13 Places to Visit in the Midwest if You Love the Outdoors

Looking to explore the great outdoors in the heart of the USA? Look no further! We’ve decided to share our 13 favorite places to visit in the Midwest.

Sure, it’s known for its down-to-earth charm and miles of farmland, but the Midwest is home to some incredible back country. Who knew that even the corn capitol of the world, Iowa, was home to 63 State Parks? Yup you read that right, there are 63 State Parks in Iowa.

Lucky for you, that’s just the start. All told our guide includes: 9 states, 2 National Parks, and countless reasons to go explore. So, if you’re up for a long weekend or a nice road trip, be sure to check out our 13 favorite places to visit in the Midwest!

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Custer State Park, SD

Custer State Park spreads over 71,000 acres in South Dakota’s Black Hills. Granite peaks scrape the piercing blue sky and wildlife abounds within the park’s borders. Black Elk Peak, the highest point in the state, also resides within Custer.

If you decide to visit, be sure to set aside some time for a dip in Sylvan Lake. The Needles and Black Elk Peak are great options for steady hikers. Have a younger crowd? Enjoy a cruise around Wildlife Loop Road and keep an eye out for bison, bighorn sheep, and boroughs. If you live for beautiful hikes, crystal clear mountain lakes, and the chance to see a wild donkey or two, Custer State Park is for you.

Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN

Gooseberry Falls State Park is known as the gateway to Minnesota’s North Shore. This is a bit of a misnomer as it deserves credit all its own. Massive waterfalls, river gorges, and expansive lakeshore all call Gooseberry home.

Any visit to Gooseberry would be incomplete without a visit to the Middle and Lower Falls. Adventurous explorers can work upstream to see the elusive Fifth Falls. More content to stay close to the visitor’s center? Paved trails branch towards the lakeshore, over the gorge, or towards a lookout over the Falls. If you have extra time, try going from park to park along the shoreline. With dozens of beautiful parks along MN 61 you won’t be disappointed!

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is as beautiful as any place we’ve ever been. Towering cliffs, windswept dunes, wild beaches, and endless sea caves wait to be explored. If you visit late in the summer, and Superior is warm, you can even swim into the caves. Some tunnel hundreds of feet deep into the sandstone and open to a secret cove.

With over 100-miles of trail, there’s always room to escape the crowds. If you’re seaworthy, take a boat tour to view the colorful cliffs from water. Mineral deposits ‘bleed’ out of the cliffs and vibrant hues of colors trail down the cliff face. These minerals also lead to the beautiful chalky blue water color, much like the Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. Take time to explore the shore, you won’t regret it!

Starved Rock State Park, IL

Starved Rock State Park is in a class of its own. It boasts over 13 miles of trails, 18 slots canyons, and countless waterfalls. Large sandstone bluffs stretch over 125 feet high and lookout over the Illinois River.

We were lucky enough to visit at the tail end of fall. The trees were shedding the last of their colors and the park was near empty. The gorgeous canyons and waterfalls waited to be explored and begged us to come back. Over 2 million visitors annually agree, Starved Rock is one of the best places to visit in the Midwest.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is as rugged as any landscape. Located off of I94 the two park Units offer a look into the eyes of America’s history. As a young man Teddy Roosevelt came to hunt bison and left with a newfound appreciation for the wild spaces. We still benefit from Teddy’s conservation policy today.

Both the North and South Units afford visitors the chance to see truly wild wildlife. The Little Missouri River cuts through each Unit and the Badlands-esque landscape. Those brave enough can enjoy the limitless camping, paddling down the Little Missouri, and otherworldly sunsets. Though certainly a long and tedious drive away, visitors never forget their time at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Monument Rocks, KS

Monument Rocks are simply an enigma. The large chalk formations stand up against the low-lying grasslands and stick out like a sore thumb. The strange uniqueness is all part of the draw. The National Natural Landmark is more or less Kansas’s answer to Utah’s Monument Valley.

Its important to note the Monument is actually on private land. The current landowners have been very happy to allow guests to tour the large formations. That being said, please respect the no camping and no climbing rules. If you have the opportunity, stay for the stars. That’s when the magic of Monument Rocks truly reveals itself.

Maquoketa Caves State Park, IA

Back to the corn capitol! Iowa’s Maquoketa Caves State Park is truly an All-American gem. This small park houses more caves than any other park in Iowa. Long tunnels, towering bluffs, and stone arches are linked by a beautiful trail system.

The in-park campground is a mix of reservations and first-come, first-serve spots. It’s nestled cozily among the mature pine trees and connects directly to the parks trail system. The caves our one of our favorite places to visit in the Midwest simply because they’re so different from any other parks in the area.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, MI

The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They are home to large stands of old growth hardwoods, waterfalls, and of course mountains. Nestled among the wild landscape are black bear, moose, wolves, and otters.

The Porkies are equally as wild as their cousins the Rockies. Tucked in between the stony peaks lies the Lake of the Clouds. If you’re up for the hike, enjoy the Escarpment Trail and follow the lakes northern shore from above. Alternatively, you can voyage south and take in the spectacular Bond Falls. If you love rugged mountain living and hope to taste it in the Midwest, visit the Porcupine Mountains.

Indiana Dunes State Park, IN

Indiana Dunes State Park tower over 200 feet above Lake Michigan’s southern shore. The park also includes a 3 mile stretch of shoreline and 16.5 miles of trail. Vegetation helps stabilize the ever-shifting topography and limits blowing sand.

The park is only a few hours east of Chicago, so if you’re Visiting the Windy City (LINK HERE) it’s easy to make it for a day trip. Hiking, swimming, and fishing are the norm and, in the winter, you can enjoy cross country skiing. Whether you come for a dip in the lake or a chance to explore a local legend, a day at the dunes is well spent!

Badlands National Park, SD

While the Badlands didn’t make our Top 5 Family-Friendly National Parks list, it did earn its spot on our 13 Favorite Places to Visit in the Midwest. It wasn’t that we had anything against the Badlands before, its just the car ride would be a little tough for most youngsters.

Compared to the 100-acre parks on our list the Badlands look massive. At 244,000 acres it’s impossible to explore every nook and cranny. You can spend all day and enjoy the Badland’s offerings, or make way to the surrounding Black Hills and Custer State Park. It’s also extremely close to another one of our favorite places to visit in the Midwest: Mount Rushmore.

If you’ve never heard of the Badlands, think of it as the scene for every Western movie. Large pinnacles of clay and soil have piled and eroded away to form the unique landscape. Some tower hundreds of feet high and others deep. It’s a spectacular place to get away, roast a marshmallow, and enjoy the best of the Midwest!

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, WI

Northern Wisconsin and the Apostle Islands are some of our favorite places in the world. Obviously, they made our list of favorite places to visit in the Midwest. Located on the northeast tip of the Bayfield Peninsula, these 21 islands are as beautiful as they come.

The park also includes a 12-mile coast along the mainland. From sand castle contests, flies the size of bats (kidding… sort of), to starry nights spent alone in the wilderness. The islands are a beautiful mix of history, local culture, and true wild Wisconsin beauty. If you want a cheap, outdoor oriented summer vacation the Apostles are for you.

Turkey Run State Park, IN

Turkey Run State Park is located just southwest of Crawfordsville, IN. We love the parks beautiful sandstone ravines and wooden bridges. It also sports large stands of aged forests, a rarity in many parts of the world.

Visitors are lucky enough to enjoy 14 miles of rugged trails through the famed gullies. If the trails are a little too rough, try the guided horseback tour or hay ride. The saddle barn is open April through October. Call ahead for a reservation!

Tettegouche State Park, MN

Tettegouche State Park is perfect as can be. Stark cliffs look over Lake Superior. Waterfalls and inland lakes dot the 9,300 acres. It sports more than 23 miles of hiking trails, an additional 12 for skiing and 12 for snowmobiles. It’s an outdoorsmen’s paradise.

Care to try your hand at rock climbing? Go ahead and rappel down the cliff faces. Only have an hour? Check out the world class Visitor Center and short hikes surrounding it. Want to stay for the night? Rent a cabin or grab a campsite, there are plenty. There are few better places to visit in the Midwest than good ole’ Tettegouche.

The Best Places to Visit in the Midwest

Turns out, even Iowa isn’t all corn and soy beans. These 13 spots just scrape the surface. The Midwest is chalked full of wild landscapes waiting to be explored. We encourage you to give one of them a try. Pack your tents, some comfy hiking boots, and lots bug spray because adventure is calling!

So please let us know in the comments below… Where are your favorite places to visit in the Midwest? Have you ever been to any of ours? Still have questions or comments, let us know in the comments! Please remember to like and share😊 God Bless, K+J!

Almost forgot? Remember to pin our 13 Favorite Places to Visit in the Midwest for later!

The Midwest USA gets a rep for being pretty boring and tame. It's actually as wild as they come. From the plethora of epic State Parks in the Midwest and National Parks in the Midwest, we've compiled our list of favorite places to visit in the Midwest USA. Check out these awesome outdoor adventures in the USA! www.theagapecompany.com #USA #Midwest #MidwestUSA #USAtravel #outdoortravel #adventuuretravel

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Verse of the Week: Joshua 1:9

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Often, we are called to be uncomfortable. Sometimes the most rewarding moments in life require discomfort, fear, or confusion. It can be as simple as the “pain” from working out or the nerves before a roller coaster ride. It can be as complex as the dread before a big presentation or before speaking to a non-believer about your faith. In either moment, big or small, the Lord is standing with you. This week, be confident in his plans and embrace the moment.

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Touring the Windy City – Why You Should Visit Chicago

Kestra and I are happy to announce a new guest contributor today. He’ll be sharing 5 places everyone should see when they visit Chicago, one of his favorite cities. Robbie Handy hails from Fife in Scotland and has been fascinated by trains since he first saw them trundling over The Forth Bridge — one of the engineering wonders of the world. Apart from trains, transportation and travel, he enjoys writing about arts, culture and politics in English, Scots and Jamaican Patois. Hope you enjoy, and as always, please remember to comment and share. God Bless!

Let’s make this clear – Chicago is a beautiful city. Anyone who is lucky enough to visit Chicago will probably think, ‘I’d love to live here. This is my kinda place.’

If you have family ties elsewhere, that might not be a possibility. Regardless, whether you’re here for a week or a year, there’s enough urban beauty to last you a lifetime.

If you haven’t been able to visit Chicago, then we’ve got a fantastic treat for you. To lure you into vacationing in Chicago, we are going to share our five favorite places in the windy city!

You’ll read, you’ll be tempted and you’ll book a flight to this Midwest metropolis– we guarantee it.

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O’Hare International Airport

Is there anything better than an airport that welcomes you with open arms? We’d say no, mainly because a half-decent airport is such a rare surprise.

O’Hare International Airport is one such hub, and it’s arguably a holiday in itself.

When you drive up to its doors, you’ll be met by valet parking providers like Looking4.com, then, once you’ve made your way through security, it’s time to shop till you drop with the host of retail and restaurants available.

That’s not all: O’Hare Airport goes one step beyond the call of duty with a yoga room, on-site hotel, aeroponic garden, art gallery, and even a health club. This is less like an airport and more like the exclusive member’s club you’ve always dreamed of.

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The Art Institute of Chicago

Founded in 1879, The Art Institute of Chicago is the city’s premier outlet for high culture, including classical paintings, sculpture, literature and much more.

Down every corridor of this labyrinthine building you’ll see awe-inspiring works of art, whether your tastes sway towards American gothic, cubism, or classical.

You could spend weeks here and still not see all it has to offer, such is its magnificent scale.

Willis Tower

In a land of skyscrapers, Willis Tower is monumentally high, stretching over 1,450-feet (that’s 110 stories, fact fans).

Height isn’t all the Willis Tower has to offer. Travel to the top of this looming building and you’ll be gifted with a view that, on a clear day, spans over four states.

Surely not one for vertigo sufferers, but a real treat for everyone else.

Adler Planetarium

For any budding stargazers, the Adler Planetarium is the hottest ticket in all of Chicago. A museum dedicated to astronomy and astrophysics, this fascinating attraction is situated on Northerly Island. You’ll need to commute out of the city center, but it’s well worth the effort.

Buckingham Fountain

If you’re visiting the city on one of its many warm days, a visit to Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world, is guaranteed to cool you down.

Located in the center of Grant Park, this is the ideal way to round off a day spent milling around.

Almost forgot? Remember to pin our 5 Favorites Places to Visit in Chicago for later 🙂

That’s our list! Can you think of any other great things to do when you visit Chicago? Then let us know in the comments below!

To read about our other favorite cities check out:

25 Things to do in Tampa

5 Free Things to do in Reykjavik

16 Incredible and Cheap Summer Vacations

Cheap Summer Vacations – 16 Amazing Destinations for Your Summer Getaway

Be aware the end is near… schools are ending faster than you can count, and families are packing their bags. Cheap summer vacations are a staple of good times, tan lines, and family memories. Today we’re going to choose our 16 favorite summer vacations spots that won’t break the bank. So, pack that suntan lotion, start those workouts and take your pick of Cheap Summer Vacations—or just try them all!

To make things a little easier to navigate we’ve broken up our picks into two sections. The first 11 picks are cheap summer vacations you can take in the USA. The remaining 5 are budget-friendly adventures around the globe. Check out Packing Tips for Travelers if you need help stuffing your suitcase for your next adventure. If you’re feeling extra generous, please shoot this post a like and a share and, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get too far, remember to…

Pin our picks for 16 Cheap Summer Vacations!

Cheap Summer Vacations in the USA

Bar Harbor, Maine

Cool weather, lots of sun, and wonderful people make Bar Harbor an excellent choice for a family trip. Located right on the coastline and just miles from Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor offers postcard views around every turn. Warm and dry summer weather allow for a refreshing dip in Echo Lake. If you’re brave enough you could even wade into the Atlantic, it’ll be chilly!

Try wandering the local streets and exploring the town’s quaint shops. If you follow the “Museums in the Streets” signs you’ll be led on a self-guided tour through downtown. Plan your visit a little later and catch free movies and popcorn in Agamont Park!

Hayward, Wisconsin

Lake Cabin Wisconsin

Hayward and the rest of Northern Wisconsin are the Midwest’s answer to Bar Harbor. The weather, people, and incredible sunshine bring many visitors back year after year. Thousands of lakes surround the small towns like Hayward. If you’re feeling adventurous you can rent a boat for the afternoon, hop on some mountain bikes, or try out the go-karts!

At night you and the family can relax around the campfire in your own cabin on a private lake. We’re serious about that part! This Airbnb Cabin is only 20 minutes from Hayward, sits on 80 acres, and has a private 20 acre lake. Kestra and I were lucky enough to visit last fall and we loved every second!

When you book, send the promo code AGAPE2019 in your message to the host to receive 20% off. That’s right folks, that’s $50 off each night!

*Promo code is subject to availability. Discount is only available on bookings in May-June and September-November. The host reserves the right to deny any bookings.

Annapolis, Maryland

Cobblestone walkways line the streets of Maryland’s historic capital. The city is well over 300 years old and steeped in history. Named after Queen in Anne in the early 1700’s the city is now famed for it’s charm, restaurants and gorgeous coast.

While there we recommend checking out both the Banneker-Douglas Museum and Ego Alley. Both are incredible, FREE!! spots to take in the history, culture, and beauty of Annapolis. After a day on the docks be sure to enjoy the city’s vibrant eateries and tour the historic mansions scattered around town.

Moab, Utah

Moab is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. National Parks fill the state and Moab sits on the doorstep of Arches National Park and Canyonlands. From mountain and dirt biking, sand dune surfing, to camping and hiking, Moab is truly one of a kind.

If you’re up for a bit of a drive be sure to check out these 12 Beautiful Places in Utah! After a fun day in the sun you can retire to a nice glass of wine or local brew at one of the many restaurants in town. With all these epic adventures it’s easy to see why Moab is one of the best spots for a cheap summer vacation!

San Diego, California

Surfing in California

San Diego is beautiful all year and somehow extra pretty in the summer months. It has tons of family-friendly activities to keep you busy all day. If you use a multi-day Go San Diego Card you can save big on museums, cruises and local theme parks. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Legoland, and even unlimited access to SeaWorld are included in the bundle and some attractions are 55% off! Seriously check them out, they’re a PHENOMENAL deal: Go San Diego Card 🙂

If you’re looking for more outdoors activities there are plenty to try! Hiking and swimming at Devil’s Punchbowl, ziplining at at La Jolla Reservation, off-roading at Anza Borrego State Park are just a few options!

Tampa, Florida

Looking for fun things to do as a family in Tampa? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!

As troves of flip-flopped families descend on Orlando, thinned crowds are the norm in Tampa. We loved it so much we actually wrote up our Favorite Family Friendly Adventures in Tampa. With plenty of public parks, more free movies, and epic deals at major attractions Tampa is an incredible find!

We’d start our day at the local Lettuce Lake Conservation Park and watch the abundance of turtles, birds, and gators. Follow that up with any one of the local beaches and then we’d check out the mini-golf scene. Play for fun, or bet on some ice cream, it’s a great way to spend a couple hours after the sun cools! After an intense 18-hole showdown be sure to try some local seafood, catch the sunset, or enjoy a free movie at the Sunset Cinema!

Williamsburg, Virginia

Similar to Annapolis, Williamsburg is a beautiful, historically-rich town. In the 1900’s the town was restored to its former glory and is a sparkling jewel of the east coast. When walking through Williamsburg and its surrounding downs you are treading the same paths as our Founding Fathers.

In our list of Cheap Summer Vacations, Williamsburg embodies everything we’d possibly want in a trip. Take a quick trip up to Jamestown, try a ghost walking tour, or just wander around town. Everything is reasonably priced, accessible, and most importantly fun!

Denver, Colorado

Ok I know what you’re thinking. People go Skiing in Colorado but who goes there for a summer vacation? Well for starters, you should. As a major hub flights into the airport are consistently cheap (say $200 a person +/-).  The weather is very mild and getting around the city is a breeze.

In terms of “ideal” cheap summer vacations Colorado couldn’t get much better. The CityPass allows users to book in advance and save up to 30% at places like the Downtown Aquarium, Denver Zoo, and the Air and Space Museum!

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

At the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is a perfect mix of natural wonders and modern conveniences. We actually loved Gatlinburg and the surrounding Smokies so much they made our list of Family Friendly National Parks! The park is home to over 5,000 plant species, 100’s of different animals, and an extensive trail system stretching over 800 miles.

After a day spent hiking through and above the clouds retire to local Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg for some family fun. Dinner theaters, amusement parks, novelty shops, you name it, think of It as the Wisconsin Dells of Tennessee. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale don’t worry, Gatlinburg still offers fine dining and resort living!

St. Louis, Missouri

As budget travelers few things perk us up more than the word free. Luckily for us, and anyone looking into cheap summer vacations, that word is plastered around St. Louis. Free tours of local Purina Farms spoil visitors with dog show and much more. The St. Louis Art Museum includes free admission, and on Sunday afternoon’s hands-on activities and a 30-minute tour

Additionally, the local City Museum houses a 10-story slide, Ferris wheel, and numerous more family adventures. It’s low cost of admission (around $15 for ages 3 and up) make it a must for any trip to St. Louis. If you’re hoping to catch a more local vibe, try catching a baseball game or sampling the world-famous Bar-B-Que!

Jacob’s Lake, Arizona

Grand Canyon Arizona

Located snuggly between Las Vegas and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon sits Jacob’s Lake. Strikingly, different from its neighbors, Jacob’s Lake is enveloped in the Kaibab National Forest. A retreat to the area can be spent on endless hiking trails, mountain biking, horseback riding, or even stargazing at night. Picture this as the perfect camping trip you always dreamed of as a child.

In the morning you can check out the local Jacob Lake Inn for a steaming pile of pancakes and fresh orange juice. If roughing it is more of your style, sit around the fire and get to cooking! Just be sure none of the endless deer in the area make off with your breakfast. At night you can enjoy your time at the Inn or try out the local Kaibab Camper Village, both are incredible!

Cheap Summer Vacations around the World

Reykjavik, Iceland

Wondering if the Blue Lagoon Iceland is worth all the hype? We've been there and can tell you exactly why it WON'T live up to your expectations. Let us know if you'd still include it on your list of things to do in Iceland. www.theagapecompany.com #iceland #bluelagooniceland

Hear us out here. You can easily do Iceland on a budget and add to your list of favorite cheap summer vacations if you’re willing to sacrifice a few things. Avoiding the really nice downtown hotels, eating in some nights, and not splurging on super cool Icelandic wool sweatshirts all help. Additionally, you can use WOW air to consistently find amazing rates to fly to The Land of Fire and Ice.

As for the capital itself, Reykjavik is a beautiful city with tons of incredible activities all around. From free hot pools, to stunning architecture, and incredible natural wonders, Reykjavik is truly a one-of-a-kind city. If you’re really trying to save some money and get to know the city check out Five FREE Things to do in Reykjavik!

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s San Juan del Sur is a dreamy tropical getaway located on the Pacific coast. Given its proximity to the US (3 hours from Atlanta) flights are often budget friendly. Kestra and I have managed to compound these savings by using 15 Tips to Finding Cheap Flights every time we search for airfare.

We’d spend our days enjoying the beautiful Playa San Juan del Sur, that’s the beach 😉 White sand lines the coast and turquoise waters cascade end over end for miles in either direction. The local resorts also offer incredible summer discounts so prices all around are low. Sounds pretty sweet, right?

Lisbon, Portugal

If you are able to find a cheap flight, Lisbon is a budget-traveler’s heaven. The city sits on the edge of the Atlantic and is as architecturally stunning as anywhere on earth. Steep hills climb out of the city affording beautiful views around every corner. Tile work from the 1400’s still lines many walkways throughout the city.

If you’re tired of walking the hills, try hopping on the gorgeous, gravity-defying, 1930’s tram. For only a few bucks you can enjoy a low-cost, scenic tour of town. If you’re feeling adventurous, visit a local winery, tour the terraces and sample the local selection. It is almost the same price of the water after all!

San Jose, Costa Rica

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Another quick flight from Atlanta could have you exploring Costa Rica’s Volcanoes or Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls. San Jose is a beautiful Latin-American city steeped in culture and history. The local plaza and its museums, shops, and theaters are well worth a day of your time.

If you manage to escape the city for a day endless waterfalls, jungles, and volcanoes wait to be explored. Local soda’s serve fresh meals for just a couple dollars. Beaches abound within a few hours drive. In terms of cheap summer vacations, Costa Rica offers a taste of luxury.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is actually two separate cities, Buda and Pest. They are separated by the Danube river and each sport their own distinct vibe. This cultural hub has exploded in popularity in recent years and airfare prices have accordingly plummeted. It’s very easy to find flights in the summer for only $600-$700.

While there, we’d recommend taking a Danube River cruise. You can often find one that includes a meal and a 2.5 hour cruise for around $20. As you float down the Danube you’ll see the Parliament, the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, among the myriad of beautiful, historic buildings. The next day, try out either the Gellert Spa or Szechenyi Spa and enjoy a refreshing dip. Both opened in the early 1900’s and have been pleasing visitors ever since.

Whoever decided cheap summer vacations were a thing of the past, were boring, or were just plain impossible was wrong. Finding budget friendly destinations may be a little tougher now, but as you can see there’s no shortage of good options. So start saving, pack your bags, and start exploring!

So please let us know in the comments below… Which of these cheap summer vacations are you going on? Do you know of any other budget friendly destinations we should add? Where’s your next vacation taking you? Please remember to like and share😊 God Bless, K+J!

Northern Wisconsin – 17 Best Places to Visit Up North

As trends change and vacation plans become all the more extravagant, many have forgotten about the secret gem that is northern Wisconsin. Referred to as “Up North” by Wisconsinites, this area is blanketed in forests, bursting with lakes, and dotted with quaint towns. If you’re looking for a family and budget-friendly adventure, look no further than northern Wisconsin.

And the best part? Northern Wisconsin’s a year-round vacation destination. The summer is filled with boat rides, hiking, stargazing, and bonfires. Autumn boasts changing leaves, cool temperatures, and dead mosquitoes. Winter warms the soul with a cup of hot cocoa, pillows of snow, and abundant opportunities to strap on a pair of skis. Spring brings about sprouts of green, the return of animals and their young, and cuddling up on a rainy day with a good book.

We make our way Up North at least a few times every year and always manage to hit up our favorite places, which we’re going to share with you. If you’re feeling extra generous, please shoot this post a like and a share and, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get too far, remember to…

Pin our picks for the Best of Northern Wisconsin!

Tremblay’s Sweet Shop

Started in 1963, this “Olde Tyme Candies” shop has been a family-favorite for years. In fact, no trip to Hayward is complete without a stop at this Main Street store. At just $6/lb you’ll find yourself filling your wicker basket to the brim with individually wrapped Salt Water Taffy. Mixed amongst the old-fashioned candy (Slo Poke’s, Mary Jane’s, and Coconut Long Boys) you’ll find an array of more recent favorites too—Laffy Taffy, Blow Pops, and Gummy Worms. Did I mention there’s an entire wall devoted to all the different flavors of Jelly Bellies? Yeah, this place caters to kids and adults alike.

Is candy not really your thing? That’s fine, they have a huge display of homemade specialties. Fudge, truffles, brittle, almond bark, nut rolls, clusters, caramel, hand-dipped chocolate… this list goes on and on! My favorite is the chocolate-peanut butter fudge, but if you’re ever unsure about a flavor, pop a sample in your mouth beforehand!

One of the most notable things about Tremblay’s is that you get to watch them make all the homemade specialties, whether window-shopping or standing in the store yourself. Watching them pour out chocolate onto the table, slice it up, and throw it through the air like putty is seriously jaw-dropping. And if you’re not planning on making a stop in Hayward, there are also stores located in Eagle River, Wisconsin and Stillwater, Minnesota.

Website: Tremblay’s Sweet Shop

Scheers Lumberjack Shows/Lumberjack World Championships

By the late 1800’s, northern Wisconsin was one of the nation’s leading lumber producers, thanks heavily in part to the northern part of the state. Since then, much of the industry has vanished, but the memory of logging has been kept alive in the hearts of Wisconsinites. In its place, they created lumberjack sports. These include: log rolling, boom running, pole climbing, cross-cut sawing, axe throwing, springboard chop, and underhand chop, amongst others.

Log Rolling: two competitors stand on either end of a long and try to get the other to fall off… without pushing them or crossing onto the other side of the log! This is the most popular sport, and kids as young as four and five can begin competing.

Boom Running: a race from one dock to another and back, across nine logs, without falling in!

Pole Climbing: If you get nervous easily, cover your eyes for this event. Competitors speed climb up either a 60- or 90-foot pole and back down.

For a complete description of the events and times, head to the website below.

Scheers Lumberjack Shows are a mix of sport, history, and comedy. They’re good an audience of all ages, and even have a special “Yo-Ho!” event for the kids. Shows take place almost every day in the summer, but make sure to book in advance! Shows take place in both Hayward, WI and Minocqua, WI—so take your pick!

The Lumberjack World Championships are taking place from August 1-3, 2019 in Hayward, Wisconsin. Spectators and competitors alike flock from countries across the world to watch the best of the best compete for a “World Champion” title.

Website: Scheers Lumberjack Show

Website: Lumberjack World Championships

Namekagon River Tubing

Nearly 100 miles long, this river snakes through some of northern Wisconsin’s most pristine forestland. The relatively calm water and rocky bottom makes it ideal for a plethora of outdoor activities. The river begins at Namekagon Lake as a small trout stream, perfect for fishing. As it meanders around its dozens of islands, through lakes and wetlands, it picks up in size as it eventually merges with the St. Croix River, a tributary of the Mississippi River.

Canoeing and kayaking are popular pastimes, many of which are several day-long trips, with campsites dotting the shores (and probably some of the islands too—I mean, how cool!?) South of Hayward, the river has the potential to speed up into Class II rapids in a few areas, but generally the water is too shallow. Instead of rafting, many people choose to go tubing down the river. This is my personal favorite river activity, as it’s a good bled between relaxation, swimming, and fun!

I’m sure there are many tour agencies that offer this service, but I’m going to recommend two I know and trust.

The first is through the Hayward KOA, located in Hayward. You don’t have to be camping here to punch your ticket to an afternoon of fun. You can choose to canoe, kayak, or tube down the river. The KOA will then shuttle you to the drop-off point, and pick you up later at a designated spot down-river. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride! 😉

Website: Hayward KOA

The second is Jack’s Canoe Rental, located in Trego. Again, you can rent tubes, canoes, and kayaks. For tubing, shuttle service is free with the rental of a tube, and you can go as many times as you’d like during the day (between 9 AM and 3 PM and weather dependent, of course). If you bring along a cooler, they’ll even pitch in a free tube for it and rope to tie it to your own tube… making it a whole day adventure!

Canoe and Kayak rentals pay an additional shuttle fee, but patrons can choose from a variety of different rental options and trips (just a few hours to a few days), giving options to beginners and experts alike.

Website: Jacks Canoe Rental

Apostle Islands

Apostle Islands Wisconsin

This is, hands down, my favorite place in the entire state—if not the entire world (which is saying a lot!) Just off of Wisconsin’s northern shore in Lake Superior, 21 islands surround the state’s uppermost peninsula. These rugged, sandstone cliff islands jut out of the water with spectacular magnitude.

Several different options exist for island cruises, but most are out of Bayfield. Nine historic lighthouses are present on six different islands, which are a photographer’s dream. You’ll be amazed with the picturesque coastline of these islands and the light blue water that surrounds them (You thought bright blue water was only in the Bahamas??? Think again!)

Camping is available on 19 of the islands, but the most popular is Madeline Island. A ferry runs directly from Bayfield to La Pointe (the island’s only city). You can walk aboard, bring your bike, car, or entire camper. Campsites on this island fill up extremely fast, so make sure to book almost a year in advance if you want a site (I’m not joking). There are a few first-come-first-serve sites, but they’re always immediately filled, so don’t bank on it.

Madeline Island boasts a quarter-moon beach cay with white sand and calm, shallow water. Lounge around, sign up for the sand castle building contest, go snorkeling, cliff jumping, biking, hiking, or take a walk on shore’s rocks during sunset. Lake Superior’s water is notoriously cold, but once you’re numb you can’t feel it anyways. 😉

If you’re just there for a day-trip, check out the Madeline Island Museum, grab a bite to eat at The Beach Club, a drink at Tom’s Burned Down Cafe, and ice cream at Grampa Tony’s (just a few of our favorite places 😊).

The fun doesn’t stop when summer ends. When Lake Superior freezes, take the Madeline Island ice road (via a wind sled to be safe) to the only year-round occupied island. Take a winter hike, watch the aurora borealis, or explore one of the ice caves!

Website: Superior Trails – Madeline Island

Copper Falls State Park

Copper Falls Wisconsin

Another year-round attraction, Copper Falls State Park is a 3,068-acre park near Mellen. Famous for its deep gorges and thundering waterfalls, the golden-brown color of the park’s Bad River derives its name from the copper mineral found in the nearby rocks.

Well-groomed trails and amenities, plenty of campsite options, and its pet-friendly atmosphere earned its spot on our list. Some of the waterfalls need to be enjoyed from afar, but there are several smaller ones for the little ones to splash around near. It truly is one of our favorite spots in northern Wisconsin!

Plus, when you go in the winter, nothing is cooler than half-frozen waterfalls. You can either take my word for it or book your own trip to see it yourself, and I suggest the latter! Are you a huge waterfall fan? Check out our post: Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica!

Website: Copper Falls State Park

American Birkebeiner Ski Race

The Birkie (literally burr-key😉) is North America’s largest cross-country ski race. The race starts in Cable and ends 50-55 kilometers later on Hayward’s beautiful Main Street. Skiers from all around the world come to northern Wisconsin to compete in this monumental event, and crowds pack tightly together with hot cocoa in-hand at the finish line to ring their cowbells and cheer on the exhausted athletes.

Does skiing more than 50 kilometers not sound like your idea of fun? That’s fine! You can choose to ski the shorter Kortelopet (29 kilometers) or participate in the un-timed Birke Tour (for 15, 26, or 46 kilometers) on the nation’s best cross-country ski trail, just for fun!

Still not interested? What about the Prince Haakon 15k (ages 13+), the 3.7km race for adaptive skiers, the 1.2-5k Junior Birke for ages 6-18, or the infamous Barnebirkie, a non-competitive 500m-3k race for youth aged 3-13.

Or maybe you hate winter, who knows? The well-maintained trail is open year-round for hiking, running, or biking!

Website: American Birkebeiner

Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame

Fishing in Wisconsin

More commonly known as “The Giant Muskie”, the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame is just that—a giant Muskie. Located in Hayward (the spot of one of the world’s largest caught muskies), guests enter the giant fish at the tail, and make their way through the museum to the fish’s mouth, which provides views of the surrounding area. It’s a great way to spend a few hours learning more about wildlife and fishing in northern Wisconsin!

Website: Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame

CABIN TIME!!!

Lake Cabin Wisconsin

Locals live in them, visitors rent them. Cabins are woven into northern Wisconsin so tightly that the area, quite frankly, would look strange without them. Some are tucked away behind thickets of trees, some line the pristine lakes, others form a city block. A quick Google search will provide you hundreds and hundreds of options, which can be overwhelming.

So, we’re going to give you our favorite one, and a discount to use should you decide to book a few nights here (which you should 😉). It’s located 20 minutes outside of Hayward on 80 acres of land. There’s a small, 20-acre lake that only you have access to for the duration of your stay. I could keep rambling about how awesome this place is, but pictures do it a better justice than words.

When you book, send the promo code AGAPE2019 in your message to the host to receive 20% off. That’s right folks, that’s $50 off each night!

*Promo code is subject to availability. Discount is only available on bookings in May-June and September-November. The host reserves the right to deny any bookings.

Website: Airbnb Cabin Rental

Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding

Honestly, you can find a place to go horseback riding almost anywhere in northern Wisconsin. It’s a relaxing way to meander through the beautiful forest and check horseback riding off your bucket list (we know it’s on there). Here are a few local favorites for you to choose from.

Spider Lake Ranch

Located in Spider Lake, just 14 miles east of Hayward. $32/person for a one-hour ride, $24 for a half-hour, $8 for a pony ride. Discounts available for groups of 8+, boys & girls club members, active duty military, and college students.

Hoofbeat Ridge

Located in between Stone Lake and Spooner. Several different rides are available: ½ hour ($25), 1 hour ($35), 1 ½ hours ($65), All-day (5hrs- $175), or pony rides ($10). Discount on all-day ride for groups 3+ or if customers pay in cash.

Ranch of Rescued Hope

“Connecting with God by Connecting with Horses” is the tagline for this ranch. Located in Phillips, this ranch offers riding lessons, family packages, and birthday packages, amongst more! Riding lessons are for kids or adults, $25 for a one-hour private lesson or $25 for a 1 ½ hour semi-private lesson. The Family package is a 1- 1 ½ hour lesson and can accommodate group sizes 3-4 ($20/rider) or 5-8 ($18/rider).

On Twin Lakes

Did someone say sleigh ride???

Located in Birchwood, On Twin Lakes focuses on taking time to slow down and reflect. “We have been blessed with an amazing piece of God’s green earth, and we want to share that with everyone we can.” The farm hosts weddings and events, provides camping, rides, and trails, and even farms produce and meat.

Sleigh/wagon rides are available year-round. Prices start at $75/person (for up to 4 people, $10 for each additional person).

Boating

Boating and Wake boarding in Wisconsin

Minnesota may be “The Land of 10,000 Lakes”, but Wisconsin has over 15,000, making boating a very popular summer activity. Go tubing, water skiing, wakeboarding, and knee boarding, try your hand at the jet ski, wave runner, paddleboard, or paddleboat. Or maybe you’d rather take a cruise in a pontoon up to a sandbar and spend the afternoon watching the waves roll slowly in.

Don’t have a boat? It’s likely that you can find several marinas within the vicinity of any body of water… so basically, everywhere. The two hottest tourist destinations in northern Wisconsin are Hayward and Minocqua, so we’ll recommend two great marinas, where you can rent any type of boat for the afternoon or for the entire week. And the best part? Add on a few tubes, skis, and other water toys for an additional price.

Round Lake Marina – Hayward

This marina strategically sits between at the meeting point between two of Hayward’s most popular lakes: Big Round Lake and Little Round Lake, but is a short drive away from the Chippewa Flowage (and about a dozen other lakes of your choosing 😉).

Wave Rentals – Minocqua

Located on Minocqua Lake, Wave Rentals offers a variety of different watercraft—from pontoons and fishing boats to kayaks and paddleboards.

Minocqua, Wisconsin

Speaking of Minocqua… this quaint little town has an official population of less than 500. However, when the summer months start creeping around, that number grows exponentially. It’s a Northwoods hub for vacation, adventure, fun, and relaxation.

The year-round opportunities are endless. From the bustling, picturesque Main Street, live entertainment, art, history, water activities, trail hiking, hunting, fishing, ATV rides, and snowmobile trips, this area is stuffed to the brim with things to do, see, and eat. All these activities make Minocqua one of our favorite spots in northern Wisconsin!

Website: Minocqua, WI

Mini Golf

Mini golf, a vacation classic. If you’re anything like us, you scout the area for the best courses and the loser buys ice cream. What can I say? We’re competitive people who love ice cream—and winning. (Jacob likes winning more, but let’s be honest, I’m mostly in it for the ice cream). Any vacation town in northern Wisconsin is going to have at least one course, so we’ve gone ahead and pulled the top ones off our list for you.

Big Bear Mini Golf – Tomahawk

This course definitely isn’t jaw dropping, but it’s family-friendly, has a well-maintained green, and an attached ice cream/shaved ice shop. What more could you ask for?

Settlers Mill – Minocqua

A 19th century settlers themed mini golf, this course merges history with the present. It’s topped off with a covered wagon (AKA prairie schooner), water wheel, and of course—frozen custard.

Eagle Falls Adventure Golf – Eagle Falls

This 1950’s fishing camp-themed course is complete with a fishing cabin, bait shop, and dock. But why let the fun stop there? Try out their new northern lights-themed laser tag!

Pirate’s Cove – Sister’s Bay

With locations all over the country, this Door County mini golf is, you guessed it, pirate themed! Pirates, ships, and waterfalls await you at this award-winning course.

Moose Mulligan’s – Siren

With newly-carpeted green, this is your average family-friendly course. The holes aren’t too complicated, making it perfect for the little ones.

Scheers Lumberjack Village Mini Golf – Hayward

Remember this unique Wisconsin sport? After the show, head across the street to the neighboring mini golf course. Sloped holes make for an interesting game as you (probably) compete for post-game ice cream! If you love mini golf be sure to check out our favorite courses in Florida here: Family Friendly Adventures in Tampa!

Apple Picking

Bayfield Wisconsin

I may be biased, but some of the best apples in the world are picked in Bayfield. With its unique location on the shores of Lake Superior, the micro-climate helped it earn its name as the Berry Capital of Wisconsin. That’s right, it’s not just apples. There are several pick-it-yourself orchards filled with cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, as well.

The first Friday in October kicks off the annual Applefest, a three-day celebration that’s consistently rated as one of the nations top fall harvest festivals. Head on up to northern Wisconsin to check it out yourself!

Website: Bayfield, WI

The Whitecap Mountains

Skiing in Wisconsin

Although it’s a four-season resort, we suggest checking out these Upson, Wisconsin slopes in the winter. With four separate peaks, this mountain is Wisconsin’s snowiest ski resort! There are 43 downhill runs ranging from beginner (green runs) to expert (double black diamonds). It’s no Vail, Colorado with gondolas and 5-star restaurants, but for midwestern ski bums—this northern Wisconsin resort is the place to be. (Plus, if your K-12 child gets all A’s, they get a free season pass… talk about motivation!!) Want to hear more about Colorado’s resorts? Check out our post: Skiing in Colorado!

Website: Whitecap Resort

Bear River Pow Wow

The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians are a federally recognized Ojibwa Native American tribe located in northern Wisconsin. Each summer, Lac de Flambeau puts on an annual Bear River Pow Wow bringing together tribes from across the nation. Everyone is welcome to share in the celebration and this year’s Pow Wow is July 12-14, 2019.

Website: Bear River Pow Wow

Amnicon Falls State Park

Amnicon Falls Wisconsin

This 825-acre state park is located in South Range (just south of Superior). Similar to Copper Falls State Park, the Amnicon River runs through this park, filling it with waterfalls and rapids. Picturesque in all four seasons (especially fall!) this park is perfect for hiking, camping, or picnicking with your family and friends.

Website: Amnicon State Park

Door County

Door County Wisconsin

Arguably northern Wisconsin’s most famous county, Door County is located on the tip of Wisconsin’s “thumb”—the peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan. Just like the Apostle Islands, Door County is filled with 300 miles of rugged coastline, long stretches of sandy beaches, and inviting blue water. Picturesque towns fill the space in between with cherry pie, art galleries, wine tasting, and local restaurants.

Website: Door County

Northern Wisconsin is more than just a summertime weekend getaway. Vast trails, quaint towns, and incredible scenery are the norm year-round. If you’re looking for a place to explore and reconnect, look no further than Up North. It’s more than affordable and will surprise even the most seasoned travelers with its beauty.

Thanks for tagging along on our tour of northern Wisconsin. Is any place calling to you? Think we forgot to mention somewhere? Do you plan to visit northern Wisconsin? Let us know in the comments below! Please remember to like and share😊 Until next time, K+J!

Family Friendly National Parks in America – Our Top Five!

America has 60 National Parks for wanderers from across the globe to enjoy. Some receive over 9 million visitors every year, and some as few as 105,000. We’ve been lucky enough to visit almost half of them and can’t wait to see the remaining 30. Today we’re going to share our Top 5 Family Friendly National Parks in America. Start packing those bags because adventure is calling!

From Acadia to Zion, each park affords its visitors something unique and inspiring. While we can’t quantify the beauty of each individual park, we can express their individual caterings towards families. Our family friendly National Parks rankings are based off of facilities within the parks, proximity to accommodations, and of course the park itself. Be sure to let us know in the comments which of the family friendly National Parks sounds the best to you! Do you know of any other parks that should be in our top 5?

If you’re feeling extra generous, please shoot this post a like and a share and, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get too far, remember to…

Pin our picks for the Best Family Friendly National Parks in America!

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is one of America’s most famous National Parks. It was established as a park in October of 1890 and has been inspiring visitors ever since. Its sheer granite cliffs rise thousands of feet above the valley floor. Shimmering waterfalls fall crisply off the caps of the monumental domes cooling the valley air with their mist. Giant sequoia groves stand proudly against the stark granite backdrops. It truly is God’s Country.

In the valley several museums, hotels, and well paved trails greet visitors. The park is well staffed with knowledgeable individuals around almost every corner. The splendor of the park, its well-maintained facilities, and its proximity to several large cities all make Yosemite a must for any family looking to explore America’s National Parks.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Just a few hours outside of Denver lies a sparkling jewel. The crystalline lakes reflect the endless alpine views,  well-marked trails dot the surrounding hillsides, and wildlife inhabitants outnumber the daily guests. You’re likely to see any number of bighorn sheep, elk, moose, or even bear in Rocky Mountain National Park’s borders.

Families who love to hike should look no further, from short out and backs, to whole day trips, the parks varying ecosystems offer endless trail options. It also has numerous shelters and facilities for visitors to enjoy and learn more about the park and its various biomes. The unparalleled diversity of the park, its network of trails, and its accessibility make Rocky Mountain National Park one of the best family friendly National Parks in America. If you’re planning a winter trip to Colorado be sure to check out the numerous ski resorts. You can read more about them here: Skiing in Colorado – Everything You Need to Know.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

On America’s most populated coast lies a park of incredible historical and natural significance. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was on the forefront of the action for most of the civil war. The nearby town of Gatlinburg was commonly raided by Confederate soldiers until the end of the war. Nearby Pigeon Forge also boasted a converted mill used to make Union uniforms. Pairing this with several small battles and skirmishes the Great Smoky Mountains were a hotbed long before they became a National Park.

The parks also boasts over 5000 types of plants, 800 miles of trails and 100’s of different animals. It is melting pot of history and natural splendor unmatched across the United States. Given its unrivaled history and beauty, it extensive trail system, and its closeness to numerous towns, Great Smoky Mountains is in our top 5 family friendly National Parks.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone’s fabled geysers, wildlife, and terrain speak for themselves. With prismatic springs dotting the countryside, awe-inspiring canyons and waterfalls, and even moose, wolves, and bison roaming freely it is hard to imagine a more unspoiled landscape. For any family looking to be inspired by pure beauty look no further than Yellowstone.

Yellowstone is actually America’s first national park. It was inducted in March of 1872, and has had plenty of time to build an inclusive experience for its visitors. From board walked trails, to historic hotels, the park offers everything any visitor could need. Yellowstone’s incredible wildlife alone should be more than enough of a reason for every family to visit, but if you need more convincing Grand Teton is only an hour south! Check out our One Day Guide to Grand Teton National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Rounding out our top 5 family friendly National Parks is a personal favorite, Bryce Canyon. Bryce is spectacularly unique. Hundreds of sandstone hoodoos climb towards the sky out of the natural amphitheater. Trees litter the valley and trails between the formations. While certainly not as massive as the other parks (Bryce sits around 35,000 acres) it is plenty large for a family trip out west!

What the park lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in beauty. The famed hoodoos in the valley are revered around the world for the rarity. Few places sport the sheer number and size of the formations as Bryce Canyon National Park does. The parks quaint size and general tidiness, its proximity to several large cities and 5 other National Parks, and its unfiltered beauty make Bryce Canyon a must visit for any National Park fan! Check out our post 12 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Utah for more magnificent photos of Utah!

Well folks, that’s a wrap for us. Our Top 5 Family Friendly National Parks are perfect for explorers of all sizes. We are certain no matter which park you choose you will be blown away by its splendor. So have fun, adventure safely, and enjoy God’s Creation personally! Have you been to any National Parks? If so, which ones? Alternatively, let us know if you think we missed one of your favorite family friendly National Parks. Until next time, K+J!

Fun Things to do in Tampa with Kids – 25 Family Friendly Adventures

If you’re a parent, grandparent, or even a babysitter you may find yourself searching for fun things to do in Tampa with kids. That’s why we compiled our list of Fun Things to do in Tampa with Kids – 25 Family Friendly Adventures!

Be sure to let us know in the comments which adventure you liked the most or if you have any favorites we missed. Our list of fun things to do in Tampa with kids is great for adults too! If you’re feeling extra wicked cool shoot this post a like and a share, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get too far, remember to…

Pin our top 25 picks for Fun Things to do in Tampa with Kids!

Looking for fun things to do in Tampa with kids? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!
Looking for fun things to do in Tampa with kids? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!

Looking for Fun Things to do in Tampa with Kids… Check out the Local Parks!

Need fun things to do with kids in Tampa? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!
Lucky for us there was a fence to keep her down there! Down the boardwalk there were also some baby alligators enjoying the sun!

The Tampa Bay area has some of the best park systems in Florida so if you’re looking for fun things to do in Tampa with kids, the parks are a great place to start. Each park varies in size and style so you can usually find one that fits your child’s taste. From animal kingdoms to train stations, these parks are all worth a few hours of your time!

Eureka Springs Park and Lettuce Lake Regional Park are perfect for little ones who love animals. They’ll have a chance to see alligators, butterflies, armadillos, turtles, and more at these two parks. They also both have impressive boardwalk systems which makes the park accessible to all. The boardwalks also aid in keeping the wildlife a safe distance away. Which is good because that gator is huge!

If you want a more hands-on experience, check out ZooTampa at Lowry Park and Big Cat Rescue. Both offer the chance for young and old to learn and interact with the animals. The zoo allows guests to see manatees, feed giraffes, and pet stingrays and a giant tortoise– what more could a little one want! Big Cat Rescue is the world’s largest accredited sanctuary and features over 100 rescued lions, tigers, leopards, and more. Take a walking tour to learn more about the animals and their stories!

For more traditional parks (larger lawns, playgrounds, and such) we have three great options! Fred Howard Park is a 155-acre park that hosts a beach, two playgrounds, and more for the family to enjoy. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is situated in downtown Tampa on the Hillsborough River. It features plenty of grass, a playground, and a sprayground. You read that right, a sprayground! Largo Central Park is another great option, and even has a train. Plan ahead and you can ride the miniature railway on the first full weekend of every month. Let us know below in the comments which park your kids would love the most!

Watch the Sunset at Pier 60 and Stay for the Movies

Looking for fun things to do as a family in Tampa? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!
Be sure to catch the sunset on your next trip to Florida! If you’re near Tampa, stay for the movie too!

There are tons of fun things to do in Tampa with kids, but a sunset followed by a movie on the pier is hard to beat. The pier stretches over 1,080 feet into the gulf and hosts a variety of daily activities. The pier is well lit making it popular for tourists and fishermen alike. Head on over to Clearwater Beach’s infamous Pier 60 from 6 to 9 every night to catch the sunset. The pier comes alive with performers, vendors, and kids tearing up the waterfall playground.

After the sun flares the last of its light into the sky, pull out your blankets and take a seat at the Sunset Cinema. Located on the lawn near Pier 60, the Sunset Cinema is a FREE outdoor theater supported by local businesses. They show movies on Friday and Saturday nights (weather permitting) and even have concessions on site!

Try out the Watersports at Clearwater Beach

Looking for fun things to do in Tampa as a family? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!
Parasailing in Florida is a must… as long as you don’t mind the heights!

Clearwater Beach is a gorgeous strip of white sand stretching for miles along the Gulf of Mexico. Touristy? Yes, definitely, but that’s Florida. Anyone looking for fun things to do in Tampa with kids has come across the various local beaches, so why is Clearwater different? The prices! Competition in Clearwater has made it affordable for most to try their favorite watersports. We decided to choose three levels of adventures for this post. They start as the most exciting and expensive (for your time) and work towards activities geared for younger children that are more budget friendly. The three adventures are parasailing, jet skiing, and paddle boarding but we hope you’ll check out other options too!

For parasailing check out Parasail Clearwater, Chute Em Up Parasail, and Clearwater Watersports. All three offer different line heights, some up to 1,000 feet, convenient locations, and fair pricing. It really just comes down to where you are on the beach and the time you want to go! Most rides are around 10 minutes and total time on the boat is around 45 minutes.

For jet skiing (or waverunners as the pros say) we recommend BouYah Watersports, Cleartwater Beach Jet Ski Rentals, and H2O Jet Ski Rentals. Again, all three are affordable and convenient and come down to your time and location. They also offer a guided tour option that sounds spectacular. It affords you the chance to explore local hidden gems you wouldn’t otherwise find!

For paddleboards we loved Clearwater Beach Paddle Board Rental Co. and Tampa Bay SUP. Both offer rentals and lessons! Now you and the kids spend more time on the board and lesson below it! Really though, both companies are great; however, if you’re looking for a longer rental try Clearwater Beach and if you’d like a shorter term try Tampa Bay. Which of the three adventures would you and your kids like the most? Let us know below in the comments!

Mini Golf is another Fun Thing to do in Tampa with Kids

Looking for fun things to do with kids in Tampa? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!
Check out Tampa, Florida’s best mini golf courses for a fun family adventure!

For those of you who know us personally you know we love mini golf. Not just jokingly love, but seriously love and compete at mini golf. We find the best way to celebrate a victory is to have the loser buy ice cream. Let’s just say Kestra won ice cream in Tampa Bay. Good work Kes 🙂 Do you have any similar family traditions? We personally didn’t play all of these courses, but we carefully vetted them all before including them on our list of fun things to do in Tampa with kids.

Congo River Golf has plane wrecks, waterfalls, and live gators. Smuggler’s Cove Adventure Golf, where Kestra and I played, has baby alligators, pirate ships, and caves. Ace Golf is well landscaped, beautifully maintained, and super affordable. Captain Bligh’s Landing is a pirate themed course with different interactive scenes on each hole, and they have a talking parrot the kids will love. The Fish Hole Miniature Golf is a beautiful course in a quiet setting on the water and is better for older and younger crowds.

Local Amusement Parks – Fun Things to do in Tampa with Kids

Looking for fun things to do in Tampa kids will love? Check out our top 25 family friendly adventures in Tampa, Florida!
Busch Gardens was a blast for is and will be for your family too! Thanks Emily!

Sure Orlando has Disney, but Tampa also has great amusement and water parks! We tried Busch Gardens and had an absolute blast with Kestra’s family. Say hi to Bria, Meghan, Colin, and Emily! Busch Gardens is a 335-acre African Safari themed amusement park. Scattered between its many rides are over 12,000 animals including rhinos, giraffes, and elephants.

Dinosaur World is a more budget-friendly option and great for smaller children. With over 200 life-size dinosaurs in the park, fossil and gemstone excavation, your kids will love the park. They even allow you to bring in your own food and drinks to save some money. We highly recommend the park to any little dino lovers!

For water lovers be sure to try out Adventure Island. The 30-acre park is just across the street from Busch Gardens. With zippy waterslides, lazy rivers, wave pools,and sandy bottom cabanas, the park has something for all ages. It is a spectacular way to beat the heat and enjoy the Florida sun as a family!

As you can see there are tons of fun things to do with kids in Tampa. Some are more budget-friendly than others but all are guaranteed to deliver smiles! Be sure to let us know below in the comments which adventure sounds the most fun to you. Do you know of any other fun things to do with kids in Tampa? Please remember to subscribe and share our blog on social media with your friends and family, God Bless!

Looking for more Family Friendly Adventures? Check out:

5 Can’t Miss Adventures-Things to do in Lake Tahoe

What to do in Utah-12 Photos to Inspire you to Visit

Things to do in Grand Teton National Park-1 Day Itineray

 

1 Day Guide to Grand Teton National Park

Wyoming is known to many visitors as the primary home of our nation’s darling Yellowstone National Park. Upon arrival, these visitors must be surprised to find another equally beautiful park just to the south. After hearing all the amazing things to do in Grand Teton National Park, we’re sure they’ll find themselves pulling into its borders very soon.

We put together a one-day itinerary of things to do in Grand Teton National Park that no one should miss. Be sure to let us know what you think below in the comments, and if you’re feeling extra spectacular shoot this post a like and a share, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get to far, remember to…

Pin our one day itinerary full of the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park!

Looking for fun things to do in Grand Teton National Park?! Our one day guide has 5 perfect stops planned for you!
Looking for fun things to do in Grand Teton National Park?! Our one day guide has 5 perfect stops planned for you!

See the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center

Campground in Grand Teton
Jenny Lake Campground near the Craig Thomas Discovery Center is the perfect place to spend the night, start a hike, or just explore Grand Teton!

Assuming you’re pulling in from Jackson and heading north through the park, you’re first stop should be should be at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. For kids, they have the Junior Rangers program and best part is, its free! It helps them learn about the park’s wildlife, history, and future preservation so they can earn a park ranger patch. For adults, the center offers free ranger guided tours around the park, a short movie about the parks famous mountains, and we also think the building is just super cool so you should at least stop in. Lastly, it’s a great place to make sure there are no closures in the park and fill up your water bottles before your adventure begins!

Hiking at Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake Trail Grand Teton
The Jenny Lake loop at is truly one of the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park!

We seriously can’t say enough about how beautiful Jenny Lake is. Anyone who has been knows that this is one of the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park. With wildlife everywhere you turn, mountains mirrored off the water, and endless trails, Jenny Lake is one of our favorite places in the world. We highly recommend everyone take the Hidden Falls trail along the lake’s south shore. Roundtrip the hike is around 5 miles long and features unparalleled views of the valley. The trail climbs a few hundred feet, and is well marked and maintained, making it doable for most people! There is also a ferry that takes you across the lake and pops you out just a mile away if that… floats your boat. 🙂

Picnic at Signal Mountain Lookout

view of grand teton
Signal Mountain offers incredible views of the Tetons you can’t afford to miss!

Your lunch stop should always be at the top of Signal Mountain. Standing just shy of 900 feet above the valley floor, the lookout on top of Signal Mountain offers expansive views of the lakes and forests below and some amazing partial-views of the Tetons. To get to the mountain just turn right onto Signal Mountain Road and follow it to the top. If you reach the dam you’ve gone too far so turn around at the next pull-out. There are bathrooms and a few tables at the top which fill up pretty quickly. Grab one and make it the perfect spot to take a break and chow down after your hike!

Visit the Jackson Lake Lodge

Elk in Grand Teton
Elk and other wildlife roam the park and the valley below the Grand Teton’s. Jackson Lake Lodge is the perfect spot to see them all!

This lodge is actually a bit of a misnomer because it sits around a mile from the lake’s edge. However, the lodge still offers unbelievable views of the mountains themselves via its 60 foot tall picture windows. Between the lake and lodge is a plain where you can spot moose, elk, deer, and other wildlife all day. The lodge also features numerous famous murals and Native-American artifacts that you are free to examine on your own. Depending on when you arrive, you can make this a meal stop by enjoying the amazing in-house Pioneer Grill.

Go Boating at Colter Bay

Jackson Lake Grand Teton
Jackson Lake is gorgeous from any angle but to really explore its vast shorelines you should try renting a boat at Colter Bay!

One of our favorite things to do in Grand Teton National Park is boating on Jackson Lake. The marina in Colter Bay allows you to do just that by renting kayaks, canoes, and motorboats! For two hours of your time and $25 dollars you can rent a kayak and quickly explore the bays along the lake’s shoreline. It really adds a new perspective to the scale and size of mountains above you. It also allows you to explore the park in a way most people never do!

As you can see, there is no limit to the adventures to be had, or of fun things to do in Grand Teton National Park. Have you ever been or would you ever go to Grand Teton? Be sure to let us know below in the comments which part of the itinerary you liked the most and which you’d skip! Please remember to subscribe and share our blog on social media with your friends and family, God Bless!

5 Can’t Miss Adventures Near Lake Tahoe  

Lake Tahoe is truly a not-so-hidden gem of the western United States. As one of the largest alpine lakes in the world, there are plenty of fun things to do in Lake Tahoe, in both winter and summer. Our guide below will help you identify 5 Can’t Miss Adventures Near Lake Tahoe!

 

The expansive shores offer plenty of things to do in Lake Tahoe; from spectacular hiking trails, amazing wineries and breweries, homey bars, to towering casinos, all with views to match. For these reasons it retains its well-earned reputation as the crown jewel of resort towns in the US. So you can imagine that, after 6 days of camping, Kestra and I were very excited to finally be pulling into Stateline (Tahoe’s casino rich South Shore). While we never did make use of the slot machines, we did find ourselves extremely lucky to be enjoying all the other things to do in Lake Tahoe (there’s a lot!). Although we didn’t have very long to explore, we dreamed of coming back on a warmer day. We’d be sure to enjoy the lake’s festivities and startling blue waters when we return, which leads us to our top 5 adventures that you can enjoy on your  trip to Lake Tahoe! Be sure to let us know what you think below in the comments and if you’re feeling extra wicked cool shoot this post a like and a share, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get to far, remember to…

Pin our picks for the best things to do in Lake Tahoe!

#1) Exploring Sand Harbor and Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park 

These boulders were so much fun! Til I slipped and fell in of course :)
These boulders were so much fun! Til I slipped and fell in of course 🙂

We’ve all seen those amazing pictures of people paddle boarding on crystalline waters, those were all taken RIGHT HERE! At least that’s what we think! It’s $10 per vehicle, or $2 per bike for a pass into the park which is actually a great deal considering all it has to offer. The visitors center contains an amazing museum with all the history on Lake Tahoe, its mysteriously clear waters, and the growth and development of its shoreline. We can’t say enough about its breathtaking waters (ask me, I fell in when it was still freezing out!). Trails lead on and around the different sandy beaches and rocky shores. They even allow you to go out and onto any of the humongous boulders, if you feel brave enough! Sand Harbor is absolutely perfect for a relaxing day on the beach and is shallow enough that the waters warm to bearable temperatures, so remember to pack your suit! They also host the annual Lake Tahoe Shakespeare festival each fall so be sure to check it out.

#2) Riding the FREE Gondola in Northstar Village 

Free gondola? You read that right! While it isn’t the tallest on the Sierras, the gondola from Northstar Village up to the Ritz-Carlton affords riders the views of the mountains you’d hoped for, as well as the million-dollar homes that line its slopes. To get to the gondola head toward the Village entrance and veer to the right. Follow the path towards the back of Northstar Lodge, where you’ll find the Highlands Gondola. Once at the top you can lounge around the Ritz-Carlton’s deck and enjoy the expansive views surrounding you. After you have your fill of the views at the top, stop back in the village at 3:30 for free s’mores from Northstar’s very own marshmalogist! If you’re looking for free things to do in Lake Tahoe then this is the spot for you!

 

#3) Touring the Thunderbird Lodge

The Thunderbird Lodge is one of Tahoe's most recognizable residences. Tour it yourself on your trip!
The Thunderbird Lodge is one of Tahoe’s most recognizable residences. Tour it yourself on your trip!

Lots of stories surround the owner of this massive lodge on the lake’s northeast shore. From bringing his pet lion to the bar to guarantee himself a seat, to personally causing the stock market crash that lead to the Great Depression, George Whittell Jr.’s estate is one you have to see to believe. Tours are available via reservation online and offer a look into the life of the man credited with preserving Tahoe’s unspoiled beauty along its eastern shoreline. The story goes that after 1929, he pulled his $50,000,000 fortune from the stock market (worth a staggering $60,000,000,000 in 2015) and bought up 27 miles of Lake Tahoe shoreline on the Nevada side. After deciding he didn’t really care for neighbors, he opted to never build the casino and ski resort he had originally planned. After his death the estate was parceled off to various agencies which lead to the developments present today. Schedule your tour to see the remaining estate on foot!

 

#4) Learning about the Lake at Sierra Nevada College

The college is situated on lot full of rugged, old pines, and does a wonderful job of connecting the buildings to the land surrounding them!
The college is situated on lot full of rugged, old pines, and does a wonderful job of connecting the buildings to the land surrounding them!

Sierra Nevada College is a beautiful private, liberal arts university located in Incline Village. The college itself is situated on a cozy campus tucked away in towering trees. The Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences is a stunning, award-winning, LEED certified center for scientific research, geared towards the comprehension and preservation of Lake Tahoe. The building also features numerous exhibits explaining how and why Tahoe is unique, information on how science has been used to restore and protect the lake, and videos on the the history of the lake. It also offers several fantastic hands-on science experiments for your little ones (or yourself, because we loved them too!). Check out the hours here to find a time that fits your schedule. There are few things to do in Lake Tahoe that are better for both the kids and adults, check it out!

 

#5) Biking the Flume Trail

The Flume Trail affords all its conquerors the chance to soak in the Lake's beauty from above, pack a camera!
The Flume Trail affords all its conquerors the chance to soak in the Lake’s beauty from above, pack a camera!

The Flume Trail is a point to point trail about 13 miles long that offers unrivaled views and adrenaline rushes. History lesson! Flumes were originally constructed in Tahoe’s logging heyday to quickly transport logs down the mountains to the mills below. Flumes were made of two boards fashioned into a V-shape with water running down them. They would then carry the logs down to the mill for the loggers. Start your ride at Flume Trail Bikes by renting a bike and taking their shuttle to Spooner Lake State Park. From there you have 4 miles of uphill riding, go slow and you’ll be perfectly fine! Following those 4 miles are 9 unrivaled in splendor and grandeur. Those 9 miles follow the peaks along the lake’s eastern shoreline and finally bring you back  to where you started. Pack a lunch to have at Marlette Lake and make a day of it. There are few things to do in Lake Tahoe that offer you the views the Flume Trail does, from towering mountains to crystal clear lakes, it truly is an unforgetttable experience. So there you have it, all of our 5 Can’t Miss Adventures Near Lake Tahoe!

As you can see there are tons of fun things to do in Lake Tahoe. All of which are family and budget friendly! Be sure to let us know below in the comments which adventure sounds the most fun to you. Do you know any we should try next time we are looking for things to do in Lake Tahoe? Please remember to subscribe and share our blog on social media with your friends and family, God Bless!

Photos of Utah – 12 Pics to Inspire Your Next Vacation

Utah is home to five of the most unique National Parks in the United States, it’s an adventurer’s dream. Within a few hundred miles you can see Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion National Park. All this splendor means there are some pretty incredible photos of Utah floating around and we wanted to share them with you!

Sure each park deserves a dozen photos of their own, but ain’t nobody got time for that! So we put together our 12 favorite Photos of Utah’s natural splendor. There are two shots from each National Park in Utah, and a couple bonus ones from Monument Valley. We hope you enjoy our favorite pictures of Utah!

Hey there! Don’t forget to pin these 12 Beautiful Photos of Utah for later 🙂

Photos of Arches National Park

People flock to Arches National Park to soak in a mesmerizing landscape of contrasting colors and rock formations. These stone from through-ways unique to Utah in terms of magnitude and splendor. The park contains hundreds of soaring towers, precariously balanced boulders, and over 2,000 natural stone arches. This wonderland will leave visitors in awe with it’s jaw-dropping views. No wonder these two incredible photos of Utah were taken here!

Photos of Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is home to largest collection of hoodoos in the world, and let me tell you, they do not disappoint. The park contains four main viewpoints all within a few miles of each other. The most famous of these lookouts is Bryce Point, but don’t overlook Inspiration, Sunrise or Sunset Points. Trails traverse down to the floor of the plateau and allow you to wander aimlessly through the valley’s forests. We loved our time in Bryce so much that we named it to our list of Five Family Friendly National Parks!

Photos of Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park protects 337,598 acres of sharply cut canyons, mesas, and piercing spires in southeast Utah’s high desert. Containing four distinct districts, divided by the Green and Colorado rivers, each possesses its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration and adventure. Just be sure to pack lots of water and extra gas, it’s a long way between the four regions!

Photos of Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is actually a hundred mile long wrinkle on earth’s surface. This wrinkle creates a treasure chest of canyons, cliffs, and domes unique only to Capitol Reef. While you’re there be sure to spend a few hours exploring the numerous historic buildings and its beautiful orchards containing cherry, apricot, pear, and apple trees!

Photos of Zion National Park

Towering cliffs explode out of the valley floor with only one way to go… up. Regardless of the hike you choose, you will be doing some climbing. With inspiring views, challenging trails, and incredible diversity Zion National Park is a beautiful embodiment of the state’s diverse and unique landscape. Just be sure to arrive early, Zion fills quickly!

Photos of Monument Valley

While Monument Valley technically isn’t a National Park, it’s still one of our favorite places in Utah. The Najavo Tribal Park features some of the most impressive stone monoliths we’ve ever seen. It’s also exactly what we picture when we think of the Wild West! The park actually spans over 90,000 acres, meaning you’ll never run out of places to explore.

Almost forgot? Remember to pin our honest Blue Lagoon Iceland Review for later 🙂

Utah is rugged, beautiful, and worth a spot of every adventurers bucket list. These photos of Utah do a spectacular job of capturing its wild beauty. So good, we believe these 12 pictures of Utah will inspire your next vacation! Enjoy! www.theagapecompany.com #VisitUtah #Utah #TravelUtah #PhotosOfUtah #PicsOfUtah

We hope the 12 amazing photos of Utah have inspired you to visit. Even the limited pictures we chose can’t convey the beauty of the landscape. The best way to experience it is simply to go and see it for yourself. Then share your pictures with us so we can live vicariously through them!

So please let us know in the comments below… Have you ever been or would you ever visit Utah? What’s your favorite out of the 12 photos of Utah? Still have questions or comments, let us know in the comments! Where’s your next vacation taking you? Please remember to like and share😊 God Bless, K+J!

Want to read more about the great outdoors? Check out these posts!

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Verse of the Week: James 1:17

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Something we’re trying to incorporate into everyone of our blogs is a quick devotional. As Christians we believe it is important to spread the good news and take account of all we’ve been blessed with. The ability to worship freely, the gift of traveling the earth, having companionship and good friends to share our joys and concerns with, the list of blessings goes on and on. Most importantly, every single one of these gifts have been given to us by our creator. They won’t be taken away or withheld from us. We were made by a loving God who cares for us and wants to see us prosper. This week, we encourage you to take a look at the gifts you’ve received and remember to thank God for them.

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Skiing in Colorado – What You NEED to Know Before You Go

Looking to go skiing in Colorado? We compiled a list of everything you need to know before you hit the slopes. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or it’s your first time on the snow, this is a great place to start before planning your next ski trip to Colorado!

With towering mountains, deep snow, and endless ski resorts, skiing in Colorado is an incredible adventure for thrill seekers of all levels. We’ve been making the trip out west every winter just for the chance to catch some fresh powder. While certainly not for the faint of heart, if you’re looking for the adventure of a lifetime, we’d encourage you to try skiing in Colorado! Enjoy!

Hey there! Don’t forget to pin our guide to Skiing in Colorado for later 🙂

Ski Resorts in Colorado

Many resorts are cut and dry. You go, you ski, you fall, you get back up, repeat, and then you leave. Ski resorts in Colorado are nothing like that (minus the falling)! The villages that line the Rocky Mountains buzz with activity. Ski bums show for the snow conditions and epic terrain. Families come for a quick break from school and work. Locals flock to enjoy the shops and local restaurants. The resorts out west are much more vibrant than the bland ski villages of old. Even if you’re not skiing in Colorado, there’s plenty to do at the resort!

Most resorts host other outdoor activities (ice skating, tubing, snowmobiling, etc.) for anyone to try. Granted, you can expect to pay for the experience. Local towns are a great way to find more budget friendly adventures and eateries during your stay. Most resorts are ‘partnered’ with local towns and it isn’t uncommon to find discounted Ski and Stay packages. Wherever you end up choosing, be sure to check online for deals on lodging, dining, and lift tickets.

We break down how to go about choosing the correct resort later, but in the meantime we’ve attached a list of all 26 ski resorts in Colorado below. Off to the right side you’ll see a breakdown of each resort’s vertical drop, ski-able acres, and average annual snowfall. Reports on these stats vary but you can feel confident they’re close. Feel free to check out any resorts sites that intrigue you to learn more about them!

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What You Need to Know Before You Go Skiing in Colorado

Quickly, we’ll cover five things you absolutely need to know before going skiing in Colorado. Then, we’ll break down our favorite and least favorite parts about the slopes. Then the decision is up to you. You evaluate the information and decide if you want to give it a try!

Choosing the Resort

Assessing Your Ability

Just above we’ve attached our handy list of resorts. If you’re a beginner don’t worry so much about the ‘Big Mountain’ stats. Vertical and acreage won’t matter near as much this early in your skiing career! 😉 Instead do a quick search of any resorts that interest you and see what they offer for lessons, ticket prices, and beginner skiing. All of these matter much more at this point.

If you’re a more advanced skier, or even a competent one looking to push your limits, start comparing those stats we discussed. Check out the sites and look into who offers cat-skiing and hike-up terrain. Compare the different resorts amount of ‘Advanced’ and ‘Expert’ labeled terrain. You’d be surprised, most ski resorts in Colorado offer some form of advanced terrain.

Proximity, Cost, and Community

Overall, there are a few things to consider: proximity, cost, and community. Try choosing a resort that’s close to where you’re staying. A one hour drive won’t feel terrible on the morning of day one, but by day four you’ll be spent. Again, with a little foresight you can save a ton on your ski trip. Try searching for ‘Ski and Stay (insert resort name)’ and seeing what pops up. Also look on the resorts sites to see if the offer any discounted passes or group rates.

Have any friends that ski? Ask them where they go! Locals often know the best spots and may even be interested in showing you around their home mountain. If you don’t know anyone who does that’s fine too. Instead, look to see if the resort offers free guided tours, it’s a great way to make friends and learn how to get around the mountain!

Getting to the Resort

Many local ski towns offer shuttle services to the resort. After you get ready in the morning you can slip over to the closest stop and pop out at the resort minutes later. A quick search online will help you identify if you’re resort offers a shuttle. Alternatively, many hotels also offer the same service so you can book accordingly. If you made the drive out to Colorado you can always take your car and park at the resort. Some charge for parking and some don’t so that’s a hit or miss. Always remember to take your boots out at night… just trust us!

Renting Equipment

There are plenty of rental options in every ski town. If you’d rather leave your equipment at the resort overnight, you can try renting from the resort themselves and seeing if storage is included. Be sure no matter who you rent from, you allow them to help size your gear. It’ll be tempting to say the boots are too tight, or skis are too short, but these are well trained individuals. They know what they’re doing and want you to be safe.

Gear you should always rent if you don’t own equipment includes: helmet and goggles, boots, and skis. If you’re a competent skier you should also grab a set of poles. As a beginner, poles are more of a hindrance so leave them at home. Some companies offer a ‘Full Kit Rental’ that also includes nice gloves, snow pants, a ski jacket, etc. This can be a great way to save some money if you don’t own any other gear!

What to Wear

We won’t break down the science of layering here but if you’d like to read about it check out our Definitive Winter Hiking Guide. It breaks down the ins and outs of dressing for cold weather properly. Briefly, we recommend well insulated socks, a base and mid-layer shirt, comfy and warm pants, and your outerwear. Outerwear should include your gloves, face-mask, jacket, snow pants, helmet and goggles, and boots. If it’s extra chilly add layers accordingly. Most of the time you’ll be surprised how warm skiing makes you. Always remember sunscreen on your exposed skin, while it may be chilly the sun isn’t taking any breaks.

Staying Safe on the Slopes

Most of these rules are common sense but they’re important to iterate nonetheless. Choose slopes and trails that are in line with your ability. The general scale follows a green (easiest), blue, black (hardest) color scheme, stay within your ability. Never ski alone, there are many unmarked and hidden obstacles and you always need a buddy. Stay within the boundary. Again, this is common sense but so many neglect these rules and endanger themselves and others by doing so.

Obey signage. If it says ‘Caution’ it means it so slow down. Look uphill before merging, this is a lot like checking your blind spots while driving. Call out before passing on narrow or slick conditions. Everyone appreciates a heads up, especially when things are dicey. Lastly, never stop in the middle of the trail or where you can’t be spotted from above. Just having a general awareness to your surroundings will be more than enough to keep you safe when you’re skiing.

The Best Parts About Skiing in Colorado

The Location

Most of the resorts are only a few hours from Denver or another regional airport. The Denver Airport is also a Southwest hub, so you can usually find inexpensive flights anytime of the year. After arriving there are tons of local ride share and resort shuttle options. Some even offer resort to resort service so you can hop between your favorites.

The Scenery

Colorado has some of the tallest peaks in the Lower-48. When you go skiing in Colorado you are literally riding down those giants, or sliding down depending on your ability level! 😉 Regardless of how you get down, the views from the mountains are unparalleled. Cascading peaks scrape the blue skies as far as the eye can see. After you’ve seen them once you’re hooked.

The Snow

Most resorts get between 300-400 inches a year. That’s around 30 feet of fluffy, white powder! All this snow makes the ride down a thing of beauty (and the falling down more tolerable). It also means that learning on Colorado’s slopes are much more forgiving. Picture landing in a big pile of cold cotton candy. During the winter months you’re almost guaranteed a ‘powder day’ if you stay for more than 3 days. All this snow makes for near perfect conditions day after day, enjoy!

The Weather

Yeah you heard right! Don’t be surprised to see temperatures in the 30’s even in the coldest months. The mountains help to trap moisture in valleys smoothing out the sharp temperature contrasts people imagine. Most days in the mountains are actually warmer than what we get here in the Midwest. To combat the early morning chill, try wearing layers you can easily shed as the day goes on.

The Worst Parts About Skiing in Colorado

The Altitude

Mountains galore everywhere! The downside to the elevation is a major lack of oxygen and the possibility of altitude sickness. There is about a third less oxygen at 12,000 feet compared to that at sea level. Skiing is fairly strenuous so your body is working much harder to carry and use oxygen. This extra work can lead to some nasty headaches and nausea if you fail to account for it. Good news, the remedy is simple: drink water! Lots of it!

The Crowds

Colorado ski resorts report around 7.1 million visits annually, unfortunately, this sometimes means long lines and large crowds. To help avoid this, shoot to ski Mondays-Thursdays as most locals are working or are in school. You might be wondering why not Friday? Most kids in the area have Fridays off for ski practice. Man does that sound awesome or what? Alternatively, studying the route map just a little before your arrival will help a ton. Knowing your way around the mountain (and the crowds) will make your trip so much more enjoyable.

The Cost

Colorado has some of the best skiing in the world, and they certainly charge for it. Most resorts you visit charge upwards of $125 per person per day. As you can imagine, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly adventure skiing is not the answer. You also need to consider the cost of renting gear when you go, most of the time that’ll be around $40 per person per day. Try booking passes online beforehand, they often have deals and promotions running to cut the prices. You can also look into a season pass. At some resorts if you ski 4 or more days your season pass is already paid off!

Having to Leave

I won’t lie to you… this is definitely sounds like a cop-out, but I promise you it isn’t. With perfect snow, amazing food, and hundreds of shops to explore, it’s a miracle anyone ever leaves. If you’re looking for a fun family adventure then look no further, skiing in Colorado is a blast and the resort has something for everyone!

Almost forgot? Remember to pin our guide to Skiing in Colorado for later 🙂

Skiing in Colorado is way better than we ever imagined! Incredible snow, beautiful views, and cute alpine villages made us wish we could stay forever. If you're looking for a family-friendly adventure we encourage you to try skiing in Colorado. Our post details everything you need to know: the best ski resorts in Colorado, how to stay safe skiing, and even what to wear when you go skiing. Check it out! www.theagapecompany.com #skiing #skitrip #Colorado #skiingincolorado #skiresorts #coloradoskiing

So please let us know in the comments below… Have you ever been or would you ever go to skiing in Colorado? Which resort would you like to visit? Still have questions or comments, let us know in the comments! Where’s your next vacation taking you? Please remember to like and share😊 God Bless, K+J!

To read about more family-friendly adventures check out:

12 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Utah

17 Places to Visit in Northern Wisconsin

25 Family-Friendly Adventures Near Tampa

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Verse of the Week: Ephesians 3:20-21

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

How incredible is it to have a creator so powerful we can’t comprehend all that he is capable of? The line, “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…” tells us this is true. He called the stones to rise and build the mountains, settled raging seas, and calmed prevailing winds. Yet somehow we feel as if we have to suffer this world on our own. We don’t! The Lord answers prayers everyday. There is nothing you can ask him that he can’t accomplish. This week, try praying intently. Don’t put things past God, instead ask him directly for his guidance and help.

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