It might be "Better in the Bahamas" when the snow falls, but how many can afford the trip? Splash Lagoon in Erie, Pennsylvania is where summer never ends. This indoor facility turned my dreary wet day into a warm tropical paradise. Once inside you're guaranteed to never get cold in the consistent 29 C (84 F.) temperature. If you wear glasses, be prepared to have them steam up for the first few minutes when you enter the lagoon. This is the tropics, Erie style.
The 758 litre (200,000 gallon) wave pool is the largest in the Eastern United States. You can float down a 90 metre (164 foot) long lazy river on rubber tubes and get really wet in swirling water slides with names such as the Cyclone, the Black Hole and the Big Kahuna. The Hurricane Hole slide is new. At the squirting water cannons, I became a kid again and clobbered a 12-year-old! Get drenched under the 1,000 gallon Tipping Bucket.
If water's not your thing, there's a new dry attraction. The Tree Tops Indoor Rope Course allows you to climb three stories high over the water pool on a rickety bridge or you can walk the tight-rope or brave the balance beam.
For the youngsters there's a kiddies' pool with interactive games and an activity pool with basketball hoops and a rope bridge. Lifeguards rotate every 30 minutes at each of the water attractions to avert boredom.
After Sam Peters of Buffalo and his grandkids plunged down the 38-metre (124-foot) Hurricane Hole slide, he managed to get his breath and said, "It's a safe environment and we can relax and enjoy ourselves. We'll be back." It's difficult to convince young ones (or maybe even yourself) that it's time to leave.
An all-day pass during the non-peak season for those over 42" tall is $40.00, under 42" $30.00; children under two are free. There are reduced rates after 4 pm. The attraction is open at this time of the year Thursdays thru Mondays only (closed Tuesday and Wednesdays). However, during special winter holidays, the attraction remains open. It's best to check before you arrive.
The Econo Lodge, across the street from Splash Lagoon, offers a package around $130.00 for the evening. This includes accommodations for 4 in one room and 4 Day passes to the lagoon plus breakfast. There are several other hotels attached to the Splash Lagoon that offer accommodations at a higher rate.
Visit the nearby Erie Art Museum on State Street. The museum underwent a $9 million dollar renovation in 2011 and an additional 10,000 square feet was added. The main part of the museum is located in an historic 1839 Greek Revival building that once served as a Custom House. There are four major galleries in the museum. The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission prices are Adults $7.00 seniors and students $5.00, under five free.
Don't pass up looking at the ornate Warner Theatre, home of the Erie Philharmonic in the historic downtown area.
Canadians flock to this city of 109,000 to take advantage of the no sales tax on clothing and shoes. However, on everything else you pay a six per cent state tax. Several major shopping centers like Millcreek Mall, Kaufman's and Sears are found on U.S.19.
To get there, it's an easy 160-kilometre (90 mile) drive along I-90 West from the Peace Bridge. When in Pennsylvania, leave I-90 at Exit 24 (Peach Street). At the traffic light at the end of the ramp, turn left onto Peach Street. The Splash Lagoon is at 8091 Peach Street at the second traffic light on your left.
Images Courtesy Of Splash Lagoon
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.