by Sandra Fu

Despite the weather turning frightful there’s always something delightful about taking a vacation. This season I decided to research some less-than-traditional winter hotspots and provide you with a taste of the offbeat, enlightening and somewhat strange. So take a peek at the possibilities.


The Kid-Friendly Vacation

If you want a destination spot that will get the kids excited consider a trip to Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. When most people think of Wisconsin they think football and cheese, but now the state has yet one more claim to fame: indoor waterpark nirvana. While Wisconsin Dells has a population of a mere 4000, they hold the title of indoor waterpark capital of the world. Numerous resorts have their own private waterparks for guests and there are also several open to the public, one of which is housed at the African safari-themed Kalihari Resort.

The 125,000 square feet indoor waterpark boasts it is the largest in America with features such as: the Botswana Blast, a 570-ft waterslide that surprisingly goes uphill, the Tanzanian Twister waterslide where sliders travel 40mph, a wave pool where kids can practice their body surfing moves, a general kids' play area, and a leisurely 100-foot river float for the less adventurous adults.

The waterpark is open year round and costs $35 per person or if you choose to stay at the resort your admission is free. Other activities that will keep the kids busy include a video game room and a 10 screen theater which shows all the latest releases. Adults can play with the kids or pamper themselves at the day spa. The resort offers all types of accommodations to fit every sized family, with exotic names such as the African Queen Suite and the Royal King Jacuzzi Suite. They offer different packages throughout the year and ala cart packages like the Bed and Breakfast or the Romantic Getaway which can be added to a regular stay for a reasonable cost per person.

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The Educational Vacation

No matter how old you get you’re never too old to learn and why not incorporate it in your next vacation? If learning about ecosystems while hiking through glorious rainforests, plus enjoying beautiful beaches and waterfalls appeals to you then take a trip to Costa Rica. Famous for their ecotours, Costa Rica is one of the rare places where you can truly experience the tropics with minimal disturbance to the natural environment. While less than 20,000 square miles the country has numerous natural attractions --such as two tropical oceans (the Pacific and Caribbean), rainforests, swamps and active volcanoes - and attracts tourists from all over the world. Over one fourth of the land is protected in the form of National Parks, wildlife refugees and biological reserves making it a wonderful place to truly enjoy nature at its finest, plus it has the most stable political climate in Latin America. It is especially appealing for those on a budget as Costa Rica can be experienced with minimal damage to your wallet.

One of the best and most common ways to explore Costa Rica is through an ecotour such as those available at Tiskita Jungle Lodge which is a private biological preserve and experimental farm. It overlooks the Pacific Ocean with a rainforest backdrop and offers a variety of activities to please almost everyone. You can go birdwatching (Costa Rica has more than 850 species of bird with over 280 spotted in the immediate region) along well-marked trails in the forest or take a stroll through their luscious fruit orchards. Or hike through the rainforest and try to spot howler monkeys, three-toed sloths and other exotic animals native to the area. There is also fishing and horseback riding available. But if all this seems more like a chore than a vacation don’t forget that Costa Rica is mostly coastline and you can just relax on the beach or try out the surfing if that is more your speed.


The Unique Vacation

If you’re one of those people that enjoys the cold, who begins sweating when someone says the word “summer” then have I got a place for you. Imagine a little Swedish village where the most celebrated place to spend the night melts every spring and is rebuilt every winter. That’s right; it’s an ice hotel and not just any ice hotel, but the Icehotel located in Jukkasjarvi on the River Torne, which features the famous Absolut Icebar where tourists gather to sip drinks out of - you guessed it - ice glasses (at least it makes the dishwashers happy).

Inevitably, you must be wondering how does one sleep in an Icehotel room? On an ice bed? Yup. I was imagining a magic bed that could keep you warm while not melting the hotel down, but I was wrong. A special bed built of snow and ice and topped with reindeer skins is where you will lay down your weary body at night. A thermal sleeping bag with a liner is provided to sleep inside of that they assure will keep you warm enough all night long. In the morning they provide you with a hot cup of lingonberry juice and then you can really warm up in a sauna.

For those interested in seeing the Icehotel, but who would prefer the comforts of a warm home they also have 30 fully modern cabins next to Icehotel. Activities include snowmobiling, dog sledding and ice sculpting classes. Book your room before the opportunity melts away.

Kiss My Face


© Melt Magazine 2004