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Renegade Raceway | Garden City, Utah

This was a last minute stop and we are so glad we did! You pass the Raceway as you enter Garden City, right before you reach Bear Lake.  You can't miss it. I didn't know if the younger kids would be able to do it so we weren't going to stop, but guess what? They can! 

They have pillows to put behind kids so they can reach the peddles, also, for short adults like myself. Locke(10) road by himself, Dan took Riz(4) and Breckyn(8) came with me.

The baby, unfortunately, was too small, so we strapped her in her car seat and set her by the fence to watch us while the sweet owner watched her. Only in a small town, am I right?

We had an absolute blast! We had the track to ourselves. The kids loved it. We will definitely be back.

Check out their FB for hours and info HERE

Bike Barn | Garden City | UT

Something that always stands out on our Bear Lake trips is the cute and unique bikes that you will find riding around the lake and town. Tucked inside the KOA are dozens of unique bikes that accommodate 1-6 riders. We got the biggest bike to accommodate our family of 6. It was perfect because the front bench fit our two littlest Berdee(1) and Riz(4) perfectly. They had the time of their life! The rest of us sat on the two inner benches to reached the 4 sets of peddles. Breckyn(8) couldn't quite reach them, she's pretty small for her age. But she still managed to help out when she could. But let's be honest, Dan did most of the peddling for the whole family. This was definitely one of the highlights of Bear Lake. Check out details on their site HERE

Merlin's Drive-In | Garden City, Utah

You CAN NOT go to Bear Lake without a Raspberry Shake! We have tried them all and honestly, you can't find a bad raspberry shake in the whole town, but Merlin's has been our go-to over the last few years. Its a total hole in the wall, complete with peeling grandma wallpaper. Just the kind of place we like. Its locally owned, like mom, dad, and kids are in the kitchen and taking orders. 

The food is amazing, the portion size is huge! The shakes overflow the cup by several inches. Oh, and the best part... is outside. They have a huge play area and picnic tables with shade. Perfect for our little family with 4 kids(1-10yrs)

We don't have to worry about making a mess, we let the shakes drip, the fry sauce smear and the fries spill because that's what Bear Lake and Merlin's was made for. And really, the fries. I couldn't go for some right about now. Dipped in my shake of course.

And how could we not add our name to the dolla-dolla bills plastered all over? Try to find The Salt Project when you visit! And check out their FB HERE.

Bloomington Lake, Idaho

This might be my favorite place on earth. No joke. It's an absolute dream! The glacier lined lake is freezing. Don't be shocked. There is snow lining the lake year round. But on a hot day, there is nothing better. The water is crystal clear and invigorating. Every year we say we will bring a paddle boat but we always forget. Next year for sure! 

The hike is short, about a quarter mile and it is only uphill at the trailhead for the first few minutes. Then you pass two smaller lakes and then as you come around the bend, Bloomington opens up to a gorgeous lake surrounded by pines and rocks and a huge rock cliff to the back. Perfect for cliff diving. (Be safe and check before.)

Oh and let's not forget about the rope swing. Several years ago I went on it but chickened out last minutes and decided not to drop in the water, I mean, I could have broken my neck right! So instead I held on and swung back into the cliff, nearly breaking my leg. It was bad. Then my sister decided to give it a go, she was much braver than I and off she went, only she forgot to lift up her legs, umm, rope swing 101, hello. Her legs were dragged down the face of the rock and tree root cliff and finally she let go of the rope just as it reached the water. She fell into the shallow rocky shore. I thought she would have two broken lets but she was lucky enough to only have lost her swim top. Which was both hilarious, and beyond mortifying (there were several people watching). She quickly recovered her top and we both hobbled down the trail defeated, bloody, and bruised. The looks we got... priceless I tell ya. But I didn't let that stop me! I was determined to redeem myself this time around. After gaining the courage I took a leap of faith and flung myself off the cliff again, this time I let go at the precise time and plummeted perfectly into the ice cold crystal lake. I did it! And then my kids(10 & 8yrs) did it like it was no big deal. And then they did it over and over like it was really no big deal. Well, it was a big deal for me.

  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Rope Swing
  • Cliff Diving
  • Pets welcome
  • Outhouses


It's a long drive, but worth it. Head North of Bear Lake into ID on HWY 89. Turn left on Bloomington Canyon Rd. It turns into a dirt road for about 30 minutes. The road is narrow and there are several forks that are marked. The last fork is not marked. Stay to the right on that last fork and you'll climb higher into the mountains until it opens up to the parking lot and you can hike in. Easy for kids and old folks alike.

Minnetonka Cave | St. Charles, Idaho

This cave has 888 steps. Our kids(1-10yrs) had no problem, but if you have a baby, be sure to bring a sling, wrap, or carrier, your arms will thank you. The steps can be slippery from the water that drips constantly. And the Temp of the cave is a cool 40 degrees year round. We had longs sleeve flannel shirts and light jackets and that was perfect for our kids. 

Minnetonka Cave is the largest limestone rock cave in the state of Idaho. It is located in Cache National Forest in Bear Lake County, Idaho, United States, above the village of St. Charles. Wikipedia
Address: Minnetonka Cave Rd, St Charles, ID 83272
Hours: 10:00 am – 5:30 pm Phone: (435) 245-4422
Discovered: 1907

5 Things to Know Before You Go

  1. Go early, or send one person from your party up early to reserve a time for later that day. No need to spend 2-4 hrs waiting in a parking lot for your tour to begin
  2.  Jackets! Its 40 degrees year round. You won't have fun if you're freezing the whole time.
  3. Shoes, you defiantly want some good walking/hiking shoes for this cave. There are 888 steps and they are slippery
  4. Water bottles, if you do choose to take water in the cave, it CAN NOT be a disposable bottle
  5. Baby carriers, no one wants to carry a baby up and down 888 steps. Do yourself a solid and wrap that baby to your back
  6. Weekends are busy. be prepared
  7. You can call 2 weeks ahead to make reservations for large groups


  • Bathrooms: flushies! score
  • Picnic tables are shaded
  • No pets
  • No wheelchair/stroller access 

Bear Lake | Garden City Park and Beach | 390 S Bear Lake Blvd, Garden City, UT 84028

We usually hit up the north beach on the ID side of the Lake but decided to check out the UT beach in Garden City. Just after you come out of the canyon and enter Garden City, there is a T in the road, turn right and the park will be on your left about a quarter mile down the road.

Park at the park near the back and there is a trail that leads to the beach. The trail is wood planked and moves through a wooded and grassy area. We even spotted a moose on our way out! Once you get to the beach there are outhouses, a shower, drinking fountain, and picnic table. This beach is FREE! There is quite a walk from the bathroom to the beach, but the water was low this year.

We rented paddle boards from Jim at Bear Lake Water Adventures. Check out their FB HERE.

These guys were awesome! You show up to the beach, pick out the boards/boats you want and a few minutes later a cute kid and a wheelbarrow full of kayaks and paddle boards deliver them to your spot on the beach! It really couldn't be easier. No strapping boards to the SUV, no hauling them to the beach. All the work is done for you. Rentals are by the hour or by the day. We chose by the hour because we have a baby and babies need to nap. 

The kids picked out 2 boards and a little pink kayak because of pink! We all had a blast! Even the baby(1) loved being on the water. After a couple of hours of paddling around the lake, we were ready to head back to the ranch. We just pulled the boards onto the beach and that was that. They brought them back up to the shop/shed for the next lucky adventurer.


  • No shade. Pack an umbrella or canopy
  • Long walk but stroller or wagon accessible 
  • The water at the drinking fountain in the park is AMAZING! Be sure to fill up there before you hit the beach.


What do you guys think? Have you added Bear Lake to your Utah Bucket List yet? Let us know in the comments about any other hidden gems we missed!


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