My family is big on exploring Indiana, and we try to fit in day trips and weekend trips when we can. To kick off our summer, we visited Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Lake Monroe, which is a short 90-minute drive from Indianapolis, just outside of Bloomington, Indiana. From check-in to check-out, our visit was filled with family-friendly fun, lots of outdoor activities and time to reconnect as a family.
Jellystone Park is a campground and depending on the type of camping your family enjoys, there are a few overnight options: tent camping, RV camping or cabin camping. We decided to try out one of Jellystone’s cabins, and booked our stay in a Cozy Lodge with Loft. My kids got a kick out of sleeping in the loft area, which overlooked the kitchen and living room. The cabin came with two TVs, a full-sized refrigerator and stove, as well as a full bathroom, air conditioning and a screened deck, among other amenities. Free Wi-Fi is available all around the campground, so we were all set to enjoy camping the way us city slickers like it!
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Shortly after we arrived, we saw Cindy Bear going around the campground on her golf cart, delivering waves and hugs to campers, and welcoming everyone to Jellystone for the weekend. We hugged and posed for a picture, then made our way on our own golf cart to the Jumping Pillow.
The Jumping Pillow is a huge, air-inflated jumper that’s super fun for kids and adults alike. My kids probably jumped on that thing for at least 45 minutes straight our first night, and then all day off and on the following day. Every so often, a staff member will initiate a game with the kids on the Jumping Pillow, like “Red Light, Green Light” or “Simon Says.”
Next to the Jumping Pillow is an area with running water where you can pan for fossils and minerals. My oldest and I had a fun time sifting through the debris to find sparkly pebbles and shells. There’s a chart nearby that helps you identify your prospecting treasures.
All that jumping and fossil-finding makes a person hungry, so we stopped at the Ranger Station to cool off with an ice cream treat. The Ranger Station has a full snack bar inside with lunch and dinner items, such as hot dogs, pizza and nachos, as well as several different ice cream and slushie flavors. The Ranger Station also serves as a mini mart, where you can buy items that you might have forgotten (just like we forgot toothbrushes!). Down the hall is the Recreation Room, which is stocked with board games, coloring books and plenty of space to spread out and enjoy some indoor fun.
Shortly after we finished our ice cream, we headed back to the cabin to relax and unwind before bed. But If we wanted to, we could have watched an outdoor showing of “Cars” at 8 p.m. We almost brought out our blankets to join in on the fun, but the cozy cabin was calling us, and we knew we had another fun day ahead of us.
The next morning, we started the day with a quick hike through the woods. Jellystone Park has multiple trails that take you around their huge campground, where you can see a small waterfall, hear birds chirping and animals scampering, and even find a geode, like one of my sons did! Then we headed to the flag pole to meet up with Cindy Bear, starts her day by saying the pledge of allegiance and a stretching session. Campers are invited to join her, so we got the kinks out by doing some simple stretches.
Afterward, we gathered with other families to decorate donuts. Each person could choose their flavor of frosting and decorate their own donut to their liking. My kids wasted no time dumping as many sprinkles as they could on their donuts. That’s OK — we’re on vacation, right?
Jellystone had activities planned out for families during the late morning, which you could choose to do or not. The vibe is very relaxed here, and if you want to participate, then that’s great, but if you don’t and instead want to do your own thing, that’s great, too. We chose to participate in the Water Balloon Squat Relay and Build Your Own Box Car. My kids really got into building their own cars from boxes and craft supplies that Jellystone provided. Later in afternoon would be the BIG RACE, so we had to make sure our box cars looked as spiffy as could be!
We were visiting on a really hot spring day, and luckily, one of the activities that was planned in the afternoon was the Wet & Wild Hey Ride, which guaranteed that we would get wet! Families piled into the back of a hay tractor and rode around the campground while campers in RVs (with access to water hoses) sprayed the riders. Luckily, we were given squirt guns to defend ourselves, but we all managed to get soaked by the time the ride was over!
The activity we had been looking forward to most was the Bada Boom Bada Bang with Bubbles. Bubbles flowed from a tower and onto the kids who danced around and pretended to swim through the billions of bubbles. It was like being in a giant bubble bath, but without the bath part! It’s one of those activities that you have to experience to fully understand all the bubbly, foamy fun that everyone had.
You’re probably getting a sense that Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Lake Monroe is a lot of fun. And it is! There are so many organized activities to look forward to every day, and they are all listed on a chart that they give you at check-in. We didn’t even take part in all of the activities that were available each day — we picked our favorites, and then spent some of the time relaxing in our cabin, hiking around the grounds and playing at the playground and in the sandbox that’s located just off the Ranger Station. During the summer months, the water park, splash pad and pool is available to campers, which we look forward to visiting when they’re open for the season!
We loved that there was something to do almost every hour of the day, which allowed us to just relax and enjoy each other as a family, without having to plan out the whole day ourselves. We couldn’t have had a better weekend at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Lake Monroe, and we look forward to visiting again when we need another family weekend away!
For more information and to plan your stay, visit www.lakemonroejellystone.com.
As a bonus for Indy’s Child readers, if you book your stay online for two nights or more, and enter the promo code INDYMAG, you’ll receive a free $50 Jellystone Park gift card at check in! Offer expires June 30, 2019 and is not valid June 30-July 6 or August 30-Sept. 2, 2019. Cannot be combined with any other offers or discounts. Offer not applicable to prior reservations.