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When most people think of Wyoming, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone usually come to mind. But there are other parts of the state that are worth visiting as well. We opted to skip the busy Jackson area in the summer and instead did a road trip through the Southeastern part of the state, starting in the capital city of Cheyenne and making a loop through Laramie, Casper and back down towards Cheyenne. We stopped at many state parks, beautiful lakes and lots of hiking trails. If you’re heading to Wyoming with kids, you will love our Wyoming with kids road trip itinerary.
Things to know/bring whenvisiting Wyoming with kids:
- You will be spending a lot of time in the water, bring your child’s life jacket! We brought Milana’s Hyperlite life jacket and it was perfect for all the water activities.
- Bugs, lots of bugs! The first night, we didn’t put on any bug spray and we all got a ton of bites. There are mosquitoes, biting flies and who knows what else. After the first day, we used this natural spray and it worked great, no more bites!
- Bring some collapsible beach buckets for the water, they definitely came in useful on more than one occasion!
- Don’t forget the sunscreen! We personally like Blue Lizard because of the ingredients and it worked really well in the hot Wyoming sun. It was in the 90s most of the days we were there!
- Remember water shoes for everyone! The shorelines are very rocky here, you’re going to want some quality water shoes that can grip the rocks and be non-skids. For myself, I use Keens. Milana has these Plae sandals and Dave has these Salomon water shoes.
- You’re going to want to bring your own travel beach towel and travel beach blanket, we used ours the entire trip and were so glad to have them! They fold up super small and fit into your purse or backpack. Also pack a wetbag for all your wet clothes.
- Since you will be on the road a lot, download some kid friendly Podcasts to keep the kids entertained. We all enjoyed listening to them on the longer stretches! Also load their devices with apps that don’t require wifi.
- These auto bingo cards were fun for Milana to use, she loved trying to find everything on the list!
Cheyenne, the capital city of Wyoming, is located just 1.5 hours north of Denver, making it a great starting point for your Southeastern Wyoming road trip with kids. If you’re flying in, Denver is the closest airport. If you’re road tripping, there are many different ways to get here!
Things to do in Cheyenne with kids
Terry Bison Ranch
As soon as you cross into Wyoming, you will see the Welcome to Wyoming sign. It’s super popular so there’s a safe area where you can pull off for photos. Look right and you will see an area with a playground, RVs and other recreational activities. That is the Terry Bison Ranch, which not only offers various accommodations and a restaurant but also activities you can do while you make a pit stop for a few hours.
We didn’t originally have this place on our itinerary, however after reading several blogs and asking locals for recommendations, they all agreed that this is a must, despite being a huge tourist attractions. So we stopped for a couple of hours and purchased tickets for the bison train ride. There are lots of bison on the property and unlike wild ones, these live 20 years or more longer thanks to being kept in captivity and having access to proper nutrition and veterinary care.
The train ride lasts around an hour and halfway through, it stops and the buffalo run to the train to be fed. The ranch provides these pellets that are appropriate for bison and contain the proper nutrients to keep them healthy. We were lucky enough to see many mamas with nursing babies on our trip!
Cheyenne Big Boots
When walking around Cheyenne, you will see these giant cowboy boots all over town. There are more than 25 of them and you can make a fun scavenger hunt for the kids to try and find them all. Each boot has been painted by a local artists to show the history of Cheyenne. You can pick up a guide at the visitor’s center, or just download this map on your phone to help you find them.
Where to eat in Cheyenne with kids
There are several restaurants in downtown Cheyenne, and we chose to eat at the Accomplice Beer Company. They have a back patio that is fully fenced in and perfect for families with kids. It’s right by a train yard, so you are bound to see trains being worked on or passing through and the kids can wander around throughout the meal. And they have a nice beer selection, making it a great spot for parents.
Where to stay in Cheyenne with kids
There are many family friendly hotels in Cheyenne but being loyal to Marriott with Titanium Status, we chose the Fairfield Inn & Suites Cheyenne Southwest. The hotel was in a great location, with free parking, breakfast and an indoor pool. The exterior of the hotel looks like any other hotel but the inside is decorated in the typical Wyoming fashion.
Laramie is less than an hour from Cheyenne if you drive directly from one to the other. But we wanted to stop at Curt Gowdy State Park first, so we took our time getting there. Make sure you take the scenic Happy Jack Road (route 210) instead of Route 80. It’s a much nicer drive!
Things to do in Laramie with kids
Curt Gowdy State Park
Nestled between Cheyenne and Laramie is an awesome state park. If camping is your thing, they have tent sites. They also have RV hook ups and cabin rentals. We weren’t spending the night and mainly went to hike and paddleboard so we just stayed a few hours. You can rent paddleboards from the camping store, which you’ll see as soon as you pay for your day pass on the left. At the time of our trip, it was $20/hour to rent paddleboards, pedal boats and kayaks. We rented one paddleboard for me and Milana to share and one pedal boat for dad.
There are some really nice areas by the water to play, the water is crystal clear though cold!
We also walked around downtown Laramie today, exploring the different shops and restaurants. Be sure to stop in to Sweet Pickles, the city’s only toy store, stocked with some amazing finds!
Right by the toy store is the Big Dipper ice cream shop, which has some amazing flavors! If you’re an ice cream fan, you’re going to want to stop in.
Laramie-Day trip to Lake Marie
We spent two nights in Laramie so that we can explore the local lakes and trails. After some research, I decided that Lake Marie will be the lake we see and it didn’t disappoint! The drive up is absolutely stunning, you will be driving on Snowy Range Road, which is one of the most scenic roads in the United States.
To reach Lake Marie, it took about an hour from Laramie. Even though it was July and in the 80s, there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground, which Milana loved! We stopped a few times so that she can play in the snow.
You will also pass the town of Centennial, the only town on the way up, so if you need food or ice cream, this is the place to stop! The town has a population of just 270 and is so cute. We stopped for some ice cream on our way back to town.
On to Lake Marie. This lake is absolutely stunning, photos don’t do it justice! There is plenty of parking in their lot as well as on the actual road. You can hike around the lake or on the many hiking trails nearby. Definitely make this a stop if you’re visiting Wyoming with kids, they’ll love playing on the shoreline and in the snow, which was still there in July.
Where to eat in Laramie with kids
Downtown Laramie has several restaurants to choose from. We tried two and liked them both. The first was Sweet Melissa’s. This is a vegetarian restaurant, but with more of a mainstream menu that is sure to appeal to even non vegetarians. The buffalo cauliflower is a must! I had the Cuban made with portabellas, Dave had a black bean burger and Milana has been asking for pasta for days so she had the linguini marinara, made with homemade tomato sauce.
The other place in downtown we tried was Born in a Barn. This was a favorite of all of us. Their wings are amazing and smoked, making them taste really good. They have several sauce options, so you’re bound to find one you like. Milana wanted a burger and theirs didn’t disappoint! Huge and juicy, though she only ate half of it.
If you want a more Wyoming type of dining experience, head to Cavalryman Steakhouse. It’s easy to miss this place, as it’s seemingly in the middle of nowhere surrounded by farmland filled with farm animals so keep your eyes open as you approach it! They have lots of steaks and bison burgers, if you want to try one after seeing all the bison in the area.
Where to stay in Laramie with kids
Once again, we went with a Marriott property, the Fairfield Inn & Suites Laramie. This hotel is located right off the freeway and close to all the attractions we wanted to see, making it a good choice for our trip.
Drive from Laramie to Casper
This day we mainly focused on the drive, Casper is 2.5 hours away from Laramie and you’ll be driving on a one lane road for most of the trip. In the first 2 hours of the trip, we passed only a handful of cars, it’s so crazy how deserted the state is! We did pass many animals, including cows, horses, prairie dogs, rabbits, lots of deer, etc. There aren’t many places to stop on this road and be sure to fill up if you think you’ll need gas as we passed one gas station for over 2 hours of the drive!
After we arrived in Casper, we decided to check out their downtown. We walked around for a bit then had some awesome ice cream from Rialto’s soda fountain, which is quite possibly the smallest soda fountain we have ever seen and so cute inside. The owner was super friendly and the ice cream amazing, try the huckleberry!
Edness Kimball Wilkins State Park
This was one of Milana’s favorites from the trip! Even on a weekend, there were only a handful of families here, spread out around the swimming pond. Pro tip: go to Walmart (just a few minutes from the park) before you come and buy some inflatables that the kids can play with in the pond. Everyone brought kayaks, paddle boards and most kids had pool noodles or inflatables to play with. The water in July was warm and calm, Milana loved swimming from one side of the pond to the other! Get one of these mesh bags before your trip so your kids can collect all the beautiful rocks and play with them while at the beach.
If there’s one thing you do while in Casper, it’s visit the stunning Alcova reservoir. It’s only 30 minutes from Casper and so beautiful! You can rents boats, jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks, etc. at the Alcova Resort. Keep in mind that motorized water craft is generally not available the same day, so be sure to reserve in advance since they do sell out. On their website, they only show half and full day rentals however if you call, you can rent hourly.
There are several swimming areas here. One was near the resort, with a playground, shallow water for kids to play in and a dock to jump off of.
The other area is the sandy beach, which you will see shortly after turning onto the reservoir road. This is a true beach with sand with some of the clearest water you will ever see! The water felt warm because it was in the 90s out, it’s the perfect way to spend a few hours. Keep in mind there is no shade here and the sand is super hot.
Drive from Casper to Fort Collins, CO
Today, we started our drive back to Colorado. We decided to spend our last night in Fort Collins before flying home the following day. The drive is 3 hours long however there are several stops you can make to break up your drive.
The first place we stopped was the Ayres Natural Bridge Park, about 45 minutes from Casper. It’s considered to be one of Wyoming’s first tourist attractions, where pioneers stopped to rest while trekking along the Oregon Trail. Once you get off the highway, you will be driving on a remote road, where you’ll probably be the only one on the road!
The park is stunning and surrounded by red cliffs. You can walk around and check out the various trees, many of them have fairy doors or fairy houses!
The natural bridge itself was amazing to see in real life. There’s water below it where kids can splash around in and play. You can even walk to the top of the bridge using the staircase.
The second place we stopped was the Chugwater Soda Fountain, the oldest operating soda fountain in Wyoming. The building was built in 1914 and housed many different businesses before becoming the soda fountain. They have lots of ice cream flavors to choose from and even some limited food options if you’re hungry.
Where to eat in Casper with kids
Casper has many more options than our 2 previous cities. We really liked Racca’s Pizzeria, and we are super picky about pizza! They have lots of options to choose from here, you are bound to find one you like. Milana wanted spaghetti and meatballs that day, so it worked out well.
Another great option is FireRock Steakhouse. The food here was really good! They have two locations, one in Casper and the other in Vegas. We all shared the Porterhouse, crab cakes, wedge salad and some sides and everything was delicious.
The last place we tried was Himalayan Indian Cuisine and it was really good as well! Casper wins for the best food in Wyoming, all 3 of the restaurants we tried were excellent. Milana loves chicken tikka masala and theirs was really good. Dave had the chicken curry and we all shared garlic naan.
Where to stay in Casper with kids
We strayed from our Marriott loyalty and stayed at a Hilton this time, the Hilton Garden Inn Casper. The staff here is very friendly and accommodating. The hotel has an indoor pool, making it a great hotel for families who are traveling to Casper with kids.
Wyoming is a wonderful place to visit with kids. We recommend visiting in the summer, to enjoy all of the rivers, lakes, etc. that Wyoming has to offer. We can’t wait to come back and explore another part of the state!