Crazy Family Adventure - Deepening Your Family Bond Through Travel
Crazy Family Adventure is a family of 6 traveling the US in an RV bringing you great family travel tips! Deepen your family bond through travel! Check out our raw journal of our Crazy Family Adventure!
Capitol Reef National Park is our favorite National Park in Utah! It is less busy than the rest of them and has more of an overall wow factor than the other parks in Utah. One of our favorite things to do here is to go out hiking. Below we share the best hikes in Capitol Reef National Park and a few other things to do while you visit.
We always start at the visitor center to grab a park map and trail map. Plus we talk to the rangers about what hiking trails are closed and if there is anything we should be aware of. The kids usually get a Junior Ranger book too. Did you know that Capitol Reef was named for the Navajo Sandstone domes that look like the domes of Capitol buildings in the United States?
After we have that stop done we head out for our hiking adventures! Here are our top Capitol Reef hikes:
This is not an easy hike and is listed as strenuous for good reason. You have a gain of 670 feet and 3.4 mile hike.
But the reward is worth it when you can walk out on top of an arch! There aren’t many arches in the US that you can do this on legally. But never fear, it is totally OK to walk on this one.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a little scary and your knees get shaky; but it is a bigger area to walk on than what it looks like.
The hike up is beautiful with lots of great views. However, be aware there are some scary parts with a big drop off.
This is not a hike to do if you are looking for a nice stroll with your kids. Instead, this one is perfect if you are looking for adventure and a challenge! This is our favorite trail in Capitol Reef National Park!
Part of the fun of this one is driving to the trailhead! You go on a dirt road that warns you not to drive there if there is an incoming storm since you are driving in a wash between 2 canyons. Assuming there is no storm coming this is an amazing drive!
From the trailhead you hike down a gorge which is really cool in itself. You come across some historic inscriptions on the wall and it is a nice level hike and great for kids to just run ahead and burn some energy!
If you are up for it when you reach the end, you can climb up to find the water tanks. We tried but got lost and never found them . . . but I know they are there since when we did it a few years ago we found them.
This hike is categorized as moderate due to the 400 foot gain. It isn’t too bad and there are some stairs you hike up so isn’t like scrambling the whole way up. It is a beautiful hike with a variety of landscapes including the Fremont River.
At the end of the hike you come to Hickmans Bridge: a 133 foot natural bridge! This would be a great hike if you have kids that are up for a little bit of adventure and want a challenge but not as crazy as Cassidy Arch.
An easy but long hike at 4.4 miles with a 200 foot gain – but the majority of the time you are walking on a nice flat surface. It takes you on a trail through canyons and was a nice trail to just walk and talk on!
If you are looking for a great sunset hike this is it! Considered strenuous, it is a long hike with a 590 foot gain. It provides beautiful views of the Waterpocket Fold cliffs and a spectacular sunset.
Other trails to check out if you are looking to really push yourself! The Rim Overlook is 4.6 miles with a 1110 foot gain and the Navajo Knobs trail is 9.4 miles with a 1620 foot gain. As you can imagine both of these hikes would give you amazing Panorama views!
Up for more adventure?! Check out the slot canyons of Capitol Reef National Park!
You won’t easily find these if you don’t know where you are going and you shouldn’t do them unless you know what you are doing (we recommend asking in the Visitor Center). But if you have all that covered then check out the Burro Wash, Cottonwood Wash and Sheets Gulch slot canyons. You can find more info about all three slot canyons here.
If you go to the Capitol Gorge trailhead you have to take the scenic drive to get there! If you aren’t up for the hike you can opt to just do the 8 mile paved scenic drive that offers breathtaking views of the Waterpocket Fold that Capitol Reef is known for.
The colors you see here really are amazing!
Another thing we love about Capitol Reef is all of the water. They have the Fremont River and Sulphur Creek which add more greenery to the area than you see in a lot of the other National Parks in Utah. If you have extra time, take a few minutes or hours to just hang out by one of the rivers while you are here.
Capitol Reef Back Country – Burr Trail Road
The back country of Capitol Reef is a fun place to check out if you are OK with a bumpy ride. We drove it in our Chevy Van without any 4 wheel drive and we were fine – note it was dry and not muddy.
You drive through some beautiful scenery and then take a fun switch back (Burr Trail Switchbacks) down into the park. There are a few hikes and things you can do here as well like the muley twist canyon trail. But even just doing the drive is worth it for the views.
Another cool part about this park is the Fruita Historical District. This area use to be settled by a group of families and there are a few fruit orchards along with a little shop you can stop at to pick up some yummy food.
We highly recommend getting the pie and the kids may opt for some ice cream or cookies. You can pick these items up at the Gifford House and then walk over to the picnic area to enjoy them.
As you can see Capitol Reef has a lot of offer from hiking to beautiful drives and pie! If you make it this way don’t miss out on our favorite State Park in Utah: Goblin Valley State Park – You can read all about it on our Utah Road Trip Post.
Are you in love with the idea of seeing ALL 5 of Utah’s amazing National Parks? This National Parks tour might be for you! Not only do you get to see and hike Capitol Reef National Park on your guided tour, but also Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Cayonlands National Parks.
The six day tour includes your lodging and breakfast, lunches at trendy local restaurants and even a couple of dinners! You are driven to the parks and given plenty of time to hike and explore as well as given driving tours of the various parks.
This is a fantastic way to see all 5 of Utah’s National Parks in just 6 days, while a local guide to give you lots of history on the parks and take you to the best local places to eat to boot! Click here to check out this awesome tour!
Where To Stay
We stayed at this boondocking spot and it worked out well for us. You are only like 7 minutes from the entrance of Capitol Reef!
Whenever we buy a new rig we like to make it our own. With traveling in it full time it is our house on wheels so we want to make the RV feel like home. Normally we take months to do an RV remodel. But when we made this switch to a travel trailer we were ready for it to be all set ASAP. So 2 weeks later, lots of orders from Amazon and trips to IKEA we have remodeled our new rig into our home!
Below we share pictures of our RV makeover and also affiliate links to pretty much everything that we bought to remodel the rig. We did it all for under $2000. We weren’t really trying to save money or keep the budget under any certain amount and definitely had some just for fun purchases that made the total go up. . . but we are happy with the outcome!
Luckily since it was a new rig and didn’t have any water damage or things like that to fix we could just jump in and have fun updating the RV interior. We did a lot of research online for remodel ideas and looked at a lot of RV renovations to decide what we wanted to do with ours. Here is a step by step guide on what we did for our remodeling projects on our 2019 Jayco 267bhsw Baja edition travel trailer.
Before and After
We will kick it off with before and after pictures of the rig before breaking it down into detail for each section of the rig and what we did.
Kitchen: Before and After
Living Room Before and After:
Bedroom Before and After
RV Before and After
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Video of Finished Travel Trailer Remodel
RV Remodel For a Full Time RV Family! - YouTube
In our last rig we did a bohemian tile backsplash which I really liked. But this time around all the RV remodel pictures that were callin my name were a much more white and basic look. My husband is also a fan of this so we went with a white subway tile look.
We purchased the white stick on tiles from Amazon and got to work removing the old backsplash and adding these tiles on. The hardest part about doing this in an RV is that none of the lines in the trailer are actually straight . . . everything is off by just a little bit.
Yet when you are installing tiles you want everything to line up! Please don’t look that close at the picture – from afar they look great but upclose I can notice everything that is off . . .
I bought 2 packs and thought I would be good to go. Of course not. I ran out so had to order a 3rd. Note: Always order 1 more then you think.
The tiles went up fairly easily thought some of them are coming off a little bit now. Maybe since I put them on and took them off to rearrange them too many times . . . but I just keep repushing/sticking them on the wall and it is all good.
Click the image to buy on Amazon:
One of the things I really don’t like about RV’s is those window valance things. It takes a away from the view out the window and they are just so big and bulky. Those had to go ASAP. Plus the shades that come with the RV always break so it just makes sense.
We took the valance around the window down and then went to IKEA to buy these low profile shades. My sister uses them in her rig and they have been happy with them so figured we would give it a go. So far so good!
Area Behind Sink
Shelf behind the sink
We usually move at least once a week. So everything in our rig needs to be functional and able to easily be locked down when we move. I saw a picture with a shelf across the kitchen window and loved the way it looked and the idea of having plants in our space.
I found a shelf on Amazonthat was about the perfect size. I am not sure if the wood color really works but for now we are going with it.
I haven’t secured it down to the counter yet but may do that with some mounting tape in the future. For now I like the flexibility to move it around back there based on if I want to put a bottle of wine back there.
Click on the image to buy on Amazon now:
I knew if we did plants they needed to be easy to maintain. These succulent plants are perfect! I bought the planters on Amazon and love the bohemian feel to them. And then went to Home Depot and my daughter picked out which plants we should get.
I really like the way they look and they are holding up well.
Click on the image to buy on Amazon now:
We travel fulltime so the globe has a strong appeal to us. We use to have a big one in our old house but obviously now we don’t have room. This small globe was perfect!
I haven’t been good over the years in including pictures in our decorations but wanted to change that this time around. This cute little frame was from IKEA and fits perfect up there. You can even see the picture on the other side through the window.
Essential Oil Diffuser
I love this diffuser and it fits perfectly on this spot. I really like how you can smell the oils right when you walk in the door. Plus it can be a nightlight at night for the kitchen area.
Not far from Moab, Utah and Arches National Park in Southeast Utah is Canyonlands National Park. It is the meeting place of the Colorado River and Green River. It has a very beautiful and unique landscape and is broken into 3 sections: Island In The Sky, The Needles and The Maze.
In our post we will share the best hikes in Canyonlands National Park, so that you have an unforgettable trip! Enjoy!
Correctly named the Island In The Sky, this part of the park is all up high where you are looking down into the Canyon. Our first 2 recommendations are not hikes but things to do before you start hiking to get a good feel for the park.
We always recommend stoping at the Visitor Center to have a look around the small museum area to learn more about the location and landscape; plus it is always good to check in with the rangers on any hikes you want to do to make sure everything is open and good to go. You can also watch the short park movie to help you understand more about the park.
If you have kids with you (or even without – adults can do it too) you can get Junior Ranger books to complete so the kids can get Junior Ranger badges.
Shafer Canyon Overlook
Located right across the street from the Visitor Center is Shafer Canyon Overlook – it is a great place to get your first view of Canyonlands.
Island In The Sky Hikes
There are some great short trails here, so in one visit you can easily do 2-3 hiking trails. There are also a variety of longer hikes that you can tackle too.
A nice .5 mile loop hike that takes you to the Mesa Arch and only takes about 30 minutes. This is a great hike to start with since it isn’t very difficult. Just be careful once you reach the arch as there is a huge drop right on the other side of the arch!
This is a great location to catch the sunrise. We aren’t early risers so that wasn’t going to happen for us. . . but it is supposed to be amazing!
This was a fun hike but a bit scary. Mainly since we had kids with us. But if you are afraid of heights you may want to just stop at the Overlook at the top and not do the hike.
It is a 2 mile out and back hike that takes you along the rim (hence the name) of Islands In The Sky. The hike itself wasn’t very strenuous, it was just stressful keeping an eye on the kids! No running ahead on this hike.
If you are looking for more of a challenge then check out the Aztec Butte trail. There is rock scrambling and ledges so it isn’t for everyone. But if you are up for the challenge you will be rewarded with amazing views and 2 ancestral Puebloan granaries.
Distance: 2 miles
White Rim Overlook
For beautiful views of the Colorado River, Monument Basin and La Sal Mountains check out this hike! We opted not to do it as parking was limited and we couldn’t get a spot. We will have to go back to try it out.
Distance: 1.8 miles
Island In The Sky Overlooks
As you make your way down the road to the next stop there are multiple overlooks where you can pull over to check out the amazing views. You also get great views while you are driving, so it’s up to you if you want to make the stop and get out of the car.
The entrance to Needles is a good 90-120 minutes from the Island In The Sky Entrance so it would be really tough to do these both in one day unless you were just driving through. We spent one day at the Island In The Sky and then one day in The Needles.
Like I mentioned above, it is worth it to stop at the Visitor Center and talk to the rangers to check on road or hiking closures before heading out. And to stock up on water.
This shorter hike had us climbing up and down ladders and brings you past an old cowboy homestead area and prehistoric rock paintings. It is perfect for little legs that like to climb. Our kids always love a ladder hike!
Distance: .6 miles
Difficulty: Easy (but have to be able to climb up and down ladders)
A tougher hike that took us over uneven surfaces to awesome 360 degree views! With the hike being 2.5 miles and most of that being exposed to the sun it was hot and harder with kids for that reason. But offered a lot of really cool panoramic views.
To really get back to the needles area you have to do a long 6+ mile day hike. With how hot it is here we never attempted to do that. But we were happy with what we did do and see in Needles and feel it was well worth a visit.
Are you in love with the idea of seeing ALL 5 of Utah’s amazing National Parks? This National Parks tour might be for you! Not only do you get to see and hike Canyonlands National Park on your guided tour, but also Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Capitol Reef National Parks.
The six day tour includes your lodging and breakfast, lunches at trendy local restaurants and even a couple of dinners! You are driven to the parks and given plenty of time to hike and explore as well as given driving tours of the various parks. This is a fantastic way to see all 5 of Utah’s National Parks in just 6 days, while a local guide to give you lots of history on the parks and take you to the best local places to eat to boot!
Not in Canyonlands but well worth a stop! There will be a $20 entrance fee to get into the park so be prepared for that.
If you have extra time there are some hikes you can do in the park. Or if you are like us and were hoping to make it in time to relax and watch the sunset, just head to the back of the park.
Park your car and head over to find a rocky area to have a picnic dinner (you will need to pack this yourself – we love our Yeti coolor since we can pack it in the morning and it is still cold by the end of the day!) and watch the sunset. We even brought some wine – we were assuming that was OK??
Where To Stay
RV – The Island In The Sky and The Needles both have campgrounds that are first come first serve and no hookups. That is an option but know you most likely won’t have cell or internet service.
RV – There are also a lot of RV parks and BLM land (free boondocking – no hookups) throughout the area and by Moab. If you are interested in boondocking Moab is a great place to do it – the Mavericks gas station has free sewer dump and water!
There are so many cool and fun things to do in Arches National Park that you could spend multiple days here exploring. Get out your hiking shoes as we share the best Arches National Park hikes and all of our favorite things to do when we visit.
We always make our first stop the Visitor Center. We do this for a few reasons.
1 – We can check in with the rangers and see if there are any closures or anything we need to be aware of on the hiking trails. And also to ask for recommendations on things to do.
2 – The kids can get a Junior Ranger book to complete and then get a badge once they are done. Learning and fun! They really enjoy getting the badges. Plus Mom and Dad usually learn something new too.
3 – We have to get a sticker! If you have seen pictures of our van you know we love collecting stickers of the places we have been. And if we really like where we are we may grab a sticker for our water bottles too.
4 – Museum and Movies. The visitor centers almost always have a small little museum area (some have larger areas) and a movie about the park. It is a great way to learn more about where you will be exploring.
5 – Water. This is very important for Arches as it is HOT out there so you want to be sure to fill your water bottles before you head out. The visitor center offers a place for you to do that.
At the end of each hike there is a breakdown of distance, elevation and difficulty level. Here you go, the best hikes in Arches National Park:
A strenuous (if it is really hot I wouldn’t recommend it) hike up the rock face mountain to get to the iconic Delicate Arch. It is the Arch you see on all the Utah license plates.
It is a beautiful view and if you are really careful – there is a huge drop off the back of the arch area – you can walk under the arch and take your picture.
When we came when the kids were 8,6,6 and 4 we did this hike and did not venture down by the arch – it was just too scary and stressful with the kids. Also note when you are hiking up to it you go across a ledge area that had me yelling to the kids, “Keep your hand on the wall!!!” so they wouldn’t get too close to the steep drop off edge.
We did the hike again 3 years later and this time we did venture down by the arch and it was really cool and had amazing views. If at all possible, do this hike when you are in Arches.
When you first start the hike you can also stop and see Wolf Ranch. An old homestead in the area. You can walk up to the door and peek inside. Crazy that someone used to live here!
Distance: 3 mile roundtrip
Elevation gain: 480 feet
Exposure to heights and NO shade
Recommended to carry 1 quart of water per person
A great trail where you can see 3 arches. I also liked that a lot of this trail was sand so I hiked part of it barefoot. Landscape arch is the longest arch in the world.
While hiking to the arch you do have to go and a couple little side hikes (short distances of 25 – 50 yards or so) to see the other 2 arches. The trail straight to Landscape Arch is 1.6 miles but pretty easy with just a few small gains.
The real fun came when we got to the end of the trail (at the arch) and the kids wanted to take off and continue to Double O Arch on the primitive trail. There is a trail kind of, but when they say primitive they mean it!
We were hiking and scrambling up the rocks to stay on the trail. Of course the kids loved it but I was a little bit nervous! We just went a short way up the rocks to make it to the top to take in the views and then we turned around to head back down (I think down was harder on the sometimes sandy and slippery rock).
If we would have kept going the hike would have been 7.2 miles total and we would have seen Double O arch and could have gone to the Dark Angel, Navajo Arch and Pine Tree Arches. No one was ready for that!
This trail is called the Devil’s Garden Trail and includes the Landscape Arch trail and the Devils Garden primitive trail. It is determined difficult and the longest in the park and is a loop trail. Learn more about this part of the trail here: Navajo and Partition Arches
Distance: 1.6 mile roundtrip (plus a few more yards to see the other arches)
Elevation gain: slight gain
Some shade areas throughout the hike
Trailhead: Devil’s Garden
A fairly easy trail – there are some stairs and elevation gain so be prepared for that. But it is just a 1 mile trail. You will see the South Window, North Window and Turret Arch. You can hike right up and under the North Arch and then head back on the trail towards Turret Arch but don’t forget to turn around or you will miss South Arch!
When you are hiking up towards Turret Arch you stop and turn around and you can see both North Arch and South Arch and they look like a face! Then you can either continue up and under Turret Arch or just take in the view from afar and then head back to your car.
Double Arch is also located in this area and you can park in one lot and get to both trails. This one is a .5 mile trail to a view of Double Arch. We didn’t do it since our kids were done with hiking by that time . . .
Windows is also a cool place to come back to on a clear and starry night. With the stars out you can see the arch silhouette with the stars behind it. Really sweet!
Distance: 1 mile
Elevation gain: stairs with a small gain
A simple park and get out to see it. Or take a short .3 mile hike on the trail to get a closer view. Just keep an eye out and make sure the balanced rock doesn’t fall on you! It seriously looks like it could!
You can only do this hike with a permit or with a guide. Unless you really know what you are doing, I would recommend a guide.
You do have to pay – it is currently between $10-$16 a person. You can sign up at the Visitor Center for afternoon hikes and the hike can fill up quickly so get there early to sign up. Or for morning hikes you can book via www.recreation.gov.
The hike was really cool and we did lots of rock scrambling and jumping. I can see why it it is a ranger led tour since it is like you are in a maze.
Only kids 5 and older can do the hike. We did it with our young kids (our youngest was actually 4 at the time but had lots of hiking experience so he was fine) and my parents who were in their 60’s – but physically active and fit.
It was an awesome hike and if you are looking to do something unique and to get back into the less visited parts of the park then you should sign up to do this one!
Distance: 2 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: not much but lots of rock scrambling and some jumping needed.
This is not an easy hike and requires an ability to jump and climb. Make sure to check the site to learn more about the hike before taking it on. Also know we loved it and have found other hikes we have done to be a lot more difficult.
If you have a 4X4 vehicle and don’t mind doing a little off roading, you can head out on the unpaved road to make it to the Tower Arch trailhead. It is a 3.4 mile roundtrip hike in a remote part of Arches National Park. It is moderately difficult with some elevation changes.
Distance: 3.4 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: Moderately difficult with some elevation changes
It is in a remote part of the park so make sure you have water and that you told someone you were going here!
There are multiple spots throughout the park where you can enjoy a picnic lunch. Please note around lunch time they usually fill up and the parking lot could be full. So to do this plan to eat a little earlier or later than the normal Noon lunch hour.
There are a variety of lookouts and pullouts throughout the park, so if hiking isn’t your gig or if you just want to take a quick look at the park you can just drive through. I would recommend you plan for at least 2 hours if you want to drive the whole park and plan on stopping to get out to take in the scenery.
Park Avenue is a great starting viewpoint right when you come into the main park area. Shortly up the road you will come to Courthouse Towers viewpoint as well.
For another drive option you can head out of the main entrance of Arches and take a left and then another left onto Hwy 128. It is a beautiful scenic drive that goes along the Colorado River and there is a winery right off the road
Are you in love with the idea of seeing ALL 5 of Utah’s amazing National Parks? This National Parks tour might be for you! Not only do you get to see and hike the awesome Arches National Park on your guided tour, but also Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks.
The six day tour includes your lodging and breakfast, lunches at trendy local restaurants and even a couple of dinners! You are driven to the parks and given plenty of time to hike and explore (2 whole days in Arches alone!) as well as given driving tours of the various parks. This is a fantastic way to see all 5 of Utah’s National Parks in just 6 days, while a local guide to give you lots of history on the parks and take you to the best local places to eat to boot!
You can camp in the park at the Devil’s Garden Campground. It is located way in the back of the park. The broken Arch hiking trail is located right off of the campground. It would be awesome to spend a few nights here!
Looking for a more resort like feel? Check out the amazing Moab Springs Ranch. You can rent a one or two bedroom townhouse for the night with full kitchen and bathrooms. Not only that, the resort has its own parks, ponds and hammocks in the shade as well as the requisite hotel pools and hot tubs. A truly relaxing stay after a day full of hiking!
If AirBnB is more your style, check out this super affordable Ranch House fit for a family! With five rooms and super spacious kitchen, dining and living room areas this ranch house will give you the feel of home while letting everyone have their own space.
Arches is a beautiful park with lots of amazing Arches to see and cool colors and views. If you can, plan to stay for a few days and really explore the park and the surrounding area. If you don’t have that much time at least take a drive through and do the Windows hike to get a feel for how big these Arches really are!
I love the fact the park is located just outside of Moab. Moab is an awesome city with a fun outdoor vibe so be sure to save time to explore here too!
Looking for more National Parks adventures? Check out our following posts:
We are excited to share this guest post from Fummins Family Road Trip on things to do in Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree is an amazing national park with so much to offer! Keep reading to learn about some of the best activities in the park:
Our family of 7 has been traveling North America in our RV since September of 2016. In that time we have visited countless National Parks all over the United States and Canada, but there is only 1 national park we have visited on numerous occasions in every year we have been on the road: Joshua Tree National Park. So if you’re looking for things to do in Joshua Tree, you’re in the right place!
Joshua Tree National Park is a true desert wilderness that is best described as a big playground illustrated by Dr Seuss. Some say the Joshua Trees were the inspiration for the Truffula Trees used in many of his books.
This national park is close to 800,000 acres that covers part of the Mojave Desert and sits on the San Andreas Fault. There are visitor centers at both the North and South entrances for you to stop for a map and learn about any ranger lead programs going on in the park.
Joshua Tree is located in Southern California just a few hours outside Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix and is accessible on the south side from I-10 or on the north from State Highway 62. We have be to Joshua Tree so many times and we have used all 3 of the entrances. We have used the southern one primarily due to its close proximity to Palm Springs and some great BLM Boondocking just outside of the Cottonwood Visitors center.
What You Should Bring
Bring plenty of water, especially if you plan to do any hiking. The visitor centers do have water available, but out and about in the park it is not. Also make sure you bring comfortable footwear and warm and/or cooler cloths. The weather can be a bit bipolar and change at the drop of a hat. It is typically windy and very dry throughout the park.
Visitors Centers/Entering The Park
There are 3 different visitor centers in Joshua Tree that you can visit: Joshua Tree Visitor Center at the Village of Joshua Tree, Oasis Visitor Center at the Twentynine Palms entrance and the Cottonwood Visitor Center at the south end of the park off of I-10. You shouldn’t feel the need to visit all 3, use the one closest to the entrance you enter through. Our kids are avid Jr. Rangers and you can pick up Jr. Ranger books at any one of the 3, and return the completed books to any of them as well.
Roadschool fieldtrip to Joshua tree national park - YouTube
Things To Do
So now that you’re at Joshua Tree, what is there to do? In addition to all of the driving tours to check out the native Joshua Trees, this park is packed with outdoor adventures such as: Hiking, biking, rock climbing, spectacular overlook views or star gazing in the dark desert night sky.
We have caught many ranger lead talks during our visits there; you can get the schedule at any of the visitor’s centers, but need to make sure to find out the location of the program and give yourself enough time to drive to the venue as the talks are spread throughout the park and not usually in the same place twice in one day. These are usually free of charge and highly informative. You can find the NPS calendar for Joshua Tree National Park here.
We are not rock climbers whatsoever, but this park is loaded with climbing routes, bouldering, highlining and slacklining opportunities. Our kids love all of the scrambling in the area and, as they get older, I am sure that we’ll have to start doing some real rock climbing and this will be the perfect place for them to learn the sport.
Our kids absolutely love the Arch Rock Trail that starts inside the White Tank Campground. It is an eighth of a mile hike up to a natural arch within the granite formations that our kids love scrambling and climbing all over. The trailhead in the campground has restrooms, ample parking and picnic areas available making it a great place to spend a couple hours, an entire afternoon or a couple days!
One of our favorite hikes in the park is Hidden Valley. This mile loop trail winds around massive boulders and is a great place to watch the rock climbers in action. This is one of the most scenic trails in the park and is packed with history that dates back to the 1930’s when it was used as a cattle rustlers hideout. One thing we learned the hard way, if you set out on this hike in the evening, take a flashlight!
Spending James' Birthday at Joshua Tree National Park 2018 - YouTube
If you drive down Pinto Basin Road to or from the southern part of the park you will come across the Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail. This roadside stop is a great place to check out the many different types of cactus! It’s a great nature trail that is good for all ages! During our first trip to the Cholla Cactus Garden, Emmett, our youngest, who had just learned to walk, navigated this trail with ease!
If you know us at all, you’ll know that we love pirates; so we could not pass up a photo opportunity with a place called Skull Rock! This roadside area located just behind the Jumbo Rocks Campground is a great place for the kids to play. There is plenty of parking and lots of rock scrambling opportunities so the kids love the Skull Rock area!
About a 20 minute drive from the North West entrance of the park is Keys View. This is a perfect place to watch a sunrise or sunset. This easily accessible viewpoint provides spectacular views of Palm Springs, Salton Sea, the San Andreas Fault and even as far as Mexico! This quarter mile round trip path is wheelchair accessible and something you won’t want to miss.
We have stayed well into the evening a few times. Joshua Tree comes to life after dark, and we have really enjoyed looking for critters. Pack a dinner and some flashlights and just enjoy the quiet night sky. We have also stayed later and brought out telescopes. It is just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of southern California to provide you with some spectacular star gazing.
Having dinner at Joshua Tree National Park - YouTube
If you have seen everything you wanted to see at Joshua Tree, but still have some time, head south toward the Salton Sea. This area is filled with some interesting things. Don’t let the names scare you, but Salvation Mountain; Slab City and East Jesus are worth a trip.
Field Trip | Salvation Mountain, Slab City, East Jesus and the Salton Sea with kids - YouTube
If you are looking for some local flavor, be sure to check out Pappy & Harriets. This cantina located in Pioneertown was originally built in the 1940s as a western style movie set and was used to film more than 50 films and television programs. It’s located on State Route 62 about 4 miles northeast of Yucca Valley outside the north entrance. This western BBQ honky-tonk has great food, live music and once hosted the likes of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry while it was a movie set.
Where To Stay
Since we are fulltime RVers, we always have our house with us, and have explored Joshua Tree from a several different places in the area. There are 9 campgrounds with 500 total sites within the national park that are first come first serve in the summer or can be booked through recreation.gov during the busier winter months. Unfortunately our RV is much larger than the 25’ maximum length that is in most of these campgrounds so we have had to use alternative options.
We have spent a lot of time at Palm Springs RV Resort about an hour away in Palm Desert, so most of our Joshua Tree explorations have started from there. The Joshua Tree South BLM is also a favorite of ours offering free dry camping just outside the southern Cottonwood Springs gate. Although this spot is a little bit of a drive to the main parts of the park, we really enjoy the views and don’t mind the drive.
There are many campgrounds and RV parks throughout the area from Palm Springs to Twentynine Palms offering camping options for all shapes and sizes of RV’s or amenities needed. If you’re not into RVing or camping, there are countless motels, hotels or Airbnb to choose from in the area.
Don’t have an RV? Rent one! Check out Outdoorsy, it is kinda like AirBnB for RV’s!
The Town of Joshua Tree is well known for its small businesses and artsy atmosphere. There are some really fun and artistic AirBnB’s in the area that would be perfect for kids! They are bright and colorful and have some interesting and beautiful features, check out a few below:
The hotel options in the actual town of Joshua Tree are a little rough as it is a small and rustic town. However, just a few miles over you can find some nice places to hang your hat for the evening with all of the amenities, especially a pool in that desert heat!
You can also see a full list of hotels in and around the area here.
If you haven’t picked up on it, we absolutely love this area, and we have found something new and interesting every time we go back. We would definitely suggest planning to visit this awesome corner of Southern California for as long as your time allows. If you want to learn more about us and our journey, check out https://www.roadschool.com.
Looking for more adventures in California? Check out our following posts:
We are excited to share this guest post from Matt at Ditching Suburbia. Him, his wife and 7 kids share their experience at Death Valley and all the places they recommend you stop!
As we drive away from amazing places, we will often say to each other, “We’ll have to come back”. With so many Things To Do In Death Valley National Park, our tent camping visit in 2016 wasn’t enough and we went back in our RV in 2019 (but don’t worry if you don’t have an RV there is a great hotel on site!).
Death Valley gets really hot in its off season. Though some do visit in the summer, and staff live in the small town of Furnace Creek year round, it really is more of a winter destination. In the winter it’s beautiful, nearly the perfect temperature, the star gazing is great as the air is still a bit cold (which I hear helps), and the animal life isn’t hiding from the sun as much.
One thing to note about Death Valley is that there is a lot more life here than the name suggests. Though it’s a desert, there are plants and animals that make this their home to which our kids like to call it valley of life in protest of it’s given name. When you visit, keep a watchful eye for all the life here.
This is the lowest point in all of North America. At 282 feet below sea level, this basin of salt crystals is one of the main attractions for visitors to Death Valley National Park. This is truly a surreal landscape with a salt plain that is crisscrossed with a patchwork of hexagon formations that look like inverted cracks on white concrete.
We went in the late afternoon which is a great time to go as the sun shines on the mountain behind you and you can see, 282 feet up the mountain side, a sign that shows where sea level is. Late afternoon is also a great time to go as the sun casts long shadows of the patchworks onto the white salt giving a great light and dark contrast.
This is a popular place and depending on when you go you might have a hard time finding parking. It’s a decent sized parking lot, but there are a lot of visitors too. There is also an outhouse that is equally busy when the parking lot is.
After parking you walk out onto a small boardwalk that leads to a long trail through the salt flats. There were foreign tourists speaking many different languages and some walked barefoot saying they would pay good money for a foot treatment like this back home. Our kids kept their shoes on as the salt would sting tiny cuts in their feet (from all the other times when they don’t wear shoes when they should).
Devils Golf Course
On the road from Furnace Creek to Badwater Basin, there is a turn to the west that goes to Devils Golf Course. Here you will see a large area of salty mineral deposits that were formed long ago and are now shaped by wind and rain water. Though it also has salt crystal formations, being a few feet higher in elevation from Badwater Basin this place is dry as the rainwater pools in Badwater Basin and not here.
One of our children’s favorite places here is Salt Creek where a long boardwalk traverses vegetation and the water. This place looks far from what you would think you would see in Death Valley.
The creek below the boardwalk is home to pupfish, a tiny unique type of fish that are adapted to live in this environment. They are a bit hard to find, but there is a trick. Stand right next to a small bush that overhangs the creek and give the bush a light shake with your foot and watch for the fish to dart out.
In addition to the pupfish and their adjacent plants, there is a lot of life throughout the valley to look out for. Notice the plants, birds, and trees (with our favorite being the palm trees) at Furnace Creek. Devil’s corn field is another place with living plants. The best for us though was seeing an elusive kit fox crossing the road – so be on the lookout for one of those.
One thing to note about Death Valley is that it is full of contrasts. With the distinction of having the lowest point in North America, it’s sometimes easy to forget about the enormous mountains that surround the valley. The best place to get a view of these extremes in elevation is the overlook at Dantes View.
At over 5,400 feet in elevation, the clouds were surrounding the mountain, the parking lot and obscuring the view. From the lookout we only got glimpses of the valley below through occasional gaps in the clouds which made us feel like we had climbed Jack’s beanstalk and could only occasionally look down on the land below.
We did it during the day but apparently the best time to venture up to Dante’s View is early morning to catch the sunrise. You need to get there early so you can watch as the sunlight first hits Telescope peak on the other side of the valley before descending the Panamint Mountains and eventually across the basin. It gets really windy and cold up there so you will probably want to dress warm with gloves and something to break the wind.
While you are up there, you should do one of the hikes. There is a fairly easy trail that goes to the north and has it’s own spots that are great for a lookout. As we hiked, the clouds parted and the sun shone through giving us a great view.
This attraction has been closed for years due to flooding. Apparently in October of 2015 there was so much rain that it destroyed parts of Scotty Castle and the road up to it. So you’ll have to wait until it reopens to visit (hopefully 2020).
We didn’t make it to Ubehebe Crater as it was over an hour drive from our campground on the road that also splits off to the closed roads to Scotty’s Castle. The fuel prices in Death Valley are very high, so we decided that we would save Ubehebe for next time when we can do both it and the castle on the same day. We were told that there are trails to explore and that you should schedule no less than 30 min to see it (and that’s if you don’t hike the trails).
Way beyond Ubehebe Crater is the Racetrack, a flat valley where fallen rocks that have left trails behind them as wind and ice have slowly moved them across the landscape. Driving here is a risky endeavor as the long dirt road is covered in sharp rocks that frequently pop tires. A park ranger told us that people often need to be towed out and that the bill for towing is over $2,000. Potentially being stranded in the desert with an impending huge tow bill didn’t appeal to us so we skipped this.
Artist’s Drive / Artist’s Palette
This was my favorite place this trip. The Artist’s Drive is a colorful one way road that loops away from and then back to Badwater Rd. This thin road was fun to drive as it goes up and down small hills and around sharp curves.
What’s best about Artists drive is all the colors on the rock formations around you. Being colorblind, colorful rocks have never a big deal to me before. However, last year I was given a pair of Enchroma color correcting glasses for the colorblind and driving Artist’s drive with them on was unreal.
Along the drive is a parking area where you can look out on what is known as the Artists Palette. This is a colorful rock formation that is well worth a stop as it’s pink rock swirls seem to glow in the sunset. There are lots of things for you to see in Death Valley at sunset, so stay several nights and be sure that one of those sunsets you are at Artist’s Palette.
Golden Canyon is a great hike for the whole family. The parking area isn’t very big, but it’s not as popular as some of the more heavily visited areas so you should be able to find a parking spot without too much issue.
This trail is where the old road used to come into the valley. We didn’t hike to the end and eventually turned back, but there were several small outcroppings that the kids had fun exploring.
As you come into the valley off highway 190, you will drive right by Zabriskie Point. We all enjoyed going here as the trail was easy to walk up for some amazing views.
The best thing here is the colorful rocks and how the sun makes them look like they are almost on fire. Though you can’t really see the valley, you still have a unique view as there is a stark contrast between the colors of the more immediate Zabriskie rock formations with the Panamint Mountains in the far background. It’s really cool.
Harmony Borax Works
This is a small historical stop just north of Furnace Creek. They used to mine borax here and take it out of the valley with a 20 mule team. It’s an easy stop and our kids liked looking at the ruins.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
One of our kids’ favorite places in all of Death Valley is the sand dunes. These are your quintessential sand dunes and though they don’t go on forever, the area is big enough that you can spend a long time here.
We went just a little before sunset along with with seemed to be every photographer in the park. The parking lot is probably big enough when it’s not sunset, but by the time we got there, there was only parking in the non-paved sections on the outskirts of the lot.
The dunes are fun to climb, slide down, and of course wrestle. Our children had a blast playing king of the hill and having a free for all wrestling match to see who could get to the top of each dune first. If you go at sunset, the shadows are long and make for great photos.
If you are a fan of the original Star Wars (and you should be), much of the Tatooine scenes were filmed in Death Valley. Go watch the movie before you visit for a fun way to interact with the scenery.
Where to stay
RV Park –Stovepipe Wells – there are full hookups for RVs and access to a swimming pool. There are also cheaper primitive sites with no hookups. Years ago we tent camped (though there are RV spots) at Furnace Creek which is a beautiful place right near the Visitors Center which is great for the evening ranger programs.
Hotel – The Inn At Death Valley – Located right in the middle of Death Valley is a beautiful hotel with a spring-fed pool and a restaurant on site.
You will need to drive everywhere. The valley is huge and depending on how long you stay, plan on having to fill up with overpriced fuel at least once.
Verizon (don’t know about AT&T or T-Mobile) internet coverage is spotty. We were offline most of the time and many times couldn’t even get a signal for phone calls. Ask the rangers and they can tell you where the sweet spots are for coverage.
Here is a video of when we Crazy Family Adventure visited Death Valley in 2016. You will see we visited a lot of the places that Ditching Suburbia recommended!
Visiting Death Valley For A Day - YouTube
Want to spend more time in California? Check out more posts on what to do when you visit this epic state!
There is so much beauty and wonder in Northern California. From waterfalls to volcanos and lava tube caves, there is an abundance of epic things to do in Northern California. Below we list out our favorite places to visit.
We had heard Yosemite was amazing and they were right! We spent 5 days in the park and did one of our favorite hikes of all time: The Mist Trail.
The Trail had us hiking up right next to a waterfall. We had brought rain jackets for the kids and it was a good thing we did because they got soaked!! It was such an awesome hike. Definitely wasn’t easy hiking up the mountain, but was well worth it.
Family Travel - Hiking the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park | RV Living With Kids - YouTube
We normally just go and visit the Visitor Center and then go on hikes, but if you are someone who prefers tours there are options out there! Get Your Guide is a great resource to find a tour in Yosemite. Check them out here.
RV/Camping:North Pines Campground – IN Yosemite National Park! We loved staying in the park but please note there are a lot of restrictions on rig size and you usually have to book 6 months to a year in advance to get a site.
An interesting city for sure! But also a really cool place to visit. We spent a couple days exploring the city. One day was spent just walking around by Pier 39, going up the crookedest street in America. Then heading over to Chinatown where we literally felt like we were in China.
There are also great children’s museums and other museums to visit in the city along with the awe-inspiring Muir Woods and Point Reyes Seashore just a short drive outside of the city.
RV/Camping:San Francisco RV Park – Basically a parking lot, but you can walk to a bus stop that will take you to the Metra that you can take into the city. So there is that. Or else you can drive into downtown in about 20 minutes.
If you are a beer person you don’t want to miss Russian River. Plus there is more than just beer here! We stayed at a campground that had a fun rapids/stream/river that the kids played in for hours.
But back to the beer. Russian River is where Pliny the Elder is brewed. And it is my husbands favorite beer of all time! We headed into Santa Rosa to go the Russian River Brewing Company and it was packed!
We waited in line for about 10 minutes then got a table. Having a Pliny The Elder out of the tap was a highlight of our California trip for Craig and we went home with a case and a t-shirt!
Enjoying a day by the Russian River and trying to visit Napa Valley . . . - YouTube
A beautiful state park area that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and Yosemite and out in the middle of nowhere. When you go down the hill into the State Park you loose all internet connection and you can feel the stress melt away.
There is a creek running through the park, a trail at the back end of the park and a beautiful beach that you can walk to.
If you are looking for nature and relaxation this is the place for you.
Visiting Fort Bragg and the Russian Gulch State Park | Full Time Travel With Kids - YouTube
Where To Stay
RV/Camping:Russian Gulch State Park is the campground we stayed at. We didn’t recommend a hotel since this stop is all about the state park campground!
You know those Instagram pictures of the beaches covered in glass. This is the place!! It doesn’t quite look like what it does in the pictures. Since just recently they made it illegal for people to take the glass home with them. Prior to that you could take glass off the beach which depleted the glass.
But don’t let this stop you from going. There is still lots of beautiful glass on the beach and you can sit for hours and search through the sand looking for all different colored glass.
It is also a pretty beach area and nice to just sit and look out over the ocean.
Where To Stay
Hotel: There are some really cute bed and breakfast and cottage options around Fort Bragg. Check them out here.
We drove on the Avenue of Giants to get here and it was awesome. The Redwood trees are so magical and driving through them makes you feel so small! We pulled into Humboldt State Park and we were able to camp among the Redwoods. To date this is one of our favorite campgrounds.
They have a visitor center area where you can learn more about the Redwoods plus multiple trails you can walk right through the Redwoods. There are also trees that have fallen down and you can walk along them. The kids loved this.
You can also climb in the roots of some of the fallen trees. It is a great way to get a perspective on how big these trees are.
While in the area we also visited the town of Loleta so we could check out the Loleta Cheese Factory! If you like cheese don’t miss this stop.
Where To Stay
RV/Camping:Humboldt Redwoods State Park. You could drive in to explore this area from some of the surrounding towns but if you have a chance to stay here it is amazing!
This video covers Humboldt State Park, the Redwoods and visiting a couple cities in the area (more on all of them below):
Exploring the amazing Redwoods in Northern California along with the quirky little town of Arcata! - YouTube
Redwoods National Park
I hadn’t realized how spread out the Redwoods are. I thought it was like other National Parks where you went to the Visitor Center and then followed a map around the National Park. Not quite. The National Park is spread out over all of coastal Northern California with a few state parks mixed in.
We ended up doing the Fern Canyon hike which was amazing since it is where they filmed part of..
Most all RVs, Fifth Wheels and Travel Trailers have onboard fresh water tanks which are used when you aren’t hooked up to campground or city water. The way these fresh water tanks are filled differ depending on your RV.
We have a Winnebago Micro Minnie 2100BH which has a Gravity Fill spot like this:
Other RV’s only have a pressurized fill spot like this:
Both work very well to fill when you are at a campground, you simply connect one end of your hose to the water spigot and the other end either goes into the gravity fill spot or to the fresh water connection on your RV then turn on the spigot and run until your tank is full.
When you aren’t connected to city water, the gravity fill RV’s can still be easily filled by just pouring a jug of water into it, however, RV’s with a fresh water connection that requires pressurized water can’t be filled as easily.
I came up with a simple pump system that runs off 12v from your car’s cigarette lighter.
Pump System Supplies
I found all of these supplies at Walmart and they costed about $35 for the pump system. A similar water jug is also available at Walmart if you don’t already have one, but is an additional $15 – $20.
Here are these supplies on Amazon if it’s easier to order for you, but the prices are much better at Walmart.
To put the system together, first connect the positive wire of the cigarette lighter to the positive wire on the bilge pump using a butt splice and crimping it properly. Then do the same with the negative wires.
Next, cut the female end of the hose off and slide a hose clamp onto the hose. You will connect the male end to your RV’s fresh water connection. The bilge pump I bought had a hose outlet for a 3/4″ hose, so it is important to get at least a 5/8″ diameter hose. I had to make a couple of slits on the end of the hose to fit it onto the pump. It took a little elbow grease to get the hose to fit onto the pump’s outlet, but it can be done and the snug fit helps making a good seal.
Then slide the hose clamp up to the proper spot and tighten.
That’s pretty much it for assembly!
How to Use the System
To use the system, place the pump into the food grade bucket.
You will then pour water from your 6 gallon water jug into the food grade bucket being careful not to get the cigarette lighter or the butt splices wet. The rest of the wire coming from the pump can be submerged in water.
After the bucket is full, connect the male end of the water hose to your RV’s water fill connection.
Now you can plug the cigarette lighter into your car’s cigarette lighter plug. You may or may not need to turn your car on when doing this. With the shorter wires that came with the cigarette lighter plug and the pump, I had to put the bucket on the floor of the passenger seat.
Once plugged in, the pump will start to run and pump the water from the bucket through the hose and into your RV!
You can add water to the bucket as the pump empties the bucket. Just be careful not to spill a bunch of water in your car. I speak from experience!
How to fill your RV's fresh water tank if you don't have a gravity fill spot - YouTube
Hopefully this will help the next time you need to fill your RV’s fresh water tank through the fresh water connection.
There are so many cool things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas! When we were heading in I started to do research on the area and was pleasantly surprised by all the fun things we could do with our kids. It is a popular vacation destination in Arkansas and we can see why.
What To Do:
Hot Springs National Park
I had to list the National Park first as this is why we came to Hot Springs. The National Park here is not what you are used to when it comes to National Parks. Instead it is a National Park located IN the middle of the city. Say what?? Seriously, the National Park is part of downtown Hot Springs.
There actually isn’t even a parking lot for the National Park – instead you just park long the street (there are meters that take change). Then you have to find the National Park visitor center. We ended up in the National Park administration building – but never fear there was a sign telling us where to go to find the visitor center. I am assuming this happens to a lot of people!
The National Park consists of a row of Bath Houses – 2 are still working and the other buildings have been transformed into gift shops, the visitor center, and a brewery!! Yes a brewery in a National Park. This is our kind of place!
Fun Fact: The United States Congress made Hot Springs a Reservation (an area to be preserved for future recreation) in April 20, 1832. It then became a National Park in 1921.
The Visitor Center is actually a large 4 story museum. You walk through it and get a real feel for what life was like back when the building was being used as a bathhouse. Plus they have a nice 15 minute video on Hot Springs. We also enjoyed checking out the old school gymnasium – it looked like an American Ninja Warrior course!
I love those videos that give all of us a quick overview of the National Park. They also have the Junior Ranger program here.
We spent about an hour walking through and exploring.
If you walk down Bathhouse Row (more on this below) you will come to the National Park Gift Shop. This is where you can actually sample/drink the hot springs water!
They have a little drinking fountain area with cups. And the water has been temperature controlled so it isn’t super hot. The worker told us we were drinking 4,000 year old rain water! The kids were hesitant to drink it then, but they did try.
They also have a cute photo op here where you can jump in one of the old bathhouse hot tubs and take your picture.
This is the main stretch of road that makes up the National Park. It is a nice wide sidewalk that you can walk on as you go from building to building. It is really well kept and pretty.
Across the street is the city of Hot Springs with a bunch of shops and restaurants. Bathhouse Row is located on Central Avenue which is the main street that runs through Hot Springs.
I knew we weren’t going to make it into one of the working bathhouses – just too hard to figure out with the 4 kids. But I was hoping we would at least be able to touch the springs to see how hot they were.
If you walk up and around the back of the Visitor Center there is a Display Spring (it is actually called that). Where you can stick your hand in the water or walk towards the back and put in your hand in the small waterfall that is coming down from the mountain. Be careful, the water is hot!
We touched the Hot Springs – check and check!
If you keep going up the stairs from the Display Spring you will reach the Grand Promenade. I beautiful walk way that is up above the street and behind Bathhouse Row.
This is a great place to come and walk with kids since there aren’t any cars around and it is nice wide walkway. It is also very pretty. From here you can start on a couple of the hikes in the area.
Hot Springs Mountain Tower
You will see the big tower as you are driving into the city. From behind the National Park Visitor Center you can take the Peak Trail and hike .6 miles up (it is up the whole way) to get to the tower.
Once there you have to pay $5-$8 a person I believe to go up in the tower. We opted not to do that and instead went across the street to a lookout area and then hiked back down.
If you don’t feel like hiking it you can drive up there.
There are a variety of other hikes in the area and all different lengths. You could definitely spend some time hiking here!
If Horse racing and casino’s are more your thing you will want to check out Oaklawn Racing and Gaming (formerly Oaklawn Park). They have a variety of events and live racing so be sure to check out their site for more info.
If you are looking for outdoor activities the Ouachita Mountain range located in the Ouachita National Forest has a lot of offer. Everything from mountain biking to hiking, fishing and boating! Hot Springs is the hub of the mountains and the Ouachita National Forest spreads for 1.8 million acres around Arkansas.
You can see the mountain if you go up in the Hot Springs Mountain Tower.
I was disappointed we didn’t make it here on our stay. The Garvan Woodland Gardens are the botanical gardens of the University of Arkansas. You can tour the gardens and the beautiful surrounding area (there is an admission fee). Then head over to check out the Anthony Chapel.
The Chapel is an unbelievable structure that is filled with windows. You can visit the chapel without paying the admission fee to the gardens. Please note the chapel is closed if there is a wedding or event going on.
If you are interested in alligators then you will want to visit the Arkansas Alligator Farm! You can hold baby alligators all year long plus there is a petting zoo area where you can pet emu, goats, sheep and more.
There are also times of the year when you can feed meat to an alligator on a stick. They have a variety of other animals you can see as well. If your kids (or you) are into animals add this place to your list of spots to check out.
There is a fee to get in. Check their website for pricing.
Located right across the street from the National Park you will find the Gangster Museum of America. In the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s Hot Springs was a popular place for Gangsters to come and visit.
You will take a tour that will bring you up to speed on Hot Springs in the the early to mid 1900’s. And how the gangster population visited here. You will also get a chance to play in the antique casino!
If fine art is your scene Hot Springs does not disappoint! There are a variety of art galleries along with musical events going on throughout the year. You can learn more about them here: https://www.hotsprings.org/pages/art/
I know I mentioned the brewery above and have to mention it again here. The beer is brewed using the hot spring water – how cool is that! Plus the brewery is actually IN the National Park. We vote for all National Parks having a brewery!
The food was really good too. Be sure to get their Beer Cheese and chips – Yum!!
We stayed at the National Park campground. We figured that in the middle of the week we would be fine. Not so much! We got there and got the last spot. It is all first come first serve so get there early.
They have full hookups and you are right on the river so it is a great campground. You can take a hiking trail right from the campground and actually hike over to the National Park visitor center – but it is pretty far.
We always like a restaurant that is a little bit different and Mike’s is it! The design of the restaurant is unique and the donuts are DELICIOUS. This is a bit of a bias review on the donuts since we have never gone for the Chicken. But I am telling you – you don’t want to miss these donuts.
There are flavors like: Strawberry Lemonade Cyclops, Honey Roasted Nut Medley Ring, and Oatmeal Scotchie Rings. The donut menu changes but never fear there are always amazing options to chose from!
Besides having a variety of fun donut flavors they also have yummy breakfast sandwich options. Their egg breakfast sandwich is really good and so is the coffee. Make sure to stop here for breakfast before exploring everything Kenosha has to offer.
If you have kids with you (or if you are a kid at heart) be sure to stop at Choo Choo Charlie’s for lunch. It is located at the train station. And a train actually delivers your food to your table. Didn’t I tell you the kids would love it!
The food itself is very kid friendly – french fries, hot dogs, etc. Plus their milkshakes are fun to look at and taste great.
If you are a fan of Mexican food then La Fogata is the place for you. They serve delicious chips and salsa to start and then have a variety of authentic Mexican dishes. They have a great outside area where you can sit in the summer and in the winter they close it in so you are nice and warm.
They have large servings and with the chips, margaritas and your meal you will not leave hungry.
If you are craving chips, salsa and a margarita this is the place for you!
This Italian staple has been in Kenosha since 1954! If you are looking for authentic Italian Casa Capri has it. They have delicious Italian dishes like gnocchi and lasagna, great steaks, delicious sandwiches and of course pizza!
When you go don’t forget to check out their drink menu. I highly recommend the Moscow Mule!
I love when a restaurant supports its local college teams and that is exactly what Grabs does! The walls are filled with athletes from both UW Parkside and Carthage College. Even the local high schools get some love here!
The food doesn’t disappoint either. They have a great selection of unique burgers to choose from along with great appetizers and sides. And of course we couldn’t leave without trying one of their milkshakes – yum!
A brewery with food? We are there! And to our surprise they were very vegetarian friendly. They had vegetarian chicken wings! Yes, you read that right and they were so good!! Take note this is bar style food – lots of fried options. But hey what goes better with a beer!
Be sure to check out their nightly specials and make sure to sample a variety of the beers they brew.
Looking for American cuisine? Waterfront Warehouse has you covered. They offer a great selection of a variety of different meal options. From salads to cheese curds. Yes I said cheese curds and yes you HAVE TO order them! They are so good. If you aren’t sure what you are in the mood for this is the place for you. You will be sure to find something that you like on the menu. Plus it is conveniently located right by downtown.
If you are looking for a unique dinning experience, a mouthwatering burger and a root beer whirl you will want to check out The Spot Drive-In. You pull up in your car and park and a server walks out to take your order from your car. They then bring your food out on a tray that clips onto your car window and eat right there in your car! Such a fun old school way to eat lunch or dinner. This is a Kenosha Classic!
If you have ever driven by Kenosha on I-94 you have seen Mars Cheese Castle! A Kenosha landmark that welcomes you to Wisconsin and beckons you to stop in for some cheese. They have a great collection of cheese and wine and it is definitely worth a stop. Plus they have a cafe where you can grab lunch to eat there or take to go. Also be sure to grab one of their Apple Pies in a Bag – it will be one of the best apple pies you have ever had!
There are so many great restaurant options in Kenosha! If you are looking for more options be sure to check out the Visit Kenosha site.
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**A big thank you to Visit Kenosha for hosting us as we explored a variety of restaurants in Kenosha. All opinions are our own**