Ah, The Weekenders. It's quickly become a favorite series of ours...made so, no doubt, by the simple fact that its publication necessitates that we jaunt about our stellar state in search of spots to soak in and savor. We've been to a few amazing places as a gang (Joe's Valley, Lava Hot Springs, Moab, Zion). We'll even travel outside our Beehive's boundaries, so long as it's doable in a weekend's time (see the magic of Jackson Hole here). But believe me you: there are a billion we've yet to see, and we'll be doing our damnedest to visit and photograph every one of them (in between buying/selling all your homes and helping you design them to perfection, of course).
This time around, we took our COLLECTIVE act a couple of hours north to Bear Lake for a bit of beach time and exploring. Full disclosure: we high-tailed it up there when we heard about a new set-up for a touch of luxury camping (not so unlike our fantastic experience in Moab). Not much of a decision, considering the temperatures were hovering near perfect and the "Caribbean of the Rockies" was gleaming and gorgeous and crystal-turquoise-blue as ever. As always, we hope to inspire everyone in SLC to get out from time to time. One of the best things about our city is its proximity to everything. Take a peek around and appreciate the bits of nature that are hovering beyond the cruel reaches of your daily grind. Camp in new spots along a river; pay for a one-night splurge in a place that puts you at ease; run down an ocean-like beach in the middle of a landlocked state. It's totally possible.
BEAR LAKE, UT/ID, 2.5 hours: Bear lake is a 20-mile long breath of fresh water that's pretty much halved by the Utah/Idaho border. In the dead of summer, it maintains a nice, crisp temperature, and it's good for just about any lake-bound activity: beaching with some brews, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, skiing, etc. The Utah side of the lake is home to Garden City, where the raspberry reigns supreme in its most natural form (a shake, obviously). You'll drive straight into Raspberry Square, in fact, from Hwy 89 on your way in. As it so happens, Garden City is also the midway point between Salt Lake City and Grand Teton Nat'l Park, sooo…you know. Possibilities.
Check In: Conestoga Ranch, 427 N Paradise Parkway, Garden City, UT — The surge of places like this popping up all over our US of A is pleasing, to say the least. Not everyone is game for the reality of an actual camp-out...mosquitos, playing the part of a pack mule, the poor night's sleep that comes with inadequate cushioning and a numb tailbone. This is the perfect in-between. Under the safety of a big canvas tent (or inside a roomy Conestoga Wagon with some bunk beds!), and well equipped with a big, cushy bed, proper nightstands, modern-day electricity, and positively adorable bathrooms, we were more than comfortable. Grand and Deluxe tents each have fire pits, a pair of adirondacks, and a nice little feeling of privacy. Wagon circles have a fire pit in the center for gathering, as well (and on-site facilities for showering, etc.). The views of the lake are beautifully preceded by green fields and lazy horses, the tent sites are cleverly named after our nation's national parks, and Conestoga has its own mini-mart where you can purchase "S'mores kits." So you'll want for nothing. Except food. And they've got that covered too...
Eat Out: Campfire Grill, Conestoga Ranch, Crepes & Coffee, 209 N Bear Lake Blvd. -- The largest tent on Conestoga Ranch property is the one that's home to the Campfire Grill. Open air, so you're still "in the wild," and well-equipped with a wood-burning brick oven for gourmet pizzas, the CG will likely encourage you to "camp" more often. Though it's not open every day, and breakfast is served only on weekends, it's worth finding some time to have a bite. Salads, pasta, wood-roasted half chicken (which we're told is sublime), and a much needed glass of vino or beer…'cause you're on vacay, pal. And for those weekday mornings when CG is closed, we recommend you take your act to Crepes & Coffee (which is oh-so-close to camp). It's a wee operation, and you'd be wise to give yourself plenty of time…it takes a minute to whip up these thin, beautifully-rolled, cones of sweet and savory perfection.
Spend Pesos: Don't bother, unless it's to rent a bike, boat, or wave runner…or to get yourself another raspberry shake. One shouldn't go to Bear Lake for the shopping. It's a big, beautiful body of water with loads of sandy beach at both ends and in between…just stake out your spot, plunk down the cooler, and unwindulax. Even without a water vessel of any kind, it's a sensational way to spend a day basking in the sun. Those who want a touch more activity can grab the aforementioned bikes (there's miles of bike/running paths), go sailing, or find a place to scuba.