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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014

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In Travel & Visitors Guide Commentary

Treat your family to an "Up North" adventure.

In Travel & Visitors Guide Commentary

The Tundra Lodge was built in 2003 and is very well maintained.

In Travel & Visitors Guide Commentary

The waterpark is ideal for kids ages 3 to 12.

In Travel & Visitors Guide Commentary

Try the salmon in the onsite restaurant.

Tundra Lodge offers relaxing Green Bay getaway


GREEN BAY — After experiencing most of the water parks in The Dells, as well as Blue Harbor in Sheboygan, we made the trek to Green Bay to try out the Tundra Lodge, a resort and conference center that opened in 2003.

The Tundra Lodge is the only water park of its size in the area, but the question we posed before going was, "Is it worth the almost-two-hour drive from Milwaukee?"

We decided that yes, it is, but with a couple of qualifications.

For one, visitors have to appreciate the smaller water park scene. Whereas most of the Dells' water parks feature a much larger range of offerings that include thrilling water slides even some adults might find scary to wave pools that rival real beaches as well as indoor and outdoor amusement areas with exciting rides and games, the Tundra is much more low-key.

It's smaller, indoors only (with the exception of an outdoor whirlpool and splash pad) and features only two slides, both of which require tubes and neither of which would be considered "thrilling." (But they are fun).

The Tundra also has an arcade with two rooms of video games, air hockey and skee-ball with a ticket system that earns prizes.

Sales manager John Van Beek, who has worked for the company since it opened, says the Tundra is ideal for kids who are 12 or under. This seems about right, and something that families with older children should consider.

However, we're not dissing the smaller water park scene. In some ways, we prefer them. They are less chaotic, make it easy to keep an eye on the kids and are not as exhausting.

Tundra has a decent on-site restaurant, called the Caribou Restaurant. As expected, the menu features a variety of affordable, kid-friendly meals including grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly and spaghetti and meatballs.

The strong points on the menu seem to be the seafood offerings, with the salmon being the dish of choice. It was the perfect size, extremely flavorful and came with a choice of sides and a salad from the salad bar. The walleye was good, too. Other menu items that caught our eye included the beer bottle chicken and the "muzzleloader" – smoked and grilled buffalo.

The Tundra also offers room service and a fast-food-ish eatery in the water park. Plus, there's a large, open bar in the center of the facility, featuring a signature, made-from-scratch Bloody Mary called the "Bloody Bowl" that's made with infused vodka, served in a giant goblet and comes with a stick of veggies, a cheese chunk and a meat stick. And a chaser of beer's served at its side, of course. (Green Bay is in Wisconsin, after all).

The service at Tundra Lodge was impeccable. We have found this to be the case at most water parks, and once again, we could not have asked for the staff to be kinder or more accommodating. For example, my sons' grandmother stopped by for a visit (she lives in Green Bay) and instead of charging her the usual $20 day pass fee, they let her hang out for free for a couple of hours. These small, hospitable details go a long way.

We found the rooms clean, modern and a little bit smaller than similar rooms we've stayed in at other water parks. We would have liked the option to rent a movie, something that's become a water park tradition for us, but they do not have a movie service or the option to rent a DVD player. It turned out fine, however, because "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" was on network television that night.

However, to really justify the two-hour drive, planning other Green Bay-based activities is recommended. Tundra is only a couple of blocks east of Lambeau Field, so a trip to check out the facility as well as the Packers' Pro Shop is a possibility for football fans.

Green Bay also has Oneida Casino and the National Railroad Museum that most kids really enjoy and is unlike anything we have in Milwaukee. Kroll's West is a family-friendly Green Bay classic eatery across the street from Lambeau and Hansen's Dairy & Deli is great for subs and ice cream. The 100-year-old Seroogy's chocolates is worth a visit, too.

Tundra Lodge is also a conference center available to businesses and associations and can accommodate weddings, parties and more. The water park area also welcomes birthday parties.

"You can come here for a few hours or the entire weekend and the Tundra can fit your needs. We offer family vacations, blocks of rooms for wedding parties, we're ideal for corporate groups – you name it," says Van Beek. "We are really a unique facility and there's no other like it up here."

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