By Elizabeth Kang

You just know a place is made for kids when “Yogi Bear” is in the name, and it doesn’t get much more kid-friendly than the ultra-fun and totally convenient Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort. Absolutely packed with fun amenities and exciting year-round events, Jellystone Camp-Park is also affordable and close by — located in Lodi, California, only an hour’s drive from the East Bay Area.

STAY

There is a variety of housing options at this camp-resort, from simple tent and RV sites to deluxe cabins that sleep eight people — decked out with full kitchens, private bathrooms, and a comfortable queen bed, bunk bed and loft sleeping area. These cabins are more than enough space for a family to spread out, and my kids had a blast playing up in the loft area and climbing on the bunk beds.

All Cabins and RV sites provide outdoor grills and water hookups, and all tent sites include water and electric, as well as a personal picnic table. Inside the cabins, we were impressed with the full kitchen that including everything we needed to make our meals, including a full-sized fridge, range and oven, sink, utensils, cooking pans, cups and plates. Staying in the cabin gave us the whole camping experience without having to pack so much stuff. The only thing we needed to bring was food, drinks, clothes and linens, which lightened our carload considerably, and made our stay that much more convenient.

PLAY

There is so much fun to be had at Jellystone Park that our weekend stay flew by, and we didn’t even get a chance to experience everything the park has to offer. During warmer months, the pool is always a fun option, with a waterslide, shallow-baby area and plenty of loungers to relax on. There’s also a hot tub, and (coming soon) a lazy river and interactive water zone that will have two additional waterslides, as well as water canons and kiddie slides upon completion.

Additional fun at the resort includes Mini Golf, Lazer Tag, Gem Mining, Hay Rides, an onsite arcade, pedal carts for rent, pony rides, archery, live music, various playgrounds located throughout the park, outdoor volleyball and basketball courts, arts & crafts, and a giant inflatable jumping pillow.

There’s also a marina at the park, as its right by the Delta water system. At the marina, children can play at the sandy beach, or have some fun in the new bumper boats, partaking in a water fight battle! There’s also kayaks, paddle boards, mini speedboats and electric boast to rent, which is such a nice way to spend an afternoon on the Delta.

Jellystone Camp-Resort is super dog-friendly, too, so be sure to bring Fido along on this family vacation! Some of the cabins are specifically pet-friendly, so just request one when making your reservation. Your dog will have blast running around the “Bark Park” fenced-in dog park, which even has obstacles and toys to play with.

YEAR-ROUND FUN

Jellystone Park hosts fun holiday and other themed-weekends throughout the year, so there’s always something fun, new and exciting going on. Check out the upcoming fun below:

Halloween Weekends — Halloween is one of the busiest times at Jellystone, and for good reason! The camp-resort hosts a ton of fun and spooky events, including a terrifying haunted house, camp-wide trick’or’treating, a magical pumpkin hayride, kid-friendly movie night, glowstick dance party, costume contests, pumpkin-carving contest, and more. (Every weekend in October, and the first weekend of November.)

Fall Into Fun Weekend— During the weekends of November, families get cozy in PJs and participate in a myriad of fun fall-themed events, including “Candy Bar Bingo,” hay rides, “Pumpkin Chunkin’,” bedtime stories with Cindy Bear, and other fun events.

Winter Wonderland Weekends — The first two weekends of December offer campers plenty of holiday spirit, with potluck dinners, game nights, Xmas pictures with Yogi Bear, and Christmas cookie decorating, among other fun activities.

Christmas Weekend — Santa comes to visit the park on the weekend of December 20-22, and there’s even a Christmas parade to enjoy and take part in. Be sure to enter the contest for “Best Decorated Campsite!”

Insider Tips:

*Pack linens, towels, pillows and blankets — these items are not included in your stay and cost extra to rent.

*Rent a golf cart. It may cost a bit extra, but in my opinion the extra expense is worth the fun of mobbing around the expansive campground in your own golf cart — and, bonus — the kids thought it was one of the highlights of the weekend!

*Go gem mining near the market — For just around $6, you can purchase a bag of dirt with either real fossils or gemstones hidden in it at the onsite market. Then use your bag at the nearby gem-mining station to wash away the dirt and discover the hidden treasure! It’s a cheap and fun way for little ones to spend the morning.

*Take advantage of promotions and low-season pricing—During our stay in October, the camp was “half off your third night” deal. There are even more deals to be had, especially during their “Non-Peak Season,” which runs in the Fall from Sept through Late November, and in the Spring, April through early June.