Disclosure: Our accommodations were provided. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.
As summer was winding to a close, I thought it would be nice to take one last weekend getaway with the boys. I made plans for an overnight visit Grand Bear Lodge at Starved Rock in Utica. Located just a couple minutes from the entrance to Starved Rock State Park, it's a great place to crash and connect after a day of hiking the beautiful trails.
We stayed in a vacation villa, so it was just down the road from the main resort, but so room and comfortable. It had a kitchen larger than my kitchen at home, a full-size dining room, a living room with sofa bed and bathroom, then upstairs were two bedrooms and another bathroom. The villa is designed to sleep 8. I loved that our spacious master suite included a jacuzzi tub. We had plenty of space to spread out, but could gather together for mealtime or a movie.
The highlight of the lodge is a 24,000 square-foot indoor water park that includes a lazy river, wave pool, slides, water playground and hot tub. Admission is included for guests of the resort and they also offer day passes.
There's a lot more to do though, than just hang out at the water park. We explored the arcade and had a fun time doing mini golf. We also hung out at the Bear Island outdoor bar. There's plenty of activities scheduled at the resort as well - from movie times to crafts to hula hoop contests.
I was impressed with the food at Jack's Place Restaurant. I had a chef salad that was huge and loaded with meat, cheese, egg and avocado. We also ordered a pizza that exceeded my expectations - it had a really good crust that was nice and crispy and I loved the crumbled sausage.
They also have a cafe for sweets and snacks and a hot breakfast buffet on weekends.
For more information, visit grizzlyjacksresort.com.