Disclaimer: Our stay and activities were provided in exchange for our honest review - all thoughts and opinions are my own and 100% unbiased!
When it comes to family vacation destinations within a 3 hour drive from New York City, your options are plentiful. We've actually reviewed many of them (see our "family friendly day trips and weekend getaways from NYC" list here), but our trip to The Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark this past weekend truly blew us away. It was spectacular, non-stop fun and excitement, beautiful, just AMAZING! A must visit for any family in the Tri-State area, honestly!!! Watch our video here and read on for more about what makes The Kartrite so special!
Located in Monticello, NY, The Kartrite is just a 2 hour drive from NYC, making it the perfect weekend destination! The Kartrite hasn't even celebrated its first birthday yet, so everything is beautiful, new, and utilizing the latest technology. Take your room key for example. It's not a key or even a card. It's a wrist band!! The internal chip acts as both your room key and your water park admission! I mean, HELLO! Could they make it any easier!? At the arcade, you add activities and game tokens to your Playopolis card, and any tickets you win go back onto your card - so it's completely cash and paper free! What's more? You can get a card for each member of your family and then pool all the points to one card when checking out and "buying" your kids' prizes.
There are ski slopes and cute towns nearby, but frankly, don't even bother. We spent our entire 3 days at The Kartrite and had zero desire or need to leave the fabulous facilities. At check-in we received a list of the complimentary daily kids' activities (things like STEAM projects, sand art, marshmallow towers, daily movie night in the lobby), and they even have a 3 hour nightly"Kids' Night Out" drop-off program for $55/child. We ended up spending 10am-5:30pm Saturday at the Waterpark, 10am-2pm Sunday at Indoor Adventures area, and the rest of the time either eating or lounging in the room!
It should go without saying, the waterpark is the main attraction. This is why people come to The Kartrite, and for good reason, it's spectacular!! Touted as New York's biggest indoor waterpark, and covered by the world’s largest texlon transparent roof (I didn't realize this and thankfully we didn't burn, but as per their website, apparently you can tan through it, so don't forget your sunscreen!), they really went above and beyond in every way, and entrance is included with your stay at The Kartrite (even on check in and check out days). To top it off, it was the most physically pleasant indoor waterpark we've been to. We've visited many where either the air or the water wasn't quite warm enough, and left you chilled and needing to leave within 2 hours. We've also experienced some where the air was so thick with chlorine that our eyes stung and lungs burned! We didn't experience any of this at The Kartrite! With the exception of the bathrooms being cold and the lunch line being long, everything else was absolutely perfect!
There's an adorable toddler area with mini slides and splash zones, free life jackets for kids, a basketball pool, a great lazy river (never had to wait long to get a single or double tube to ride on), several kiddie water slides, 5 big kid / adult water slides (with minimum height of 42" or 48"), water adventure areas with a dump bucket, and even a well heated outdoor pool that you can access from inside (it was about 25*F when we went, and we were completely warm in this pool outside, until my kids splashed me and got my face and ears wet, then they started to freeze)!
There's no extra fee for their Flowrider (shown above), where you can do indoor boogie boarding, wake boarding, or surfing. Lines can get long for this because they give each rider ample time to have several tries, but it's totally worth the wait. It was my first time as well as my son's first time. After watching many people wipe out (no tears or injuries though) I was incredibly nervous but it was insanely fun!! The staff were super helpful, taking the time to explain how to do it, and if you are doing well they'll guide you from the front on learning tricks while you're still riding. It was amazing!! My son and I both were able to get up onto our knees and we saw others learning to spin the board around. So cool! You can see us in action on Flowrider in this video!
The most unique item at the waterpark is probably the Nor'easter water slide (see giant blue monstrosity above). I've never seen anything quite like it, but unfortunately we weren't able to ride it. There's a minimum height of 48" (our kids are too short), and you must have 2 or 4 riders (and I felt too shy to ask a stranger to ride with me). We did enjoy watching it though, and our 7 year old will definitely be tall enough if we go back in half a year or so! Can't wait!!
There is a cafeteria style grill in the waterpark as well as a bar. We ended up ordering a whole pizza, for $20, which was good for our family of 5. You can put it charges on your room which makes it nice, no need to bring your wallet. There are lockers, I believe from about $15 per day, but I really recommend leaving valuables in your room and bringing a waterproof pouch for your phone so you can keep it on you for quick photos and videos. You do need to wear coverup and shoes between your room and the waterpark, but we just put ours in a bag and left them on a chair. I guess there is always a risk of theft, but it didn't feel especially risky to me.
You can also splurge by purchasing a cabana for the day, which we were treated to by The Kartrite! The regular lounge chairs really fill up quickly around the waterpark, so having a private reserved section was really nice, plus it comes stocked with fruit, snacks, beverages in a mini fridge, and your own waiter by the push of a button!! Of course our kids were most impressed with the 32" HD TV in our cabana, and I was thrilled it had an outlet to turbo charge my phone after taking a full day's worth of photos and videos it was running out of juice! We got Cabana #11 which was right in front of the kids' adventure area, we were able to sit back and relax while still having a great view of our kids. Score!!
If you're not staying at the hotel, you can purchase a Splash Pash day pass to the waterpark for $79 - $99 (children under 2 are free). Great option if you live nearby or just want to drive up for the day!
I actually had no idea these existed at The Kartrite. I'm used to seeing giant arcades, but this was so much more! This massive play center on the first floor consists of:
Basically, you purchase each activity and/or credits, they all go onto your Playopolis card and you scan it for each game or activity. You can buy packages as well, which reduces individual costs. I highly recommend this, so you just go out and have a huge fun day rather them deliberating over individual costs. Just splurge and treat your kids, and yourself!! For example, the "Voyage Pick Four" ($50) package includes 80 arcade credits and you chose 4 of the following: Climbing Wall, XD Theater, Bowling, Laser Tag, Virtual Reality, Rope Course. Family members can share a card too, in case you want each kid to do 2 of those activities.
There were several restaurants to choose from and we honestly enjoyed every meal (well, "enjoyed" may be debatable since dining with 3 overtired cranky kids is always a struggle), but the food, service, and atmospheres were great! The kids' menus seemed to be the same at each restaurant though, so not as much variety, but if you have non-picky kids they could share items off of the adult menu perhaps. Then again we have pretty picky eaters. We ate at Bixby's Derby the first night, which had an upscale yet cozy vibe with huge tall-backed booths (besides looking really cool, I think they do well to absorb noise)! We ate at Harvey's Wallbanger the second night for dinner and the third day for lunch. It's very casual American bar/grille type atmosphere, with some booths and many high tables (I was nervous but our kids didn't fall out, thankfully). They all have crayons and coloring placemats with fun activities like dots and boxes and tic tac toe to keep everyone occupied without screens - hooray! For both breakfasts we got the buffet at Eat. Eat. Eat which was delicious!! A huge variety of food from pastries to omelet station, waffles, bacon, you name it, and 3 and under eats free there!
The rooms are definitely in tune with the stylishly modern design of the rest of the hotel. They have 1, 2, and 3 bedroom suites. We got the "Two Bedroom Grand Corner Suite" which has an 8 guest max occupancy and at 966 square feet it's actually bigger than our own home in Brooklyn, which had its first open house while we were staying at The Kartrite!! The kids got the bedroom with 2 queens (the twins cuddled up in one), and us grownups took the master bedroom with a King and attached bathroom. The living room featured a his and her sink bathroom, sofa bed, Keurig, mini fridge, and balcony. I've seen some suites with bunk beds, too! So definitely search for the set up that'll work best for your family! On our first night, the kids took forever to settle down, not going to sleep until after 9pm, and were up from about 4:30am due to excitement. It was a disaster!!! The next night was much better after an exhausting day at the waterpark, and they slept til 6:30am without waking us up!! Hooray for 2 bedrooms and a living room, plenty of space and doors to block out sound!! Rates very greatly by type of room and day / season, but I've seen as low as $127/night for a family of 4 (don't forget, that includes waterpark passes for every day including check in day and check out day)!!
I'm not even sure who will be making it down here to the end of the post. I'm thinking most of you have already clicked over to The Kartrite's website to book your vacation!! But in case you're still here, thank you for sticking it out til the end!! Would love to hear your thoughts on The Kartrite - have you been there before? Planning to go? Have another family-friendly vacation destination we should review!?!? Comment below and we will love you foreverrrrrrr!!!
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!