Starved Rock Country has a new swimming hole, but one with cocktails, heated water and a retractable roof.
Several months ago, Pirate's Cay Indoor Water Park began welcoming guests to swim, slide and splash in its bathtub temperature waters, with wonderful views of the surrounding wooded landscape — lush in summer, majestic in winter.
Pirate's Cay is part of Fox River Resort, which is nestled along the river of that name, near the village of Norway. Besides the resort's residents, the water park also is open to the public.
"It's a great place for a family," said Chad Jackman, facilities manager at the park.
The 20,000-square-foot park features a bucket dump with a pirate-themed splash play area, a lazy river and four indoor-outdoor slides — two tower slides and two body slides, all in bright colors. Young mateys can board a pirate ship-themed playscape with operator-controlled water features, water guns, slides, dump bucket and more. When it's time to relax and take in the scene, plenty of seating is available for tired bones.
In winter, the water and air are kept at 84 degrees. The park is glass-enclosed, with a roof that opens during pleasant weather. The water area is usually patrolled by 10 lifeguards.
The water park is attached to an 11,000-square-foot entry building, which has a Subway sandwich shop, Mama DeLuca's Pizza and perhaps most importantly for parents, the Sand Bar, which serves cocktails and other alcoholic drinks. The building also sports a gift shop, arcade, changing rooms, showers and space for parties and other events.
For a member of the public, a day pass to the park costs $21.95 for an adult and $18.95 for a child between 48 and 36 inches tall. Adult and child "twilight" passes, for the period from 4 p.m. to close, are $16.95 and $13.95 respectively. Children shorter than 36 inches are always free. For an adult to enter the park as an "observer" — not going into the water — the price is $10.
There also are charges for resort members.
Fox River Resort is along the eastern bank of the Fox River, about 15 miles northeast of Ottawa, just west of Route 71 at 2558 N. 3653rd Road. The resort is home to 268 condominiums, with 16 presidential suites and a 48-unit studio building under construction. The timeshare resort, which opened in 1997, has 225 full- and part-time employees.
ADDRESS: 2558 N. 3653rd Road, Norway