We went with a ground of friends (all families with young kids). It was the perfect place to easily get in, set up, hangout, and just relax. The sites are fairly large, but very open (which was ok with a group of us, not our style when it's just us though). The bathrooms and showers are nice and clean, some of the best I've seen at a campground!
The lake is nice. There are 2 swimming beaches: 1 for the campground and one for all of the day visitors. You can rent canoes, paddle boats and SUP boards, and many people bring their own boats (although they do charge to park your boat trailer unless you bring it back to the campground and they limit the number of boats on the lake at a time). There is a nice 6+mile biking trail that connects to others, so bring the bikes.
It's a great place to spend a weekend close to home, but feel like you are getting away!
First of all, the park is BEAUTIFUL! There are many sights to see beyond the lighthouse. We enjoyed geocaching, hiking and pebble beach (the kids FAVORITE!). The sites are hike in only, with pit toilets, which was a little harder with small children but definitely worth the extra hassle for families. Hike out the lake by the pump house to see the lighthouse from the lake without paying to go in it (you can't get anywhere near the lighthouse without a separate fee). That is about as much of the lighthouse my kids cared to see anyways. They would have spend all day at pebble beach throwing the large smooth stones into the lake while enjoying the view of Ellingsen Island. This park is a must hit at least once!
This is a small park (only 750 acres) but holds a lot of history. There are many cool things to see, although some are across the street from the main part of the park and run by the Minnesota Historical Society (which means they have a separate admission fee). The campground isn't large at only 38 sites, and although they are secluded they are definitely on the smaller side. The bathrooms/showers were average for a state park, clean but could use updating. The hiking trails are not plentiful, but the ones we tried were decent. Overall it was a good park for a short, one time trip, but I don't think it's one we would head back to.
This is one of our favorite campgrounds! The campground books up fast, but it's perfect for families that are car camping. Our site was good, near enough to the bathrooms for little ones making middle of the night potty trips but far enough away to not hear the hustle and bustle of everyone else. Our site was on a slight down slope and we had some severe storms while we were there, so we had a small river through our site at one point, but it dried quickly and other than that it was great! The hiking here is our favorite. Our kids loved hiking up to the fifth falls & then all the way down to where the Gooseberry River meets Lake Superior.
The campground here is nice, but could use some updates (bathrooms/showers). The hiking is beautiful, especially along the river (although some trails are closed due to wash out repair). And of course the kids love the swinging bridge!
The hiking here is amazing! The Quarry Loop along the Kettle River has a ton of history, allowing you to explore the remains of the 130+ year old sandstone quarry. Seeing the drill holes in the cliffs was really cool and the remains of the old buildings were a highlight even to our small children. Would definitly make a trip back to explore even more!
We stayed 4 days over a busy holiday weekend. Our site was very large with a 20'x15' tent box, more secluded than the others, and all shade with little/no grass. The bugs were out in full force, but we still had a blast. The hiking compared to many other parks we've been to was just ok. There are many horseback riding trails that can be used for hiking, but they are sand so it was hard for our 4 & 7 year old kids to walk through. We made a day trip down to Interstate Park (MN side) which is 15 minutes away, for a little extra hiking along the river to make up for it.