1. Ranger programs in Grand Teton National Park
The park boasts an amazing collection of year-round programs, including hikes, campfire presentations, bear safety and more. Take free ranger-led tours of the historic Murie Ranch Center and Menor's Ferry district or enjoy "Critter Chat" and "Map Chat" informational presentations. There is also a fun Junior Ranger program for kids where they can earn a Junior Ranger badge by completing various activities. Check the schedule.
2. The Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center Center
Learn more about Jackson Hole and its environs at our visitor center. Located on the north end of the town of Jackson, the center offers exhibits and programs and activities for all ages. Among other things, kids can earn patches through the Junior Blue Goose Ranger Program. The center is also where winter sleigh rides on the National Elk Refuge depart from. Also in winter (December through March), the Teton Raptor Center presents a free meet-a-bird-of-prey program starting at noon. In all seasons, take a short walk out on the wooden boardwalk that borders the refuge and observe various wildlife. Extended summer hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
3. Visit the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve
Located on Moose-Wilson Road, this 1,106-acre refuge within Grand Teton National Park features an 8-mile trail system and a LEED-certified visitor’s center with unique, multi-sensory exhibits ranging from innovative videos and photography to a meditative soundscape room. The preserve offers a number of ranger-led programs for adults and children. The hiking trails lead to pristine Phelps Lake, where you can swim, picnic or take a thrilling leap from the “Jumping Rock.” They also connect to more extensive trails leading to other parts of Grand Teton National Park. The preserve is car accessible from May 1 to October 31, and the center is open from late May through September. Parking is limited and often full from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
4. Ride the Bridger Gondola
Free gondola rides start daily at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, during the summer at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Ride the "gondi" up to the top for happy hour on The Deck, which overlooks the whole of the Hole. The Deck is a favorite of both Jackson Hole denizens and visitors alike. A summer menu of appetizers and shared plates are available, as are tunes from local musicians and DJs. Feel free to take a short hike around, too. And the photo ops from up there are top-notch.
5. See a raptor up close
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the summer, the Teton Raptor Center offers presentations at 5 p.m. on the Village Commons in Teton Village. Each week, avian educators from the center bring two birds of prey, such as great horned owls, eagles, and hawks. It is a special treat to learn about these amazing birds and see them up close.
You can also see a free presentation — called Soaring Saturdays — from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center off Town Square on Cache St.
6. Boulder at the base of Snow King Mountain
Open year-round, the Teton Boulder Park features three large boulders for climbers of all ages and skill levels. During the summer on Tuesday nights watch or participate in (for a small fee) the Town Pump competition that generates money for climbing holds for the boulder park. A youth division is available for climbers under age 14. The adjacent Phil Baux Park includes picnic tables, horseshoe pits, and a playground. Visit jhtownpump.org.
7. Play disc golf
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s free 18-hole disc golf course starts uphill from the base of the gondola. The course begins short and technical, with tunnel and treed shots. It winds back and forth up the lower Gros Ventre and Tramline trails, shooting in open fields and tightly wooded areas. The course design incorporates three loops, each going a bit higher up the mountain. Innova discs are available to purchase at JH Sports in the Bridger Center—or bring your own!
8. Walk the Sculpture Trail at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.
Complementing the museum’s inside offerings, the ¾-mile Sculpture Trail is an outdoor art venue that winds up and over the sage-covered hillside that overlooks the National Elk Refuge. It is populated with magnificent multi-medium replicas of moose, bison, bighorn sheep, an eagle, and other wildlife. The cutest additions to the trail are two kid-sized, solid granite buffalo, which are perfect for climbing on.
9. Stargaze with expert astronomers
Wyoming Stargazing hosts public stargazing events on the lawn next to the Center for the Arts in downtown Jackson every clear Friday night from 8:30 to 10:30 October through April, and 9:30 to 11:30 from May to September. A giant Dobsonian telescope is provided to view planets, stars, nebulae, galaxies and more. Also available are several iPads with the Star Walk app so you can explore the heavens.
10. Jackson National Fish Hatchery
Located four miles north of the town of Jackson, the National Fish Hatchery welcomes visitors daily (except on federal holidays) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a close-up view of Snake River cutthroat trout. Observe fish in several indoor tanks and view photographic displays of spawning and stocking. There is also a small fishing pond that is open to children and first-time anglers. Non-resident children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult with a license.
Bonus Family Freebies!
The Grand Teton Musical Festival, located at Walk Festival Hall in Teton Village, hosts free, weekly family concerts beginning mid-July and continuing throughout the summer. These are 1-hour casual events featuring kid-friendly music performed by world-class musicians. Every Monday (from July 8 through August 12) there are also free "Movies on the Mountain" at 7 p.m. featuring classic family favorites. Even though the concerts and movies are free of charge, tickets are required at gtmf.org/tickets/
The Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum holds a free "History Mystery Club" for kids on the last Friday of the month from 10 to 11 a.m. Visit jacksonholehistory.org for more information.