Less than two hours from Champaign-Urbana, the indoor waterpark at Grand Bear Resort is a great choice for a fun family getaway any time of year
If you’ve never visited or heard of Grand Bear Resort, we’ve got a glimpse into what is inside this resort located near Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Park
But if you’re looking to stay closer to home or looking for a family-friendly place to stay on your next visit to Matthiessen State Park or Starved Rock (two of our favorite destinations for family hikes in Illinois), you might consider booking a stay at Grand Bear Resort.
If your kids love waterpark fun and you are up for a splishy-splashy adventure, Grand Bear Resort proves itself to be a solid choice for a weekend (or mid-week) getaway. With lodging, dining and a great indoor waterpark, it has pretty much everything you need to sneak away for a night or more of family fun. And if you want to spend some time outdoors at nearby state parks, a stay here will nicely round out your experience.
Booking a stay
The Grand Bear Resort indoor waterpark is accessible to overnight guests even when day passes are sold out. They have traditional guest rooms and some cabins are available, too. The guest rooms are pretty standard hotel rooms and include a mini fridge and microwave.
All about the indoor waterpark
The indoor waterpark features a lot of favorites, from a wave pool to a waterfall, splash pool to slides of varying sizes. The important thing to note is that this waterpark is 24,000 square feet, according to the website; for comparison, the Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee is around 80,000 square feet. So this one is on the smaller side and while we think kids of all ages will enjoy splashing here, it is probably best suited for families with younger children versus those with teens or tweens.
Part of the main pool turns into a wave pool periodically. There’s a lazy river to enjoy and right off of the main pool is a hot tub (pictured above) and tot pool (pictured below).
There are a couple of slides here and it is important to note that your kids have to be 48 inches tall in order to ride them.
You can bring life jackets, floaties, etc. for your young swimmers and you will definitely want to keep a close eye on them during your visit. Especially with the wave pool in the mix, you need to be prepared for the water to instantly be overhead.
There are a handful of dining options at Grand Bear Resort and if you are looking to stay on-site more than a night, you might find yourself wanting some other options off-site (or bringing some food in to your room). The main restaurant is Jack’s Place, which is open for dinner only on weekdays and breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekends. You can order pizza at the restaurant, too, and take it back to your room.
They also have a cafe (pictured above) and they are open varying hours, mostly on the weekends (beginning Thursday evening). In short, you can find food at Grand Bear Resort that is pretty good, and if you are prepared to pay for the convenience of food right at your hotel, you will not experience “sticker shock” when you get your bill (kids meals run $8.50, for reference).
We hear there will be a restaurant opening outdoors seasonally, and that’ll give another solid option for people wanting to dine at the hotel.
Other things to do at Grand Bear Resort
Other options for things to do at Grand Bear Resort include a classic arcade, mini-golf (seasonally), indoor fitness, movies, and activities/crafts from time to time. You can get the schedule for those types of things when you check in.
Things to do while you are in the area
We can’t let this opportunity go by without encouraging you to venture outdoors, no matter what season you’re visiting, while you’re in this area. The Starved Rock area has some of the BEST nature views in all of Illinois, in our opinion. And while Starved Rock definitely gets a lot of the attention, we are big fans of Matthiessen State Park located just down the road.
If you are looking to enjoy the area right from your car, you may consider the “back” entrance to Matthiessen (Lake Shelter). Here you can park and enjoy the views by walking a very short distance. Most other trails at Matthiessen and Starved Rock will have you walking a short (or long) distance. Of course, you can tailor your hike to what your family is up for. We think you will be impressed with what the area has to offer!
For some other dining options, you might make reservations at the Starved Rock Lodge (brunch is a real treat!) or for an authentic drive-in option — that happens to be more budget-friendly — head over to The Rootbeer Stand (cash or check only).
Some ideas on trips you can take with your family:
- Midwest Indoor Waterparks Within a Few Hours of Champaign-Urbana
- Road Trip: Visiting Winter Realms at Lake Geneva, Wis.
- Road Trip: Visiting Indianapolis as a Family
- Best Midwest Summer Road Trips for Champaign-Urbana Families
- 31+ Unique Summer Day Trips from Champaign-Urbana
- Visiting the Arthur Amish Area with Kids
- Spend a Saturday in Tuscola
- Peaches Aplenty at Okaw Valley Orchard
- Visiting the Indoor Waterpark at Grand Bear Resort Near Starved Rock
- How to Rent a Boat on Lake Shelbyville with your Family
- Road Trip: Visit St. Louis as a Family
- Visiting Imagination Grove Near Bloomington-Normal
- Road Trip: Visiting Wisconsin Dells
- Day Trip from Champaign-Urbana: Living Large in Casey
- Head North for Family Fun: What To Do On Your Chicago Trip
- An Insider’s Guide to a Springfield Getaway
- Effingham, a Trip to the Crossroads
- Winter Break Day Trip: Family Fun in Peoria
- Travel Back in Time at Lincoln Log Cabin