around looking to meet fellow guests. Enjoy the 8,200 square foot pool complex, which includes two slides, a lazy river and an artificial snorkeling lagoon.
As if Hawaii wasn’t fun enough already, now it is “Disneyized” thanks to Aulani!
6. The Biltmore Hotel (Coral Gables)
Take a step back in time at the historic luxury hotel, the Coral Gables Biltmore, which boasts an award-winning spa and the largest hotel pool in the continental U.S. Measuring an incredible 22,000 square feet and holding 600,000 gallons of water, the massive pool is adorned with Mediterranean-style statues, native palm trees and elegantly furnished private cabanas. Once the largest pool in the world, during its heyday, the pool entertained royalty and Hollywood celebrities with spectacular gala balls and aquatics shows. The pool’s depth ranges from four to eight feet but also has a baby pool, with a depth of two feet, making this extraordinary pool perfect for all ages. An added plus for families with children or teenagers is a visit to the nearby public swimming pool, the Venetian Pool, the country’s largest freshwater pool that, like the Coral Gables Biltmore, is listed on the National Historical Register of Places.
See this video that the Travel Channel took of the Biltmore’s pool – the largest pool in America!
7. The Viceroy Miami (Miami)
This luxurious Miami hot spot overlooks Biscayne Bay, it’s where a waterway connects a 300-foot infinity pool (Florida’s longest), an 80-person hot tub (the world’s largest) and a wading pool. For $30 you can swim in the shadows of towering condominiums (with many vacant units). The 15th floor features a more than two-acre pool deck that is open 24 hours a day, so the fun never ends at this gorgeous resort.
See some more of America’s most incredible rooftop pools in Frommer’s article on America’s Best Rooftop Hotel Pools.
What better way to escape the Miami heat than the Viceroy’s 15th-floor water complex – it’s the size of a football field!
8. The Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC – Located nearby The Biltmore (not the one in Coral Gables!), America’s largest home (see my lengthy review), you will find the historic Grove Park Inn, which is home to a $44 million spa with an underground grotto type of pool. I would have loved to taken a video of it for you but they do not allow that or even let you go in and take a few pictures, but just Google it and you’ll see how stunning it truly is.
Tip: They do have a little window to peek in to the pool area. But what really annoyed me was simply getting to the spa. They told me that they could get a golf cart to pick me up to take me all the way around the entire resort, which really pissed me off when I later realised it was just right outside the back door of the lobby! (I’m guessing they saw my expensive camera and just wanted a good tip.) We did not get to stay here but we did get to eat and their Blue Ridge Dining Room, where we spent $41 a person for their Friday night Seafood buffet (the breakfast buffet is less than half of that). The food was incredible and it offered beautiful views of the Asheville skyline and their golf course. The tip was included for 20%.. for a buffet! The food isn’t comparable to a Golden Corral, nor are the prices!
An “underground” grotto awaits.
9. Hyatt Regency Hill Country, San Antonio, Texas
This good ‘ole fashioned Texas swimming hole feels great on a hot day. The Hyatt’s four-acre “water playground” features a 950-foot Ramblin’ River for lazy floats, cascading waterfalls, an activity pool with sports like water volleyball, a kiddie pool, a sandy beach and two lagoon-style pools nestled around shady trees. It’s a lot more peaceful than fighting the crowds at SeaWorld’s new Aquatica water park across the street!
Who doesn’t love a good ‘ole Texas swimming hole?
10. Glenwood Hot Springs (Glenwood Springs, Colorado)
This luxurious Colorado Rockies lodge is best known for being home to the world’s largest hot springs pool, where 3.5 million gallons of nearby Yampah Springs water flow into one of two mineral pools each day. The temperature in the smaller therapy pool is a toasty 104 F, while the larger pool, which measures more than two city blocks and is kept at an enjoyable 93 F. Not to mention the views of the the picturesque slopes in the snowy distance.
The world’s largest hot springs pool.
Have you visited any of these pools? If so, we would love to hear if you believe that they are all that they are cracked up to be! Are their any that we left off? Let us know in the comments.