Where to Stay in Old Town Alexandria


When researching where to stay in Old Town Alexandria, we wanted to be sure to find a place that matched the area’s picturesque charm.  We were so pleased when we found this mid-century modern Airbnb in the heart of Old Town Alexandria to stay at while visiting Old Town Alexandria.   This Airbnb has the perfect location. We were able to walk everywhere we wanted to visit in Old Town Alexandria.  Further, the apartment’s unique features and comfortable size provided us with a really nice place to call our home base in Old Town Alexandria for our extended weekend visit.  If you are trying to decide where to stay in Old Town Alexandria, look no further!  Here’s a run-down on why we think this mid-century modern Airbnb in the heart of Old Town Alexandria is the perfect place to stay when visiting Old Town Alexandria. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


Walk Everywhere in Old Town Alexandria

This Airbnb is located on King Street, truly in the heart of Old Town Alexandria.  It is within walking distance of everywhere we wanted to visit in the area.  From this Airbnb, it is less than a 10 minute walk down to the waterfront and to many other restaurants and shops in the area.  It was so nice to just be able to walk out of our Airbnb and get to all the places we wanted to be without the hassle of a car.  And if you don’t want to walk, there is a free King Street Trolley you can take too.  One of our favorite restaurants, Taverna Cretekou (authentic Greek restaurant), we visited here is actually located just below the apartment, right out the front or back door. 

For all our recommendations on what to do in Old Town Alexandria, see our What to do in Old Town Alexandria post.

Comfortable Space

The space here was really nice and large.  For less than the price of most small hotel rooms in the area, we were able to have a large living area, kitchen and master bedroom/bath at this Airbnb.  This space was able to accommodate 3 adults (Sam, Natalie and Grandma) and 1 baby (14-month-old) very comfortably.  There is a master bedroom with a queen bed here and then a twin sofa bed in the living room.  You could likely fit one more adult in here if you wanted to but we would recommend this apartment for a family with 3 or less adults for the most comfortable experience.   This place also has a washer and dryer which is a HUGE win when traveling with a very cute, yet messy, baby. 

Note: If you are room sharing with a baby here (like we did), we do recommend using the SlumberPod for the best experience.  The bathroom is located through the bedroom and without it, you may feel like you can’t access the bathroom while your baby is sleeping.  The SlumberPod allowed us to room share with the baby and all get sleep.  It was also nice to not have to worry about using the bathroom while our baby was napping or sleeping.  Use ALWAYSHAVEATRIPPLANNED$20 for $20 off your SlumberPod order today.

Unique Antique Decorations 

This apartment has some really unique antique decorations and wall hangings from the middle of the 20th century.  Our favorite decor was the old movie chair seats in the hallway.  We got to chat with one of the hosts, Boyd, and he gave us a run-down on the antique decorations in the apartment and it was really cool to hear their history.  The decorations here really added another fun layer to our stay.

Great Host and Hostess 

Tessa and Boyd were fantastic at communicating with us and so accommodating for our stay. They allowed us to check-in early and check-out late, which was very helpful, especially while traveling with what felt like everything but the kitchen sink.  Tessa and Boyd allow you your space but are available for any questions you may have about your stay at the place or visiting the area.  

Other Units in the Area

If the unit we stayed in is booked for the dates you are looking at, don’t fret.  Tessa and Boyd have a total of 8 listings in the heart of Old Town Alexandria.  Visit their profile here to see all of them. They have different sized properties and likely have a size and price point to meet your needs.   Although we have not stayed at the other listings, we are certain they are all well-maintained/managed and uniquely decorated based on our lovely stay at their mid-century modern Airbnb in the heart of Old Town Alexandria


We hope this guide helps you plan where to stay in Old Town Alexandria. Book the same mid-century modern Airbnb in the heart of Old Town Alexandria we did or another one of Tessa and Boyd’s properties here. Please reach out to Tessa and Boyd with any questions on the area, they are a great resource for visiting the area during your stay.

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Where to Stay near Shenandoah


Where to Stay near Shenandoah

When researching where to stay near Shenandoah National Park, we knew we wanted to stay somewhere tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the National Park but also with a view, conveniently located near the park and with all the amenities we needed.  We were excited when we found exactly what we were looking for at this Charming Chalet Airbnb in Blue Ridge Wine Country.  This spacious chalet was the perfect retreat to the countryside from the city and had everything we needed (and more) for a very comfortable stay while exploring Shenandoah National Park.  Here is a full break-down of why we think this is the perfect spot to stay when visiting Shenandoah National Park. 


Plenty of Space for Everyone

The large spacious main living area and big bedrooms make this Airbnb perfect spot for you to relax with your family yet have your own space as well.  The main living space is inviting and there are many spots for you and your family to gather and relax including the stunning screened-in patio, the grandiose living room and the large kitchen island.   We particularly loved the views of the backyard from the screened in-patio.  We also loved being able to spread out in our own rooms.  The large kitchen was a huge plus too as it allowed us to cook all our own meals.  There is a grocery store, Food Lion, located about 7 minutes south of the Chalet that had everything we needed for cooking during our stay.  

Baby, Toddler and Kid Friendly

This place was so accommodating to our daughter, who was 14 months old at the time of our visit.  The Airbnb had a pack n play, high chair and stand alone baby seat for us to use.  It was really nice to have all these things here ready for us and not have to bring them while traveling.  Bonus–there also was plenty of books and toys for our daughter to enjoy.  As you can see from the pictures, she really loved ‘reading’ all the books.  The open concept of the main living area here also is a very baby/toddler/kid friendly floor plan.  It was easy to keep an eye on our daughter from the kitchen and other parts of the main living space. 

Close to Shenandoah National Park

This Charming Chalet Airbnb in Blue Ridge Wine Country is close to the National Park yet far enough away from it to avoid the crowds.  Unless you are staying in Shenandoah National Park itself, where there can be a lot of traffic, there are not a lot of great close lodging options. From our Airbnb, it was less than an hour to most spots we wanted to explore. We particularly liked being only 30 minutes away from the White Oak entrance on the outbounds of the park.  This area of the park sees less traffic than others and was truly our favorite spot in Shenandoah National Park as it was scenic and felt secluded on our early morning hike.  For a full breakdown of our Shenandoah National Park recommendations, she our One Day in Shenandoah National Park guide. 

Fantastic Host

Connie is a fantastic host.  She is very responsive, kind and accommodating.  Her attention to detail was well appreciated too.  For example, when we arrived, each of our beds had chocolate on them.  Little touches like this made a huge difference.  She also allowed us to check-in a little early and this was so appreciated while traveling with our baby.  She also has lived in the area for over 30 years and is a great resource for exploring the area.  When you arrive, she has a printed guide of things to do in the area, beyond Shenandoah National Park, and we found it very helpful.  


We hope this guide helps you plan where to stay when visiting Shenandoah National Park. Book the same Charming Chalet Airbnb in Blue Ridge Wine Country using the link here.  Please reach out to Connie with any questions on the area. As mentioned before, she is a great resource about the area during your stay.

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

One Day in Shenandoah National Park


When planning our trip to Shenandoah National Park we knew we were only going to have one full day to explore the park, so we wanted to make the most of it.  We reached out to friends who live near the park and read many other blogs about the area.  Through this research, we are confident we have put together the best one-day Shenandoah National Park itinerary out there.  Although you could spend upwards of a week in the park with its over 500 miles of hiking trails, we felt one-day was enough to get a good feel for the park by hiking several highlight trails and driving through the park.  Here is our One Day in Shenandoah National Park guide. 

FYI: This post is written based on a hike taken in mid-October.  We took this trip with our 14 month old daughter.  For all our baby travels tips and tricks see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, Flying with a Baby and How to Hike with a Baby posts. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


Fun Facts about Shenandoah National Park

Before we get into our One Day in Shenandoah National Park itinerary, here are some fun facts about Shenandoah National Park. 

  • 50 species of mammals live in Shenandoah National Park
  • Shenandoah National Park has one of densest populations of black bears in US
  • Over 199,100 acres are encompassed by Shenandoah National Park
  • Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of hiking trails including 101 miles of Appalachian Trail 
  • The park was established 1935 but had a controversial start. About 500 families (about 2500 people) were uprooted to establish this National Park leaving many abandoned settlements. 

Best Hikes to Do with One Day in Shenandoah National Park

During our one day in Shenandoah National Park, we hiked 3 different trails to get a taste of the waterfalls as well as experience the expansive Blue Ridge mountain views Shenandoah offers.  The first trail, the Lower White Oak Falls Trail, we hiked in the morning. Then, we headed back to our Airbnb before driving into the main drive of the park to hike the Stony Man and Upper Hawksbill Trails.  We picked each of these trails because of the views they offer as well as their location in proximity to our accommodations.  These trails give you a good overview of what the park has to offer and are also manageable to hike in one day.  Here are the 3 trails we recommend hiking with one day in Shenandoah National Park.   

#1 Lower White Oak Falls via White Oak Canyon Trail

Start your day hiking to the scenic Lower White Oak Falls. This out-and-back trail leads to a stunning and serene waterfall in Shenandoah National Park.  We hiked here on a crisp fall morning and did not see another soul on our hike out.  It was exactly the peaceful hike we were looking for that morning.  This was our favorite hike we did in Shenandoah National Park despite not offering classic Shenandoah Blue Ridge Mountain Views.  Soaking in the serenity of nature helps us rejuvenate.   

Park at the White Oak Boundary Parking Lot

To access this trail and waterfall, park at the White Oak Boundary Parking Lot.  Be sure to park at the White Oak Boundary parking and not the White Oak Canyon Parking. The hike will be significantly longer from the Canyon Parking, which is on the main drive of the park and MUCH busier than the Boundary Parking.  From the White Oak Boundary Parking lot, it is a 2.8 mile round trip hike with 400 feet of elevation gain.  It took us about 1.5 hours to complete, including stopping to take pictures and relaxing at the waterfall for a bit. 

2.8 miles round trip, 400 feet of elevation, out & back, see map below 

AllTrails Lower White Oak Falls via White Oak Canyon Trail

#2 Stony Man Trail Shenandoah National Park

Next, hike the Stony Man Trail. This hike can be accessed from the Stony Man Parking Lot right off the main drag of the parkway (Mile 41.7).  This 1.5 mile loop hike with 318 feet of elevation brings you to an overlook of Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain.  From this spot, we could see part of the parkway we had driven on and some of the contrasting fall colors well.  This is a good bang-for-your-buck hike as you are able to see great views on a relatively short hike. 

1.5 miles, 318 feet of elevation gain, loop, dogs are not allowed on this trail, see map below

AllTrails Stony Man via AT

#3 Upper Hawksbill Trail Shenandoah National Park 

Next up is the Upper Hawksbill trail.  This trail can be accessed from the Upper Hawksbill Parking Lot off the main drive of the parkway (Mile 46.5).  The Upper Hawksbill trail leads you to the highest peak (4,050 feet) in the park and offers 360 degree views of Shenandoah Valley, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Virginia Piedmont.   If you only have time for one trail, do this one as it is another great bang- for-your- buck hike, giving you expansive views at the Summit on another relatively short hike.

2.1 mi, 488 feet of elevation gain, out & back, see map below

AllTrails Upper Hawksbill


Tip: Stop at Lookout Points while driving on the Shenandoah National Park Parkway

There are so many pretty lookout points in the park that you can enjoy right from your car or a short walk from your car.  Stopping at these spots along the main drag of the park will help break up your drive as well.  There are SO many to stop at.  Our favorite lookouts were ones where we were facing east in the park.  

Looking for great hiking boots?  Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 8+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots


Other Hikes to Consider with a Day in Shenandoah National Park

Below are some other hikes we considered doing with our one day in Shenandoah National Park. You may consider adding on or exchanging for one of the trails above depending on the time you have on your trip. 

Doyle River Falls (Mile 81.1)

This hike takes you through the woods to two unique waterfalls. This beautiful trek through Wilderness takes you along cool, clear mountain streams to two unique waterfalls. It is a 3.4 mile out & back hike with 1181 feet of elevation gain. See this AllTrails Doyles River Trail link for more information on this trail. 

Blackrock Summit (84.4)

This is a 1.1 Mile loop hike with 180 feet of elevation gain.  This is another hike, on part of the Appalachian Trail, that leads to expansive views over Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain.  It offers similar views to the Upper Hawksbill Trail and the Stony Man Trail.  See this AllTrails Blackrock Summit via Trayfoot Mountain and AT link for more information on this trail.  

Old Rag Trail

This 9.4 miles loop hike with 2582 feet of elevation gain is one of the most popular and challenging hikes in the park.  The Old Rag hike affords you sweeping mountain views after a tough rock scramble.  You need a permit to hike Old Rag since 2022.  Use this link, Old Rag Day Use Ticket,  to book a permit. These permits were in ample supply during our weekday early fall visit and less competitive to get than at other National Parks.   We had permits booked but opted not to hike this trail as you can get very similar and even higher views from some of the shorter trails we hiked.  If you want to avoid the rock scramble, you can hike to this same lookout from Berry Hallows. See this AllTrails Old Rag link for more information on this trail.  

For a breakdown of all the trails in Shenandoah National Park, see our friend Anna’s Blog Post– 15 Best Hikes in Shenandoah National Park.  She helped us plan our trip and pick out the best trails.   We are so grateful to Anna for all her advice! 


Where to Stay Shenandoah National Park

We recommended staying outside of the park at this Charming Chalet Airbnb in Blue Ridge Wine Country.  This spacious chalet was the perfect retreat to the countryside from the city and had everything we needed for a very comfortable stay while exploring Shenandoah National Park.  The serene views from the screened in patio were stunning.  See our Where to Stay Near Shenandoah post for a full breakdown on why we loved this Airbnb


Did you fly into DCA to visit Shenandoah? If so, be sure to check out the charming and picturesque Old Town Alexandria when in the area too. See our What to do in Old Town Alexandria and Where to Stay in Old Town Alexandria posts for some inspiration.


We hope this guide helps you plan your one day in Shenandoah National Park. Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

What to do Old Town Alexandria


What to do Old Town Alexandria

Old Town Alexandria is one of the most charming cities we have ever visited.  The alluring architecture, unique shops and restaurants as well as the abundant history here make it the perfect place for an extended weekend trip.  We loved exploring this city and think you will too.  Here is our ‘What to do in Old Town Alexandria’ guide.  

FYI-This post is written based on a trip taken in early October.  The fall colors were at peak at this time. We took this trip with our 14 month old daughter.  For all our baby travels tips and tricks see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, Flying with a Baby and How to Hike with a Baby posts.   

What to do Old Town Alexandria

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


#1 What to do Old Town Alexandria: Explore King Street & Beyond

Brick sidewalks and buildings along with cobblestone alleys make Old Town Alexandria, particularly King Street, quintessentially charming.  King street is lined with many one-of-a-kind independently owned shops and restaurants, making your stroll on this street each time completely unique.  Most of our favorite restaurants were located on this street (see below for recommendations).


#2: Visit the Skinniest House in America

Stop by the Spite House (523 Queen Street) to see the skinniest house in America. This house was built ‘in spite’ between the two other houses to keep loiterers out of the alley.  This house, as well as many of the other houses on Queen Street are nothing short of picture perfect.  Be sure to stroll Queen Street to see these gorgeous row-houses when you visit here too.

What to do Old Town Alexandria

The Spite House, and other houses on Queen Street, reminded us of some of the houses in Amsterdam.  See our Visiting Amsterdam, Netherlands on a Budget guide for all our tips on visiting Amsterdam. 


#3 What to do Old Town Alexandria: Walk Captain’s Row

The 100 Block of Prince Street is arguably the most picturesque spot in Old Town Alexandria.  We were visiting Alexandria for very good friends’ wedding and took wedding party pictures here.  The charm of the houses, arched tree canopy and cobblestone here is undeniable. You feel transported to early post-Revolution America. The first picture in this post is of Captain’s Row.


#4 What to do Old Town Alexandria: Explore Wilkes Street Tunnel

This former railroad tunnel is now a picturesque passageway leading to the Windmill Hill Park.  With overgrown ivy on the tunnel’s wall, the allure here is indisputable.  When we visited during peak fall colors, Wilkes Street Tunnel was even prettier than we imagined.  Our 14-month-old daughter thought running through this tunnel was SO fun!


#5: Dine at the Local Restaurants 

There are so many independently owned restaurants in Old Town Alexandria. There were so many good authentic ethnic restaurants to choose from as well.  Some of our favorites included:


#6: Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum  

This apothecary was operational from 1792-1933 when it was then turned into a museum.  There are over 15,000 herbs, including potion ingredients, and medical devices to view here. It is really cool to see all the ingredients from a non-modern day pharmacy. 

Tip: Check the hours closely before planning a visit here. They are very limited and variable.


#7 What to do Old Town Alexandria: Torpedo Factory

This former World War II Torpedo Factory is home to the largest compilation of art studios in the USA. With 83 different artists’ studios, there is something here for everyone to experience and support local artists, including seeing them at work.  We attended a wedding at the Torpedo factory, and it was such a cool and unique venue.  See our instagram post from the wedding for some pictures.


#8: Old Town Alexandria’s Farmers Market

We are always suckers for a good farmer’s market as it is a great way to get a more local experience and the Old Town Alexandria farmer’s market did not disappoint.  Every Saturday morning, more than 70 local vendors offer fruits, vegetables, flowers, ready-made food, art and more at this farmer’s market. This is a great spot to grab a morning coffee and explore.  

Fun fact: The Old Town Alexandria farmer’s market is the longest continuously operating farmer’s market in the USA.


#9: Walk the Potomac River Waterfront

The waterfront has some stunning views of the Potomac River.  Stop at the iconic ‘I Love You’ sign, relax at one of the waterfront parks or grab a bite to eat at one of the many waterfront restaurants.  Our daughter loved running around the waterfront parks where there was more green space than elsewhere in Old Town Alexandria.  


#10: What to do Old Town Alexandria: Mount Vernon Trail

This nearly 18 mile trail is a great spot to go for a run, walk or bike ride.  The Mount Vernon Trail parallels the Potomac River and is a nice retreat from the more bustling parts of Old Town Alexandria.  Natalie found this spot to be the best place to access the trail, although there are many points along the waterfront to access it. 


#11 What to do Old Town Alexandria: Mount Vernon

For the history buff in your group, head 8 miles south of Old Town Alexandria to George Washington’s former estate, Mount Vernon.  Here, explore the riverside estate including the mansion that has been turned into a museum, the operational farm, the extensive gardens, the first presidents tomb, the distillery, the gristmill and more. 


#12 What to do Old Town Alexandria: Day Trip to the National Mall 

Located only about 6 miles north of Old Town Alexandria, a day trip to the National Mall is as easy as calling an Uber.  The monuments and museums are always so fascinating to see.  We started at the Lincoln Memorial and worked our way towards the Smithsonian Museums. Choose your own adventure when it comes to what you explore here! 

Kudos to the CoziGo (in first picture in series above) for helping our daughter take a nap while out exploring the National Mall. We love this portable blackout curtain that creates a dark space for our daughter in her carseat and/or stroller.  Use this link for the CoziGo for a discount.


Where to Stay in Old Town Alexandria

When researching where to stay in Old Town Alexandria, we wanted to be sure to find a place that matched the area’s picturesque charm.  We were so pleased when we found this mid-century modern Airbnb in the heart of Old Town Alexandria to stay at while visiting Old Town Alexandria.   This Airbnb has the perfect location and we were able to walk everywhere we wanted to visit in Old Town Alexandria. For more information on this Airbnb please see our Where to Stay in Old Town Alexandria blog post. 


Looking to extend your trip from Old Town Alexandria? Check out our One Day in Shenandoah National Park and Where to Stay Near Shenandoah posts for some inspiration. Shenandoah National Park is only about 2 hours from Old Town Alexandria and a nice little escape from the city.


We hope this guide helps you plan your trip and what to do in Old Town Alexandria.  Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Where to Hike near Puerto Vallarta


As avid hikers, we always look for the best hike in every area we visit. When we visited Puerto Vallarta, we were thrilled to find the nearby Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach Hike. This hike, near Puerto Vallarta, is the perfect combination of scenic beaches and jungle. The best part? It leads to a beach with a hopping restaurant scene where you relax after your hike. We really enjoyed this hike and it was our favorite activity we did while visiting the Puerto Vallarta area of Mexico. Here is our guide on hiking from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach near Puerto Vallarta.

Where to Hike near Puerto Vallarta

FYI-This post is written based on a trip/hike taken in early April. For more on our Puerto Vallarta trip and for all our tips when visiting this area, see our What to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico guide.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach Hike Overview

This hike starts in the quaint and colorful local fishing village of Boca de Tomatlan and leads you to the lively Las Animas beach. This hike takes you along stunning coastline and through green jungle to several beautiful secluded beaches south of Puerto Vallarta before reaching Las Animas.  The Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach hike is 2.25 mile with 705 feet of elevation gain one-way.

Where to Hike near Puerto Vallarta

Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach Hike Specifics 

This hike took us about 2 hours one-way. This is longer than we expected as we had to be more careful with our footing than we anticipated. The trail is very peaceful and makes the extra effort worth it though.

To start your journey from Boca, you cross a makeshift boardwalk over the water (first picture in trio below) to get on the trail on the southern side of Boca de Tomatlan.  If you are having trouble finding it, ask a local (in Spanish ideally) where it is and they should be able to show you the way.

Where to Hike near Puerto Vallarta

We only saw a handful of other people on the path, and it was easy enough to follow. You will pass by some nice houses right outside of Boca and then alternate between hiking through the jungle and across beaches. When in doubt, hug the coastline and cross the several beaches you encounter, paralleling the water, to get back to the trail.

Beware: There is barbed wire fence on parts of the trail.  It is usually simple to avoid but be mindful of where it is (especially if hiking with a baby who likes to touch everything and put everything in her mouth). 

Where to Hike near Puerto Vallarta

Las Animas Beach

When you reach Las Animas, stop and relax at one of the beachfront restaurants for food/drink before taking a water taxi back to Boca de Tomatlan. Alternatively, you can hike back the same route if you are feeling refreshed after a relaxing stop.

The restaurants on Las Animas all have nice beach atmospheres and are very accommodating for you to step-up camp for the afternoon.  We particularly recommend eating on the beach at Mariscos Tinos.  We had not only a table on the beach to sit at while dining but also lounge chairs for us to relax on in front of our table (use of both included with dining).  The staff at this restaurant also provided very attentive service. We had a fun afternoon here with our 8-month-old daughter!

After grabbing a bite on Las Animas, you can take a water taxi back to Boca for 100 pesos per person (baby was free).  Our waiter helped us coordinate by calling the boat but can also coordinate yourself from the main pier on the beach. Alternatively, you could hike back to Boca de Tomatlan as stated above.

Las Animas Beach

Looking for great hiking boots?  Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 7+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots


How to get to Boca de Tomatlan from Puerto Vallarta

To get to Boca de Tomatlan, you can easily take a local bus from downtown PV to this southern fishing village. It takes about 30 minutes.  The ride is bumpy, due to speed bumps, but goes by quickly as you hug the scenic coastline. The bus costs 15 pesos per person each way.  Alternatively, you can take a cab, but it will be over 10x the price and takes the same amount of time as there is only one two-lane road that connects the two areas. We rode the local bus several times during our trip and found it to be both a local and cultural experience. We figured out where to catch the bus through asking locals and recommend doing the same. The people who regularly use the bus are the ones who know it best.


We took this hike with our 8 month old daughter.  For all our baby travels tips and tricks see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips and our How to Hike with a Baby post.


We hope this guide helps you plan your hike from Boca de Tomatlan to La Animas Beach near Puerto, Vallarta Mexico.  Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment! For more on our Puerto Vallarta see our What to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico guide.

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands National Lakeshore


Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

Being avid travelers to the US National Park sites in addition to being loving dog owners, we were excited when we found out that unlike most US National Park System designations, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is actually rather dog friendly. Everything’s better with your dog, including vacation.  Being able to bring your dog on vacation with you is vital to helping you unwind and relax while visiting a new place.   We spent an extended weekend in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore with our pup Gordie and were so happy to find so many dog friendly activities to do with him while there.  Here is our guide on Dog Friendly Activities in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area. 


Looking for another dog friendly vacation? See our Dog Friendly Door County, Wisconsin Guide and our A Day at Starved Rock State Park guides.   


FYI This post is written based on a trip taken in Mid-August. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


Hike the Meyers Beach Sea Caves Trail with your Dog

Our top dog friendly recommendation for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is to hike the Meyers Beach Sea Cave Trail.  We loved hiking this trail with our pup!  Unlike most trails at other National Lakeshores, such as Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, you can hike here with your dog.  Our dog loves a good hike so he was in heaven.  

Meyers Beach Sea Caves

The Meyers Beach Sea Cave Trail leads you to Lake Superior’s waterfront cliffs where you can see some of the Apostle Islands sea caves and Lake Superior from above.  This trail goes through the woods and is mainly shaded (we love a shaded trail) until you reach the sea caves at 1.8 miles. 

At 1.8 miles, you reach the Crevasse, an impressive 100-yard-long fracture in the rocks.  We actually got to Kayak into this sea cave on our kayak tour of the lakeshore (see all the detailed about sea kayaking Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in our What to do Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Unfortunately, sea kayaking is not dog friendly, hence why it did not make it into this guide). 

You can continue on the trail for more sea cave views until the 2.2 mile point but after that, the trail only leads to some remote campsite through the woods and there are no further views of the sea caves.   

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

Not too hard of a hike for your or your pup

We did this hike with Natalie’s parents and our dog.  It was a really nice hike as it was not overly strenuous and had some great views of the sea caves without kayaking.  Natalie’s parents, who do not do much hiking at all, felt it to be very manageable for beginners.  They also were not disappointed with the views.  On the hike back from the sea caves, Natalie’s Dad was sure to tell each hiker we passed about the cool views.  It was adorable.   

Caution: Be careful as the edges along the trail may be undercut/slippery.  You don’t want you or your pup to fall into the water from the trail.  It’s not a short fall! 

4.6 miles round trip, 269 feet of elevation gain, out & back

Cost: $5 fee to park (cannot use America the Beautiful Pass) 


Hike Lost Creek Falls with your Dog

Our next top dog friendly activity for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area is to hike Lost Creek Falls.  Our pup loved, and we mean LOVED, hiking this trail.  This trail brings you through a peaceful wooded setting to a more impressive than we expected waterfall and small pool area. Our dog LOVED running through the pools of water around the waterfall at the ‘summit’ of this hike.  He was really living his best life zooming back and forth. 

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

The trail is well-maintained with some boardwalks. We did this hike in the morning and had the waterfall/pool area all to ourselves.  It was so pretty and serene! 

2.2 Miles, 216 feet of elevation gain, out & back

Cost: Free to park

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

Tip: Bring good bug spray and tick wipes for your dog.   

The bugs were actually not bad at all during our trip (we all got less than 3 mosquito bites on our 5 day trip) and found no ticks on our dog while there.  However, this very wooded trail with water at the end is typically notorious for both.  We think our bug spray and tick wipes helped prevent us having an issue here.  These are the tick wipes we use with our dog.  This is the non-chemical bug spray we use with our daughter.   This is the deet bug spray we use on ourselves. 


Take the Madeline Island Ferry with your Dog

Our third dog friendly activity recommendation for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area is visiting Madeline Island/taking the ferry to Madeline Island.  Again, our dog was living his best life on the ferry to the island and on the island itself.  The pictures speak for themselves. 

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

Fun Fact: Madeline Island is the largest and most developed of the 22 Apostle Islands. It is well known for its beaches and hiking trails/biking trails.  It also has some eclectic shops and restaurants.  

Dog Friendly Madeline Island Ferry

The journey to Madeline Island with your dog is half the fun. To access this island, you take the Madeline Island Ferry from Downtown Bayfield.  This ferry ride offers scenic views of Lake Superior, Bayfield, Madeline Island and some other of the Apostle Islands in the distance.  And you can soak in all these views with your pup as the ferry is dog friendly.  

Cost: $17 per person round-trip, $30 per car round-tip.  Dogs ride for free.  The ferry is a bit pricey but again, part of the experience.  See the Madeline Island Ferry Rates for the most up-to-date prices. If you are interested in more ferry ride experiences, see our, coming soon ***, Two-Week Fjords of Norway Road Trip. 

Also, unless it is an extraordinarily busy weekend, you typically do not need to book this ferry in advance.  Just arrive about 15-20 before the time you would like to depart and you should have no problem getting on the ferry you want. See the Madeline Island Ferry Schedule for the most up-to-date times. 

Dog Friendly Madeline Island

On Madeline Island, explore the downtown area with your pup.  A particularly good spot to visit is the Pub Restaurant & Wine Bar at the Inn on Madeline Island as they will serve dog treats while you dine on the patio.  You also can go hiking on some of the trails in the area.  However, note that, unfortunately, not all the trails in the parks on Madeline Island are dog friendly.  The casper trail (1.2 miles one-way) near downtown is dog friendly though so be sure to check that one out!  See the map below for all the Madeline Island trails.


Explore Cornucopia with your Pup

Our next dog friendly Apostle Islands area recommendation is visiting the small artsy and eclectic town of Cornucopia.  Cornucopia is located not far from Meyers Beach and the sea caves hike.  There are several small boutique and resale shops in this town as well as a few restaurants on the main street, many being dog friendly.  The harbor area is very picturesque here too.  

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

For a dog friendly dining experience in Cornucopia, try eating at the Fat Radish Restaurant.  This restaurant is known for its tasty farm-to-table dishes and is of course dog friendly.  Note: this restaurant has limited evening hours (Wed-Sun) and brunch hours (Sun only).  

We actually visited Cornucopia during Cornucopia days (mid August) and there was also a flea market and fundraiser food sale going on.  Our pup was welcome here too.  


Explore Downtown Bayfield with your Dog

Bayfield is a charming small-town on the largest Great Lake.  This town is very walkable with many cute small shops and restaurants, many that are also dog friendly.  Bayfield reminded us of the shops and restaurants in the small towns in Door County. Plan to spend a morning or an afternoon here. Here is a list of dog friendly spots to eat and shop in Bayfield: 

  • Big Water Coffee Roasters 
  • Big Water’s Bakery (get ther Rhubarb Ginger Scone!)
  • Greunke’s First Street Inn & Dining
  • Portside Bar & Restaurant
  • Pier Plaza Restaurant & Lounge 

Where to Stay near Apostle Islands National Lakeshore with your Dog

We highly recommend staying at Mission Springs Resort while visiting the Apostle Islands area with your dog.  We stayed here and had a great extended weekend with our pup and family.  This resort, located right on Lake Superior, offers you superb lake views while also offering plenty of outdoor areas for your pup to explore.  We loved walking down to the lake in the morning with our pup at our side and a hot beverage in our hands.  Mission Springs Resort truly offers you a serene place to unwind and have a great time with your family, including your dog, around the campfire.  For more details on staying here, see our Where to Stay Near Apostle Islands National Lakeshore post.

Call or text Katie at 715-209-8321 for availability or visit the Mission Springs Resort website for the best price and most up to date availability.  Katie is a great resource while visiting the area and during your stay as well.  She is a fantastic host, allowing you your space yet is available for any questions!  

If Mission Springs Resort is fully booked, some other places to stay with your dog in Apostles Islands include the Inn on Madeline Island and this Bayfield Condo.  There are also campsites on the mainland/islands that allow dogs. 


Looking for another dog friendly vacation? See our Dog Friendly Door County, Wisconsin Guide and our A Day at Starved Rock State Park guides.   


We hope this guide helps you plan your dog friendly trip to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.  Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Where to Stay Near Apostle Islands


Where to Stay Near Apostle Islands

After researching visiting the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area for years, we were so happy when we finally found Mission Springs Resort to stay at in nearby Ashland.  Located right on the shores of Lake Superior with peaceful lakeshore views, this resort offered us the exact cozy north woods lake cabin vacation we were seeking.  This dog friendly and family friendly resort was the perfect spot for us to stay at and relax while visiting Apostle Islands National Lakeshore with our family.  Here’s a run down of why we found Mission Springs Resort to be the perfect spot while visiting Apostle Islands National Lakeshore! 

Mission Springs Resort near Apostle Islands is Dog Friendly

Everything’s better with your dog, including vacation.  The unconditional love of dogs is just unmatched, hence why being able to bring them on vacation with you is vital to helping you unwind and relax while away.   This resort has plenty of room right around each cabin for your dog to play and there are several short paths that lead down to Lake Superior you can walk on with fido too. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Bayfield area has plenty of dog-friendly activities too.   Please see our Dog Friendly Apostle Islands Guide too for more activities.   


Looking for another dog friendly vacation? See our Dog Friendly Door County, Wisconsin Guide and our A Day at Starved Rock State Park guides.   


Lake Superior Views and Access

From Mission Springs Resort, you have access to Lake Superior as the property has direct lakeshore access.   We enjoyed walking down to the lake with coffee and tea in the morning to soak in the peaceful morning Lake Superior views.  You also can watch the sunrise from this spot.   There is something so special about seeing the sunrise over the lake!  If you have kayaks or canoes, you could bring those to use here to launch from the beach.   

Centrally located to Bayfield & Meyers Beach

Mission Springs Resort is located outside ofAshland, about 20 minutes from Bayfield (Ferry to Madeline Island and Apostle Island Cruises) and 30 minutes from Meyers Beach (Sea Cave Kayaking and Apostles Islands National Lakeshore Hiking).  The location is tucked away from the hustle and bustle, giving you a relaxing cottage vacation, yet not far from all the activities you’ll want to do in the area.  Please see our What to do Apostle Islands National Lakeshore for more activities in the area. 

Close to Secluded & Scenic Trail 

One of our favorite parts about being situated at Mission Springs Resort was being so close to the Bayfield Country Trail 13.   This trail is so peaceful and secluded.  We really enjoyed walking on it with our dog.  It was so nice to not have to drive anywhere and just be able to go for a tranquil hike.   To access this trail, cross highway 13 (busy highway so be careful) slightly south of the property and you’ll stumble upon it.  This trail heads both north and south and is perfect for a relaxing morning or afternoon stroll. 

Great Outdoor Space

This resort has a fantastic outdoor area at each cabin/house.  The yard at each cabin or house includes a charcoal grill, fire pit and picnic table.  Firewood is provided which is a nice perk to have a nice evening campfire. This area is tucked away from view of the other outdoor spots, giving you a private backyard setting.  Note: You can see the other cabins from each cabin but each is far enough away from the other and positioned so you have your own private space. 

Something to Fit Everyone’s Needs

With 6 different properties on the resort, the Mission Springs Resort really has something to fit everyone’s needs.  From a modern lake house (sleeps 11) to cozy cabins of variable size, you will find something here to meet your family’s specific needs.  We stayed in cabin #4 which is a 2-bedroom, 1 bath cabin and found it to be comfortable for 4 adults (us + Natalie’s parents), 1 baby and our (velcro-like) dog.  The modern lake house would be a great spot for an extended family to stay!  See Mission Springs Accommodations Options for more information and specifics on each cabin.  

Flexible cancellation policy 

This resort is very with the times, having a flexible cancellation policy (cottages can be changed or canceled at no charge, up to 48 hours prior to arrival).  This gives you peace of mind booking just in case something happens to disturb your plans. 

We hope this guide helps you plan your stay near Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.   We can’t wait to visit again.  Call or text Katie at 715-209-8321 for availability or visit the Mission Springs Resort website for the best price and most up to date availability.  Katie is a great resource while visiting the area and during your stay as well.  She is a fantastic host, allowing you your space yet is available for any questions!  

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

What to do Apostle Islands National Lakeshore


With stunning sea caves, dramatic sandstone cliffs and pristine beaches, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is truly a northern Wisconsin gem. Centuries of freezing, thawing and wave activity has sculpted a very unique shoreline here, making the scenery at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore unforgettable.  In addition to beautiful shoreline views (visible through hiking and sea kayaking), there are also several cute small towns to explore and inland hikes to take in the area.   After planning a trip to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore for several years, we are excited to share our ‘What to Do in Apostle Islands’ guide with you so can start planning a trip to the area of your own. 


FYI: This post is written based on a trip taken in mid-August. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


Go Sea Kayaking along Apostles Islands National Lakeshore

Apostle Islands Sea Kayaking

Our top recommendation on what to do on Apostles Islands National Lakeshore is to go sea kayaking.  We have been dreaming of kayaking these sea caves for years and the experience really lived up to our expectations. Pictures really do not do these picturesque sea caves justice.  Seeing the sea caves up-close and on the water is breathtaking.  Further, sea kayaking allows you to not only see these sea caves but to actually go in them!  We had so much fun kayaking into sea caves of all different sizes.  We really got a kick out of ducking down to get into some of the smaller sea caves. These tight caves stand in sharp contrast to the expansive nature of some of the bigger sea caves.  

Tip: Go Sea Kayaking from Meyers Beach

There are several options on where you can start your sea kayaking tour.  Despite the options, we highly recommend picking a tour that leaves from Meyers Beach.  Logistically, this is the easiest trip to coordinate, as you do not have to take a ferry, and per the park ranger we spoke with, the prettiest sea caves of different tours offered.  You can also take sea caves tours from Sand Island and Madeline Island.

Apostle Islands Sea Kayaking

Book a Sea Kayaking Tour with Lost Creek Adventures

Although you could kayak from Meyers Beach without a guide, we highly recommend using one.  The outfitters can ensure the water conditions are safe, guide you through the stable sea caves (some are not stable and are at risk of collapse) and supply you with the right gear (sea kayak, wet suit (we needed even with air temps in the low 60s) and wet bag).  

Here is a list of the certified Sea Kayaking Outfitters on Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.  We took a half day tour with Lost Creek Adventures Kayaking and would highly recommend using this company.  Our guides (shout out to Nat and Otis) were great and the group we went kayaking with was small (4 other double kayaks), making the outing more intimate and customized.  We got to explore so many sea caves on this half day trip and were able to go further on the shoreline than most groups due to having a group of relatively strong kayakers.  Our guides were also kind enough to snap and share some pictures of us kayaking from their phones too.  This half-day trip cost $83 per person and was worth every penny. 

Apostle Islands Sea Kayaking

Tip: Go as early in the morning as possible for calmer waters

Per our research and the Apostle Island National Lakeshore park ranger we spoke with, the water at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is usually much more calm early in the morning.  Therefore, kayaking as early as possible in the morning will make your trip more enjoyable and less likely to be canceled.   

Apostle Islands Sea Kayaking

Caution: Use a sea kayak while kayaking Apostles Island National Lakeshore

Due to the unpredictable and powerful nature of Lake Superior, use a sea kayak rather than a smaller kayak when kayaking here.  People have drowned kayaking the Apostle Islands so be sure to use the proper equipment to keep yourself safe.  Also, as recommended above, go kayaking with a guide so they can ensure the water conditions are safe for your trip.  They monitor the waters and will reschedule your trip if it is not safe to go.   The outfitter will also advise you when a wetsuit is needed for your trip (often needed due to cold Lake Superior temps).  Our use of wet suits was included in our rental price at Lost Creek.  Most of the outfitters include wetsuit in their base rental costs but be sure to check with the outfitter you use. 


Hike from Meyers Beach above the Sea Caves

What to do Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Our next recommendation on what to do while visiting Apostle Islands is to hike from Meyers Beach above the sea caves. We loved hiking this trail!  It takes you to a spot where you can see some of the Apostle Islands Sea Caves and Lake Superior from above for about 0.5 miles.  This trail goes through the woods and is mainly shaded (we love a shaded trail) until you reach the sea caves at 1.8 miles.  At 1.8 miles, you reach the Crevasse, an impressive 100-yard-long fracture in the rocks.  We actually got to Kayak into this sea cave on our kayak tour (see above).   You can continue on the trail until the 2.2 mile point for more sea cave views.  However, after that, the trail only leads to some remote campsite through the woods and there are no further views of the sea caves. 

4.6 miles round trip, 269 feet of elevation gain, out & back

Cost: $5 fee to park (cannot use America the Beautiful Pass) 

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

Note: You can bring your dog hiking at Meyers Beach! 

Unlike most trails at other National Lakeshores, such as Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, you can hike here with your dog.  Our pup loved exploring this trail!  See our Dog Friendly Apostle Islands Guide for more Dog Friendly recommendations in the area. 


Looking for another dog friendly vacation? See our Dog Friendly Door County, Wisconsin Guide and our A Day at Starved Rock State Park guides.  


We did this hike with Natalie’s parents and our dog.  It was a nice hike, not overly strenuous and had some great views of the sea caves without kayaking.  Natalie’s parents, who do not do much hiking, felt it to be very manageable for beginners.  They also were not disappointed with the views.  On the hike back from the sea caves, Natalie’s Dad was sure to tell each hiker we passed about the cool views.  It was adorable.  

Meyers Beach Sea Cave Trail

Caution: Be careful as the edges along the trail may be undercut/slippery.  You don’t want to fall into the water from the trail.  It’s not a short fall! 


Hike Lost Creek Falls in Apostle Islands

Lost Creek Falls Apostle Islands What to Do

Our third top recommendation on what to do in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is to hike Lost Creek Falls. This trail brings you through a peaceful wooded setting to a, more impressive than we expected, waterfall and small pool area.  The trail is well-maintained with some boardwalks. We did this hike in the morning and had the waterfall/pool area all to ourselves.  It was so pretty and serene! 

2.2 Miles, 216 feet of elevation gain, out & back

Cost: Free to park

Note: Dogs are allowed to hike here too!

Our dog LOVED running through the pools of water around the waterfall at the ‘summit’ of this hike.  He was really living his best life zooming back and forth.  See our Dog Friendly Apostle Islands Guide for further dog friendly activities in the area.

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

Tip: Bring good bug spray.  

The bugs were actually not bad at all during our trip (we all got less than 3 bites on our 5 day trip) but most other people we know who have been here recommended good bug spray for this very wooded trail.  This is the non-chemical bug spray we use with our daughter.   This is the deet bug spray we use on ourselves.  


Visit Madeline Island in Apostle Islands

Madeline Island

Our next what to do in Apostle Islands recommendation is to visit Madeline Island. Madeline Island is the largest and most developed of the 22 Apostle Islands. It is well known for its beaches and hiking trails/biking trails.  It also has some eclectic shops and restaurants.  

Fun fact: Although Madeline Island is one of the 22 Apostle Islands, it is the only one not part of the National Lakeshore. 

Madeline Island Ferry

Madeline Island Ferry

The journey to Madeline Island itself is half the fun. To access this island, you take the Madeline Island Ferry from Downtown Bayfield.  This ferry ride offers scenic views of Lake Superior, Bayfield, Madeline Island and some of the other Apostle Islands in the distance.  You can soak in all these views with your pup as the ferry is dog friendly.  

Cost: $17 per person round-trip, $30 per car round-tip.  Dogs ride for free.  The ferry is a bit pricey but again, part of the experience.  See the Madeline Island Ferry Rates for the most up-to-date prices. If you are interested in more ferry ride experiences, see our, coming soon, Two-Week Fjords of Norway Road Trip. 

Also, unless it is an extraordinarily busy weekend, you typically do not need to book this ferry in advance.  Just arrive about 15-20 minutes before the time you would like to depart and you should have no problem getting on the ferry you want. See the Madeline Island Ferry Schedule for the most up-to-date times. 

Tip: Get ice cream in La Pointe on Madeline Island before heading back to Bayfield to enjoy on the ferry ride back

Town Park and Bog Bay State Park

Visit Town Park and Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island

While on Madeline Island, be sure to visit the parks here–Town Park and Big Bay State Park. Town Park and Big Bay State Park both offer some nice trails to explore the beaches and woods on Madeline Island.  The boardwalk between Town Park and Big Bay State Park was our favorite trail here.  The trail is about 2 miles long.  It is mostly shaded, the breeze from the lake is perfect and the boardwalks are very well-maintained.  You can also hike around the lake here.  See map below from this trail as well as others on the island.

 Madeline Island Map

Visit La Pointe, Downtown, Madeline Island

The downtown area here is eclectic and artsy with some cute shops, galleries and restaurants.  Note, hours are very limited and variable at the shops here. If you are looking for a dog-friendly spot, visit the Inn on Madeline Island (stay overnight with your pup or eat at the Pub Restaurant on the patio). 


Explore Cornucopia in Apostle Islands

Cornucopia is another artsy and eclectic small town located near Meyers Beach/Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.  There are several small boutique and resale shops here as well as a few restaurants on the main street.  The harbor area is very picturesque along Lake Superior.  

For a more high-end meal in a casual environment, try eating at the Fat Radish Restaurant in Cornucopia.  This restaurant is known for its tasty farm-to-table dishes.  Note that this restaurant has limited evening hours (Wed-Sun) and brunch hours (Sun only).  

We actually visited during Cornucopia days (mid-August) so there was also a flea market and fundraiser food sale going on at the time. We felt like a local exploring this town celebration.


Apostle Islands Cruise

If you want to see the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore beyond Madeline Island and without kayaking, taking an island cruise is the best way to do it.  The National Park Service offers narrated scenic cruises and shuttles to different islands.  In addition to the cruises offered by the National Park Service, you can also take a private water taxi or boat. 

Apostle Island Cruises & Charters


Visit an Orchard & Apple or Berry Pick 

While we were in the Bayfield area, blueberries were in season for picking and we went to Blue Vista Farms.  We picked the most delicious blueberries we have ever tasted here.  The price was reasonable and the little farm store on site was adorable too (if you are looking for some prepared local products).  Be sure to check the farm website for hours prior to visiting though as they are limited.

There are tons of farms in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Bayfield area.  Many of them are located close to each other. Each has unique offerings and different hours to help fit your schedule/interests. Some other options include:


Explore Bayfield 

Bayfield is a charming small-town on the largest Great Lake.  This town is very walkable with many cute small shops and restaurants.  It reminded us of the shops and restaurants in the small towns in Door County. Plan to spend a morning or an afternoon here.  Be sure to get a rhubarb scone at Big Water’s Bakery!  


Visit Friendly Valley Beach

This beach located South of Bayfield is a little hidden gem that our accommodations host told us about. If you are looking to spend some time at the beach but do not want to spend the money it costs to go to Madeline Island, this is the way to do it! You can walk along the beach and out onto some sand bars that go into the lake.  Parking here is free. 

Friendly Valley Beach Location


Visit Delta Diner 

This restaurant is more than just a meal, it’s an experience.  Delta Diner is a throwback to 1940’s east coast diners and looks like something straight out of the 1940s.  Although we did not get to try this place during our visit due to limited Thu-Sun hours (see website), we hope you get a chance to get a meal here during your visit.  

This restaurant is another activity our accommodations host told us about!  Katie at Mission Springs Resort is really a great resource for activities and any questions you may have about your visit to the area.


Where to Stay Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

We highly recommend staying at Mission Springs Resort in Ashland, about 20 minutes south of Bayfield and 30 minutes southeast of Meyers Beach.  This resort is close enough to all of the activities in the area yet tucked away from the hustle and bustle. It is truly the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring.  This resort has been family owned and operated for over 75 years.  It is family friendly and all the accommodations are dog friendly.   And with charming cottages and a large modern lake house, there is something to fit everyone’s accommodations needs.  Located right along the Lake Superior shoreline, you’ll be hard pressed to find another spot with better views to drink your morning coffee.  For more on staying at this place, please see our Where to Stay Near Apostle Islands National Lakeshore post. 

Call or text Katie at 715-209-8321 for availability or visit the Mission Springs Resort website for the best price and most up to date availability.  Katie is a great resource while visiting the area and during your stay as well.  She is a fantastic host, allowing you your space yet is available for any questions!  


FAQs about Apostle Islands National Lakeshore 

When to Visit Apostles Islands?

Visit in the summer, ideally June-early September. Outside of that window, sea kayaking outings are limited/not offered due to the unpredictable and cooler weather.  You can also visit the sea caves in winter by walking on the ice (when it is safe) but you will not be able to go sea kayaking and will likely have limited hiking options due to ice/snow as well.  

Where to Stay near Apostle Islands National Lakeshore?

We recommend staying at Mission Springs Resort.   For more on staying at this place, please see our Where to Stay Near Apostle Islands National Lakeshore post for more details. 

Is Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Dog Friendly? 

Yes!  Unlike Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and many of the other National Parks, you can hike here in many spots with your dog.  See our Dog Friendly Apostle Islands Guide post for more information. 

Looking for another dog friendly vacation? See our Dog Friendly Door County, Wisconsin Guide and our A Day at Starved Rock State Park guides.  


We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.  Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Pictured Rocks/Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, located in the upper peninsula (UP) of Michigan, is one of the most picturesque areas of the midwest.  The coastline here, lined with unique colorful cliffs, is absolutely breathtaking.  Here you can hike, kayak or take a boat cruise along the serene and scenic Lake Superior Coastline to soak in all the views.  Our guide on Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore will go through how to see it all.

Pictured Rocks/Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Chapel Basin Loop Trail

Likewise, if you explore further into the UP, beyond Munising which is the hub for visiting Pictured Rocks, you will be treated with more stunning scenery.  From waterfalls to a historic lighthouse to a very blue natural spring, the upper peninsula of Michigan will not disappoint.  This guide will also help you explore the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Pictured Rocks/Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
Upper Tahquamenon Falls

We spent 5 days exploring the Pictured Rocks and surrounding area in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  We would recommend spending at least that much time in this area, if not more, if you want to explore beyond Munising.  Here is our guide to making the most of your time visiting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and the upper peninsula of Michigan.  

Note: This post is written based on a trip taken in early September. We took this trip with our 5 week old daughter. For tips on traveling with a baby, please see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, How to Hike with a Baby and Flying with a Baby posts.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


What to Do near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore


Hike Chapel Basin Loop along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

10.2 miles, 770 feet of elevation gain

Pictured Rocks/Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (The North Country Trail between Chapel Beach and Mosquito Beach)

Although there are many options and different combinations of routes to hike on the trails in this area, we recommend hiking the Chapel Basin Loop (see map highlighted below).  This hike gives you amazing views of the Pictured Rocks.  The North Country Trail, between Chapel Beach and Mosquito Beach, is the only place you can see these unique multicolored cliffs from land.  This hike will also take you past two waterfalls (Chapel Falls and Mostiquo Falls), to a unique rock formation (Chapel Rock) and to two beaches (Mostiquo Beach and Chapel Beach).  If you are only going to do one hike in Pictured Rocks, do this one!

Arrive Early at the Chapel/Mostiquo Trailhead

Pictured Rocks/Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
Mostiquo Beach

When we arrived at the Chapel/Mostiquo parking lot at 8:15 am on an early September weekday, we were one of only 3 cars in the parking lot.  However, by the time we finished our hike, the parking lot was completely full and many people were also parked along the road.  If you arrive early, we recommend hiking toward Chapel Falls/Rock first to have the trail more to yourself.  We hiked towards Mosquito Falls first and saw no people on the trail for the first 6 miles, making this section of the hike very serene and peaceful.  However, once we got near Chapel Beach, we then saw dozens of people. If we did this hike again, we would hike it in reverse to avoid more people. 

Other Chapel Basin Loop Tips

Pictured Rocks/Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
Views along the Chapel Basin Loop

You have to drive on a primitive road, with lots of deep potholes, to access this trailhead so having a 4 wheel drive/high clearance vehicle is recommended. 

Mosquito Falls and Chapel Falls are very minor waterfalls in comparison to seeing Tahquamenon Falls and some of the other waterfalls we outline in this guide. However, we recommend hiking past them as they do help break up the hike on the way out/back.  

Budget at least 5 hours to complete this hike.  We hiked the trail in less than 4.5 hours but it took us much longer to actually complete the hike because we had our 5 week old daughter with us and we had to stop frequently to feed/change her.  Expose them to nature and hiking young, right?!  For tips on hiking with an infant, see our How to Hike with a Baby post

No dogs are allowed on the trail here.  The fee is a minimum of $180 so best to leave fido at home for this one. For tips on a Dog Friendly Vacation, see our Dog Friendly Door County, Wisconsin Guide


Looking for great hiking boots?  Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 6+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots


Hike Beaver Basin Wilderness Trails along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Variable routes and lengths

Pictured Rocks/Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
COVES section off Beaver Basin Wilderness

This area of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is  much less trafficked than the Chapel/Mostiquo area.  There are several different hiking options in this area, all offering a little bit different scenery.  You can combine these trails anyway you please.  On the map below, highlighted is the out and back route we completed.   

Hike to the COVES section

Pictured Rocks/Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
Beaver Basin Wilderness (Left), COVES section of the North Country Trail (Middle), Little Beaver Lake (Right)

We hiked through the forest, past Little Beaver Lake and then west on the North Country Trail until the COVES group campsites.  The section of the North Country Trail we hiked on here was really pretty and felt untouched.  Throughout the COVES section, you can climb down into some of the different coves along the lake for even better lakeshore views.  

The forest trail, leading out to the lakeshore, is really unique as well with lots of interesting rock formations.  Alternatively, or as an add on, you could also hike around Beaver Lake and east on the North Country Trail. 

Note, you cannot see the Pictured Rocks from this hike, you can only see those on the North Country Trail in the Chapel/Mostiquo area. 

Again, no dogs are allowed on this trail.  


Visit Miners Castle on Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks/Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
Miner’s Castle

Here, from the upper viewpoint, you can see the unique Miners Castle rock formation against the beautiful Lake Superior turquoise water. This viewpoint is only a very short walk from the parking lot and off a paved path.  You can hike to a lower viewpoint but the view is not as good from close-up.  

You can also hike down further to Miners Beach/Elliot Falls and on part of the North Country Trail along the Lake Superior Lakeshore.  We opted not to do this as we had had more serene beach and waterfall views on our other hikes but this is a great option if you want to see the lakeshore with a relatively short hike.  

For a full list of hikes in Pictured Rocks, see the National Parks Service Pictured Rocks Hikes webpage. 


Visit Tahquamenon State Park

Tahquamenon State Park, located along the Tahquamenon River, is rated as one of the best state parks in Michigan. This is because this park is home to the very large and impressive Upper Tahquamenon Falls.  

Upper Tahquamenon Falls 

Upper Tahquamenon Falls Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
Upper Tahquamenon Falls 

This 50 foot waterfall, with its grandeur, will not disappoint and can be viewed from several viewing platforms.  It also can be viewed from a paved path but the best views are at the viewing platforms. The walk to each of these platforms is about 1/3 mile on a paved path as well as wooden stairs.  To get up close with the falls, go to the upper viewing platform.  For more encompassing views, go to the lower viewing platform.  We recommend going to both.  Each is about 100 stairs to climb up and down but completely worth the effort. 

Upper Tahquamenon Falls Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
Upper Tahquamenon Falls 

Lower Tahquamenon Falls 

Lower Tahquamenon Falls 
Lower Tahquamenon Falls 

The Lower Falls is a series of smaller waterfalls but equally beautiful.  Here, you can walk down the path and onto the wooden viewing platform, about 0.5 miles, to see all the cascades in this area.  You can also hike through the forest around the falls as we did.  Another option here is renting a rowboat to ride out to a small island among the falls.  On this island, you get contrasting views of the falls and can go for a short 0.5 mile hike through the forest on the island itself. 

Lower Tahquamenon Falls 
Lower Tahquamenon Falls 

Tahquamenon River Trail

You can also hike between the Lower Falls and Upper Falls along the Tahquamenon River trail. This trail is 4.8 miles one-way or 9.6 miles roundtrip.  We hiked a mile out and back of this trail, starting at the lower viewing platform from the Upper Falls. The trail was beautiful!  When we visited, the weather was questionable and we did not want to be stuck in the rain on a 9+ mile hike with our 5 week old so we opted not to do the whole trail but that would be a pretty way to see more of the park.  

Taquamenon River Trail
Taquamenon River Trail

During peak season (not when we were visiting on a weekday in early September), there is a shuttle (Jordan’s Shuttle Service) that runs between the Lower Falls and Upper Falls. This shuttle will take you back to where you started your hike, at either the Upper Falls or Lower Falls, so you would only have to hike the trail one way.  

If you hike between the falls,you may have the trail all to yourself.  When we hiked part of the trail, we saw no other people on it (granted it was on a weekday, not during peak season and questionable weather). Most people drive between the two falls (about a 10 minute drive).  

Other Tips on Tahquamenon State Park

Between hiking and exploring at the Upper Falls and Lower Falls areas, we ate at the Tahquamenon Brewery. This restaurant is very conveniently located in the Upper Falls parking lot.   We’d highly recommend you break up your visit this way. The food and brews are on-point here.  See more in the Where to Eat section below. 

Tahquamenon Falls is about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Munising.  You could camp at this park but we would not recommend that as it is more east than most of the activities recommended in this guide. 


Explore Grand Marais 

Grand Marais is home to a very pretty section of coastline along Lake Superior and a cute little town.  Here, we hiked to a lighthouse, a waterfall and sand dunes. We also stopped at a former log slide and got coffee from a trendy local shop.    

Au Sable Light Station

Au Sable Lighthouse
Au Sable Lighthouse

Our first stop in Grand Marais was a hike to the Au Sable Light Station along the Lake Superior coastline.  This lighthouse was built in the 1870s to help ships navigate after many shipwrecks occurred in the area.  We visited on a very windy day with extremely large crushing waves on Lake Superior and it was very obvious to us why this lighthouse was needed.  This hike is 3 miles round trip and is very flat, wide and easy.  Unlike most of the other hikes on this trip, dogs are allowed.  

Beach Views along Au Sable Lighthouse Trail
Beach Views along Au Sable Lighthouse Trail

Log Slide Overlook

Log Slide Overlook Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
Log Slide Overlook

Next, we headed to the Log Slide Overlook. This overlook is a very steep sand dune that was used to slide logs onto ships in Lake Superior many years ago.  This steep log slide offers pretty views along the Lake Superior shoreline. You can hike down the log slide but we would not recommend that as it is exceedingly steep and people often need to be rescued while attempting to do this.   The overlook is just a short walk from the parking lot but be prepared to walk in the sand briefly.  Dogs are not allowed here. 

Sable Falls

Sable Falls Pictured Rocks
Sable Falls

After the Log Slide Overlook, we hiked at Sable Falls. The short (0.33 mile) hike to this pretty waterfall is well worth the effort. You hike mostly down a wooden staircase. After the falls, you can continue down to the beach. It is less than 0.25 miles further down to the beach but note the beaches on the other hikes we did on this trip are, in our opinion, much prettier.  There is also a trail (0.5 miles one-way) to some sand dunes that we opted to hike on as well. Dogs are allowed to hike with you here.  

Sable Falls Pictured Rocks
Sable Falls

Other Grand Marais Tips

While in Grand Marais, be sure to check out the trendy The Dream Bean Machine for some coffee, tea, smoothies or baked goods.  This Volkswagon van turned locally owned small coffee shop is super unique and cute.  

Dream Bean Machine in Grand Marais
Dream Bean Machine

Although we did not have time for it, another place to consider checking out is Lake Superior Brewing. Note, dining options are very limited in Grand Marais and many have limited hours.  Especially after peak season, be sure to check the hours prior to planning to eat anywhere here. 


Visit Kitch-Iti-Kipi Spring

Kitch-Iti-Kipi Spring Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
Kitch-Iti-Kipi Spring

Kitch-Iti-Kipi Spring is a large natural freshwater spring, located in Palm Books State Park.  The very clear and turquoise water is unlike any we have seen before.  At the spring, there is a self-operated pull raft, with the middle cut out, that takes you across the spring and allows you to get a close-up look at the spring.  It is neat to see the spring bubbling up and the fish that live in the spring as well.  We would recommend trying to visit the Kitch-iti-kipi Spring on a weekday to avoid crowds.  It is a popular attraction as there is little to no effort required to see it. It is only a short walk from the parking lot on a paved path.

Kitch-Iti-Kipi Spring Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide
Kitch-Iti-Kipi Spring

Indian State Park

This state park is located less than 10 minutes from Palm Books State Park where Kitch-iti-kipi Spring is located.  We stopped here to do a short 1 mile loop that goes along the lake and through the forest.  The lake is pretty but there is nothing particularly unique about it.  We stopped here to break up our drive a bit more and get some activity as there is no hiking at Palm Books State Park.  Unlike at the popular spring, we saw no other people while here, making our visit very peaceful.  

Indian Lake State Park
Indian Lake State Park

Pictured Rocks Cruise

A Pictured Rocks Cruise is a great way to see the unique and colorful Pictured Rocks from the water.  This option is especially great for anyone who is not inclined to hike the Chapel Basin Hike we recommend above.   We chose not to take a cruise because we saw stellar views of the Pictured Rocks on our hike.  Natalie also saw one of the cruise boats off shore swaying quite aggressively despite being quite a sizeable vessel and was also concerned for sea sickness.  See post on How to Prevent Motion Sickness While Traveling and Flying if you too experience this unfortunate feeling. 


Kayak Pictured Rocks

Kayaking offers, in our opinion, the best way to see the rocks from the water.  However, we had our 5 week old with us so this was not an option.  Beware though, Lake Superior is powerful and only strong kayakers/swimmers should consider doing this.  Paddle Pictured Rocks is the most highly rated company in the area that leads these tours. 


Where to Eat near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore


Tahquamenon Falls Brewery

Tahquamenon Falls Brewery
Tahquamenon Falls Brewery

Tahquamenon Falls Brewery, located in the parking lot of the Upper Falls at Tahquamenon State Park, offers a nice setting to eat, drink and recharge while visiting the park.  The brewery was a nice surprise for us as we did not know it existed prior to visiting.  It is also not very obvious that it exists from the main area of the parking lot, so be sure to venture up by the giftshop to find it.  We have never seen a brewery located within a state park either so that made the experience a bit more unique.  We enjoyed the food and brews here, getting a flight of beers to taste. 

Pictured Rocks Pizza

Pictured Rocks Pizza in Munising has delicious brick oven pizzas.  We enjoyed a build-your-own pizza here.  Be sure to check the hours when visiting as it was only open 12p-5p daily during our stay. 

Muldoon’s Pasties

The specialty food item of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is the pastie.  A pastie (pronounced PAST-TEE) is essentially an individual pie filled classically with meat and vegetables.  We tried this UP delicacy at Muldoon’s Pasties (but you will see signs advertising them at different restaurants all over the UP).  These reminded us of a pot pie but all top crust encompassing the fillings.  At Muldoon’s, they also have fruit pastie options. We tried both the traditional savory and sweet.  We both agree that the savory pasties are better than the sweet.  These pasties are very large and one is certainly enough, even for our healthy hiking appetites. If you want to try both the savory and sweet, get the sweet ones to go for later. 


Where to Stay near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore


We recommend staying in/around Munising.  Through Airbnb, we rented a very clean modern camper, placed on a local’s property, outside of Munising.  The Pictured Rocks Camper had a full kitchen as well as a fire pit and swing outside.  This location was the perfect base for the two of us and our infant.  However, if there were more people than that, it would feel quite cramped. 

Use this link to get up to $65 off your first Airbnb

Limited Options

There are other Airbnb options, VRBOs and hotels in the area too but they are limited so try to book as far in advance as possible. With limited options in this rural area, rentals are a bit pricer than we expected. The most economical way to explore the area is to camp.  There are campsites within Pictured Rocks at Little Beaver Campground, as well as along the North /country Trail, and at Tahquamenon State Park. Be sure to book any sites within Pictured Rocks as early as possible as those tend to be more difficult to secure. 

Backpacking

Another great way to see this area is backpacking.  When our daughter is a bit older, we plan to take her backpacking along the North Country Trail.  We loved our time on the less trafficked parts of this trail and think a backpacking trip along here would be very serene and rejuvenating.  For tips on backpacking, see What you can Learn from our First Backpacking Trip


We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Anything you’d add to our guide on visiting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quick Guide

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes (Kilauea and Muaona Loa). If you are fortunate enough to see a volcano actively erupting, you will never forget it.  Kilauea was actively erupting in the Halemaumau crater while we were visiting.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Further, there are a lot of other interesting sites at this park. You can hike through lava tubes, across volcano craters and along sulfur banks. You can also visit the impressive coastline made up of unique volcanic rock structures.  Driving the Chain of Craters road out to the coastline affords you some really great views of the black lava rocks too. 

We recommend spending a half a day to a full day at this park. Here is our quick guide on visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. 


FYI: This post is based on a trip taken in early November. This adventure was also our first major trip away from the Midwest with our three month old daughter. We loved exploring the park with her! For tips on traveling with a baby, please see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, How to Hike with a Baby and Flying with a Baby posts.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


What to Do in Hawaii Volcanos National Park


If there is a volcano actively erupting , go see it!

This was hands-down the coolest experience we had at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and on the Big Island. It really made for an unforgettable adventure.  Make sure to get to the park early in the morning, at least two hours before sunrise, so you have ample time to hike out to the volcano and view it in the dark. Viewing it in the dark creates a surreal experience witnessing the red/orange glow before the sunrises. 

Kilauea Actively Erupting, pictures do not do it justice

To find out the best viewing spot for the current eruption, call the park between 9 AM and 5 PM Hawaii time and speak with a staff member. Had we not called the park the day before to find out where to go to see the eruption, we would’ve had no idea where to park our car or where to hike in the park.  Also, a volcano can stop or start to erupt at any time so if the volcano is actively eruptIng, try to go as soon as possible to see it. The Kilauea volcano was actively erupting in the Halemaumau crater during our visit. 

Note: Double Check Your Location 

Since we arrived at the park so early in the morning, and were a bit sleep deprived, we weren’t the most oriented.  We accidentally went down the wrong trail for over a mile before realizing that we were not on the right path to view the eruption. We could see the smoke and glow from where we were on the wrong path but realized we couldn’t see it up close from the trail we were on. Thankfully, we hiked quite quickly and were still able to get back to the best viewing spot about an hour before sunrise.  Just be mindful that navigating the park at night is difficult. 

As you will be arriving at the park very early in the morning, in the pitch darkness, be sure to bring your headlamp. These are the headlamps we use and recommend. 

Also, for hiking on Lava Rock, you need a solid pair of hiking boots. Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 7+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots


Thurston Lava Tubes

These lava tubes are super neat to see. There is a lot of cool flora growing around where you enter them. We visited several lava tubes while in Hawaii (one on the road to Hana and another one in Hilo) and this one was the most accessible. It was the easiest/largest to walk through and required no crouching/crawling. The hike into and through these tubes is quite short. You will need less than 30 minutes to complete it. 

Thurston Lava Tubes

To access, park at the Thurston Lava Tubes Parking Lot. If the Thurston Lot is full, park in the Kilauea Iki Overlook Parking Lot (0.5 miles away, can walk on Kilauea Iki Rim Trail to access), On Crater Rim Drive


Hike Part of the Kilauea Iki Trail

This trail goes through the rainforest, around part of the rim Kilauea Iki Crater, before descending down into the crater floor itself.  This trail is 4 miles round trip and you can hike as much or as little of it as you please.  We hiked part of the trail along the rim of the crater.  The rainforest and crater views were pretty from here.  After hiking 4 miles to see the erupting volcano that morning and waking up so early, we weren’t feeling overly ambitious to hike down into a crater to see a dormant volcano.  Had the volcano not been erupting, we would have hiked this whole trail as it is rated as one of the best. 

Kilauea Iki Trail

To access, park at the Kilauea Iki Overlook Parking Lot, On Crater Rim Drive 


Drive Chain of Craters Road and Visit the Holei Arch

This road takes you from the higher elevations of the park down to the coastline. The temperature varied by 15°F between the two locations when we visited. The coastline here is very pretty. It is very impressive to see the large waves crashing against the lava rocks that descend into the ocean. When you see the rocky coast, it is even more impressive to imagine the orignal polynesian explorers landing in the area with their canoes. The Holei Arch is an interesting formation of the lava rocks to see at the coastline as well. Eventually, this rock formation will erode and be washed away.  

Holei Arch

Driving the Chain of Craters road will take you about 35 minutes one-way and it is definitely worth your time. There are several other craters you can stop and look at but none are as impressive as the Kilauea Iki Crater. Also, not much could compare after seeing an actively erupting volcano so keep that in mind if you are lucky enough to see that. 

Chain of Craters Road

Hike the Sulfur Banks

0.7 Miles loop trail, minimal elevation

Here you hike on a paved path through the rainforest before coming to a boardwalk that takes you through a volcanic thermal area and mineral deposits.  You can literally feel the heat and smell the sulfur from these thermal areas.

Sulfur Banks Trail

To access, park at the main visitors center 


Tip: Bring Food to the Park

There is really nowhere to eat in the park so it is very important that you bring food. We packed picnic lunches.


Where to Stay to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

If you plan to spend more than a day or go to the park multiple days, stay in Volcano Village or in Hilo. We chose to stay in Kona, which is about a 2 hour drive from the park. This made most sense for us as it was more centrally located by other things we wanted to do on the Big Island.  See our Big Island, Hawaii Quick Guide for all our Big Island tips.  If you are looking for an Airbnb in Kona, we highly recommend the one we stayed at. 

Our Kailua-Kona Airbnb was perfect for us.  We had sunset views every night from the kitchen window and it had everything we needed (including lots of baby items which was a HUGE plus with a three month old). It was very spacious, updated and clean. Also, the host was super kind and helpful! If you looking to stay in Kona, definitely stay here!

Use this link to get up to $65 off your first Airbnb

We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Anything you’d add to our guide on visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

For more Hawaii trip tips, please see:

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned


Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

error: Content is protected