On a recent foodie trip to Columbus, Ohio, we discovered some great restaurants. Not only are these great foodie places, but these Columbus restaurants are great for kids! Read on for ideas on where to go for breakfast, lunch, dinner and, of course, where to get the best ice cream in Columbus.
Recommended Columbus Restaurants For Kids
Let’s start with a great breakfast place since breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day!
Belgian Iron Wafel Co. offers flights, which allows you to order three different waffles of your choice. This is perfect for families to share! Everyone gets their waffle of choice and it helps to keep the cost down.
Even though Belgian Iron Wafel Co. does not have an official kids menu, they do offer their delicious original wafels (plain waffles with no fancy “green stuff” that kiddos tend to hate).
Their Chicken & Wafels are another huge favorite with the young crowd.
Where: 19 W. Russell St.
If your family likes Mexican food then you will most definitely love El Rodeo. They have one of the best lunch buffets we have ever seen. The buffet is perfect for even the pickiest little ones.
If menu ordering is more to your liking then you will find tons of scrumptious options to enjoy also!
Their table-side guacamole is a huge hit with their customers. They roll the cart up to the table and prepare your own dish of fresh guacamole.
This is so much fun for children to watch. Who am I kidding? Adults love watching them prepare our guacamole also!
Where: 3133 Stelzer Road
The pizza place that made the favorite Columbus restaurants list for kids is Flyers Pizza & Subs.
They offer traditional cheese pizza for the plain jane pizza eater in your family. For more daring eaters, mix it up by choosing from four different styles of pizza crust, eight sauces and 29 toppings.
Where: Flyers Pizza & Subs has eight locations on the outer belt of Columbus.
Where to get dessert in Columbus
What do you say we take a little break from meals and have some ice cream? We had some amazing ice cream from Johnson’s Real Ice Cream.
Sydney had the Cookies & Cream in a waffle cone and I had their Fudgy Dessert. Both were amazing (of course we had to taste test each other’s goodies)!
They also make their own specialty ice cream cakes.
Where: There are several Columbus locations. The main location is at 2728 E. Main St., Bexley, Ohio.
Related post: Planning a trip through Ohio? Check out this guide to Cincinnati, Ohio with kids. It has recommendations on where to eat, where to stay and where to play in Cincinnati.
About the guest bloggers
Hello to all you food lovers out there! My name is Stephanie and I am the mom part of Small Town Living USA. My daughter, Sydney, makes up the daughter part.
Just as the name implies, we love all things small town. We both live in a two-traffic-light town. Even though we love small towns, you will still find us traveling to the big cities in search of food.
Did I mention that we love food? We love to cook, bake, dine out and go on foodie travel adventures.
We hope you enjoyed seeing a tiny few of some of our favorite Columbus restaurants for kids. Thanks so much Kim for letting Small Town Living USA share some of our favorite foodie places for kids on Oh My! Omaha. We had a blast!
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We recently spent a three-day weekend in Okoboji in northern Iowa that draws a lot of vacationing families because of the lakes. There were some hits and some misses. Here are some of my family’s favorite Okoboji restaurants that I’d recommend if you have kids in your group.
Disclosure: We were hosted by Vacation Okoboji. Some meals were complimentary; some we paid for ourselves.
Best Okoboji restaurants for families for breakfast
Arnolds Perk was my favorite, just because the coffee was so good, and the power breakfast sandwich was filling and delicious.
I rarely go to a restaurant twice on a trip, but we visited Arnolds Perk twice in three days. It’s just a charming place to sit and relax.
We also had breakfast at the well-known diner O’Farrell Sisters. We got there right before the rush (so, 9 a.m. on a Saturday). Parking wasn’t great, so I imagine finding a spot once a lot of people are there is difficult.
The Friends with Benedicts selection were great (and funny), and I tried the Cake Bene (which included the restaurant’s famous pancake).
The pancakes are pretty good. They also have “famous cinnamon rolls,” so we split one between the four of us. (Yes, I’m a sucker for items on menus listed as “famous”).
By the way, this place apparently delicious pie that I forgot to order to go. People in the know tell me I could’ve eaten said pie at breakfast and not been judged, but I feel like we indulged plenty already with the pancake benedict and cinnamon roll.
Lunch restaurants in Okoboji
Most of the restaurants in this post could easily be the go-to for lunch. But there’s only one restaurant that stands out for lunch not only for food but for the most pleasant service: Tweeter’s.
I ordered a salad at Tweeter’s because I knew I’d want dessert (grasshopper pie, please). A lot of people were ordering taco salads, but I just stuck to a simple Caesar salad. The garlic bread served with it was delicious.
FYI: The kid’s meals come with a chocolate or strawberry sundae.
We also had lunch outside Arnolds Park Amusement Park at the popular Bob’s in Arnolds Park. The view was perfect.
I wish I could say that it was a great lunch, we ordered Bob Dogs and chips thinking that’d be quick. They’re hot dogs.
For whatever reason, the wait was about 45 minutes. The kids were able to play at the beach, at least.
Tip: They’re known for their Bob Dog, which is just a hot dog. But, if you get one with “everything,” it’s topped with loose meat, onions, ketchup and mustard.
While we didn’t eat at Barefoot Bar, I’d say it’s pretty kid-friendly. This famous spot on the lake is the famously “no shoes, no shirt, no problem” kind of place.
It’s a little confusing ordering at Barefoot Bar, as you can get your drink order taken at the table, but for food, you’ll need to go to the counter. There are a couple counters.
I loved the atmosphere, with the tiki huts, live music and palm trees, but was a little peeved that they’d charge for water. I can only imagine how hot it gets in the middle of summer.
This is the place that has the slide into the lake. Kids were drawn to it like moths to a light, even though the water temperature was cold.
Best restaurants in Okoboji for dinner
The best pizza we had was the BBQ Chicken at Pub 19 Bar & Grill, a restaurant situated on a golf course. We went on a particularly busy Friday night, so the wait was long. We waited on the patio and enjoyed the view, at least.
One night, we had dinner at Snappers Turtle Bay Café, which was a short walk from Barefoot Bar. This fairly new restaurant was pretty casual with yard games to keep the kids busy while waiting.
We had to stalk tables to get one in the sun by the water. For whatever reason, we got a table quickly but the wait for food was long.
Okoboji Store is one restaurant we really want to go to, but didn’t carve out time. It’s another one of those waterfront popular spots, with live music. I guess we’re saving it for next time.
Finding ice cream in Okoboji
There are surprisingly few places to get ice cream or treats in Okoboji, at least in the areas we visited. Nutty Bar is pretty iconic for the area, so we had some Nutty Bars during a break from Arnolds Park Amusement Park. It’s right outside the front of the park. Service was quick.
A Nutty Bar is pretty much a cube of vanilla ice cream, dipped in chocolate and rolled in peanuts. You can get cones there, as well.
Family-friendly places in Okoboji to enjoy local beer
I love trying local beers and wine while on vacation (responsibly). Throughout the weekend, I enjoyed trying various West O Beers. You can visit the brewery, which is located in Milford near West Okoboji Lake.
We almost made it to the brewery, actually. The plan was to get dinner to go and bring it to West O. We heard there were games to occupy kids while adults enjoy beverages.
We’ll have to go next time, because I liked all the beers I tried throughout the weekend.
All the waterfront restaurants and bars in Okoboji
With five interconnected lakes, you can imagine Okoboji has some restaurants with epic lake views.
Here’s a list of all the restaurants where you can dine with a view:
Okoboji is one of Iowa’s biggest tourist magnets each summer, with its glacier-carved lakes being the main attractions. Built around the lakes are summer staples like a historic amusement park, waterside bars and restaurants, and a ton of kid-friendly activities. It’s the perfect Midwestern summer destination.
We had a lot to see and do and only three days to do it. (I’d recommend adding an extra day or two to fit it all in at an enjoyable pace.) Want to visit? Here’s my guide to visiting Okoboji in the summer with kids.
Disclosure: Our trip to Okoboji was hosted by Vacation Okoboji. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.
Where is Okoboji?
First off, let’s talk about how Okoboji is more than a single city (though there is the city of Okoboji). When I started planning a trip to Okoboji, I was looking at a map of Iowa, trying to figure out where exactly I should be staying to get the “Okoboji” experience. Turns out, it’s not that simple.
Okoboji is a region in northern Iowa and consists of several towns on the edge of the Iowa Great Lakes. Pretty much, you’re in “Okoboji” if you stay somewhere along the lakes of West Okoboji, East Okoboji, Upper Gar, Lower Gar, Minnewashta, and the largest natural lake in Iowa, Spirit Lake. Most of the lakes, except Spirit Lake, are interconnected.
For our trip, our lodging (Crescent Beach Family Resort) was in Wahpeton. It was on West Okoboji Lake, which is a pretty blue, spring-fed lake. Depending on your preference, you can stay within walking distance of a lot of attractions or find a place a little outside of the hubbub.
Kid-friendly lake activities in Okoboji
By far, the lakes are the draw for this region, so you’ll likely spend a lot of time out on the water or near it. I paddled the lake with the kids during our stay, since our hotel allowed free use of their equipment. Our hotel also had standup paddleboards and paddleboats.
You’ll find places to rent speed boats and pontoons around the region, plus places that will do parasailing.
The Queen II is a famous boat excursion that leaves from Arnolds Park Amusement Park. It’s about an hour long. My kids were impressed with the boat and excited to ride it…for about 5 minutes. I bought some snacks and got another complaint-free 10 minutes out of them. After that, they were not interested in the narration and the remaining 45 minutes were long.
On shore, there are several beaches to play in, including a pretty popular one right by historic Arnolds Park Amusement Park. Our hotel had a private one that my kids enjoyed. Public beaches include:
Gull Point Sate Park on the southwest shore of West Lake Okoboji
Arnolds Park City Beach off Highway 71 in Smith’s Bay on West Lake Okoboji
Arnold’s Park Amusement Park Beach on West Lake Okoboji
Orleans Beach on the southwest shore of Spirit Lake
City Park on the south shore of Silver Lake at Lake Park
Emerson Bay State Park at the Emerson Bay campground on West Lake Okoboji
Okoboji Boat Works Beach in Smith’s Bay on West Lake Okoboji
Marble Beach on the western shore of Big Spirit Lake
Terrace Park Beach in Brown’s Bay on West Lake Okoboji
Pikes Point State Park on the northeastern shore of West Lake Okoboji
Fishing is another big thing to do in Okoboji, by boat and by land. We didn’t seek out any special fishing holes, and instead, just enjoyed being steps from our hotel room and fishing.
More things to do outdoors in Okoboji in the summer
You can’t write about Okoboji and kids and not talk about Arnolds Park Amusement Park. This historic amusement park was a hit with my kids. We went at the start of the season and enjoyed no lines on some of the biggest attractions, including The Legend, the 13tholdest wooden rollercoaster in the U.S.
Tip: Get the all-day pass for your kids if they’re in grade school or older. My kids loved riding the same favorite rides over and over again, and paying for each ride would’ve racked up a high price otherwise. They particularly loved the Rock-O-Plane, which they stayed on for three rides in a row (the perk of going early in the season!).
Outside Arnolds Park Amusement Park is Harmony Park, a small grass patch in a shopping area with musical instruments to play. It’s a low-key place in the shade, and just right for a break from rides.
If you’ve got bikes, bring them! I found the Okoboji region to be incredibly bike-friendly, with miles of bike path to get you to various attractions. With the kids, we traveled from Dickinson County Nature Center the short distance to Pearson Lakes Art Center, and then onward to Tweeters. That route was really easy for all abilities between the first two stops. Between the art center and Tweeters, though, you’ll cross Highway 71 twice at crosswalk, and end with a brief stint on a sidewalk. Not ideal, but it was fine for our kids to manage.
Our hotel had a large, old playground on property that my kids got to enjoy for a hot minute. If we had an additional day there, I think we’d have carved out more time to play there and probably did a round of putt putt (free at the hotel).
We missed quite a few activities that my kids were hoping to do, actually, including putt putt golf at Treasure Village and the go carts at Arnolds Park Amusement Park.
Kid-friendly indoors activities in Okoboji
The weather isn’t always going to be sunny and blue skies. We found that out on our third day when it was pouring buckets. One of our favorite indoor stops was free: The Dickinson County Nature Center. It has a lot of hands-on activities for kids, including a neat sand table. My kids love animals, so they enjoyed looking at the displays and playing the activities at many of them.
The nature center had a large honeycomb to climb through. It entertained the kids for a good 30 minutes.
Tip: If isn’t raining, don’t miss the outdoor nature playscape at Dickinson County Nature Center. There are things to climb on, a tunnel to crawl through, and a sandbox.
The Pearson Lakes Art Center is another free option for families. If you’ve got young kids, head downstairs to the ArtSMART room. My kids loved playing with the blocks and putting on a short play with the costumes.
Don’t leave without seeing the art center’s collection of Russian Impressionist art. This was a hidden gem that you’ll be surprised to find. It’s the second largest collection outside of Russia, and it’s impressive (if you love Impressionism).
The Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum, located outside Arnolds Park Amusement Park, is also free. While the maritime portion may or may not appeal to the little ones, you’ll want to go in anyway because it’s home to old amusement park items like the giant wooden slide from olden days at Arnolds Park Amusement Park (I believe, technically, it’s in the Arnolds Park Funhouse Museum). If you have a day pass to the amusement park, you can go down it repeatedly, which my kids did. You can also pay a couple dollars to slide down it if you don’t have the day pass.
It’s a tall slide and looks pretty intimidating at the top, but it’s not nearly as fast as you think it would be. It was totally manageable for my 7-year-old, at least.
Okoboji Classic Cars is part museum, part art gallery, and 100% designed to appeal to car fanatics. It’s a little pricey, and you have to take the tour, which could be a disaster with an uninterested kid. Still, even I was impressed with the collection and I’m only mildly interested in cars. Kids are given a scavenger hunt to complete during the tour, which was enough to please my kids.
Family-friendly restaurants in Okoboji
Okoboji has A LOT of restaurants, but it’s not too easy to figure out which ones you’d want to bring your kids to. I go into details about the restaurants we visited in this post, but until then, here are the restaurants we liked the most during our trip:
Arnolds Perk Coffee House was my favorite place for breakfast, just because the coffee was so good, and the power breakfast sandwich was filling and delicious. I rarely go to a restaurant twice on a trip, but we did visit Arnolds Perk twice. It’s also just a charming place to sit and relax.
The most friendly service we had was during the lunch hour at Tweeter’s Bar & Grill. The menu if huge – burgers, salads, Mexican, etc. They have a kid’s menu.
While we didn’t eat at Barefoot Bar, I’d say it’s pretty kid-friendly. This famous spot on the lake is the famously “no shoes, no shirt, no problem” kind of place. I loved the atmosphere, with the grass-thatched huts and palm trees, but was a little peeved that they’d charge $2.50 for water. After that, I decided not to even check the price of pizza.
Bob’s in Arnolds Park is a popular spot for families who are spending the day at Arnolds Park Amusement Park. We went on a Sunday and the wait was very long. Luckily, there’s a beach right in front of the restaurant, so the kids were kept occupied.
For dinner, we found most places had a long wait, so go prepared to keep your littles occupied. The best pizza we had was the BBQ Chicken at Pub 19 Bar & Grill, a restaurant situated on a golf course.
We also had dinner at Snappers Turtle Bay Cafe, which was a short walk from Barefoot Bar. To keep the kids occupied here, there are a few yard games set up on Astroturf. It did the job.
There are surprisingly few places to get ice cream or treats in Okoboji, at least in the areas we visited. Nutty Bar Stand is pretty iconic for the area, so we had some Nutty Bars during a break from Arnolds Park Amusement Park.
It’s right outside the front of the park. Service was quick. A Nutty Bar is pretty much a cube of vanilla ice cream, dipped in chocolate and rolled in peanuts. You can get cones there, as well.
Plan your Okoboji trip
Want to plan an Okoboji trip for your family? I’ll go into details of some of our favorite things in Okoboji in these upcoming posts:
Okoboji has been on my bucket list for years. Read this Iowa bucket list post to get inspiration to round out planning a trip to the Hawkeye State.
Want Iowa travel inspiration that’s less bucket list and more realistic for a family? We spent about a week exploring central Iowa, riding a train, staying in a yurt and playing in lakes during what I call the Great Iowa Road Trip.
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Springfield, Ill., offers a great variety of things to see and do, especially attractions and sites related to Abraham Lincoln and Route 66. Whether you’re planning a family visit or just passing through, here’s a list of fun things to do with kids in Springfield.
Kim’s note: This is a guest post written by Oh My! Omaha friend, Cindy, from Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl. I asked her to write about Springfield and all the fun things families can do with kids when they visit. If your family enjoys U.S. history, especially presidential history, you’ve got to visit Springfield!
Where to learn about Abe Lincoln in Springfield
Springfield offers an array of sites to visit to learn about Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. He lived in this Illinois city from 1837 to 1861, before moving to the White House as president.
Kids will also enjoy Union Station, which is part of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, especially the brand new exhibit, “All Aboard: America’s Love of Railroads.” The display marks the 150th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad, a project championed by Lincoln.
Downtown, families will enjoy taking pictures of the cool murals that grace many buildings and the lovely bronze statues of Honest Abe and his family that dot the downtown landscapes. While the Lincoln Law Office is not totally open to tour, you can go inside the first floor of the building where the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau is located. Here you can get tips and may even be able to receive a parking pass for your visit.
Be sure to stop by the Lincoln home and its visitor’s center. The home in Springfield is the only home that Abraham Lincoln ever owned.
If weather is fitting don’t forget Lincoln’s New Salem Historic Site. While this is a bit of a drive from Springfield, it is a village where kids can interact and see amazing log cabins and early pioneer life where Lincoln spent his early years.
The Lincoln Tomb may be too somber, but getting a chance to rub Lincoln’s nose is fun for kids of all ages. Lincoln Memorial Garden & Nature Center is located around Lake Springfield and offers easy trails to walk and a chance to view Lake Springfield. There is also a fun gift shop and interactive little nature room as well.
Route 66 stops in Springfield
A bit of Route 66 may be in order. Stop by the Cozy Dog Drive In and try this fun treat that was invented in Springfield.
If you want heartier fare that is still kid-friendly, D’arcy’s Pint has a Springfield invention, a horse or smaller pony shoes (hamburger, ham or other meat, covered with French fries and cheese sauce). While not especially healthy, it is quite tasty!
Then there is also Charlie Parker’s Diner in the Quonset hut with the giant pancakes for a breakfast bonus! This award-winning restaurant also has amazing horseshoes, as well.
More kid-friendly attractions include the Route 66 Drive In and Knights Action Park. Route 66 Drive In is a quintessential drive in movie theater. Knights Action Park is a water park, theme park and a drive in move theater.
These are just a few of the family fun things to do in the Land of Lincoln. Springfield’s Old State Capital is another wonderful historic stop. Find your way to the Illinois Capital and check it out!
About the author
Cindy Ladage is farmer’s wife, a presenter and an award winning journalist and columnist for “Farm World.” In 2018 and 2016, she won the American Women in Communications Clarion award and has been a bronze winner and finalist in the North American Travel Journalists Association.
Ladage writes for antique tractor and collector publications and specializes in travel stories for several publications like Senior News & Times of Illinois and more. Her travel blog is Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl, where she shares her travels on the back roads and byways. In her writing, Cindy shares her passion for preserving agriculture and promoting agri-tourism and rural areas. She is also an author of children’s books and adult fiction as well. Ladage lives on a farm in central Illinois and has three grown children and two grandchildren. She is retired from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency where she worked with the Illinois Radon Program.
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I’ve learned that there are two types of Midwestern people: Those who love Lake Icaria and those who haven’t been there yet. Lake Icaria is an expansive county park in southwestern Iowa with a lot of things to do around (and on) the beautiful lake. It’s a big draw to Adams County, and it keeps improving with new cottages and updates to the current ones. We visited Lake Icaria, as part of Iowa’s 99 Parks campaign, which highlights one park in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. In this post, I’m going to tell you about all the things you can do at Lake Icaria, like all the lake activities, the disc golf, the food options, and what it’s like to camp or stay overnight in a cabin there.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Iowa Tourism. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.
Things to do at Lake Icaria
Lake Icaria is located in southwest Iowa near the town of Corning. It’s a quick getaway from Omaha, making it an ideal weekend trip. The big draw is the 650-acre lake, obviously, and the activities you associate with lakes like fishing, water skiing and tubing.
I’m told the lake is bustling in the summer with boats, but not jet skis. There’s even a party cove where boaters will drop anchor to hang out for the afternoon. You’ll find giant mats floating on the water in the summer.
Lake Icaria has a small sandy beach and a roped-in swimming area. My kids love playing in the water, so I can see my kids wanting to spend hours there on a summer day. The day we were at the lake, it was about 60 degrees, so we did not get in the water.
One of my favorite things to do at a park is hike, and Lake Icaria has more than 6 miles of trails. You might be tempted to just stroll the lakeshore, but there are paths through prairie, through trees and over bridges.
It was raining for most of our visit, so we didn’t do much hiking. When it was dry, however, I tried to get my kids to go on a hike, but they were far more interested in the playground near our cabin. Shortly after we arrived, they found the playground, made friends, and started a game of hide and seek.
And for those who can throw a frisbee, Lake Icaria has an 18-hole cage disc golf course. I can’t aim a frisbee, so I didn’t even consider trying this activity.
I printed out the Family Fun Pack and Get Moving Guide from 99 Parks and brought them with us. Each guide inspired several activities for us! The Family Fun Pack had educational activities including a sensory scavenger hunt and a family photo challenge. The Get Moving Guide had more than 15 games and activities. Some required materials so check before your trip so you can bring along what you need.
Lake Icaria fishing
If you fish, this lake is a walleye fisherman’s dream. The lake is also stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, wipers or channel fish. Kids can take part in popular fishing contests on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
Of all the things we could do at the lake, my kids were most excited about fishing. We fished from the rocky shore, and following the first cast, my son caught a large-mouth bass. It was possibly the smallest baby large-mouth bass ever, but he was still pretty excited.
You can fish from a boat at the lake, so you can bring your own or rent. The marina offers pontoon rentals for $45-$55.
If fishing’s not your thing (yet), download the Fishing 101 Guide from 99 Parks that will not only tell you how to catch a fish, but how to prepare it.
Food trucks & rentals at Lake Icaria
The county parks website is pretty helpful preparing you for what to expect; however, it didn’t mention everything you’d find at Lake Icaria. There was an unexpected (and pleasant) surprise I learned thanks to the helpful camp host. She let us know that every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you’ll find a food truck near the beach (seasonally). So, if you’re like me, and you struggle getting a campfire started, dinner won’t be a bust.
I checked the food truck calendar for May, and there was a nice variety! A surprising variety, actually. The food truck hours as of this post were: Fridays, 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sundays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. That’s right – they have breakfast options at the park on Sundays!
There was barbecue truck when we were there. My kids preferred roasting hot dogs over a rack of ribs for dinner, but we did get a small breakfast to share at the food truck on Sunday morning. We had a slice of quiche with brisket in it and pancakes.
Depending on your campsite, the beach may or may not be within walking distance. The beach is pretty near the marina which is Lake Icaria’s go-to spot for all the thing you forgot. You can get your fishing license there. The marina is also where you’ll go to rent items, like pontoon boats, kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards.
Camping at Lake Icaria
There are a few options for overnight stays at Lake Icaria: Cabins, family cottages and camping/RVs. First, I’ll tell you about the camping options.
There are two camps sites: Timber Ridge Campground and Lake View Campground. Timber Ridge is shaded by mature trees and is newly renovated with full-service or electric/water sites. It’s drawback is that there isn’t a view of the lake. Lake View features has that view for most campsites (and some waters edge tent sites), plus it has full-service, electric, and all new restrooms and showers.
There were a lot of RVs the weekend we visited, and I imagine when the weather’s warm, you’ll see more of a balance of tent campers.
Cabins at Lake Icaria
I once thought we were a camping family, but over time, I’ve learned that we are 100% cabin lovers. So, we stayed the night in one of the lakeside sleeper cabins.
If you’re looking at the staying in a cabin, you have two choices: Full-service cabins with water (i.e., sink and toilet) and sleeper cabins that don’t have water. Other than that bathroom perk, they all have the same accommodations. Both cabin types sleep up to 6 with two bunk beds and a pull-out couch; they also have a fridge and microwave; and they have heat and air conditioning. If you stay in a cabin, you will need to bring your own linens, utensils, and pots and pans. These cabins are seasonal, and not open during the winter.
Our cabin was a beautiful lakeside sleeper cabin that felt private and well-situated. The cabin had an amazing view, but the parking lot was further from the cabin, so we had to walk about 50+ yards. Not a huge problem, but if you’ve got a lot of stuff, it can be a trek.
There is a NEW option at Lake Icaria. The Family Cottages are two new, large, home-like cottages that have their own little cove on the lake. They’re beautiful, sleep a lot of people, and frankly, offer a lot of amenities that I think families are going to love. During our tour of one of the cottages, my 7-year-old daughter described it as “first class.” When we return to Lake Icaria, I’m definitely going to book one of these.
Each Family Cottage is full-service, with linens included and a kitchen that’s ready for you. Unlike the other two cabin types, the cottages have TVs, a dining area, and several sleeping rooms for a little more privacy. The Family Cottages have their own boat dock, as well. The deck, I think, is one of the highlights of those cottages!
While the other two cabin types are open for short-term stays, like a weekend, the Family Cottages are open for week-long bookings from Friday to Friday. A weekend booking might open up, but you’ll only know the week of an available weekend. Family Cottages are open year-round.
After staying in the sleeper cabin and then touring the full-service cabin and Family Cottage, I can say that the cottages are definitely my kind of “camping.” That’s to say, it’s basically staying in a well-furnished home with the perk of having a gorgeous lake outside your door.
Iowa’s county parks offer an abundance of outdoor adventures, and depending on what you’re looking for — whether you want to fish, horseback ride, relax or hike — there’s a park in Iowa to fit your needs. For Omaha residents, I say you start with looking at the parks in western Iowa, including:
– Southwest: Mormon Trail Park in Bridgewater, Lake Icaria in Corning, Fremont County Campground & Golf Course in Sidney, Pony Creek Park in Pacific Junction, Hacklebarney Woods in Villisca, Pierce Creek Recreation Area in Essex, Poe Hollow Park in Mount Ayr, Sand’s Timber Recreation Area in Blockton and Three Mile Lake in Afton
– West Central: Littlefield Recreation Area in Exira, Swan Lake State Park in Carroll, Cold Springs Park in Lewis, Yellow Smoke Park in Denison, Nations Bridge Park in Stuart, Willow Lake Recreation Area in Woodbine, Peters Park in Rodney, Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek and Nishna Bend Recreation Area in Harlan
– Northwest: Buena Vista County Park in Peterson, Featherstone Memorial Park in Manson, Martin’s Access in Cherokee, Scharnberg Park in Everly, Kenue Park in Okoboji, Tuttle Lake Recreation Area in Dolliver, Joe Sheldon Park in Humboldt, Moorehead Pioneer Park in Ida Grove, Smith Lake Park in Algona, Lake Pahoja Recreation Area in Inwood, Dog Creek Park in Sutherland, Hawkeye Point Campground in Sibley, Lost Island – Huston Park in Ruthven, Five Ridge Prairie in Westfield, Meredith Park in Mallard, Hagge Park in Sac City, Sandy Hollow Recreation Area in Sioux Center and Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center in Sioux City.
If you’re interested in Loess Hills hikes, I suggest parks like Hitchcock Nature Center, Willow Creek Recreation Area and Five Ridge Prairie.
Your turn: Are you planning any trips to Iowa this summer?
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There are a lot of things to like about Carmel-by-the-Sea – the food, the quaint architecture, the beach – but the highlight of my family’s trip to the area was Point Lobos State Natural Reserve (it’s more commonly referred to as Point Lobos State Park, and considered the “crown jewel” of the California State Park System). We wanted a place to hike that was beautiful and kid-friendly. And, bonus, it was not far from our hotel. Here are a few of the things we did the morning we went to Point Lobos:
Kid-friendly hiking at Point Lobos
Weather on our trip was not the greatest, so we needed to choose a short hike in case we got caught in a rainstorm. We decided to hike Cypress Grove Trail because we’d read it was picturesque and short. Perfect for our needs, right?
Most of the trail was flat, though there were some steps and boulders to climb. Nothing was too difficult for the kids, who were 7 and 9 when we did this hike.
The trail is .8 miles long and takes you through one of the two naturally growing stands of Monterey cypress trees remaining on Earth.
We also hiked a bit of the North Shore Trail on accident after taking a wrong turn. It’s more challenging than Cypress Grove Trail (and longer – it’s 1.4 miles). We turned around before we were too far into it.
While we were on the North Shore Trail, we took the short Old Veteran Trail to get a good view of the Old Veteran Cypress, a well-known tree in the park. We also got views of sea lions, I think. I wish we’d brought binoculars to get a better visual.
Hiking tip: Dogs are not allowed on the trails, nor are bicycles.
Tide pools at Point Lobos
We nearly drove past the tide pools on our way out of the park, but I’m glad we spotted some families walking on the rocks. They caught our attention, and we wanted to go see what they were looking at.
It was exhilarating to explore the terrain. There was an element of danger, being near the edge, but it was also a thrill for us.
We stayed further back than it looks, I promise!
Tip about exploring the tide pools: It’s against the law to collect shells, rocks, wood, plants, or animals at the park.
Educational opportunities at Point Lobos
When we visited on the weekend, we encountered volunteers at the Information Station near the parking lot with a display of animal pelts. The kids were able to compare the difference between an otter pelt and a sea lion.
The volunteers also answered a few of our questions, like, what was the orange stuff covering the trees (answer: an algae called Trentepohlia aurea).
There’s a Junior Rangers program for kids ages 7 to 12 that runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day Weekend. Get more details here.
Would you want to visit Point Lobos on a rainy day?
We visited Point Lobos in the winter. If you couldn’t tell from the pictures in this post, it was a dreary day when we went to Point Lobos State Park. All morning, the clouds threatened to spit rain. We ended up cutting our visit short because we knew a full-on shower was imminent.
I read that the climate at the park remains pretty moderate year-round, with temperatures in the mid-50s to mid-60s. You’re most likely to encounter fog in the summer.
Important information about visiting Point Lobos
To plan your day at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, keep these things in mind:
Point Lobos hours: The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. They will not admit anybody after 6:30 p.m. There is no camping allowed.
Point Lobos costs: You will need to pay a vehicle entry fee to enter the park. It’s $10 for most. If you want a brochure, it’s $2. If you want to dive or snorkel, there are additional fees (reservation or walkup).
You can also also rent a kayak or standup paddle board for $10.
Point Lobos’ location: This California state park is pretty convenient for travelers since it is right off of Highway 1, plus it’s just about 3 miles from Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Plan your Carmel trip!
Want to plan a Carmel-by-the-Sea getaway? Start with this Carmel Bucket List, and then read through these posts for more ideas: