Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort is a unique attraction near Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois. Never heard of it before? This destination is an easy drive east on I-80, just four hours from central Iowa and about 90 minutes from the Quad Cities. Come for an extended weekend or even longer. There is plenty of fun and exploring to do.
We chose Grizzly Jack’s because we knew the kids would love the indoor waterpark. However, during our visit the park was closed due to renovations and improvements. Check back with the hotel to follow the progress.
While we were not able to enjoy the water park, we did enjoy all the other amenities at the resort.
Disclaimer: Our visit was hosted, however, all opinions expressed in this article are completely ours and based on our own family’s unique experience.
Deluxe Family Suite
The deluxe family suite was perfect for our family’s needs. This suite is large and spacious with room to spread out. We ate a couple easy meals in our room using the snack area. I loved having the handy sink to do dishes.
The separate bedroom made it easy to put the kids to bed earlier in the evening. The beds were comfortable, with sheets that were soft and not scratchy. One observation is outlets are limited and hard to reach. Consider bring an extension cord if you have a lot of electronics.
Here’s a quick video walk through to show you all the details!
It was a bit warm, but the kids wanted to give the fireplace a try. This would be perfect during a winter visit when the waterfalls at the local parks are stunning ice sculptures.
Have a bigger crew with you? Grizzly Jack’s offers a wide range of lodging options, including cabins and villas. Chat with the hotel to find the best option for your family.
Several on-site dinning options are available. Check with the resort for operational hours and menus. During our stay, a light continental breakfast was available as a courtesy in Jack’s Place Restaurant and Bar Monday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, guests can purchase a hot breakfast buffet.
Outside is the Grand Bear Pavilion which serves drinks and food. We were told that the atmosphere is family-friendly in the early evening and geared more toward adults later in the night.
Grizzly Jack’s has recently come under new management, and staff are working at making improvements and updates throughout the resort. A few of these areas are the beautifully landscaped mini-golf and a brand new playground for kids. Our family enjoyed both of these amenities.
Our son loved the challenge or trying to beat dad in mini-golf. Some of the holes were more difficult than they looked and he felt very accomplished when he made a hole-in-one.
Our daughter didn’t stay interested in mini-golf for long, but was instantly drawn to the playground. She loved climbing and trying out all the features.
With canyons at Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks being a big draw to the area, it was fun to find a canyon right there on the resort property. The foliage makes it a bit hard to see the waterfall, but the canyon views are clear from the deck.
I have to include this stunning tree that greeted us each morning from the parking lot. Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort sits on the edge of Starved Rock State Park. Simply walk across Route 178 and start hiking the canyons. Our personal favorite, Matthiessen State Park was just a few minutes drive.
We found the staff in all areas of the resort to be friendly and helpful. In the hotel lobby, a gift shop is a quick place to grab the kids a few souvenirs like these warm logo jackets.
Throughout the resort, little extras like this native American display create a fun atmosphere. Different family programs and movies are hosted throughout the hotel. Around 7:40pm, there is a bedtime story in the main lobby with the animated characters.
The resort offers a large conference center and meeting spaces. This would be the perfect place to bring a youth group, hold a family reunion, or have a homeschool group retreat!
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort and felt well rested after our stay. We hope your family can plan a trip here and make lasting memories. There is a lot to do in the area, so have fun planning your adventures!