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When you think of “Ohio” and “win­ter,” you think “relax­ing by the pool,” right? Nice, warm, sun­ny days? No? Well I did­n’t either until last year. 


Photos of Snowy Days

This is what Ohio looks like from basi­cal­ly Thanks­giv­ing to St Patrick­’s Day



My dad runs an extreme­ly busy out­door-cen­tered busi­ness, so one of the best times of the year for him to trav­el is in Jan­u­ary. I had been push­ing him to take time off and trav­el with his only grand­child, so we set­tled on a week­end trip in Jan­u­ary. He want­ed to go “some­place warm but with­in 3 hours of Ohio.” In Jan­u­ary. The aver­age tem­per­a­ture in Ohio in Jan­u­ary is in the 20’s Fahren­heit. We had a day in Jan­u­ary, a few years ago, that was ‑16 F. My car would­n’t start. So my ini­tial reac­tion was “Sure Dad. Let me wave a mag­ic wand and cre­ate a mag­i­cal place for you.” But I’m a trav­el agent, right? I’m a pro­fes­sion­al. So, I did some dig­ging and found a lit­tle trop­i­cal par­adise, right in San­dusky, Ohio, and booked us a week­end at the Kala­hari Resort, which had all the require­ments. You could eas­i­ly set up shop at the resort and nev­er set foot out­side once you’re checked in. We invit­ed my par­ents, my sis­ter, and my in-laws to join us for a week­end of fake sun. 






Ohio's winters are notoriously brutal, which makes Kalahari the perfect place for a weekend of fun and fake sun! The best indoor waterpark in Ohio for kids and teens.



lazy river, babies

TJ did­n’t know what to think about the lazy river.



Indoor Waterpark


The indoor water­park is huge! They have a wave pool, a lazy riv­er, sev­er­al water slides, a surf machine, and most impor­tant­ly an indoor/outdoor hot tub. There are actu­al­ly 2 indoor/outdoor hot tubs, one that is 21+ only and one that is fam­i­ly-friend­ly. The 21+ only hot tub has a bar, my friends. It’s heav­en. If you’re like my dad, you’re think­ing “Emi­ly, it’s like 20 degrees. You want me to sit in a hot tub out­side, have you lost your mar­bles?” But don’t wor­ry, it’s actu­al­ly pret­ty com­fort­able and you don’t need to leave the water. 



photo of outdoor hot tub

This hot tub is one of my top 10 favorite places on earth. It’s so relaxing!



Entrance/Exit to the Indoor/Outdoor Hot Tub. It's really short, so you have to duck!

This is the access point to the out­side part of the hot tub. Be sure to duck!



One of the water slides in the indoor park has a video game ele­ment, you hit but­tons on the han­dles of your tube that cor­re­spond with the col­or of the lights on the slide. It was very pop­u­lar with my hus­band and the teenage set. Speak­ing of pop­u­lar with my hus­band and the teenage set, Kala­hari offers under­wa­ter VR! Essen­tial­ly you snorkel with a VR head­set on. If you have an aspir­ing mer­maid or mer­man in your fam­i­ly, you can book a mer­maid lesson. 


There is also a sea­son­al out­door water­park, which giv­en Ohio’s cold win­ter weath­er, is only open from June-August. 



photo of toddler swing over a shallow pool.

Kala­hari is geared towards old­er kids, but there were plen­ty of play areas for the pre‑k set!



Game Room


The game room at Kala­hari is huge too! They have video games, skee ball, and just about any arcade game you can think of. They also have mini bowl­ing, escape rooms, a motion sim­u­la­tor, laser tag, a sea­son­al ani­mal park, and mini-golf. I’m not kid­ding when I say there is plen­ty to do. 



Game Room

My hus­band Bruce “kid at heart” Stacey won big at the arcade.



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Need to escape the kids? Kala­hari has a spa on-site where you can get a mas­sage or mani/pedi. The spa offers lots of dif­fer­ent pack­ages to choose from for adults, and even a few pack­ages for kids and teens. I was sur­prised to learn they offer pack­ages for kids as young as 3!




Convention Center


Kala­hari has a huge con­ven­tion cen­ter on-site, if you need to host a large event. There are also some small­er rooms avail­able to rent. They host every­thing from Colos­sal­con to Weddings. 


Pro tip: Colos­sal­con is held every year at Kala­hari. The resort usu­al­ly sells out that week­end! Unless you would like to attend, I would high­ly sug­gest check­ing the sched­ule and avoid­ing that week­end so you can avoid the crowds and prices. 





Kala­hari has a buf­fet, piz­za place, cof­fee shop, bar, an Ital­ian restau­rant, and a can­dy shop on site. The can­dy in the can­dy shop is real­ly good, espe­cial­ly if you’re a choco­late fan! I’m going to be hon­est with you my friends, the food at Kala­hari is over­priced for the qual­i­ty. Every time we go there, my hus­band insists we order piz­za. Kala­hari piz­za is nos­tal­gic for him because his par­ents always got it when they went when he was a kid. But, since I don’t share those mem­o­ries, I will tell you that it’s just ok. You can order deliv­ery from a local piz­za place and save a few bucks. Chet and Mat­t’s piz­za comes high­ly rec­om­mend­ed by my friends in Sandusky. 


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Where to Stay


Kala­hari has plen­ty of places on site to stay, every­thing from stan­dard 2 queen rooms to a 10 bed­room vil­la. I high­ly rec­om­mend stay­ing on-site so you can real­ly enjoy the indoor water park expe­ri­ence, how­ev­er, they do sell day pass­es if you don’t have a night to spare. We opt­ed for a 2 room, 2 bath­room suite which we split with my in-laws, and my par­ents got a stan­dard dou­ble queen room with my sis­ter.  We got a “beat the clock” deal on the 2 room suite, which made the room much cheap­er than if we got 2 reg­u­lar rooms and meant we gained a liv­ing room for hang­ing out. Before we had kids, my hus­band and I stayed in a King bed whirlpool suite, and it was super nice! I would absolute­ly stay there again. Dur­ing the week you can expect to pay around $150–199 for a stan­dard room, or $200–300 a night on the week­end, which includes water park pass­es and parking. 



When you go


The best way to get to Kala­hari is to fly into Cleve­land and rent a car or take an Uber. It will take you about 45 min­utes to dri­ve to Kala­hari from the air­port. Kala­hari is about 2 hours from Detroit. Tole­do, Ohio also has a very small air­port, which is ser­viced by only 2 air­lines, Alle­giant and Amer­i­can Air­lines, and it’s about an hour from there to Kala­hari. You’ll like­ly find Cleve­land to be cheap­er to fly into and since Cleve­land is a larg­er air­port you’ll have more options for non-stop flights. 

We love using Booking.com or CheapOAir to find the best deals for our fam­i­ly. You can play with your dates to find your best deal below.




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Ohio's winters are notoriously brutal, which makes Kalahari the perfect place for a weekend of fun and fake sun! The best indoor waterpark in Ohio for kids and teens.



Emi­ly House­hold­er Stacey is a trav­el agent and writer based in Cleve­land Ohio. She com­plet­ed the final edits of this post dur­ing a lit­er­al bliz­zard while wish­ing she was from Orlan­do Florida.