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Circle-Pines-KOA-Williams-Arizona-Family-Fun

Five years ago, we were traveling around our country in an RV with our four middle schoolers in tow. In honor of that epic trip, we headed north to touch base with the campground life once again. We chose to get out of the Phoenix heat and camp at the Circle Pines KOA Holiday in Williams, Arizona.

We sold our motorhome shortly after returning home from our American journey, but the great thing about this location, and many other KOA’s, is that they have plenty of alternative accommodations for campers who don’t have an RV or a tent.

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We chose to split up between this deluxe cabin and one of the tepees nearby. The kids had a lot of fun going between the two places. We gathered each night in front of the tepee for smores over the campfire.

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There are so many options for outdoor family fun here at the Circle Pines KOA. Our kids used to flip through the KOA directory and beg us to go stay at this location because it looked like so much fun. When, we told them we had finally booked it, they said, “we wanted to do that back when we were 12, not now.” Ha! Too bad….

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And as you can see, they had a ball. Playing Gaga ball together….

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Go Kart racing in the afternoons. The course on property is open to the public as well, but KOA campers get a discount.

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KOA’s signature jumping pillows brought the greatest joy to our kids on our RV trip and it was apparent that their love for them still exists today!

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The Circle Pines KOA Holiday location was a perfect location for us to take day trips from. Bearizona is just one exit west of the campground.

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Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course is 35 minutes east of this campground. The owners of Circle Pines, also own the KOA in Flagstaff, if you wanted to stay closer to this.

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And our glorious Grand Canyon National Park is only an hour away as well!

The Circle Pines KOA was the perfect hub for our family to go off on day trips and come back to a relaxing environment where we could all find time to decompress and enjoy playful moments together.

Our family received no compensation for this review. I just love KOA and all of the joy, connection and playful moments their locations have allowed our family to share together!

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Labor Day is behind us which means summer fun is over for most as kids have gone back to school across the country. Everyone that is but crazy families like ours who are choosing to roadschool. Campgrounds are much quieter and tourist crowds are minimal during the weekdays so September is the perfect time to be camping and traveling out east!

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Here in rural Pennsylvania we are getting the best of both worlds. A city experience combined with downtime at the quiet campground. This Philadelphia-Westchester KOA is a 50 minute drive into the big city. It is far from even a grocery store or even a highway.

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The kids working on their National Park Service Junior Ranger books outside Independence Hall.

I love visiting all of the major cities in our country. I am fueled by the energy of a big city! Philadelphia is an absolute historical gem. I would wander around here every day easily, if we were staying closer. We chose to hang out at the campground for our second day in the area and I’m really glad we did.

Sometimes we can get caught up in trying to fit in all of the historical sites or touring around and not take the time to just relax and be at the campground itself. I have to say, that downtime doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not used to taking time to just hang out and chill.

This trip is teaching me how important it is that we take time out to relax along our journey. The kids would never leave the campgrounds if we left it up to them! I’m so happy that this beautiful KOA afforded us opportunity for quiet time in the outdoors or we would’ve missed out on these moments…

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A quiet picnic lunch by Brandywine Creek.

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Fishing and renting canoes…

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Time for our son to inflate his raft that he bought in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and take it for a cruise along the Brandywine!

Sometimes I get nervous about not having the kids in school or on their sports teams and I wonder if we’re doing the right thing. Then we have days like this and I am reminded that this is quality of life and I am so grateful that we are doing this family trip together!

Our next stop was Niagara Falls, New York! I hadn’t even looked into what the KOA was like here, as we were only in the area to visit the famous Falls or so I thought! We were all pleasantly surprised at the beauty and amenities of this KOA owned Holiday property! It honestly is one of our favorites of the trip!

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It was a short, easy drive from the campground in Grand Island to Niagara Falls. We had a lot of fun just walking all around and checking out the Falls from all angles. Our highlight was taking the Maid of the Mist boat. I felt like a sardine being stuffed onto that boat, but you still have to do it regardless of not receiving any love on this thing. They just herd as many people on and off the famous boat as they can. But the experience and views are worth it, so you just have to go with it. You are also given the lovely blue poncho to wear and keep after for a souvenir.

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Did you know that Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls — the Horseshoe Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls — that overlap the international borders of Canada and the United States?

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I had brought our passports along on our trip and was patting myself on the back when we decided to go across the Rainbow Bridge into Canada, so that we could see the Falls from their side as well! Here is the Maid of the Mist going into the American Falls. I have to say the Canadian side was beautiful and seemed less cheesy. Darn us Americans! Why do we have to cheese everything up with all of our discounted t-shirt and junk stands?!

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We stayed in Ontario for an expensive, touristy dinner at Edgewaters across the street from here. The views from our patio table were unbeatable though! We also got to see the Falls light up in their rainbow colors once nightfall came. We loved our time in Niagara Falls!

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Mt. Rushmore KOA

This gorgeous campground in the Black Hills of South Dakota optimizes summer fun! It is truly a kids dream come true to be able to camp at the Mt. Rushmore KOA/The Lodge at Palmer Gulch. This activity-driven campground has a schedule of fun events throughout each day as well as innumerable mainstays in the Fun Zone to keep all kids busy and happy. This, in turn, means more downtime for parents to enjoy themselves as well.

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This was our kids first KOA jumping pillow experience! Now they are spoiled and search the KOA directory telling us where they want to stay next according to if they have a jumping pillow or not! 

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The free mini golf is always a big family favorite! Check out the water slide behind us too!

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A couple of other areas for fun! Can you see why our kids were off and running every day?

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Due to the unavailability of internet broadband, there is really limited wifi in the park. It’s a real test to see how long you can go without even being able to receive a text on your phone, let alone check email or the internet. It honestly is a good thing unless you really need to get some work done. Otherwise, it’s freeing! There are a few hotspots in the campground that you can go to, but I enjoyed heading to Grapes and Grinds for my wifi.

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The good thing is you can drive just past Mt. Rushmore into Keystone to Grapes and Grinds for perfect internet access in a really cute environment while sipping a coffee beverage by day or glass of wine at night.  As a guest at this KOA, you’re able to take advantage of the Holy Terror Mini Golf (behind the coffee shop) and the National Presidential Wax Museum free of charge. These three entities fall under the same ownership as the Mt. Rushmore KOA, making it a great deal for those of us who stay there!

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We were really surprised at how much we enjoyed this museum! Each of us had our own personal audio device that we could listen at our own pace as we walked through. We all learned a lot and highly recommend stopping into this unique museum!

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Now to the main reason we chose this campground for our Hill City, South Dakota stay. It’s proximity to Mount Rushmore can’t be beaten! The campground is only a 6-mile drive along a beautiful route into America’s monument. Our family took advantage of going to Mount Rushmore as soon as it opened at 8 am one day and again at 8:30 pm on another for the nightly lighting ceremony. Both were awesome! Your $11 parking gets you in for the entire year and admission into the park is free.

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On our 3rd visit to the park, we had a lot of fun worshipping with a group of college girls that are involved in A Christian Ministry in the National Parks. They come for the summer to work at the monument and hold Sunday worship services for guests. Very cool!

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The Mount Rushmore KOA also employs a team of 12 Summershiners to lead all of the kids’ activities and programs for the summer. These Christian college students come from all over the nation to Palmer Gulch to live, work, play and share the love of Christ! I am enjoying learning about all of these different summer ministries!

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This KOA is really perfect for multigenerational family celebrations. We saw many families enjoying life together here. The campground sees about 3,000 guests come through the park on each sold-out night between June 15-August 15. This means make your reservations early and realize that a lot of people will be joining you in the fun if you choose to come here during the height of the summer. It is a big, busy park. More like a cruise ship on land than your typical campground!

Mike Bauman, Mt. Rushmore KOA’s General Manager, works extremely hard to see that everyone is having a good time in the park. We always saw him around in many different capacities and he consistently had a smile and friendly greeting. We even caught him driving the tractor late one night for our ghost tour around the park. Hats off to him and his hard-working staff as they strive to help make special memories for all families who come to stay! Thanks for the fun!

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