Overnight Getaway – KeyLime Cove Resort

KeyLime Cove Resort has closed, but recently reopened as Great Wolf Lodge.

Click here for additional overnight getaway locations in the Chicago area.

I’m adding a new feature to Toddling Around Chicagoland – Overnight Getaways. With the current economy I know a lot of families are forced to downsize their vacations, or eliminate them altogether. I’ll be posting about family friendly destinations that are close to home, making them more convenient and easier for tight budgets. Watch for more Overnight Getaway posts in the future!

KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort 

Location: 1700 Nations Drive, Gurnee

Reservations: 877-360-0403
Information:   224-656-8685

Parking: Free parking in the large parking lot.   

Check-in & check-out: Check-in is at 4:00 pm, but you can come in as early as 1:00 pm to play at the waterpark. Checkout is at 11:00 am, but you have access to the waterpark for the rest of the day.

Price: Rates vary considerable based on the dates and room type. Because the price includes waterpark passes, the rate also varies based on the number of occupants. Join Club KeyLime for news and special offers.
We stayed in a Queen Deluxe Stateroom from Tuesday to Wednesday. Our stay, for 2 adults and 2 children, was priced at $199.95.

Accommodations: KeyLime Cove offers 7 types of rooms: King Stateroom, King Spa Stateroom, Queen Stateroom, Queen Deluxe Stateroom, Queen Grand Stateroom, Queen Verandah Stateroom, Family Stateroom, Mangrove 1-Bedroom Suite, Toucan 2-Bedroom Suite, and Captain Dave’s Two-Bedroom Luxury Suite. Rooms/suites can accommodate between 2 & 8 people and all include large flat-screen tv with cable, high-speed internet access, iPod compatible alarm clock, refrigerator, coffee maker, table or desk, and in-room safe.

Bathrooms: There are multiple bathrooms throughout the public areas of the resort with changing tables. In all the bathrooms we were in, the sinks were high and Cooper couldn’t reach them without being lifted up.

Nursing area: There are no designated nursing areas. There are areas to sit throughout the resort and waterpark.

Stroller/Handicapped Accessibility: The resort is accessible to strollers and the handicapped. I used a double stroller to walk through the resort without any problems. There are ramps and the elevators were large enough to accommodate my double stroller easily.

Food: Dining information is available on the KeyLime Cove website. 
– D.W. Anderson’s – Old-fashioned soda fountain diner
– The Crazy Toucan Margarita Grille – Tropical themed restaurant with full bar, plasma tvs, live entertainment, and a pool deck

– Island Temptations Coffee and Confectionery – Starbucks coffee, pastries, ice cream, and fudge

– Anna Chovy’s Pizzeria, Hot Diggity Dawgs, Sharky’s Big Bites – Quick, casual, and just outside the waterpark

– Sand Bar – beverages (in the waterpark)

Waterpark: The Lost Paradise Waterpark is open from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm. There are no day passes to the waterpark; only guests of the hotel have access. Life vests and towels are available for free. Lockers are available for $6/day. The Sand Bar serves beverages in the waterpark.

– Hurricane Vortex – Inner tube waterslide for one or two riders with a giant bowl that swirls the riders around (think toilet bowl)

– Splash Down & Slip Slidin’ Away – Two different enclosed body slides
– Wahoo & Screaming Banshee – Two different enclosed tube rides. You can go down on a two-seater inner tube and there’s no height requirement for children going on it with a responsible adult; we were told that as long as we took responsibility for them, Cooper or even Dexter could go down these slides.
– Tsunami Washout Wavepool – Zero-depth entrance pool with waves to simulate the ocean
– Toukie’s Big Deluge – Giant interactive play structure with four body slides; 50 different water hoses, cannons and valves, rope pulls, fountains, spinning wheels, and water dumps; and a 250-gallon Pineapple Splash Bucket

– KeyLime Creek – 560 foot lazy river that winds throughout the waterpark
– KeyLime Grotto – Secluded whirlpool for adults only
– Lil’ Limers’ Play Pond – Enclosed pool area for younger children with three body slides and a shallow pool

– RipTide Reef Arcade – Arcade with prize redemption counter

– Leapin’ Lizards – Creative station for kids that includes arts, crafts, games, and activities throughout the day

– Pinki’s Pet Palace – Make your own stuffed animal (similar to Build-A-Bear)
– Shopping – Mangrove Jack’s Trading Post (snacks, drinks, essentials), Island Hoppers Outfitters (apparel, souvenirs), and street vendors line Duval Street

– Enchanted Lagoon Kids Spa – For kids as young as 3 years old. Manicures, pedicures, facial masks, makeup application, and make-your-own lotions, sugar scrubs, and lip gloss. All the services are geared toward girls, but I’m told they’re working on activities for boys; possibly hairstyles or make-your-own soap with bugs.
– Paradise Mist Luxury Spa –  Massages, scrubs, body wraps, skin treatments, saunas, Vichy showers, manicures, pedicures, makeup, spray tanning, and hair styling

Specials & packages: View the Packages & Specials page for current specials and details.
Ride & Slide – Overnight accommodations including waterpark, plus single-day admission tickets to Six Flags Great America. Starts at $199.95 for a single night, $299.95 for 2 nights.
Grandparents Month (available in September) – Overnight accommodations including waterpark, plus 20% discount on all food and beverages (excluding alcohol). Starts at $109.95.

Upcoming events: 
Every day is packed with activities for kids and families. Check out the Family Fun-tivities schedule for daily fun.
July 29-31 – Scooby Doo Mystery Weekend

Parties and events: KeyLime Cove offers a birthday party packages, and can accommodate meetings and conferences, as well as groups and special events, such as birthday parties, weddings, and reunions.

Additional amenities: 
The resort offers a free shuttle to Six Flags Great America.
Lockers are available in the waterpark for $6/day. Life jackets are available to borrow for free.
Room service is available.
There is a list of area attractions, but there’s so much to do in the resort I think it’s unlikely you’ll leave.
When booking your stay, you’ll be given the option to “enhance your stay”, by adding extras for additional cost:

  • Six Flags Great America pass (or passes),
  • early check-in,
  • Breakfast in Paradise (full breakfast in a restaurant),
  • It’s Your Birthday (cake, balloons, banner, pizza & pop),
  • VIP Pass (free Pinki’s Palace animal & outfit, 100 tokens, souvenir cup & t-shirt, one kid’s meal, & 10% discount at restaurants & spa),
  • Riptide Reef tokens,
  • Fresh Milk & Cookies (1 dozen homemade cookies & milk),
  • Keylicious Kick Start (breakfast sandwiches & juice),
  • Pizza in Paradise (pizza, wings, pop, & souvenir cups), and
  • Paradise Spa Breeze (25 min massage & 25 min facial).

Our experience:  

We visited KeyLime Cove during the week. KeyLime Cove was designed to make you feel like you’re in the Florida Keys. I’ve never been to the Florida Keys, but it did feel pretty Florida-esque and the waterpark (which is 82 degrees) felt pretty tropical. We arrived earlier than the 4:00 pm check-in (you can arrive as early as 1:00 pm on your check in day to start enjoying the waterpark and other activities), but our room was ready for us to check in. I had requested a Pack n’ Play for Dexter and it was waiting for us in our room.

After getting settled in, we visited Leapin’ Lizards to decorate some cookies (one of the free activities on the family fun-tivities schedule) and play. Leapin’ Lizards had a kid’s movie playing, beach chairs, magnetic poetry, coloring sheets, games, and lots of other stuff. There were kids of all ages there and I really think this would be a great entertainment spot even for tweens.

Then we headed back to our room to change into swim suits so we could hit the waterpark. I loved the wristband system (read more about this below) because I didn’t have to worry about bringing money, keys, or a debit card, and because we were inside no worries about sunscreen! (Because every parent knows it takes three times as long to get going when you have to put sunscreen on toddlers.)

We borrowed a life jacket from the waterpark desk for Cooper, and got a locker for our camera and shoes. We checked out the Tsunami Washout Wavepool, KeyLime Creek (the lazy river), and the Lil’ Limers play pond, but spent most of our time at Toukie’s Big Deluge, the giant play structure with mini waterslides in shallow pool. It wasn’t very crowded and there was only a short wait or no wait at all for waterslides. Cooper is pretty timid about water, but he eventually warmed up the the spraying hoses and waterslides. Dexter really liked climbing around a bit & sitting in the pool. John and I took turns sneaking away from the kids to try out the big waterslides. We tried to convince Cooper to try out a bigger waterslide with one of us, but he wasn’t quite bold enough for that.

After hours at the waterpark, we headed back to the room to change and get ready for bed. John decided he’d take Cooper to Riptide Reef (the arcade) for a couple of quick games. We had a lot of fun there and wound up playing much too late. We finally dragged the kids, who were half asleep already, back to the room.

John left early in the morning (because he had to work) so I spent our second day alone with the kids. I’m generally terrified to take the kids to any kind of pool alone, but with the lifeguards there I felt much better. We played in the Lil’ Limers play pool, which is a gated area so I didn’t have to worry about the kids running off. Dexter was able to walk around in the pool while Cooper went down the small slides on his own so it worked out really well for us.We went early in the morning (about 9:30) and we had the entire Lil’ Limers area to ourselves for a while. It was nice to not feel too rushed either; although we had to check out of our room at 11:00 am, we had access to the waterpark for the rest of the day.

Needless to say, the boys both fell asleep within minutes of getting into the car to head home.

Sadly, I didn’t have the opportunity during our stay to experience the Paradise Mist Spa, or the KeyLime Grotto (the adults-only whirlpool spa area), but there’s always next time. Check them out; let me know what you think!

I only had a few things I didn’t like:

  • The sinks throughout the hotel (in the room and the public bathrooms) were way too high for Cooper to reach. He had to be lifted and held to wash his hands. If we were staying for an extended period of time it would be nice to have a small step stool in the room.
  • There were no menus available for the restaurants D.W. Anderson’s and The Crazy Toucan outside of the restaurants. It would have been nice to have menus in the binder of hotel information in the room or something so we could look at what the hours were, what options were available and the prices before we went into the restaurants. I asked at the front desk, but they didn’t have menus available there either. Having small children, I always find it helpful to be able to see a menu before I go to a restaurant; the kids get excited once you’re there so it’s difficult to turn away if the prices are too high or there aren’t options are good for your kids, and I like to have time to look over my options beforehand because once we get there I’m so busy keeping kids occupied it’s difficult to find time to choose my own food.

Here are the things I really liked:

  • Our stay started on July 5, immediately after KeyLime Cove had wrapped up what I hear was a very busy & event filled Fourth of July weekend, but the place was spotless. I was very impressed with how clean everything was – our room, the Duval Street area, the waterpark.
  • The staff was incredibly friendly too. Every employee, even the ones just passing in the hall, went out of their way to say hi. And I’m not talking about just a “hi” in passing, but several stopped to say talk to the kids and ask if they were having fun. The employees at Leapin’ Lizards were particularly great; they greeted us right away, talked to the kids, showed them all the different activities and helped Cooper get set up with some crayons and coloring sheets, and helped up us decorate cookies. Leapin’ Lizards has some activities that you pay extra to do and I was especially happy to not be pressured into paying for activities; they showed my kids coloring sheets and games and were perfectly happy to just have us hanging out and having fun.
  • The rooms have refrigerators. I love this; it’s great to have cold drinks in your room or be able to put leftover pizza in the fridge for the morning.
  • The lifeguards were awesome. There were lifeguards everywhere throughout the waterpark. There were friendly and diligent. I felt like my kids were very safe and from what I saw they were pleasant but firm about rules.
  • The wristband system was very convenient. We each got wristbands when we checked in; for the boys it was just to show they were guests and could use the waterpark and me and John they allowed us to open our room door and charge things to our room. It was very convenient not having to carry keys, money, or a debit card. For older kids, there’s also an option of adding a designated amount to their wristband.

My suggestions:

  • Be sure you check out the “Enhance Your Stay” options when booking
  • If you’re staying for several days and have a toddler, bring a step stool so they can reach the sink
  • Don’t plan outside activities during your stay; you’ll have PLENTY to do at KeyLime Cove
  • Visit Leapin’ Lizards and check out the fun-tivities schedule

We were provided with a complimentary overnight stay. All opinions expressed are my own.


  1. Thanks for this great overview. We are looking into going to KeyLime Cove and after reading your review, I exactly know what to expect. 🙂

  2. We have never been, but would love to go sometime soon!

  3. Thanks for the overview! We just took our daughter to Kalahari in the Dells and she loved it. We’ll have to try Key Lime Cove next!

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