Family-Friendly Camping at Jellystone Park in Luray, VA

A few weeks ago, I was eager to escape the suburbs. I needed to break free from laundry and grocery shopping and picking up after the people who live in my house (aka my kids). I didn’t want to go far, but I wanted to feel like I was far away.

I settled on Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Luray, Virginia. It’s less than 90 minutes from our home and it was ah-mazing. It’s a stone’s throw from Shenandoah National Park and had everything I wanted in a destination – gorgeous scenery, family-friendly activities and on-site amenities, like a restaurant and camp store.

On the Way to Luray

I piled two of my kids into the minivan and we were off. Unfortunately, the other two were tied up with a cross-country meet and basketball try-outs, so they stayed behind with my husband. Oh well.

This wasn’t our first time at a Jellystone Park. We stayed in a cabin at the uber kid-friendly campground in Cave City, Kentucky four years ago. However, this Jellystone Park took the fun to another level. Plus, it was so big we needed a golf cart to get around the 73-acre campground (I told you it was big).  

We got on the road the moment my 14 y.o. got off the bus at 4:30. By the time we got to Jellystone Park, got settled in our cabin and picked up our golf cart, it was 7 pm and time for Candy Bar Bingo in the Recreation Center. Fortunately, I’d already purchased our candy bars (needed for admission) ahead of time back at home.

Candy Bar Bingo for the Win

It’s safe to say that Candy Bar Bingo set the tone for our weekend. We won the second game, scoring a chocolatey bundle of seven candy bars (okay, there was one Twizzlers – ick – but we were still excited). It was a huge win and we were hyped up on sugar the rest of the evening.

By this time, it was too late to cook dinner (as if I really wanted to cook anyway), so I ordered a couple of pizzas. Pizza Hut delivers to the campground, so it could not have worked out better for us. We needed to eat quickly though because our next activity was close at hand.

We were off to the Outdoor Movie Theater, which was a short walk from our cabin for the 8:30 pm showing of Hocus Pocus. The air was crisp so my 10 y.o. son and I snuggled under a blanket. It was the perfect end to the day.

Love Tie-Dye Style 

We woke up the next morning and started the day with bacon and chocolate chip pancakes. We were staying in a Premium Loft Cottage, which has everything you need to cook meals (if you choose to do so). We had a microwave, a stove, a sink and a coffee maker. Plus, pots, pans, utensils, plates, cups, everything you need.

Once we finished up breakfast, we walked back to the Recreation Center for the tie-dye t-shirt activity. You can either bring your own t-shirt – and pay $5 – or buy one of their t-shirts for $12. The campground supplied all the colorful dyes.

There were plenty more activities on the schedule for that day, like pumpkin painting and mini golf with Yogi Bear, but we (by we, I mean me) opted to make the short drive to Shenandoah National Park for a hike or two with seriously scenic views. There are a lot of things to do in Luray too, like Luray Caverns. 

The Mountains are Calling

Naturalist John Muir has been quoted as saying, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” It’s safe to say I was listening. Unfortunately, my kids are not especially fond of hiking, so I didn’t push or rush. But oh, we were going. Enough said.

It was a 30 minute drive to the trailhead for the Little Stony Man Loop in Shenandoah National Park (so much closer than making the drive from our home). I always try to pick a hike that’s fun (you know, rock scrambles) and not too long. I try not to go more than three miles with kids in tow or the grumbling will ruin the day.

As expected, the views were outstanding, both at the Little Stony Man and Stony Man viewpoints. As a bonus, the grumbling was at a minimum. As a double-bonus, we got the last space in the parking lot. Oh yes. It was meant to be.

Hey Hey Halloween 

We returned to the campground by 3 pm with plenty of time to take a spin around the campground in our golf cart and chill for a bit before the next activity. At 4 pm, it was time for the “Hey Hey” Ride with Yogi’s petite pal, Boo Boo.

There was no actual hay (which may be why it was called a “hey hey” ride) but I did enjoy the gentle breezes as a tractor pulled us in the wagon around the campground. After the ride, Boo Boo posed for photos, but we needed to get ready for the night’s activities. As in, trick-or-treating around the campground at RV and cabin sites.


I made a super quick dinner (grilled cheese sandwiches) and the boys got dressed in their Halloween costumes. One was the red Angry Bird (apparently, his name is Red). The other was Link from The Legend of Zelda. We were at the campground during a special Halloween Weekend (select weekends in September and October), so candy and more candy was on tap for this evening.

The boys walked from site to site collecting candy. I followed along in the golf cart, then gave them a ride across empty stretches. I also gave out candy along the way to trick-or-treaters since I couldn’t give out candy at the cabin and take my kids out at the same time.

The candy was a huge win on its own, but then it got better. As in, a costume contest. Awards were given out by age groups for costumes in different categories, like scariest, funniest and most original.

My 10 y.o. was in the 8-10 y.o. age group and can I just tell you, he was bummed out that the activities director did not know he was Link. I mean, really bummed, but then that played in his favor. As the “little green guy with the shield” (not as Link) he won the award for most original costume. Ha.

Now by the time the costume contest rolled around, my 14 y.o. son had already changed out of his Angry Birds costume. But, when no one took to the stage in the 14-17 y.o. age group, he was all over that scene. He was wearing a summer camp t-shirt, said he was a camp counselor and won for most original costume too. Nice.

We wrapped up the evening at the Outdoor Movie Theater with a showing of Frankenweenie. All in all, a fantastic day with the boys in my house.

Mini Golf & More 

We started the next day with a round of mini golf at the 18-hole mini golf course. It’s free with your stay and it was a great way to start the day (especially when you don’t keep score). They also have gem mining and pedal boats near the entrance to mini golf, but we stuck with fun with putters.

Next, it was time for ceramics. Painting ceramics, that is, at the Recreation Center. It was the arts and crafts activity for the morning. Multiple ceramics were available for purchase, like vases and flower pots. Then, paint as much as you like.

Before we checked out of the campground, we took another spin around the campground and made time for the jumping pillow. There’s also an arcade and a couple of playgrounds at the campground. We left to hike for the rest of the day, but there’s so much to do on-site that you really don’t need to leave.

Beyond the jumping pillow and playgrounds, there’s a basketball court, volleyball courts, a gaga ball pit and horseshoes. There’s also a fishing pond, a sand box and a petting zoo (weekly, in summer). Plus, a massive activities schedule.

Comfy, Cozy Cabins 

There are lots of ways to stay at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Luray, Virginia. The Premium Loft Cottage we booked was huge and had more than enough space for the three of us. There was a bedroom with a queen bed, two twin bunk beds, a futon and two twin mattresses in the loft. Up to 10 can sleep in this cottage. Seriously, huge.

While I enjoy tent camping (and have yet to experience an RV stay), I do love cabins. You get all the pluses of tent camping, like a fire ring and a picnic table, but you get to sleep in a soft, comfy bed with warm blankets. Plus, an in-cabin full bathroom.

Not every campground offers linen rentals, but this one does. That means that you don’t need to bring your own sheets, blankets, pillows and towels. You do, however, need to bring bath soap, as well as certain kitchen necessities, like paper towels.

The cabin was absolutely beautiful and incredibly comfortable. Plus, the screened-in porch was a complete delight. It was just right for slowing down, sipping coffee and staring off into the mountains. I could have done that for hours.

As you can imagine, at a campground of this size, there are plenty of cabin options. The Jellystone Park in Luray boasts five different luxury cabins (including Premium Loft Cottages) and three different rustic cabins. For larger groups, there is a Ranger’s Retreat (sleeps up to 19) and Three Bears’ Lodge (sleeps up to 10).

If you want to stay in your RV or would prefer to pitch a tent, this campground has you covered, too. There are five different RV sites and two different types of tent sites, including deluxe tent sites and primitive tent sites.

Ways to Amp Up the Fun 

I already noted that we had a golf cart to tool around the campground. You need to have a valid driver’s license to drive a golf cart, but my kids absolutely LOVED riding around the campground in the golf cart. It may have been their favorite part.

Our cabin was in the back corner of the campground. It was nice and quiet, but it was also a lengthy walk to the main office, arcade and restaurant, as well as the jumping pillow. So a golf cart was perfect. There’s even designated golf cart parking.

Beyond golf carts, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Luray, Virginia rents and sets up hammocks to enhance your experience. You can also arrange for a bear visit from Yogi, Boo Boo or Cindy. A fee applies, but kids will go ga-ga when a bear knocks on the cabin door. So cool.

Only in Summer Season   

While I absolutely loved staying at the campground during shoulder season, I would like to come back again when the massive outdoor waterpark is open. We came the weekend after the waterpark closed for the season. It was certainly warm enough for water fun the weekend we were there, but now we have another reason to return.

When you book a stay at Jellystone Park, the waterpark is included in your rate. There are three water slides, including two twisty slides and one mat racing water slide. The waterpark also boasts a water playground with spray guns and dumping buckets, as well as three large swimming pools and a kiddie pool. OMG.

More Than a Campground 

As the folks at Jellystone Park say, “It’s not a just a campground. It’s Jellystone Park.” So true. We found that this campground was so much more than a place to sleep. It’s a great place to re-connect as a family. There’s no need to get in the car, sit in traffic, drive here, drive there. You can put the phones down and have fun here.

There are more than 75 Jellystone Park campgrounds across the U.S. and Canada. Each one is unique, boasting different activities and amenities, but all are sure to inspire fun and frivolity. I hope you have the chance to stay and see for yourself.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Luray, Virginia. However, I was not compensated for this article and all opinions here are my own. We had an absolutely fabulous time during our stay at this super-fun campground.