When we picture the perfect Fall getaway, it’s a combination of a place where you can enjoy the beauty of nature while experiencing a comfortable and fun stay. Grand Bear Resort in Utica, Illinois fits the bill perfectly!
Grand Bear Resort is located in Utica, Illinois about 90 minutes from Rockford, Illinois, close by Peru and Lasalle, Illinois. The area is home to three beautiful state parks – Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park and Buffalo Rock State Park. Each of these parks are a short drive from the Grand Bear Resort, with Starved Rock State Park located less than a mile away. Plan to spend some time hiking and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors during your stay at Grand Bear Resort! Fall colors are at their peak in October and the landscape is breathtaking.
Grand Bear Resort is a destination all on its own. There are many things to do while you stay there, most notably splashing the day away in the 24,000 square foot indoor waterpark. When entering the resort, you will see several places to eat, a beautiful sitting area with a fireplace, and windows looking down into the waterpark.
Grand Bear Resort has a wood cabin feel with the fancier touches of a resort. The rooms are comfortable and clean. We had a double queen room, which was perfect for our family of four. The bathroom has a bathtub which is convenient for families with little ones. There is also a TV with standard cable channels including Disney and Nickelodeon. Our room also came with a table and two chairs and a couch that pulled out into another bed. Of course, the area of the resort my kids were most excited to check out was the indoor waterpark!
Grand Bear Falls is the indoor waterpark located inside Grand Bear Resort. The waterpark spans 24,000 square feet with several play zones for kids of all ages. It is a great size for families, but not too big that you will lose sight of your kids. There are tables and lounge chairs throughout the waterpark for families to rest. Free towels are offered at the door when you enter. There are lifeguards on-site, but they also offer calm water hours where the pool is unmanned and the wave pool is turned off, making it a large family pool.
Here are the highlights of the indoor waterpark:
Kiddie pool with spraying Bear head and small slide perfect for toddlers ages 1-4. My kids were a bit big for this section, but we saw families with little ones enjoying the area.
Fast-moving Lazy River with whirlpool. The Lazy River circles the waterpark and passes beneath a few waterfalls along the way. If you take your tube into the circular pool off the Lazy River, you can spin in the whirlpool! This was one of my kids’ favorite parts of the Lazy River! There are only single tubes available for the Lazy River and slides.
Large body slide into the family pool / wave pool. The big yellow slide is impossible to miss and a lot of fun to ride on! This slide was in constant use throughout our time in the waterpark. It’s a very quick ride that ends in water less than a foot deep. This slide is for kids only.
Play area that is several stories high and includes a couple of body slides and spraying features. It has a dumping bucket above it, but it was not on during our stay. This area also includes a spinning feature that sprays water as well.
Wave pool that starts at zero depth and goes up to five feet. This wave pool activates every 10 minutes or so and creates large waves! When the waves aren’t on, the pool can be used as a family pool for swimming. The wave pool is manned by a lifeguard when on.
Two slides – a body slide full of twists and turns in the dark and a tube slide (single tubes only) that has many twists and turns and large sections in the dark. You need to be 48” tall to use these slides. Both of them were a lot of fun!
15 person hot tub (for guests ages 16 and up). This hot tub has a large seating area and is within sight of the wave pool.
Inside the waterpark, there is also the Wave Cafe where you can grab a quick bite to eat. They offer pizza, hot dogs, soda, and alcoholic beverages.
Once you’re done playing in the waterpark, there are several other things you can do at the resort.
Right outside the waterpark, there is the Cave Arcade where you can play games to win tickets that can be redeemed for prizes. There are more than 60 games including rides for the youngest kids to enjoy and claw games.
You can also head to the outdoor Canyon Creek Mini Golf course. This mini golf course is 18 holes and challenging enough for both adults and kids to enjoy. The cost is $6 for guests to golf. The course is open during the Spring, Summer, and Fall. Currently, the course is decorated with spooky items for Rocktober! We had a wonderful time mini golfing in the dark and enjoying all of the spooky decorations. Plan to spend about one hour golfing.
The resort also offers Family Movie Time on the first floor in the Activity Room. You can buy a Movie Snack Pack at the Honey Pot for $5. During October, the resort is showing Halloween movies like Monster House and Hocus Pocus. It is free to watch the movies and you can bring in your own food as well.
There are also crafts offered on the weekends that include activities like face painting, cookie decorating, pumpkin painting, and other seasonal crafts. You will be given a list of activities going on during your stay when you check-in.
The Grand Bear Resort also has special events happening throughout the year. During October, they are celebrating Rocktober with some Halloween movies, a haunted mini-golf experience, and meal specials including fine dining J.H. Higby’s located in the resort.
When it’s time to eat, you don’t need to leave the resort. There are four options for dining at Grand Bear Resort.
Jack’s Place Restaurant and Bar is a casual dining spot serving American cuisine. They also offer a breakfast buffet. We had lunch at Jack’s and enjoyed our meals of burgers and fries, chicken wraps, and hot dogs.
The Tree Tops Casual Cafe is located in the lobby of the Grand Bear Resort and offers sandwiches, pizza, coffee, and ice cream! Be sure to try some of the homemade sugar cones with your ice cream!
J.H. Higby’s is a 1850’s themed drinkery that offers seasonal bites. It’s on the fancier side and is currently offering a curated menu for the Rocktober event ranging between $30-50 per three course meal.
During the summer, Bear Island Outdoor Bar is also open and offers drinks and a beautiful view of the canyon.
We had a great time at Grand Bear Resort making memories this Fall! If you’re ready to book your Fall getaway, use the code GBFUN10 to get 10% off your two-night stay! Book here!