We were hosted by Jellystone Golden Valley for a weekend, in exchange for my review. All opinions and fun are my own!
The first time my family camped was 4 or 5 years ago – so before we were even a family of 4. I remember booking a campsite at a Jellystone park near our city and it was Father’s Day weekend. My husband enjoyed it, and nobody slept. (My son was – and kind of still is – a terrible sleeper!) So a few months ago when I learned Jellystone was opening a new campground about an hour from our house, I immediately took them up on their offer of checking out the campground one weekend.
We were in a lake view cabin that slept 4, and I think my husband and son may have been the most excited heading into this weekend! I want to share so many photos, but I also have things you should definitely do when you’re at Jellystone Golden Valley. (I definitely want to share more, so Jellystone Golden Valley is going to get its own series on the blog. Check back for even more details!)
First up, a little more about our cabin. It had a full-size bed, a twin trundle bed and a twin love seat that folded out to a twin bed. The cabin also had a television, TV stand and a coffeemaker upstairs. Downstairs, there was an outdoor kitchenette with a small refrigerator, sink and a metal cabinet. Plus a picnic table that was covered. We did bring our own linens, but you can rent those from Jellystone. Also, there is a private bathhouse your cabin key will unlock, so I’m including a picture of it. It was nice to have an actual bathroom, and we could leave our toiletries down there. We were at the top of an enormous hill, so I got all of my steps in every day – walking to and from the bathroom. 😉
And I know you need a hyperlapse of our walk from the bathhouse to our cabin.
Now, what would I recommend should you stay at Jellystone Golden Valley? The following:
You need a golf cart. I couldn’t quite tell from the map how far apart things were, but if you are not in a tent site, a golf cart is almost necessary. And maybe not almost. It is. For us, it meant getting around a lake without exhausting the kids (or ourselves.) Golf cart rentals are relatively inexpensive, and they need to be part of your budget.
Spend most of a day at the water area/splashpad/pool. We probably spent 50% of our time in water – and I’m not complaining about it. The water park area was PERFECT for my kids, and almost a week later they are still talking about it. This will ensure a decent nap time (if you have nap-aged kids) or solid sleep once you get your kids to sleep after 11pm.
Check out the pancake breakfast on Saturdays. They actually offer a free pancake breakfast two mornings a week, but I’m blanking on the second day. Saturday was great, though. We just showed up and they had a couple types of pancakes (and eggs, sausage, biscuits) – and it was nice to not have to worry about cooking Saturday morning.
Also, as three of us were trying to finish our food, my 3-year-old decided she wanted to try to go outside on her own. The awesome Food Service Manager helped entertain her – and this wasn’t the first time that day this lady entertained my daughter. I loved the people we came across.
Go gem mining. You can get a bag from the camp store and walk to the nearby gem “mine” to sift through the bag. This was one of my kids favorite things to do (they LOVE rocks!) and they each have a bag of rocks they go through every day.
Try fishing – but bring your own bait and tackle! We didn’t know they wouldn’t have bait or tackle on site, but we could have borrowed fishing poles. My daughter really wanted to fish, and now I know for our next visit.
If it rains, take it in stride. We used that as our nap time and even my soon-to-be 8-year-old was wanting to nap. I noticed that other campers were playing cards or games at their picnic tables (since those were covered) and we slept, and then watched TV until it was clear. It was a nice break!
Enjoy the quiet(er) mornings. While our meals were provided during this stay, we did prepare breakfast Sunday morning and it was nice to start the day a little slower.
We absolutely loved the weekend. The kids were exhausted when we left, and the youngest was so disappointed we left Sunday afternoon. She would have spent a week there if we were able to. We’re already planning another trip for (hopefully) later this summer.
Jellystone Golden Valley is located about 15 miles off of I-40 near Marion. For those in WNC, it’s in Bostic, NC – Rutherford County. They’re still fine tuning (under a little bit of construction) in some parts, but that didn’t get in the way of our enjoyable time. If you’re looking for a week-long vacation or just a quick weekend getaway, I would highly recommend trying them out!