Jackson Hole, Wyoming is one of the most prominent ski regions in the United States, known to have the longest continuous vertical rise of any ski area in the U.S., rising 4,139 feet!
And during the summer – nearly every outdoor activity you can imagine is at your disposable – river rafting, paragliding, horseback riding, etc.
But what about the off-season? And with kids?
Here’s where I come in…
We ventured to Jackson Hole in April…where you’ll find very few tourists, exploring the family-friendly side of the valley at the base of the Grand Tetons. And it was perfect. Especially if you want to travel on a budget – like I’ve said before – traveling with kids in the off-season can really maximize your opportunity to explore and save more.
First, I’ll share how we got there…road trip! If you prefer to fly, you certainly can via Jackson Hole Airport – it just tends to be a bit pricier since it’s a small airport in a well-known resort town (and home to a handful of celebrities). And in theme with this post, if flying is your preference, the off-season is your best bet for the lowest rates (April – May).
If you’re up for a drive (from the PNW), Seattle to Jackson Hole is about 13 hours, pending no stops. We decided to embrace ‘the journey is the destination‘ and share the experience with our close friends (another family of 4), and pile into an RV for the road trip. After tons of research on RV calculator websites and consumer report websites, we chose to rent a 30′ Cruise America RV, which allowed for us to drive non-stop, while providing space to keep the kids entertained, sleep, eat and most importantly, use the bathroom. We literally stopped for gas and that’s it.
The road trip would have taken considerably longer and much less comfortable if we didn’t take an RV – so if you’re considering a trek to Jackson Hole, I highly recommend Cruise America to get you there. Plus, you can check that off your bucket list!
When we arrived in Jackson Hole, the weather was crisp and cool with light flurries, and even though the ski areas were closed for the season, we had a full itinerary to keep us (and the kids) busy!
While Jackson Hole receives 2.6 Million visitors per year, the actual population is only 10,000. When you visit in the off-season, you’ll avoid the crowds, lines, and restaurant wait times, and have an opportunity to chat with the locals! So many of them told us this was their favorite time of year, where they could get back to their ‘Cowboy State’ roots and relax.
When we arrived in town, our first stop was our home for the next two nights – the Lexington at Jackson Hotel & Suites, family-owned and right in the heart of downtown Jackson.
The Lexington is a beautiful, unique hotel that has that ‘Jackson feel,’ and with heaps of amenities like an indoor pool and hot tub, complimentary hot breakfast, free airport shuttle (if flying in), free kid and adult bike rentals, and most importantly, warm cookies every afternoon.
After we got settled, we picked up a car from Hertz (located at the Jackson Hole Airport just a few minutes away). This allowed us the freedom to adventure around the the area (without hauling the RV around). I’d definitely recommend a rental car if you’re in Jackson Hole more than a few days – it makes exploring that much easier.
Now for the LIST – 8 Family-Friendly Things To Do In Jackson Hole…
National Museum of Wildlife Art
Located just 2.5 miles from Jackson Hole Town Square, the National Museum of Wildlife Art holds more than 5,000 pieces of artwork featuring wild animals from around the world. A few prominent artists include Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol and John James Audubon.
Built on a hillside overlooking the National Elk Refuge, the museum also offers a children’s interactive gallery and an outdoor sculpture trail (perfect for letting the littles burn off energy).
Adult tickets are only $14, one kid $6 (then $2 for additional) and free for those 5 and under!
National Elk Refuge
One of the most notable sites in the Jackson Hole region is the National Elk Refuge. The 24,700 acres provide a winter habitat for the Jackson Elk Herd (which consists of 11,000 elk).
The refuge also provides a haven for endangered species, birds, fish, and other big game animals, including bison, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, wolves and bighorn sheep.
The refuge is located just a few minutes out of town, with a Multi-Use Pathway that runs parallel to it…which leads me to the next family-friendly activity…
Teton Mountain Bike Tours
Our favorite activity in Jackson Hole was riding bikes with the kids along the Multi Use Pathway thanks to Teton Mountain Bike Tours. They have amazing half or full-day guided tours, but we opted to just rent and explore on our own. Mila was still working on her balance skills at the time, so fortunately they also had a Burley Child Trailer that worked perfect!
Biking may seem like a somewhat seasonal activity in Jackson Hole, but Teton Mountain Bike Tours offer year-round rentals, with their fat bikes being most popular in winter on their guided Grand Teton National Park tour. Whether you’re traveling with kids or not, this is an activity not to be missed.
Now for a peak at the culinary scene…
Q Roadhouse Pub & Eatery
One of the best meals we had in Jackson Hole was at the famous Roadhouse Brewing Co., known to create ‘food to complement the brewing and beer to complement the cuisine.’
Roadhouse offers an extensive family-friendly menu…making it a struggle to choose just one entree (so definitely grab a few apps too!).
The original Roadhouse location we visited was on Moose Wilson Road a little ways out of Jackson…but I’m excited to announce they are opening a BRAND NEW restaurant in Jackson Hole Town Square in Summer of 2018! So make sure to pin this post as an easy reference when you plan your trip! Roadhouse is the perfect spot for all foodies!
Now for the next activity…
Jackson Hole Town Square
One of the most iconic places to visit in Jackson are the elk antler arches in George Washington Memorial Park, also known as Town Square.
Something to note, elk naturally shed their antlers annually, so no animals were harmed in creating this structure.
While you’re in town, make sure to explore the shops, grab an ice cream cone, and really soak in the beauty of this little Wyoming wonder.
And if you visit in April or May, you will feel as though you have the entire town to yourself – which is pretty amazing when traveling with kids!
MADE has a handmade curated collection from over 360 artists from Wyoming and the US.
Mountain Dandy is the brother store to MADE, and offers a more masculine touch to home goods – with a self-proclaimed ‘men’s club atmosphere.’
You must visit both of these shops – they are truly unique to Jackson Hole and fully embody the local spirit.
And keep your eyes peeled for beautiful artwork throughout the town.
Now we head out of town a bit…
Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center
Every April, the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center hosts National Junior Ranger Day in Grand Teton National Park and we fortunately timed our trip just right to be able to join the fun! The event offers activities for all ages including exploring the park ambulances, fire trucks and earning little Junior Ranger badges. It was a definite highlight for the kids!
For the second leg of our trip we checked into the Homewood Suites by Hilton Jackson, which also included complimentary breakfast, a playground, indoor pool and hot tub, bike rentals and ski shuttle during the winter months.
Pictured in front of the hotel is a peak at our next adventure with Scenic Safaris!
Definitely the most photographed activity of the entire trip – the 4 hour Grand Teton Wildlife Luxury Van Tour where we explored Grand Teton National Park, while getting up close views of bison, moose, mountain goats and historic sites like Mormon Row.
Grand Teton National Park is approximately 310,000 acres, including the majestic 40 mile Teton Mountain Range, and only 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park.
One of the most unforgettable moments – watching a small herd of American Bison (the largest land mammal in North America) cross the road just a few feet away.
The moose were harder to find…but we did spot a few!
Grand Teton National Park is home to over 60 mammal species, along with 300 bird species, dozens of fish, reptiles and amphibians.
In addition to the Tetons, one of the most recognizable spots in the area is Mormon Row – established in 1890, where you’ll find the Chambers Homestead and Moulton Barn, widely known as the most photographed barn in the United States.
After soaking up this iconic Wyoming history, we carried on with the wildlife tour…
Which brings me to my FAVORITE photo of the entire trip – this is why we travel. The image below exhibits curiosity, adventure, and exploring…this I love.
And now for the last item on the list…
Moe’s Original Bar B Que
Founded by three friends from Alabama, they wanted to bring a Southern soul food revival to the Jackson Hole region – creating a perfect spot for a family-friendly lunch or dinner.
If you’re looking for a relaxed Southern barbecue experience – definitely stop by Moe’s!
Jackson Hole is one of the best places you can take your kids, anytime of year. And while the snow-covered slopes and warm summers are appealing, consider going in the off-season to create a more affordable and easy-going experience.
Here’s why I’m sharing this post today. You have FIVE WEEKS until Christmas. Maybe instead of things you gift experiences this year. Save time and money by planning now...and remember how valuable the gift of adventure truly is, especially for kids. Let’s build wanderlust into their DNA – let’s show them the way of the world, the yearning to explore, and the beauty of traveling together.
p.s. You can add a little Jackson Hole gift to their stocking by ordering online from MADE!
When you’re ready to plan your trip, make sure to check out Visit Jackson Hole, where they’d be happy to help with itinerary planning! And you know you can message me anytime with questions – [email protected]!
Before I go, I wanted to share a fun fact:
Wyoming’s state slogan is “The Equality State” because they were the first government in world history to allow women to vote (in 1869, 51 years before the U.S. Constitutional amendment); they also had the first all-woman city council and first woman Governor elected.
This resonated with me and I felt the need to share another reason Wyoming is pretty damn cool.
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*Photos by PNW Rosanna | Edited by Elizabeth Kathryn Photography
Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Visit Jackson Hole. The opinions expressed here represent my own, which I take great pride in providing pure honesty…because I’m OBSESSED with sharing the Good!