I think people are starting to plan summer family reunions because I’ve been getting a bunch of questions about how we do ours. So here are a few answers (I’ll answer the first one in segments since it contains a bunch of questions).

My family as a summer getaway similar to yours at Bear Lake {see posts on how we do reunions here and here} and as my husband and my generation start having more and more kids, the dynamics seem to be getting more complicated. I’d love to get your family’s tips on how you handle things like which family sleeps where (do families keep the same rooms year after year? do kids sleep near their parents or in a room together?),

First of all, I think every family will have completely different ideas on what works. Through the years we have changed sleeping arrangements a bunch. We are very, very thankful that my parents had the foresight to build some places up at Bear Lake LONG ago in anticipation of how big our family would get. And it’s really nice that they can rent them out when we’re not there. Most of the families are able to have a room to keep things in (which is nice when you’re there for as long as we are). The “singles” or couples with no children yet stay at the older more rustic cabin where we grew up so they can sleep in a little more in the morning and come back and forth from our “main camp” a little easier. We’ve gone through stages where cousins sleep together but the last couple years I have had all our kids make up beds on the floor where we keep our stuff to keep them together. I like to have them close and regroup with family prayer at night. I sometimes “miss” them at Bear Lake because they are so darn entertained by all their cousins:)

How do you organize who pays for what (groceries, household items, etc.) and how your organize meals (does one family cook for whole kitten kaboodle? Are there meal ‘standards’ as far as what’s served or does each family decide what they’ll cook on their own?).

I talked a bunch more about this back here, but for the most part every family is in charge of a couple meals and they cook for everyone. It’s a big undertaking with that many people but it’s kind of fun too because everyone ends up helping out and we work together and talk while preparing. Some meals we keep really simple (like grilling hamburgers):
But quite honestly, most of us really like to cook so the dinners are actually kind of gourmet:I know this doesn’t work for every family. I know many families who just cook up a bunch of spaghetti or get take-out pizza and it works just as well. Our family is just kind of comically food-snobbish sometimes which I love because we get to eat well up there.

Also, any tips on dealing with the inevitable little squabbles that come up among kids and adults throughout your time together?

Oh there are definitely squabbles here and there. But luckily we have the “fighting bench” up there so anyone who squabbles can utilize that to it’s full capacity 🙂 (more details about the fighting bench in the middle of this post)

We absolutely cherish our summer family time together, but we are always looking to learn more about how to make the best of it! I am wondering if you have any advice on traveling to Bear Lake. I am not familiar with the area at all but we would love to travel up there to experience it. It looks and sounds amazing! We live in Colorado so it isn’t that far of a trip… a good place for a family getaway.

Bear Lake is on the Utah/Idaho border. My Mom grew up in Montpelier which is north in Idaho so that’s why we ended up on the Idaho side (away from the very slightly more touristy side). I just love that it’s not overly commercialized and crowded. I love that it’s close to places you can go for rodeos and it’s the most gorgeous place on the planet as far as I’m concerned. I guess the only problem is that the closest grocery store to us is about a half hour away. But that never seems to concern us much because we bring everything we can up there with us.

I am wondering if you have any suggestions on where to stay? Condos or hotels?

Most of the rental places are on the other side from where we are (Sweetwater, Harbor Village, etc.) where it is a little more crowded but mostly just on the 4th and 24th of July. There are a bunch of condos over there and I’m sure you could google information on that. I’m of course a little biased about our place because it’s so conducive to big family reunions, and my parents do rent it when we’re not there. Click here for more information on that.

Places to eat?

We don’t go out to eat up there except for an occasional stop at the “Bear Cave” on our way to Bloomington Lake, but I know there are some good places on the Southeast (Utah) side.

Launching boats? Do you launch and take out everyday?

The lake has been so low the last few years that we have had to have tractors to launch the boat every day. But last year the water finally came up a little bit so we can leave the boat in a “slip” in a close-by rented harbor. I know there are a bunch more launching amenities on the other side.

Pools or just lake? Any suggestions you have would be awesome!

No pools, just lake all the way! 🙂 But we did stay at Sweetwater with Dave’s family years ago and they did have a pool at the condos over there if you’re looking for pool.

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  1. We go to Bear Lake often – it's one of most favorite places. My dad grew up there and we sing the Idaho state song every time we cross the state line, whether he's with us or not! LeBeau's fresh raspberry shakes won my husband's heart long ago.

  2. My mom is Eve..she and your mom are great friends and have been forever… I follow your blog and love your comments and posts about Bear Lake. I grew up in Bennington and I absolutely agree that it is the prettiest, peaceful place… Thanks for sharing!

  3. no biggie shawni, but i think the place is called 'ideal beach' now and not 'sweetwater'. i…like you…still call it 'sweetwater', but i figure if some of your readers are going to try to rent a place you may want to steer them there!!

  4. I was just wondering with my husband about why Bear Lake isn't world-famous, it's so beautiful and perfectly awesome for families. I'm glad it isn't, though, because that is part of its charm – a secret oasis that isn't overcrowded or touristy (like you, we go to the Idaho side of the lake).
    We have never stayed overnight, but would love to. Have you ever done any fishing there? I know about the one fish that is only found at Bear Lake. Are there other species there, that you know of?
    Thanks for the beautiful photos and tips!

  5. Our family loves Bear Lake too! My husbands ancestors settled in the Paris area. We always rent on the West side in Harbor Village. bearlakelodging.com is a good place to start. There's also vrbo.com. We've stayed in both condos and cabins and all have been nice. Our favorite place to eat is the Bear Lake pizza place and LeBeau's for a shake and fries, don't forget the fry sauce! The Pickleville Playhouse is also a fun thing to do while you're there. We mainly enjoy relaxing on the beach while the kids play.

  6. So in reading your posts about Bear Lake, it reminds me of my family and our annual summer vacations to Lake Powell. I personally consider that the most beautiful place on earth, and I know you'd love taking pictures of all the beauties there!! I was wondering if your family has actually ever been there, especially since you live in Arizona? If not- I highly recommend it!! However, it is pretty touristy. But still so so worth it!! This makes me excited for the summer!

  7. Love Bear lake! We take up our travel trailer last year we stayed on the Utah side for the first time but it is way to busy. I am pro-idaho

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