Kids’ Day Out

We’ve designed the perfect day for you and your family.

By Joohee Muromcew

A soak in the natural hot springs pool along Granite Creek is a perfect getaway from the heat, hustle, and bustle of summer. Photo by Ashley Wilkerson

GROWING UP IN Jackson Hole has been the greatest gift to our four kids. A ho-hum summer afternoon spent riding bikes to a friend’s house, taking a dip in a secret swimming hole on the Snake River, and eating grilled hot dogs in the glory of the Tetons would amount to a memorable vacation day for most visitors to our corner of paradise. When my editor asked for a “Kids’ Day Out” itinerary, my mind went on autopilot, and I immediately had a week’s worth of ideas to share. Narrowing it all down to one realistically doable day (okay, it’s probably realistic only for Kelly Ripa-league super parents) proved a challenge. My goal was to keep it fun, of course, but also to give some idea of what locals enjoy, throw in a splurge or two, and encompass both the uncontainable glee of a six-year-old and the adventurous appetites of a sixteen-year-old. Parents, try to keep up—there’s wine at the end!

8 a.m. (ish)
Get up early because there is nothing more glorious than a crisp summer morning in the Tetons. Hot air balloons dot the skyline, wild animals stir among the wildflowers, and traffic is light. Grab some hot breakfast sandwiches at Sweet Cheeks Meats on Scott Lane. They offer just one type of sandwich daily—it’s different every morning and always five dollars. Whatever the day’s special, it’ll be delicious. (You know it’s going to be a really good day if there’s country sausage gravy on the side.)

9 a.m. (ish)
Fortified, head out to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park for a quiet morning hike. The 7.1-mile loop around the glassy, scenic lake is easy enough for little legs, but with enough variation in terrain to keep it lively for teens and adults. Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point are two particularly pretty spots to enjoy a breather. And, just in case legs are getting tired, about one-third of the way around (going clockwise), you can take a water shuttle back to the start. If you’re more into biking than hiking, rent bikes at Dornan’s, which was your first right after you turned off Highway 89 at Moose Junction. There’s a bike pathway from Dornan’s to Jenny Lake, about six miles in length (one-way). Don’t worry, the only hill is the one just inside the park entrance. After that it’s mostly flat. Take the pathway from Moose in the opposite direction of Jenny Lake and thirteen miles later you’ll be at the Jackson Town Square.

12 p.m.
Whether heading back toward town via bike or car, stop by Creekside Market & Deli, just beyond the Dairy Queen, for picnic supplies. Their deli sandwiches are a local go-to, though I cannot decide which is better—the hot Reuben or the BLT. Picnic lunch in hand, get out of town. Literally. Drive through Jackson on Cache Street and Broadway, continue southeast on U.S. 189/191 for twenty-plus miles, and then head northeast on gravel Granite Creek Road for about ten miles. Regular passenger cars can handle the dirt road, and a soak in the hot springs makes the dust and bumps (yee-haw!) totally worth it.

1 p.m.
At the end of Granite Creek Road, just past stunning Granite Creek Falls, the Granite Hot Springs Pool is a timeless throwback to wholesome fun in the Mountain West. Amenities are simple—no-frills changing rooms, outdoor bathrooms, and picnic tables. No alcohol is allowed, and the scene is always family-friendly. The nominal pool fee is cash-only. (On one visit when I forgot my wallet, the very kind pool attendant told me to mail in the entrance fee when I remembered; seriously, people here are really nice.) Have a swim in the warm to hot-ish water, enjoy your BLTs (or Reubens) with chips and a soda, and take a short snooze in the sun because you’re going to need your energy.

4 p.m.
Back in town, head to Treetop Adventure at Snow King Mountain Resort. You could spend an entire day at the King between Treetop Adventure and the resort’s Cowboy Coaster (like a gravity-powered roller coaster), mini-golf, and Amaze’n Maze, and the nearby bouldering park. For your entire family, however, Treetop Adventure (“Think Swiss Family Robinson meets X-Games!”) offers ropes/challenge courses and zip lines that provide a huge bang for your buck and your time. Options vary from the Flying Squirrels Course for kids seven and up—where parents, standing on the ground below, can watch their little ones—to progressively more challenging courses. Children under 16 must be chaperoned by an adult, and there are some height requirements. Private guides are available for those who want more advanced instruction or those who are afraid of heights (me!). If you prefer attaining your higher elevations from a seated position, take the scenic chairlift to the top of Snow King Mountain. It’s not as scream-inducing as Treetop Adventure’s highest elements, but you are rewarded with beautiful views of our wonderful town and points beyond, including the National Elk Refuge.

7 p.m.
Stop by the Yippy I-O Candy Co. store on Town Square, because—well, because you’re on vacation, and your kids want candy. Nibble on sweets and caramel popcorn while your teen takes a selfie by the mounted bison in front of Jackson Mercantile. Marvel at the giant amethyst geode in the window of By Nature Gallery, where your kids can buy cool souvenirs like Amazonite pebbles and fossilized shark teeth. (Apologies in advance for the crying that starts when you won’t buy them the cave bear skull.)

8 p.m.
End your day at Calico Bar & Restaurant on Teton Village Road, an ideal place to collapse with a glass of wine and unpretentious pizza and pasta fare. Your kids—who are still not tired—will merrily join in a game of Frisbee, tag, or soccer on the expansive green lawn while you order up a large Ski Bum (pesto, spinach, Canadian bacon, artichoke hearts, olives, fresh tomatoes, pine nuts, and Parmesan) and a big glass of Chianti. Enjoy the sunset, pull on a sweater, and fantasize about moving your family here.


Rainy Day

A mighty thunder-and-lightning storm can be as beautiful and awe-inspiring as a sunset in Jackson Hole, but it can leave visiting parents scrambling to suddenly fill an afternoon. Don’t worry, storms tend to pass quickly, but in the meantime, here are some rainy day ideas to keep your kids occupied and off their smart phones:

Jackson Hole Children’s Museum is especially good for younger children, who can spend hours at the magnet wall, building with Legos, painting in the Creativity Studio, playing grocery store, or getting to know the resident frog. 307/733-3996; 174 N. King St.; jhchildrensmuseum.org

Teton County Recreation Center has an Olympic-size pool, hot tubs, a toddler water slide, and a big kid water slide. The pool, along with basketball courts, party space, and organized classes are open to the public. 307/733-5056; 155 E. Gill Ave.; tetonparksandrec.org

Hole Bowl in the Powderhorn Mall is a mecca for indoor fun, especially if you must entertain a range of ages. Spend some time bowling and playing arcade games, shuffleboard, and pool, all while enjoying delicious food from the Pinsetter Restaurant. Parents will appreciate the fresh, clean bowling shoes for rent. 307/201-5426; 980 W. Broadway Ave.; holebowljh.com

All generations treasure the Teton County Library. The children’s wing has books (duh!), but also lots of comfy places to read, and small, moderately noise-contained rooms for watching movies, playing video games, or reading some more. The children’s wing librarians are awesome, knowledgeable people who love kids and books. 307/733-2164; 125 Virginian Ln.; tclib.org

The National Museum of Wildlife Art, boasting an impressive collection of important works of wildlife and Western art, also offers a cozy children’s play area and gallery with costumes, art tables, and interactive exhibits. Stay for lunch at Palate and sample the bison gyro or the wild game stew. The kids’ menu is healthy and house made, and the views outside are a masterpiece of their own. 307/733-5771; 2820 Rungius Rd.; wildlifeart.org

All ages agree the daily breakfast specials at Sweet Cheeks Meats are delicious. Photo by Bradly J. Boner

A family descends the trail from Inspiration Point on the west side of Jenny Lake. Photo by Bradly J. Boner

Kids seven and up can climb and zip through the wooded canopy at the Treetop Adventure at Snow King Mountain Resort. Photo by Bradly J. Boner

Calico Bar & Restaurant’s outdoor deck is adjacent to a large fenced yard so kids can play while parents eat (and drink). Photo by Bradly J. Boner

The Jackson Hole Children’s Museum offers endless creative options for little ones to explore and play. Photo by Ryan Dorgan

 

| Posted in JH Living
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