Old West Fun For Little Ones
With Yellowstone's natural wonders looking like fairy tales come to life and the legends of cowboys that once ruled the Wild West, Wyoming is a veritable storybook of activities to entertain preschoolers.
Lander Children's Museum
Since the closure of the Children's Museum and Nature Center in Laramie, Lander Children's Museum stands as the only remaining museum in the state that caters specifically to the very young. Dedicated to education, Lander Children's Museum provides a hands-on experience, where kids can learn about ranching, agriculture, local geology and more. Exhibits at the museum are specifically designed with early-childhood education in mind, catering to kids from 12 months to eight years old.
Location: 465 Lincoln Ave., Lander, WY 82520
Rates: $3 for every guest over two years old; children under two are free
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Preschoolers skiing? That's right! The folks at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort have classes that cater to the pre-K set, with beginner courses that accommodate three- and four-year-olds only, as well as classes for youngsters ages three to six who already have some ski experience. The resort even offers snowboarding lessons to kids ages five and six! For parents with toddlers under two-and-a-half-years-old, who want to watch older siblings in their classes, Jackson Hole Mountain resort has a state-licensed daycare facility on-site.
Location: 3395 Cody Lane, Teton Village, WY 83025
Rates: $125-445 ski and snowboard lessons, for half-days to three-day classes
Old Trail Town
Pack up your saddlebacks and your little wranglers and mosey on over to Old Trail Town for an afternoon of fun that'll have your family feeling like they've taken a step back in time. A real-life Old West town of buildings constructed during the days when Buffalo Bill and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ruled Wyoming, preschoolers will love playing make-believe amongst the vintage structures -- like the cabins, the blacksmith shop, the post office and the Hole-in-the-Wall gang's favorite saloon. There's even a museum of Native American artifacts and Old West antiques.
Location: 1831 Demaris Drive, Cody, WY 82414
Rates: $8 adults; $7 seniors; $4 kids ages 6-12; children under six years old are free
The Wyoming Dinosaur Center and Dig Sites
Is your preschooler just nuts about dinosaurs? Then a visit to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center and Dig Sites is a definite must. Considered by many to be the top dinosaur museum in the U.S., dinosaur-loving preschoolers will become enthralled with seeing the life-size dinosaur skeletons reassembled and on display in the center. In the Hall of Dinosaurs, you'll see incredible specimens like the 35-foot T-Rex, the Supersaurus "Jimbo" -- one of the largest dinosaurs ever mounted -- and the Wyoming State Dinosaur, a Triceratops.
Location: 110 Carter Ranch Road, Thermopolis, WY 82443
Rates: Vary for adults -- $10 museum only, $12.50 dig site tour, $18.50 combo museum and dig site tour. Kids ages 4-13 -- $5.50 museum only, $8.75 dig site tour, $11.75 combo museum and dig site tour. Kids under age three are free.
Roosevelt Old West Dinner Cookout
Nothing recalls the adventures of America's earliest days than a good, old-fashioned wagon train. Thanks to Yellowstone National Park, you and your preschooler can relive the experience of those bygone days on the Roosevelt Old West Dinner Cookout. The 30-45 minute wagon ride is just long enough to let you and your little ones enjoy the scenery, but short enough that the tiny tots won't get too antsy. After the ride, relax and enjoy a steak and an all-you-can-eat cowboy buffet of chuck wagon corn, baked beans, corn bread, coleslaw, watermelon and more -- all while listening to some Old West tunes sung by a singing cowboy.
Location: Roosevelt Lodge Corral, Tower-Roosevelt Junction, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
Rates: $57 adults; $46 children ages 3-11; kids ages two and under are free
Yellowstone National Park -- Kid-friendly Day Hikes
Almost anyplace you go in Wyoming, you'll find pretty places to go hiking, but none are quite as picturesque as the trails in Yellowstone National Park. Your little ones will thrill at the sight of mud bubbling and steam belching from the Mud Volcano , or geysers like Old Faithful exploding from the ground. While there's plenty to delight your preschooler right off of Yellowstone's popular Grand Loop, we recommend picking up a trail guide and taking on one of the lesser-known hikes to the Fairy Falls or the Fountain Paint Pots.
Location: Yellowstone National Park
Hot Springs State Park
The world's largest mineral hot springs offers a wonderland of fun for little ones. Come play together in the naturally warm mineral waters at Star Plunge, or Hellie's TePee Pools -- the park's two independently-run family water parks. If you'd rather stay dry, take your preschoolers for a walk amongst the fantastical, multi-colored mineral deposits at the park's Rainbow Terraces, or brave "The Swinging Bridge" – the suspension foot bridge that spans Hot Springs' Big Horn River.
Location: 115 Big Springs Drive, Thermopolis, WY 82443
Rates: Vary by attraction from free to $13 for adults and $6 for kids under four