Ready to make the most of your vacation in Idaho's stunning Lava Hot Springs? From cruises down the Portneuf River to soaking in natural hot springs, here are 10 must-do activities during your time there.
Planning Your Trip
We decided a few years ago that this might be the perfect weekend getaway trip. It's always hard to find places to take the teenagers and the younger kids but we found another place that all ages enjoyed! Lava Hot Springs Idaho is the perfect getaway for kids and teens.
Lava Hot Springs is located about two hours outside of Salt Lake City Utah. It's about three hours away from Yellowstone Park. It is a located about an hour and a half hours from Idaho Falls and thirty minutes from Pocatello.
Lava Hot Springs boasts about 500 residents and really tries to maintain the small town appeal while offering a variety of lodging and activities for families. You won't find a McDonald's or a chain restaurant here which really adds to the charm and appeal.
How Long Should You Stay?
We really would recommend this as a two to three day getaway. It would be tough to stay for a week here but it could be done. We enjoy it as a long weekend but know some people host their family reunions here and spend a week easily.
Where Should I Stay?
There are plenty of hotels and residences. We suggest staying along main street (everything is within walking distance and parking can be scarce in the summer). We stayed at George & Lola's place. It was the perfect AirBNB getaway!
We got you here. With an eight year age gap in between our kids we have two teens and two elementary kids. It is ALWAYS a challenge to find activities that everyone enjoys. Here are ten that we think are the best for all ages:
We made the majority of our meals to cut down cost but we did branch out and go on a Foodie tour. You will definetely want to stop by Sweet Stuff candy shop with square ice cream, fudge and fun nostalgic candies! The kids stopped and had lunch on our first day at the Dog House. The kids loved the fair like food (corn dogs, walking tacos, shaved ice and lemonade!) They also loved the karoake nights on Fridays and Saturdays. If you judge the popularity of a restaurant based on the amount of carryout leaving the restaurant, the Royal Pizzeria needs to be a stop on your visit to Lava Hot Springs. Down by the large hot springs pools hidden away is a tiny gem of a place selling organic shaved ice. The kids were scared when they saw the word organic (apparently they have 'organic' PTSD from all the companies that have sent us some pretty crazy food to try in the past) but they LOVED this shaved ice! Get there early because the two nights we were there they were running out of ice by 9:00pm. If you are looking for allergy friendly food, try 78 Main. They had plenty of allergy friendly meals I could enjoy. I got to choose from salads, sandwiches (they have gluten free rolls) and main dishes!
Float the Portneuf River
Nothing beats a leisurely float down the river! The fun boundary waters of Lava Hot Springs begin with a 4.3 mile-long tubing trip on the crystal-clear waters of the Portneuf River. All the gear you need is provided, so just show up and get ready for an adventure! Enjoy refreshing summer breezes as you float through Idaho’s beautiful landscapes and landscapes.
Everyone comes here to tube the Portneuf River. That is not an understatement! It is world famous and so much fun! Kids and teens will have a blast tubing down the river. There are plenty of quiet areas and fun thrill areas too! (For a real adventure go to the top of the river and float off a small waterfall) It's a blast and the people are so friendly. There are plenty of places to rent tubes from in the city. We recommend paying for the shuttle so you can get plenty of runs in. The shuttle picks you up at the bottom of the river and takes you back up to the top. You can easily do four runs (depending on traffic) in a two hour rental time if you utilize the shuttle service.
The Lava Hot Springs Olympic water park is a very popular place for families of all ages to go. There are four diving boards (two low and two high dive), and platform diving too (low, middle and high). There are also four water slides and plenty of places for families to lay out or swim in the water. A kiddie pool is also included. We recommend doing the combination pass that gives you access to the water park and the hot springs pools.
Enjoy Natural Hot Springs Pools
Unwind and relax in Lava Hot Springs' world-famous natural hot springs. These geothermal pools come in both public and private varieties, ranging from 88°F to 112°F of wonderful warmth. Soak your worries away while you enjoy the brilliant panoramas of the mountainside!
At night we recommend going to the Lava Hot Springs pools to warm up. Summer temperatures can dip into the 40's and 50's so this is the perfect place to spend an hour or two in the evening. The natural hot spring pools range in temperature from 105 degrees plus. There are plenty of pools and areas to spread out and enjoy a nighttime soak.
While more for the teenagers, the younger kids will have fun watching and cheering on their favorite go kart racer. The tracks are almost ½ mile long and you race through natural landscape making it a fun and unique experience for the ultimate go karter. The prices are MUCH better than the city go karts too. At the time of this post it was $7 for 3 laps. You can get more information and a flyer with a discount for Lava Hot Go Karts at the Lava Hot Springs Pools.
This is a zip lining adventure your youngest and oldest can enjoy. Young kids up to a certain height and weight can piggyback ride with you (making it much less scary) and daring teenagers can venture out on their own with Lava Zipline Adventures. The kids will love a ride in a big green army truck up to the zip line adventure.
Soda Springs Idaho is just up the road from Lava Hot Springs and was a fun few hour adventure for our family. We went up and saw the giant geyser at Geyser Park.
We then went over to Hooper Spring Park and played on 80's merry go rounds and teeter totters. At Hooper Spring Park you can also try some fresh spring water. What do you think it tastes like? One of my kids said it tasted like quarters and another said it tasted like sour sparkling water. Let us know what YOU think it tastes like in the comments below! You can also walk around and catch some awesome Instagram photos (if you can get your brother to leave you alone!)
To end the adventure in Soda Springs, stop at Formations Cave just a few miles outside of Soda Springs.
Get the kids EXCITED about visiting an old ghost town. Teens will think it's cool while the littles might take more convincing. But everyone can enjoy some fun activities as during the summer they open the town and offer some fun activities. This is another fun adventure right outside of Lava Hot Springs and one we recommend doing. Kids can head into town and learn to pull a handcart, do a service project, and learn more about pioneer life. Reservations are available on the Chesterfield website.
No visit to Lava Hot Springs is complete without a visit to Baker Ranch. Take a mile long wagon ride up to a waiting creekside chuckwagon dinner. You can also find fresh berries and activities to enjoy while out here. While eating dinner, enjoy live music and entertainment. A sunset trip back in the wagon with lights twinkling ends the fun night.
Main Street Shopping
Lava Hot Springs also has some fun little shops that you can spend some time popping in and out of along Main Street. It's a great little adventure to find souvenirs and hop in and out of some of the specialty shops. you can even let the older kids try out renting scooters for a fun adventure and we heard rumor there is an old style arcade shop too.
Sound off and let others know what some of your favorite things in Lava Hot Springs are to do! And if you're looking for some other adventures that kids and teens will love, try looking into some of our past trips:
It's too bad the Riverwalk Thai Cafe wasn't mentioned! I've been eating there since I was a little kid. Their spring rolls, cashew chicken and rice, and meat satay are super kid friendly. As an adult, I've never gotten a dish I didn't enjoy. It's the best Thai food I've ever had in my entire life!
I've never been but will definetely have to try it next time I'm there. Thanks for the suggestion!