Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City

Last month we had such fun staying as guests of the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. We've stayed in the Dells location of Great Wolf Lodge and loved it. This time, we decided to try one of their locations, a bit closer to home. It was a lovely drive up to Traverse City, one of our favorite cities in Michigan. Not only are there fantastic places to eat, there are also many places to shop - a lovely downtown with amazing stores, including a Jacques Torres chocolate shop. Have a mochaccino to fortify you to make the return trip to the car with all of your packages. Stop by Popkies for excellent cheesy popcorn to munch for a midnight snack (click here for rates and availability at Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City).

We were very excited that the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City has a Magiquest - an interactive game by Creative Kingdoms that is exclusive to Great Wolf Lodge. In addition to the Magiquest (which our daughter played this game on and off the entire time we were there), there is also a minigolf course and a rock climbing wall (both outside), and an indoor arcade.


Another great activity that Great Wolf Lodge has for kids is their Cub Club. GWL partnered with National Geographic Kids and are working in the next year to bring even MORE educational activities and presentations. Right now, the Cub Club has amazing activities, games, books, environmental videos, and even Blink, a fire-bellied toad. There are tie-dye and other activities. When we were there, GWL was celebrating Howl-o-ween, and kids could also go trick-or-treating there.

Great Wolf Lodge Cub Club

And of course there is the waterpark.  It is the thing we love most about Great Wolf Lodge. The waterslides.  The lazy river.  The 2 hot tubs.  The play areas.  There is the large Fort Mackenzie in the middle (a huge climbing structure with a dump bucket of thousands of gallons of water).  I learned that the lifeguards are on 15-minute rotations, and that all of their lifeguards have exceeded the requirements for training for the last two years. What we noticed in the park was that the lifeguards were constantly scanning the waterpark, watching both their own areas as well as areas around them for guests. Although our daughter (7) does not go into the waterpark without one of us with her, I was reassured by the vigilance.

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

I sat down and talked with Mike Lusky (General Manager), Rhonda Hampton (Director of Sales & Marketing), and Jenny Gillner (Ambassador of Fun) to learn more about the Traverse City Great Wolf Lodge. I learned quite a bit about this GWL location in our discussions. When I asked about community involvement, Mike told me about the efforts over the past 5 years to restore the Kids Creek Area behind the lodge. At one time, this was a fishery/farm area, and now GWL and the Grand Traverse Conservation District and Garfield Township are tring to restore it to a pathway 3.5 miles long, for people to use. The YMCA will be linked to the pathway, as well. GWL also has reached out to the local branch of Big Brothers/Big Sisters - is a member of their board, and works with them to provide vouchers for use in the Waterpark for a day. 100% of proceeds go to BB/BS on these special events.

One of the things I'd been most impressed about with the Wisconsin Dells location of GWL was the efforts of the chef to locally source food. I was happy to see that the chef at the Traverse City GWL also locally sources food - and he makes much of his own supplies (including cheese!). The chef shops local markets, works with local sustainability efforts for food, and has been there for four years. We ate breakfast at one of the restaurants there, and it was delicious.  I also asked about the staffing at GWL - 40% of the staff are from Traverse City, and 60% from smaller towns close by. There's a wide range of ages in the staff - but everyone who helped us was extremely professional and kind. I felt very comfortable leaving my wheelchair at the front desk while we left the Lodge, and the staff were always kind about other requests, helping our daughter with Magiquest questions, and more. It says something about a place, when the employees are happy to work there.

Great Wolf Lodge

We'll be heading up to the Great Wolf Lodge again in a few weeks, to explore Snowland - including a 30-foot tree, and snow during storyhour! Other events include a New Year's Eve glow party, Labor Day outdoor buffet, the Howl-o-ween that we attended, and more. Jen, the Ambassador of Fun, was full of great ideas for both kids and adults. She's got such a great job, and you can tell that she loves it. While we were trick-or-treating, you could see dozens of kids (we were there on a weeknight, so it was a bit slower) having such a great time.

Great Wolf Lodge

As always with Great Wolf Lodge, there's an incredible animated clock in the lobby, that has shows several times a day. There is also a story hour two times each night for younger kids. I loved seeing a mom sit in a rocking chair by the fire, knitting while her kids listened to the story one night.

As a person with disabilities, I am always checking out the handicap access. I was impressed with the accessibility of the lodge - including the waterpark. My only request for further accessibility there would be to get a push button for the heavy doors into the waterpark. It is difficult to open them, while in a wheelchair scooter. I toured all of the room types - we'd stayed in a Wolf Den, which is the cutest  - a room with a separate room with bunk beds for kids! There are loft rooms, rooms with different layouts for larger families, as well as standard rooms. All of them had the signature lodge theme, with beautiful wooden furniture, a fireplace, refrigerator and microwave, etc. They are very comfortable rooms.

In case you want to actually leave the lodge, GWL has an excellent listing of local attractions on their site (in case you're not familiar with the Traverse City area), including: Sleeping Bear Dunes, Dennos Museum Center, Great Lakes Children's Museum, Old mission Peninsula and Wineries, and Point Betsie Lighthouse.

We always have a wonderful time visiting Great Wolf Lodge, and are looking forward to our next trip!

Great Wolf Lodge


Disclaimer: We stayed as guests of Great Wolf Lodge during this visit. All meals and other expenses were our own.

Love Great Wolf Lodge? We do, too! Here's our Compendium of Articles on our stays at Great Wolf Lodge:

Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City

Catching up at Great Wolf Lodge, Traverse City

Magical Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge

A Kid's Perspective on Howl-o-Ween at Great Wolf Lodge

Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge: A Kid's Perspective