Bear Lake is so big, it spills into two states on the Utah-Idaho border. Only a little more than two hours from Salt Lake City, the lake is a summer destination that provides many different options for recreation, dining and accommodations. Bear Lake's annual Raspberry Days festival runs Aug. 6-8, with three days of concerts, rodeos, fairs, dancing and a classic small-town pancake breakfast.
Whether you're going up for a day or a weekend getaway, check out these options:
Shake It Up
You can't really say you've had the Bear Lake experience unless you've had a raspberry shake. There are many spots in and around Garden City at the south end of the lake that serve them. The best known is LaBeau's Drive-In (69 N. Bear Lake Blvd., Garden City, 435-946-8821), and it's also the easiest to find. Just look up for a giant raspberry-shake cup sitting on top of a pole—or just look around for the spot that always seems to have a line because it's so popular.
If you'd rather have your raspberries in a large crepe, check out Crepes and Coffee (211 N. Bear Lake Blvd., 435-946-2896, Garden City) and try the house specialty. This new-to- Garden City place is also the spot to cool off with an ice coffee or tea in the summer.
For Mexican dishes with a unique twist, check out the summer-only location of Cafe Sabor (21 E. 75 North, Garden City, 435-946-3297, CafeSabor.com). The restaurant has been popular in Logan for more than a decade, and during the warm months they take their dishes like Chino Latino egg rolls, carne asada fries or chicken al pastor tacos up to their Garden City location.
The recently opened Conestoga Ranch "glampground" (400 W. 300 North, Garden City, 844-464-5267, ConestogaRanch.com) is also home to the Campfire Grill, which serves up amazing wood-fired pizzas. (See below for more information.)
Blue Water Under Blue Sky
With stats like "20 miles long, 8 miles wide, 200 feet deep and 48 miles of shoreline," the question isn't whether or not you're going to get out on the water at Bear Lake; it's just a matter of what you're going to be on once you get out there. During the summer, the elevation of nearly 6,000 feet and average daily high temperatures in the low 80s makes it an ideal recreation spot.
For those who want a motorized lake experience, Bear Lake Rentals, located inside Blue Water Beach Resort (2126 S. Bear Lake Blvd., Garden City, 435-946-8611, BearLakeRentals.com), has jet skis, pontoons and speed boats for pulling wakeboards and water skis. If you'd rather move on the water by your own power, check out Bear Lake Water Adventures (420 S. Bear Lake Blvd., 435-757-9003, Garden City), located at Garden City Beach. Rentals of paddle boards and kayaks also come with life jackets and a lesson to help novices have an enjoyable day on the lake.
If the water doesn't cool you down, check out Minnetonka Cave (Minnetonka Cave Road, St. Charles, Idaho, 209-524-7500, FS.USDA.gov). It's always a chilly 40 degrees when you take the 90-minute tour through nine rooms filled with stalactites and stalagmites. The cave sits just over the Idaho border, about a 20-mile drive from Garden City.
Stay & Play
Whether sleeping under the stars or enjoying modern amenities, there are a wide variety of accommodations around Bear Lake.
Conestoga Ranch brought "glamping"—glamour camping—to Bear Lake this summer. Stay in something that is structurally a tent, but also includes luxury beds and linens, bathrooms and showers that have the aroma of a spa. Another option is the Conestoga Wagons. Sleep like the pioneers did—that is, if the pioneers had had wagons with full beds, ready-made fire pits and access to a luxury bath house. To be as close to the water as possible, visit the hotel at Blue Water Resort (2126 S. Bear Lake Blvd., Garden City, 800-756-0795, BlueWaterResort.wix.com/bluewater), which sits right on the beach. Beside the hotel, other options at this site include private cabins and suites with full kitchens that can accommodate larger groups.
If you're looking for a spot for an RV or a tent, the Garden City KOA campground (485 N. Bear Lake Road, 435-946-3454, Garden City, KOA.com/campgrounds/bear-lake/) is the place to find it. There's also a general store on site stocked with everything you'll need for a summer barbecue. a
For more information about Bear Lake Raspberry Days, check out BearLake.org, or GardenCityUT.us. Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin host the Travel Brigade Radio Show and Podcast. You can find them at TravelBrigade.com and on Twitter @TravelBrigade. Enjoy the Trip!