After a long week of icky, winter weather and a day of no power at home because of an ice storm, my family of four was ready to take a mini vacation.
Reasoning that we had had enough of the cold, we thought a place where we could don our bathing suits amid temperatures of 84 degrees sounded pretty good.
On a frigid Friday we drove 30 minutes to the CoCo Key Water Resort at Cherry Valley Lodge in Newark, 25 miles east of Columbus. The lodge seemed especially warm and welcoming that evening as we came in out of the lightly falling snow. Cozy-looking couches were set alongside two fireplaces in the rustic lobby, and eager guests came and went at a brisk pace.
February is a great time for families at the lodge and its 50,000 square-foot water park, and this year it’s a great time for planning upcoming visits. Cherry Valley Lodge is discounting a spring break package for those who book a stay by Feb. 18. The “Early Parrot Sale” offers 20 percent off accommodations. For $169, the deal includes a room at the lodge, four passes to the water resort, two souvenir T-shirts, two $5 arcade cards and a gift of a family board game, such as Candy Land or Life. Guests need to stay at the lodge between March 17 and April 24.
We arrived for our getaway in time for dinner at the Lodge Pub, which is more casual than the Sunflower’s Restaurant and a step up from the burgers and pizzas served at the water park’s Callaloo Grille. We sat in comfy chairs alongside a large aquarium containing blue and lemon-yellow fish. Max and Rosie ate peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches with sides of smiley fries. Mike and I had sophisticated salads and glasses of chardonnay.
After dinner, we followed the circuitous hallway to the arcade. The lodge wraps around a landscaped courtyard, which provides pretty views of a lake and a small waterfall. After I purchased a debit card, Rosie and Max rode in a mechanical car and played skee ball over and over again until Rosie earned enough tickets to purchase little plastic monkey she named “Sleepy.”
Tired, we returned to our room and all snuggled on a king-sized bed.
We awoke to the sight of snow falling on the courtyard. Red berries on a tree nicely contrasted the backdrop of the white, snow-covered gazebo. The quietude was interrupted by the arrival of a group of waddling ducks pecking at our window. “Ducks!” Max exclaimed.
We ate breakfast at a nearby Bob Evans restaurant (Rosie’s favorite spot) and arrived back at the hotel for the opening of the water park at 10 a.m. Checkout time for the hotel is 11 a.m., so we took the majority of our belongings to our car. Lockers are available at the water park for a rental fee of $6.
Activities for older children include getting deluged under a huge bucket that dumps 300 gallons of water every 15 minutes. You also can play basketball in an activity pool, grab a tube and slide down a twisting water slide, or float in a lazy river.
With young children, we spent the majority of our time in less than one foot of water, stepping on water spouts and maneuvering a multi-layered water trough. Max delighted in grasping a basketball and having his dad lift him to the rim for a slam dunk.
After a fun time in the water, we got dressed and hung around the lobby for a while. Mike and Max tinkered around on a piano while Rosie and I huddled on a large sofa.
Our stay was sprinkled with moments of pleasant affirmations: “I’m really having fun tonight,” Rosie said, later adding, “Daddy, I love adventures with you.”
That’s when you know the trip was worth it.