1700 Nations Dr.
Gurnee Illinois 60031United States
Midwest Living Recommends
Cheery Florida-inspired guest rooms and a kid-friendly play area please Chicagoland families looking for a water park fix without driving to the Dells.
When Key Lime Cove first opened in 2008, its Chicago-area advertising encouraged visitors to skip driving to Wisconsin Dells and enjoy a water park vacation close to home. Clearly, many families heeded that advice, because the parking lot during our 2012 visit was filled almost exclusively with cars from the suburbs. This resort does do several things right. The guest rooms are brightly painted in mango and lime, and the baths have Kohler fixtures and granite counters. The water park boasts lots of the features common to hotels like these, including a lazy river, wave pool, water slides, and huge playground with a tipping pineapple that dumps 450 gallons every four and a half minutes. A soda fountain serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus an array of ice cream desserts. The park also has a play structure designed in a way that makes it easy to watch your kid from below and a cool weekend tour that explains how the water purification system works, one of only two in the country like it. All of those are pluses, and while the food in A.J. Anderson's soda fountain was nothing special tastewise (we tried a burger and a pesto chicken wrap), we liked that the kids' mini hot dogs came served in a 3-D paper vintage car, complete with an Oreo in the trunk. Not everything was ideal, though. On our visit, we found the water temperature in the park much cooler than we expected (a gauge read 70 degrees, and when we asked about it on the tour, we were told the sensors must be wrong and there was no way the water was 70 degrees). The front desk staff's demeanor was cool as well. And every time guests want to go to the water park, they have to walk through the arcade, a clanging, frenetic area that hardly feels like a relaxing vacationland. Several guests were celebrating birthdays, including the ones in the room next to ours, and their party went late into the night and involved doors banging, kids yelling and people running up and down the hallway after we'd retired for the night (though, to be fair, we've found that behavior at just about every water park resort we've ever stayed in). In all, it's a decent fix for people who aren't able to get to the bigger parks in the Dells, but not a replacement for it. Rooms from $239.