Bear Lake

Bear Lake

Turquoise Lake

Bear Lake is a natural fresh-water lake on the Utah-Idaho boarder.  It is the second largest fresh-water lake in Utah, and is 48 miles around (if you were to ride a bicycle around the lake – which I’ve done twice!).  But one of the characteristics that stands out most about this lake is the deep blue color.  It is gorgeous… like water from the Bahamas.

 

Lake Access

There are a couple great lake access points.  One is Garden City Park (on the UT side).  There is a nice park here with a boardwalk that goes to a small-ish beach access point.  The park is nice for the kids with a playground, pavilions, good parking and bathrooms.  Beautiful scenery.

The second place would be North Beach (on the Idaho side) which I believe you pay a small fee to park.  The beach is more sandy and spread out, so there is more room there to find a spot away from the crowd, and the water is shallow and fun to play in.

Bear Lake West Golf Club

Just North of the Utah / Idaho boarder on the West side of the lake is Bear Lake West, a golf club community.  Our family has a cabin in this area, so we’ve always enjoyed the amenities of the community, but guests are welcome also to take advantage of the golf course, pool, hot tub, restaurant and of course the amazing view of Bear Lake.

 

Minnetonka Cave

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Minnetonka Cave is open for tours.  It is about an hour drive from Garden City.  Bring cash / check because they do not accept cards.  But the cave is worth a trip to walk through with a tour guide.  It has over 1000 stairs, but the trail inside is paved in most places and has hand rails… so as long as you can do stairs it is safe and fun for the entire family.

See more from our Minnetonka Cave trip

Get a Famous Raspberry Milk Shake

Garden City has some serious skills for raspberry milkshakes.  There are three main places you can pick up a milkshake when you visit Bear Lake.

  • LaBeau’s: 69 N Bear Lake Blvd, Garden City, UT 84028
  • Quick N Tasty: 28 N Bear Lake Blvd, Garden City, UT 84028
  • Home Town Drive In: 105 N Bear Lake Blvd, Garden City, UT 84028

Cafe Sabor

21 E 75 N, Garden City, UT 84028 .  Fantastic Mexican food.  We love Cafe Sabor.

Minnetonka Cave, ID

Minnetonka Cave, ID

Minnetonka Cave opens around Memorial Day through Labor Day and about a 50 minute drive from Garden City, UT (Bear Lake) makes for a great addition to a say at Bear Lake.  Bring cash or check to visit the cave, $8 for adults and $6 for kids 6-15 years old.  It is a 90 minute tour through the chambers on a trail of stone and steel stairs with guard rails.   The cave is 40 degrees year round, so bring a jacket.  You will see underground streams, all kinds of formations, bats, and in the bottom of the cave they will turn off the lights for you to experience total darkness for a minute.  We arrived in early June and found snow on the mountain which gave the kids a thrill.

Disney Cruise – Bahamas

Disney Cruise – Bahamas

Do this at least once in your life!

This is a win!  Something everyone needs to do at least once in their lifetime.  We had so much fun on our Disney cruise.  This has been our fourth cruise, and by far the best!  A few things about cruising with Disney:

  • There are fireworks at sea (during the Pirate party at night)
  • Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island where you can spend a day in the sun and sand
  • Don’t skip the shows!  They are incredible!
  • Disney has an app called the Personal Navigator listing all info you need (show times, activities schedule, dinner menus, etc)
  • Bring your pirate costumes for the pirate party (where everyone dresses up)
  • People decorate their cabin doors with disney magnets which you can make before you embark to personalize your cabin.

Junkanoo Beach, Nassau Bahamas

There are a lot of excursions and adventures you can add to your vacation when you port in Nassau, but give our kids some sand and water and they are happy… plus it is easier on the vacation budget.  We found a nice public beach in walking distance from the port that gave us a nice stroll through the city blocks and a great time on land.  You can find Junkanoo Beach with a 10-15 min walk.

Castaway Cay – Disney’s Private Island

Disney leases its own island from the government of the Bahamas for its cruise vacationers.  When your cruise docks here, you are the only ones on the island.  You have access to a beautiful cove, beaches, trails for walking / biking, kids splash pad, a play place built in the water, and much more.  Along with dance parties with the characters, you have a complimentary barbecue provided by the ships crew, and plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas to make yourself comfortable in the sand.  A few things to know:

  • Most people park in the sand when they get to the beach… but there is a lot of beach.  If you walk further in you will find less people crowding your space.
  • There is a nice kids splash pad located about mid-way through the castaway campus
  • Most people sleep in upon the ships arrival… so you can beat the crowds to the island by getting up early.
  • You can rent snorkle gear.  But if you bring your own, they will let you use a snorkle life-vest complimentary.

 

Zip-lining in North Georgia

Zip-lining in North Georgia

Check one off the Bucket List

I’ve always wanted to go zip-lining on a course like this, and every year I’ve made this as a suggestion, its been around our anniversary.  But mid-June usually has sweltering heat, so as a Valentines Day gift to ourselves, Steph surprised me with Groupon Vouchers for this tour.  It was phenomenal.

Highlights:

  • Our tour was nearly 3 hours, so there was plenty of zip-lining time, but not too much.
  • Going in February is not a bad idea.  The tour guides told us there are often people who quit half way through the course when it is 90 degrees in the summer
  • On some of the zip-lines you can hit speeds of 40 to 45 MPH
  • One of the zip-lines is over 750 feet long going over trees and a small lake (great views)
  • Zip-lines are between tall tree-houses, one of which is 75 feet above the ground
Manatee Springs State Park

Manatee Springs State Park

Swimming & Canoeing with the Manatees

For an adventure you’ll never forget, try canoeing / kayaking and swimming with the manatees!  If you come to Manatee Springs State Park during the right time of year, you can do that.  The springs keeps the water above 70 degrees year-round, so in the winter, the manatees find their way up to the springs to keep warm.  You can rent a canoe or kayak to roam around the springs as it enters the Suwanee River.  Explore the banks for baby alligators, turtles, snakes, birds… and of course in the springs our friendly sea cows, the manatees.

Cedar Key, FL

Cedar Key, FL

Quaintest Little Beach Town

Places where everyone knows your name and no one locks their doors do exist.  At least in Cedar Key, FL.  We found a real escape from the hustle of the city mixed with beautiful beach sunsets and quite, salty air.  It’s not a very commercialized place, so you won’t find a Walmart, half the restaurants are cash only, and the motels here still use real keys (not those magnetic keycards).

Bring Your Bikes

Most people on the island prefer to walk or bike, and if you bring your bikes, you’ll find it a lot of fun riding around the beach town streets.  We rode our bikes around the whole island – probably the best way to explore the place.

Eat at Holey Moleys

From 7 am – 2 pm Holey Moleys serves some of the best donuts, along with cubans, wraps, and other sandwiches.  Be sure to stop for some gourmet donuts at some point on your trip.

Staying at Cedar Key Inn

You might say we are accustom to certain Hotel standards (maybe a little bit of Hotel Snobs), so staying in an older-style beach motel with an outdoor entrance and a real key (not a keycard) took a little getting use to.  But the fact that the motel is pet-friendly and they were very accommodating made our stay much better.  If you come to Cedar Key, you won’t find a fancy hotel.  Don’t come for the hotel.  Come for the beauty of this quaint little beach town and you will love the area.