KEY LIME COVE
Overall Score: B
Key Lime Cove is an indoor water park resort located in the Chicago suburbs. Positioned less than two miles from Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Key Lime Cove offers Chicago families a mini-vacation close to home. In addition to the water park, Key Lime Cove boasts an arcade, children’s spa, adult spa, six restaurants on site, an arts and crafts area, and a cashless tab option. The entire hotel is accessible on your wrist with the RFID wristband they give you, which is your room key, water park pass, and resort tab.
THE HOTEL: The lobby atmosphere of Key Lime Cove tries to be reminiscent of Key West, with a street-like landscape and stores aligning the main corridor. The bright colors, hanging lights, and vivid signage creates a warm and inviting ambiance.
After checking in, we put on our RFID wristbands. Only adults were issued the RFID bands, as children got plain bands – a good technique to prevent kids from putting charges on the room tab, but it also keeps them from having a room key (which is nice to have for older children). Upon walking through the lobby of the hotel, there are a few shops and a snack shop to eat at. This hotel is absolutely catered to children with the toy shops and sweet treats available at every turn. I noticed these cute shutters (pictured below) next to a window of the swim shop. I was impressed with the hotel’s attention to detail: everything from painted bar stools, to street lamps, to wall art.
Due to our short stay, we did not eat or drink anywhere in the hotel. The two larger restaurants within the hotel do have vegetarian and gluten-free options. Prices are slightly higher than normal, but not outrageous. However, without eating here, I can’t adequately review their dining options.
The arcade at Key Lime Cove sits right outside the entry to the water park. There is a wide variety of games for kids of all ages. All transactions were through a player’s card, where money can be added and ticket count is kept. Tickets can then be redeemed for prizes.
On the lower level near the water park and arcade is “Leapin’ Lizards,” an artistic adventure center. Here, kids can participate in various arts and crafts, watch movies, and play games. Be advised that kids 12 and under need to be supervised by parents while at the art center.
There is no on-site fitness center, but Key Lime Cove sits across the street from FitNation, a facility of the Gurnee Park District. FitNation will allow guests of the hotel to use their facility during their stay.
THE ROOM: For our one night stay, we had a two bedroom suite that included a small kitchenette. The room had a microwave and mini fridge, small coffeemaker, and free wi-fi (which was slow to connect). One bathroom in the suite had a tub shower and the other had a stand up shower.
The room overall appeared to be clean. However, there were a few stains on the pull out sofa (pictured below), a wad of kleenex visible next to the bed, and the bathroom floor had dust and hair under the vanity.
THE WATER PARK: Although smaller than most indoor water parks in Wisconsin Dells (where most Chicagoans go for water parks), Key Lime Cove had many water entertainment options. There were a couple of body water slides, tube slides, one toilet bowl slide, a hot tub, small pool with basketball nets, a lazy river, a small wave pool, a little kids’ slide and pool area, and the playground area. I also did notice that here in the water park, the amount of detail in the wall decor was very appealing.
The hot tub, although hot and large enough to fit many adults, did not seem to have the powerful jets that I’m accustomed to seeing in the smaller tubs. However, it did appear clean and it was only for those 18 and over.
The amount of chlorine in the water wasn’t terrible, but for sensitive younger children, it may be somewhat irritating. Obviously, guests want the water to be clean, but sometimes water parks have so much chlorine in them that its vapors can redden and irritate eyes. On a 1-10 scale, my irritation was highest at a 6, and that was only in the hot tub.
Overall, the water park experience was a pleasant one. Lifeguards and management were patrolling the facilities, and the park was mostly clean. Guests can only lounge in the lazy river if they are in a tube; however, there are not many tubes. It seemed as if there was only a set number of tubes for the lazy river so people had to wait for one to become available. Kind of frustrating, especially for the younger guests. Being that it wasn’t super crowded when we were here, I was surprised at how long the lines were for the water slides. Once I got in line, I realized that the lifeguards running the lines at the top of the water slides were not the most efficient. As there are three different types of slides you can ride from the top, people formed three different lines on the stairs, trying to separate who was going on what ride.
If you are here during a sporting match, don’t count on seeing any tv’s in the water park area. The water park bar is only counter service and no tv’s were in sight. In addition to a bar, there is a small counter service restaurant within the water park. Towels are available for free upon entry and lockers are available for a fee.
Overall, Key Lime Cove is a nice place for a family getaway in Chicagoland. The amenities are numerous and kids will thoroughly enjoy staying here.