North Texas Jellystone is a spot I've wanted to escape to for years. Not only is it close by (less than 30 minutes from Arlington in Burleson, Texas!), but it is full of outdoor activities that my husband and I would have engaged in as kids. From arts and crafts to Gaga Ball and fishing to foosball, kids (and adults) can find a plethora of things to do away from dreaded screens.
Jellystone offers year-round fun. We have talked for years about visiting in the summer because Pirate's Cove, the onsite waterpark, would offer my girls hours of fun. However, we opted for fall because there is just something wonderful about cooler nights and shorter days (and I love love love fall festivals, pumpkin everything and a good excuse to get into your Halloween costume more than once a season!).
There are lots of options for lodging at Jellystone, and the option you pick really depends on the number of people in your party and the amount of cash in your budget. If you are a true outdoorsman, tent camping might be for you! Renting a tent site is the cheapest way to do Jellystone, and community bathrooms are available to use. If you are an RVer, you can pull up your RV to a campsite and enjoy. (You can even rent an RV if you are curious as to what vacationing in an RV might be like!) There is even a brand-new pirate ship on site that is multiple levels and accommodates multiple people and parties per room and per floor.
After looking extensively through all options, we decided on the new 2-bedroom family cabins that sleep up to 10 people with two bedrooms containing a queen bed each and a large open loft with three queen mattresses. We had nine people camping with us, so this fit our group the best! Our cabin came complete with a fridge and microwave, screened-in porch and AC. Outside there was a fire pit and picnic table and inside there were multiple TVs, in case you, like my husband, need one to fall asleep to. Aside from linens and towels, we carried in everything that we needed for the weekend, including firewood, utensils, plates and so on. We were given two parking spots with our rental and extra cars were $10 each. We also paid for 9 guests for two days. Additional guests we wanted to bring in for the day would have been $25 each. There is a two night minimum on most bookings. (I did not receive any sort of discount or incentive for my stay or my review. I paid the same prices anyone else would have had to for the same accommodations on my selected dates)
Once you arrive at Jellystone, the opportunities for entertainment are truly endless! Year-round, there are three playgrounds for kiddos, complete with swings, slides, monkey bars and more. There is a GaGa Ball pit, Laser Tag, Paintball (this activity costs additional money), fishing at Stafford Lake (bring your own supplies), two basketball courts, foosball, trails for hiking and more. In warmer months, there are two on-site pools in addition to Pirate's Cove Waterpark. You can rent golf carts to zip around the property, bring your bikes to move around or simply walk, as we did (this earned more than a few complaints as we moved over to accommodate golf carts!). There is also a spot to purchase arts and crafts to make and assemble on property as well as a gift shop and snack shop. While we brought in our own food for most of the weekend, we did order Mr. Jim's Pizza Saturday evening and they delivered right to our cabin!
We absolutely loved the Fall Festival that launched the first weekend of October. Sure, things look a little different than they may have a year ago because of Covid, but Jellystone did a good job of keeping things as normal as possible. There were costume contests and pumpkin painting (bring your own pumpkin!). We participated in a "pumpkin fling" with a slingshot and a pie pumpkin. We walked around the property locating wooden pumpkins and snapped photos by them. Once we found all 18, we showed our photos at the gift shop to receive small bags of candy. There was a nightly rolling dance party with Yogi Bear and a DJ that encouraged us to dance and move around. And, Saturday night, there was a Carnival de Jynx, where we played carnival games to earn prizes and went through a haunted house! I brought six girls into the haunted house and only brought out four not crying, so, I guess it was pretty spooky!
This is the second Jellystone property we have vacationed at in recent years (we went to the property in Cherokee, NC, in summer 2018) and we loved our experience. We want to find another location to visit in a year or two!
Quite honestly, Jellystone is a bit pricey. If you are looking to just camp and don't need all the amenities, you could most certainly find less expensive accommodations in DFW and beyond. I also recommend Jellystone for families- individuals without kids might not love all the children running around all day. While I paid quite a bit of money for the weekend to not include any food or drink, when I break down the cost per person per day, it wasn't terrible. There are most certainly less-expensive weekend getaways around town, but this is a fun option if you are looking for a spot for your kiddos to unwind!
I think what we loved the most about this vacation was letting the kids wander off a bit. My girls are getting older, and I'm starting to trust them a bit more than I used to. At Jellystone, I could let the girls wander to the playareas without me and trust that they knew how to get back. The girls loved telling me they were "headed off to hang out" without me. It was refreshing! I've heard so many people say this about Jellystone. It is truly a spot where kids can be kids.
Tips & Tricks for a Successful Jellystone Visit:
1. Plan meals ahead of time. Bring in all the food you can fit in your car! Once you are there you won't want to leave to go get anything!
.2. Don't forget bug spray. And suncreen. And firewood. And a lighter.
3. Bring bikes for the kids. Or scooters. It's fun for them to ride around with the other kids at the property.
4. Bring flashlights. It gets dark at night!
5. Check the schedule on Jellystone's Website or app. There are lots of fun activities every weekend!
What did I miss?
Find out more info or book your own trip here: www.northtexasjellystone.com