Every summer we spend a week at Bear Lake in Utah. We love this popular vacation spot and all the fun that is nearby, too. Bear Lake is known for its beautiful turquoise water caused by the minerals in the water. This lake spans the border of Utah and Idaho, so you will spend some time in both states.
Bear Lake is a great place for families! The water is shallow for kids to play, there are lots of fun places to explore nearby, and it's always a little cooler at Bear Lake than the rest of the state. We are here to share our favorite things to do at Bear Lake, as well as to give some tips on how to make the most of your time at Bear Lake in Utah.
Play in the Water (obviously)
We recommend visiting North Beach on the Idaho side of Bear Lake. This state park charges a $6 entrance fee, and you can drive right onto the beach. Just back your car in, set up the shade, and dive in.
The water is shallow for a long way out into the lake. Our boys love to kayak at Bear Lake because if they fall off, they can usually stand right up. You can walk about 150 yards before the water is over your head! It's a great place for kids to splash and play all day long. The sand is nice, too!
If you plan to visit North Beach State Park, here are our tips:
- Go early! We like to arrive around 10:00 or so. This way you can get a great spot with a table.
- Bring shade. We always take chairs and our pop-up shade for over the table.
- Take food. You don't want to leave to go back for food in town, so bring a lunch.
- Bring sand toys. Every kid wants to do some type of digging in the sand, so even one bucket and shovel will make everyone happy.
Eat a Raspberry Shake
Bear Lake is also known for the raspberries that grow in the area, so one thing you must do when visiting Bear Lake is eat a raspberry shake. There are plenty of great places to find raspberry shakes, including the gas station. Even if you don't like raspberries, it's great to eat a shake after a long, hot day at the beach. Our favorite places to eat shakes are:
- LeBeaus in Garden City, UT
- Zipz in Garden City, UT
- North Beach Burgers in St. Charles, Idaho (the fresh huckleberry was delicious, too!)
Enjoy a Burger in the Water
Remember how I suggested bringing a lunch to the beach? Well, if you forget, or if you want hot food, watch for the Bear Lake Burger Boat. This new floating restaurant cruises along the North Beach shore selling burgers, hot dogs, and pork sandwiches. The food comes in a meal with a can of soda and a bag of chips.
We were very impressed with the quality of food. Our boys were thrilled to have warm hot dogs instead of a cold PB&J. You also get to walk (or kayak) out to order your food. It makes the experience twice as fun!
Visit Minnetonka Cave
We always plan a day off from the beach to break up the trip a bit. One spot that we like to visit is Minnetonka Cave. It is located up a beautiful canyon at the north end of the lake. When we get tired of the hot sun, we really enjoy walking through caves and seeing the amazing features inside.
This cave offers tours daily every 30 minutes from 10 am-5:30 pm. You need tickets to enter, and they often fill up fast. It is always about 40 degrees inside the cave, so make sure to bring a jacket and wear pants.
Related: Tips for Visiting Minnetonka Cave
Escape to the Refuge
Another spot we love to visit near Bear Lake is the Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is just north of Bear Lake, and we love to escape from the business of the lake. We have never seen another soul driving the dirt roads or walking the trails. It is very relaxing and beautiful.
The Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge is home to many birds including osprey, geese, great blue heron, swans, and many more. You might also get lucky and see a moose or muskrat. We love to slowly drive the loop and see what we can see. There are a few different spots where you can leave your vehicle and walk along the water. Make sure to bring bug spray. This is a wetland area and the mosquitoes can be bad.
We have lots of ideas for fun adventures around Bear Lake. If you are looking for more ideas, visit our post on Utah's Adventure Family: Things to do at Bear Lake. Happy travels!