My wife and I have been to some pretty exotic places the last couple of years: Maldives, Phuket, Stockholm, Maui and China to name a few. Sometimes, though, you pick places to build memories and not require traveling have way across the globe.
We were trying to think of a place we could take our family that would be close and not super expensive. We thought about going up to Park City and staying a night there, but instead decided to head to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. With a population of exactly 410, it’s not foremost on most people’s bucket lists. It is a small town that has pools made from geothermal hot springs.
Lava Hot Springs is about two hours away from Salt Lake so we hopped in the car mid morning and made our first stop in Roy, Utah. Roy is home of the Burger Bar, a hometown burger joint featured on Diner’s Drive Ins and Dives.
They’re famous for their gigantic burger “The Big Ben” – served on a fresh baked bun. They also do all of their french fries and onion rings by hand and to top it off – real fruit shakes.
I opted for the Big Ben and an order of onion rings. The meal did not disappoint.
After we were all full, we got back in the car and headed to Lava Hot Springs. The last time I was in Lava was back in the 80s for a family reunion. When you’re a kid, you don’t really notice luxury in your staying accommodations. It’s all about having fun.
The place that I stayed at back in the 80s was still standing – Tumbling Waters Motel.
At least from the outside, it seems the Motel had seen better days. With a population of just 400, there isn’t a huge selection of places to stay. Based on recommendations from friends who had been here recently, we decided to stay at the Alpaca Inn.
We opted for the 2 Queen Room for $99 a night. They also have a 2 story family unit for $229 a night that has a ton of beds and a ton of room. The lock on the door has a keypad which I thought was a cool touch. The check in desk gives you a code during your stay and that code, of course, changes with different guests.
Inside the room, it served our needs with two Queen beds, a chair with an ottoman, a mini fridge and microwave.
During our stay there, we went to the Olympic Swimming Complex with an Olympic diving board and gigantic slides. In another part of town are the Thermal Pools with temperatures ranging from 102 to 112 Fahrenheit. Lastly, there is a river running right behind the city where you can rent inter tubes and go down the river. During our reunion back in the 80s, we must have spent hours and hours and hours going down that river. I went down the river with my 8 year old son just fine – there certainly were parts were it was awfully fast. My wife didn’t fare as well – she went down the river with our 10 year old daughter and ended up capsizing and having to pull my daughter out from a pretty strong undercurrent. That was the end of tubing down the river.
There weren’t a ton of restaurants in the town, so we ended up buying some groceries at the local grocery store and one night purchased a pizza from the one pizza shop in town.
Overall, we had a great time and it’s especially good for kids. Our kids spent hours and hours jumping off diving board at the Olympics sized pool. If you want to experience a different side of the Idaho / Utah area, I would definitely recommend trying your hand at Lava Hot Springs, a nice little town with some great activities for kids.