During the winter, teens are often stuck at home, longing for the summer days when they could hop in a car and take a short ride to the nearest outdoor amusement or water parks. For now, Fantasy Island and Darien Lake are closed, but indoor water parks offer a great alternative to outdoor rides.
NeXt takes a look at four water parks to travel to with friends on cool, cloudy winter days.
*Splash Lagoon, 8091 Peach St., Erie, Pa.
The Splash Lagoon water park and resort is just a short two-hour drive from Buffalo. The water park features five waterslides, two "toilet bowl" slides, three whirlpools, a "lazy river" and the biggest wave pool in the eastern United States. Three hotels are directly connected to the water park, and the park also offers packages through off-site hotels.
"I love how you can go to Splash Lagoon at any time of the year," said Lily Jagodzinski, 16, a senior at Williamsville North High School. "It could be the middle of the winter and you can be in a bathing suit having fun in the water."
*Great Wolf Lodge, 3950 Victoria Ave., Niagara Falls, Ont.
The Great Wolf Lodge is just across the border in Niagara Falls, Ont., about an hour's drive from Buffalo. The water park features seven indoor slides, one "toilet bowl" slide, a wave pool and several activity pools. The Lodge also offers numerous suites connected to the water for overnight stays.
"My favorite part about this water park is all the fun waterslides that have lines without a long wait," said Maeve Melber, 15, a sophomore at Buffalo Seminary. "The theme of the park is fun, and it's incorporated throughout the whole park."
*Kalahari, 7000 Kalahari Drive, Sandusky, Ohio
The drive to Kalahari is a longer one -- about 4 1/2 hours from Buffalo -- but the park is worth the drive. Kalahari is America's largest indoor water park with a unique African theme. It features seven water slides, two "toilet bowl" slides, two activity pools, a whirlpool and a "lazy river." It also offers hotel rooms and restaurants connected to the water park.
"The best part about Kalahari is the huge water slides, because it's not really something you can re-create at home," said Colleen Mroz, 15, a sophomore at Sacred Heart Academy. "You can go swimming at home, even create a tide pool if you want, but you can never create the giant slides."
*Castaway Bay, 2001 Cleveland Road, Sandusky, Ohio
While you are visiting Kalahari, you can also pay a visit Castaway Bay. The two are just a few minutes away from each other. A division of Cedar Point Resorts, Castaway Bay is only one attraction at the Castaway Bay resort. The water park features eight water slides, a wave pool, two activity pools and a spa. It also includes hotels connected to the park.
"I love the water roller coaster at Castaway Bay!" said Rachel Franz, 13, a seventh-grader at St. John the Baptist School. "And I like being in the water park in the winter because it seems like summer!"
These four water parks are within driving distance from Buffalo and are great places to go during the winter. They are the perfect way to spend a cold, dark day with a group of friends, and they offer all the excitement of an outdoor amusement park.
Lauren Testa, 14, a freshman at North Tonawanda High School, sums it up: "Indoor water parks are -- thrilling!"
Allison Franz is a sophomore at Sacred Heart Academy.