Ready for a Western vacation in a breathtaking setting? Jackson, Wyoming is one of the best vacation towns for families, in any season. We love to visit in summer, where we can base ourselves in Jackson to explore Grand Teton National Park, the Snake River, and area lakes and hikes. Here’s what you can expect in Jackson Hole, what to do, where to stay, and where to eat. Read on for our Jackson Hole Wyoming guide:
The center of Jackson Hole is pedestrian-friendly, with a central square decorated with elk antlers and more than a few Western wear clothing stores and outdoor stores. You’ll find plenty of cowboy bars and casual eateries in the center of town, too. Along the outskirts, families will find the larger resorts, including the ski resorts of Snow King (just outside town) and Jackson Hole (a few miles away). The entire region is framed by the majesty of the Tetons….Grand Teton National Park is only 20 miles away, up Hwy 26 or Hwy 390.
What to do in Jackson Hole:
Plan at least one full day in town. Find parking once, then leave the car during the busy summer months and hoof it from place to place…everything is close by. Browse the fun shops in the heart of town, then head down Snow King Avenue to Snow King Mountain Resort. Try the alpine slide here, or the other summer recreational offerings.
In warm weather, head next to the Amaz’n Jackson Hole Maze, where kids are given a water gun and sent into a large wooden maze to wage their water wars. This is good old fashioned fun at its best! Be sure to leave time to catch the historic Jackson Hole Rodeo, which performs every Wednesday and Saturday night in summer. Bring sweaters or a blanket…once the sun goes down over the Tetons, the summer air gets chilly!
Just outside of town, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort offers mountain biking with lift access during the summer months (and world class skiing in winter). Families can also ride the ariel tram, try the bungee trampoline, or find hiking trails from Teton Village, at the base of the resort.
On a second day, plan a Snake River float trip from one of many operations based in Jackson Hole; we love to go with OARS. With the Tetons as a backdrop, Snake River floats are scenic but not high adrenaline affairs; look for wildlife and expect a packed lunch en route.
Head into Grand Teton National Park, entering the park at Moose to hike along Phelps Lake (we enjoyed bear sightings here), or continue on to Jenny Lake and String Lake for excellent swimming. Park at String Lake for the best kayaking, SUPing, and wading, but get there early in the summer months…it fills up fast. Further into the park, rent canoes on Jackson Lake or take a horseback ride at Colter Bay Village.
Where to stay:
There are as many types of lodging in and around Jackson as there are ways to enjoy this town. Families can opt for luxury at the Four Seasons Jackson Hole or the Teton Village area, or find lower-budget motels in town (book early!). However, our travel hack for this area is to book a stay at the Snake River/Jackson Hole KOA just outside town. By far the nicest KOA we’ve stayed in, their luxury cabins are immaculate, and include full kitchens and bathrooms. Located directly on the Snake River about 15 minutes from Jackson Hole, this KOA also offers its own float trip in season. In addition to luxury cabins, they offer standard cabins for well under the cost of a hotel room, and standard RV and tent camping sites, some of which are directly on the river.
Where to eat:
We’re not foodies. When we travel, we usually want healthy dining options in a casual atmosphere. In Jackson Hole, we love Pizzeria Caldera, MacPhail’s Burgers, and the Snake River Brewing Company. For great coffee and wifi, the Bunnery is our go-to morning location.
Have you been to Jackson Hole? What’s your favorite part?