Will you choose one of the brand-new cabins? Or pitch your tent under the stars?
If you grew up back east with a family that didn’t mind a few mosquito bites, you probably have fond memories of Jellystone Park, the classic family-friendly campgrounds boasting Yogi Bear as mascot. They had a handful of resorts all over the midwest back in the 80s and 90s, and unlike traditional campgrounds, Jellystone Park had just enough kid-approved amenities to make us forget all about those pesky mosquitoes: pools, popcorn machines, paddle boats, just to name a few.
But in the last few years, the Jellystone brand has bulked up, opening dozens of new resorts and kitting them all out with squeal-inducing new amenities like splash parks, mini golf, laser tag, lakes loaded with inflatable obstacle courses, and more. The timing couldn’t be better for those of us who grew up with Jellystone—now we’ve got our own kids who are ready to sleep under the stars. For the parents, brand-new cabins, golf carts, and food and beverage options make this place an irresistible summer camp for all ages.
With a new Jellystone Resort just 60 miles from San Francisco and open 12 months out of the year, there’s never a bad time to escape with the family for a long weekend of campfires and waterslides. Summer forever!
Choose Your Sleep-in-The Woods Style
We get it—for many of us, sleeping on the ground isn’t how we want to spend our precious vacation days. That’s why we love Jellystone’s many options for camping with a little more comfort. If you want to try out that RV life, Jellystone offers RV rental options. Or you can roll up in your own RV and snag a spot in their spacious, thoughtfully designed RV sites, all of which feature picnic tables, fit pits, and shared comfort stations.
If you’re looking for more of a cozy cabin vibe, all parks have recently added the cutest little deluxe cabins that come complete with kitchenettes, private bathrooms with hot showers, comfy beds, and the sweetest screened-in porches (not so fast, mosquitoes). There are also more rustic cabin styles and even yurts at select locations. And of course, if old-school camping is your thing, there are plenty of woodsy sites that are perfect for pitching a tent, building a fire, roasting s’mores, and stargazing deep into the night.
Splash, Swim, Slide
Sleeping under the stars pretty much guarantees a memorable family vacation, but it’s what’s on offer when the sun is out that really sets Jellystone apart. Brand new splash parks take center stage, with each location boasting countless water cannons, multiple slides for all ages, and every type of fountain, shower, and sprayer you can imagine.
The excitement amps up a notch every ten minutes when the alarm bell rings and the giant water tower unleashes a torrential downpour onto squealing, soaked kids. Heated pools outfitted with basketball hoops are perfect for practicing cannon balls and underwater handstands. And plenty of loungers, chairs, and outdoor tables provide places for blissed-out parents to read, snack, or even enjoy a frozen cocktail from the outdoor bar and concession stand.
And we haven’t even dipped our toes into the lake, yet. Most Jellystone Resorts include one or more lakes or rivers, so boating and fishing are all additional ways to get wet while having maximum fun. Swimming lakes are decked out with their signature Aqua Parks: inflatable climbing structures and classic obstacle course games such as barrel roll, monkey bar rings, and more. Lifeguards are plentiful and lifejackets are required for all lake activities, making it easier for parents to relax and enjoy the sandy beach.
The fun doesn’t stop when it’s time to dry off. Mini golf, laser tag, and volleyball are epic options for an unforgettable family game night, while massive, air-filled jumping pillows will have the whole family hopping up and down together. Check the non-stop schedule of events to take a wagon ride, get messy at a foam party, munch popcorn at an outdoor movie night, or get crafty at dozens of group art activities. Morning workouts and an old-fashioned flag raise are attended by the hosts of honor—Yogi Bear and his friends.
But if all the action makes your head spin, don’t worry—the cabins and campsites offer a serene escape, and wooded trails wind through the parks for easy hiking. So whether your family is looking for non-stop action or a chance to simply stop and smell the flowers, Jellystone has it all on offer!
With the myriad options of locations and ways to stay (cozy mattress and private bath, sleeping bag and shared comfort station, or something in between?) there are also price points for every budget. Plus, staying during non-peak season (fall and winter) in always-temperate places like Lodi, California will save you big on both campsites and cabins. Whichever location is most convenient for you, be sure to check out the Special Offers page for countless coupon codes and different ways to save. Plus, active duty and retired military get 10% off during weekday stays all year round.
—photos by the author