Everyone knows about the ski resorts in Jackson, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks… But you can’t spend ALL of your time doing that! If you find yourself in Jackson Hole with kids, try some of these lesser known yet fantastic family activities, too…
1. River Rafting (scenic and whitewater; kids 6 and up). The whitewater trips are for the more adventurous; I haven’t taken my own kids yet, as they are too young, but I can hardly wait to introduce them. The scenic floats (especially in Grand Teton National Park) are breathtaking and so relaxing. You’ll see lots of wildlife, usually some bald eagles and the view of the Teton mountain range is spectacular.
2. Jackson Hole Children’s Museum (10 and under) This place is fantastic and the exhibits change every month. Lots of indoor activities for kids if you come on a bad weather day. There’s also an arts and crafts center, indoor slide and dress up station. My kids love to play in the sandbox or dig for fossils in a big stock tank and I usually have to drag them out. I’d say kids 6 and under would enjoy this the most.
3. Bubba’s BBQ Restaurant – Soooo kid friendly with good prices. It’s one of those places all of the locals go to get a good, hearty, well priced meal. The servers have been working there forever, so they must treat their staff well. Meals usually come out quickly (which is good with little ones) and the salad bar is awesome!
4. Sidewinders Restaurant – also very kid friendly, complete with game room and TV’s. We frequent this establishment at least a couple of times a month. Medium range prices, but they too welcome kids. It’s more like a sports bar with lots of TV’s to watch games and whatever else, but they are very welcoming to families. Have high chairs and a nice relaxed atmosphere.
5. Horseback Riding (lots of places to choose from for day rides! for 6 and older). My husband grew up around horses so this is something we are quite familiar with. We don’t utilize the different commercial riding places because we have our own, but Jackson has a lot of great trails to ride. A google search will give you a list of places that offer it.
6. National Elk Refuge Sleigh Rides – If you’re in Jackson Hole during winter, ride a horse drawn sleigh through hundreds of elk! It’s amazing! Go to the National Museum of Wildlife Art to purchase your ticket, then they bus you across the road to get into the horse drawn sleigh (or wagon if there’s not a lot of snow). You will literally feel like you can reach out of the sleigh and touch the elk. It’s a great chance to be up close to an elk, in a safe way, and get a feel for how big they really are!
7. National Museum of Wildlife Art – (Often has kids programs. Overlooks the National Elk Refuge, fantastic for kids of all ages!) World class artwork throughout the halls of this museum make it something the adults will love. The exhibits change periodically so even if you’ve been before, you’ll see something new. We’ve taken the kids and they love the kids room where they can touch different pieces of art or create their own.
8. Granite Hot Springs – During summer you can drive to it and in the winter you can take a dogsled or snowmobile and swim in the hot pools in the snow! We’ve been to Granite in the winter on a guided snowmoblie tour, which is lots of fun. They take you in and while you soak in the hot springs, cook you a really nice lunch. We’ve also driven in during the summer in our own vehicle. Four wheel drive isn’t required, though it is slower going because its a dirt forest road. It’ll take you at least an hour to drive here from downtown Jackson.
9. Jackson Hole Cutter Races – Over President’s Day Weekend, horse drawn chariots race on the snow to raise money for Shriner’s Hospitals Make sure to dress warm and bring snacks, though they do have concessions. You’ll be standing on snow banks on either side of the snow packed racing track. The horses are incredibly fast! One thing everyone enjoys doing is betting a quarter (or whatever) on each race. Be prepared for some little kid you probably don’t know, to want to bet you. (I usually lose all my quarters to the little kids!)
10. If you have the budget… Don’t miss a Dude Ranch vacation inside Grand Teton National Park. Usually all inclusive, cabins, meals, horseback riding… A fantastic family get away that you will never forget! Our favorite is the Moose Head Ranch which is only open during the summer months.The hospitality of a guest ranch is second to none. You’ll notice is that years from now, that your kids may vaguely remember whatever vacations you took them on, but they will never forget the name of their horse if you take them to a Dude Ranch!
Got any other tips for kids in Jackson Hole? Leave them in the comments!