Bear Lake is an approximately 8-mile-wide, 20-mile-long lake that graces the border area between Idaho and Utah. It is often called “The Caribbean of the Rockies” because of its beautiful clear waters. The turquoise-colored natural freshwater lake, year-round activities, and locally grown raspberries are the area’s claim to fame. Area attractions including Minnetonka Cave and Bear Lake State Park in St. Charles offer plenty to keep your family entertained and happy. Book a stay at one of many Bear Lake vacation rentals today. Without further ado, these are the top 15 things to do and see in Bear Lake.
1. North Beach State Park – St. Charles, Idaho
With its white sand and turquoise lake water, the strand at Bear Lake’s North Beach State Park may remind you of a California beach. Suspended particles of limestone give the lake its vibrant, and its shallow slope makes it kid-friendly. After relaxing, swimming, or water-skiing, take the family to the Bear Cave restaurant in St. Charles. Enjoy burgers, corn dogs, tots, and raspberry shakes under their tree-shaded outdoor picnic tables or get a to-go order for your Bear Lake vacation rental.
2. Minnetonka Cave – St. Charles, Idaho
Minnetonka Cave is one of the area’s most popular attractions in St. Charles Canyon, Idaho. Wear long pants, good walking shoes, and take a jacket and gloves for the 40-degree temperature year-round inside the cave. You’ll walk up and down about 888 steps round trip, so call ahead to ask about access if anybody in your group has mobility issues. Admission is cash-only, so bring exact change. Plan a picnic lunch or stop at Minnetonka, a restaurant in St. Charles, for buffalo burgers or traditional hamburgers.
3. The Bear Lake Raspberry Co. – Laketown, Utah
For summer fun, go raspberry-picking at The Bear Lake Raspberry Co, Located in Laketown, Utah, these raspberry patches overlook Bear Lake, giving you great views as you pick your own succulent fruit. Call ahead to make an appointment, and plan to take plenty of berries back to your Bear Lake vacation rental to bake muffins and make milkshakes.
4. Paris Canyon – Paris, Idaho
When friends ask where else you went on vacation besides St. Charles, tell them: “Paris!” Travel about 7 miles north from Minnetonka Cave to Paris Canyon in Paris, Idaho. This canyon is a great place for hiking and riding on ATV trails. Before you go, pick up some snacks from Paris Country Store.
5. Paris Ice Cave – Paris, Idaho
About 10 miles from the Paris Canyon mouth is the Paris Ice Cave, so named because even in summer, the ice inside never melts. Late summer through early fall is the best time to explore this fascinating cave, unique because of the ice formations. Obviously, it’s cold inside, so dress warm and wear non-slip footwear. During cooler months, call the National Forest Service at (208) 847-0375 to check road conditions.
6. Paris Tabernacle – Paris, Idaho
While in Paris, head to the center of town and take a free, guided tour of the Paris Tabernacle. Build by the Latter Day Saints in the 1880s, this stone and wood worship center is still a working church, complete with pipe organ. Services are still held here, but the regulars welcome visitors who take an interest.
7. City of Paris Historical Museum – Paris, Idaho
Cross the street from the Paris Tabernacle and check out the City of Paris Historical Museum. The museum features farm equipment, antiques, and information about Charles C. Rich, an early settler in the area and a Mormon apostle. Your family will enjoy seeing the old-fashioned sewing machines, typewriters, and cash registers.
8. Bear Lake West Golf Course – Fish Haven, Utah
For a nine-hole golf course with amazing lake views, tee off at Bear Lake West Golf Course. This family-run, course features four par 3 holes, making it family-friendly. To find the course, look for the white rock arch just over the Idaho/Utah state line at the course clubhouse in Fish Haven, Utah.
9. Oregon Trail Center – Montpelier, Idaho
Just north of Bear Lake, the Oregon Trail Center in Montpelier, Idaho, contains three different museums. It’s a great way to spend the morning or afternoon with the kids. The main Center museum provides a fascinating three-part experience of the Oregon Trail. First, you get a guided tour through an interactive setting – a reenactment of the Oregon Trail pioneer experience from the Midwest to the Oregon Territory. Next, a visit to the 1850s-style store prepares you like a pioneer for your trip west. Finally, a simulated “ride” on a Conestoga wagon replica takes you on your 150-mile journey while listening to actual pioneer histories.
10. Montpelier Heritage Museum – Montpelier, Idaho
The basement of the Oregon Trail Center holds the Montpelier Heritage Museum, featuring area history and artifacts. Your kids will get a kick out of seeing items such as a large old-fashioned cash register containing a three-cent nickel, and a mini-train layout with moving vehicles.
11. Historical Quilt Museum – Montpelier, Idaho
The top floor of the Oregon Trail Center building holds the Historical Quilt Museum. This attraction features rotating displays of beautiful handcrafted quilts that tell stories of Montpelier’s history.
12. Pickleville Playhouse – Garden City, Utah
For live theater performances, kids to seniors enjoy, head to Pickleville Playhouse in Garden City, Utah. One of the area’s most popular attractions, this family-owned theater features shows such as Juanito Bandito, an annual holiday favorite, and Shrek! The Musical. Intermission snacks include Sno-cones, ice cream, popcorn, and of course pickles.
13. Soda Springs Geyser – Soda Springs, Idaho
Soda Springs Geyser in Soda Springs, Idaho, is the only man-made geyser in the United States. It goes off at the top of each hour, so it’s easy to schedule it on your list of fun things to do. Enjoy breakfast, burgers, or chicken fried steak at Main Street Diner across the street.
14. Art Kelly Park Disc Golf Course – Soda Springs, Idaho
Play disc golf in Soda Springs at Art Kelly Park’s public 18-hole course about five minutes east of downtown. Narrow wooded corridors and open fairways make this a fun course for all skill levels. Feast on lunch or dinner in a family-friendly setting at Gonzales, a Mexican restaurant nearby.
15. Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge – Bear Lake, Idaho
End your vacation stay with a trip to Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Bear Lake, Idaho. This peaceful area just north of the lake protects wildlife such as Ruddy ducks, Canadian geese and goslings, great horned owlets, and moose. Snap lots of photos and stop by Lighthouse Landing, a unique boutique in Garden City, Utah, for gifts to family and friends after you leave your Bear Lake vacation rental.
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