Rustic Lodge with Kid-Friendly Indoor Water Park and Playgrounds
Starved Rock State Park hugs the south bank of the Illinois River, less than two hours from Chicago. Waterfalls plunge into canyons and white-pine and cedar trees cling to sandstone bluffs at this woodsy retreat that attracts more than 2 million visitors each year. Just across the street from the park stands Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort, a rustic lodge with a slew of family-friendly activities, including a water park, a theme park, an 18-hole mini-golf course, and a 60-game arcade.
Located near the main lodge, the 24,000-square-foot Grand Bear Falls indoor water park features a lagoon-style wave pool, a water slide, and a lazy river for tubing. Fountains spray youngsters in the playground area, and an oversize jacuzzi offers a quiet oasis for grownups. At the Enchanted Forest indoor amusement park next door, you'll find nine thrilling rides, including a tilt-a-whirl and a free-fall plunge; it just added laser tag and a zipline course.
After working up an appetite, head to Jack's Place Restaurant & Sports Bar for custom-made pizzas. The nearby family suites are outfitted with rough-hewn wood furnishings as well as mini fridges and microwaves; some units have balconies overlooking the grounds. The vacation villas, which sleep up to nine people, are two-story units decked out with full kitchens and fireplaces.
North Utica, Illinois: Scenic State Parks with Waterfalls and Hiking Trails
North Utica's star attraction is Starved Rock State Park, named one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois in a 2007 poll. Among the park's 13 miles of hiking trails, the LaSalle Canyon path stands out, thanks to several delicate, veil-like waterfalls along the way. For smaller crowds, try hiking through the lesser-known Matthiessen State Park, where deer congregate around salt-laden mineral springs.
76% of 218 customers recommend
“Great fun and nice rooms”
“Very clean, friendly staff, nice accomodations”
“Clean and good for 12 and under”
Grizzly Jacks Grand Bear Resort
2643 IL 178
North Utica, IL 61348