Summer vacations are the best! Memories are created to last a lifetime. We look forward to ours all year. New destination adventure trips, or going to an annual tradition location, it doesn’t really matter. The only requirement is FUN!
Our summer vacation just ended and now I sit here surrounded by mounds of dirty clothes needing to be washed, camping gear that has to be put back in storage, a very long to do list, the house needs to be cleaned and I have about a 1000 (slight exaggeration, but not by much) emails and social media notifications to respond to…but it is totally worth it!!
We opted for a mini vacation close by this year because we have a big trip coming up in the fall. We do ‘staycations’ quite often and have visited most places within a short driving distance from us. This year we wanted to try somewhere new.
We decided on Lava Hot Springs, Idaho and camping was the unanimous vote for lodging. I found a cute little cabin at a local KOA. Yes, cabin. I have learned over the years I do not enjoy tent camping as much as I used to when I was younger. The ever changing temperature inside the tent, the lumpy ground, weather conditions and the never ending supply of noise ambiance during the night have all brought me to one conclusion……cabin or camper trailer for me.
Van loaded to the brim, we hit the road for our 2 hour drive. Staycations do have perks, and short driving distance is one of them. 2 Adults, 2 Kids and 2 Dogs.
Our cabin was small but perfect for what we needed. The kids had their own ‘room’ with a bunkbed (room = large closet). There was a full size bed in the main room with a small fridge and microwave. I upgraded us to a cabin with a full bathroom this time. That was a huge perk for the 2am bathroom call.
The campground has plenty of shade. It does sit right next to the main highway and train tracks, so traffic and noise can be loud, but it never bothered us. The campground also sits right next to the river and so fishing was a must. An Idaho fishing license is required, which we purchased in town. The KOA staff were very accommodating and overall, we loved our stay there.
About Lava Hot Springs
With a population of only 407, it provides the small town USA feeling. It is located about an hour north of the Utah/Idaho border. Main Street is lined with shops, restaurants and motels. There is one grocery store in town, ‘Mikes’, which I visited twice. While the selection was minimal, they had everything I needed at a decent price.
World Famous Hot Pools
The world famous hot pools are open year round. The pools are natural hot mineral water, which means they are odor free. Definite perk! The pools vary from 103 – 112 degrees F.
We started in the coolest pool at 103 degrees. It was pretty hot and it takes a little bit to get used to, but then you can settle in and just relax. The pools are covered by canopies so they are in the shade most of the day.
I ventured to each of the pools, finally ending at the 112 degree pool. After watching others dip their toes in and wince in pain and walk away, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go in. I decided to brave it and took baby steps. It was very hot, but I did enjoy it. I did not sit down in it, but I did walk from one end of the pool to the other end. It was hot enough that my legs were still red about 20 minutes after getting out.
I would highly recommend giving them all a try. We all enjoyed our time soaking in the hot pools.
Olympic Swimming Complex
Make sure you plan a visit to the Olympic Swimming Complex. We all loved it! You do have to pay to get in, but the cost was not bad. You can find the rates and hours HERE. The pool was large enough that even though it was crowded, it didn’t feel like it. The hot springs are filtered through different pools in town and this one had some of it flowing in as well, so the water temperature was perfect.
Tip: If you go, make sure you take your own chairs and shade. We were fortunate enough to have found a spot under a tree, but when it is busy, the odds that would happen again are slim.
Dinner in Town
We opted to camp ‘simple’ this vacation and eat dinners out. Since Kylee was desensitized to food allergies, all restaurants are now an option. I don’t know about you, but I love small town mom and pop restaurants. We chose the Chuckwagon for night one. The service was great and fast. Our food was delicious and there was a lot of it! You can find them on Facebook HERE.
I had the Strawberry Avocado Chicken Salad (image below). My daughter had the chicken strips basket, and Jeff & Chase both had different Burgers. Highly recommend.
Tubing down the Portneuf River Rapids is a must. We rented our tubes from the KOA because they had the best prices in town.
Tip #1: The single rider tubes seem to do better than the doubles for handling the rapids and falls.
Tip #2: Make sure you wear shoes to protect your feet.
Tip #3: Denim shorts help to protect against your very exposed bum hanging out the bottom of the tube.
Tip #4: Wear a shirt (or bring your own life jacket that covers your back) to prevent scratches and ‘river rash’ scrapes.
Tip #5: Pay the extra few dollars for the shuttle. It is worth it. They pick you up at the hop out spot of the river and drive you back to the starting point. This means you have more time to tube!
Tip #6: Put on your life jacket and have fun!
Ice Cream Treat
Final stop, The Sweet Stuff Shop which has ice cream and candy. The ice cream is delicious and it is served with a square ice cream scoop, which my kids that was the coolest thing ever. You can find them on Facebook HERE.
Vacation a Success!
Overall, our summer vacation was too short, relaxing and perfect!
I highly recommend a trip to Lava Hot Springs, ID!