When visiting Utah, you’ll find several spectacular national parks, monuments, landmarks, lakes, state parks, mountains, and natural areas to explore. Utah’s cities and towns have arts and museums, drive-in theaters, home cooking and culinary surprises, wedding venues, universities and events on tap. You can also learn about dinosaurs, the Old West, or the state’s Mormon heritage, and if you want to simply relax, let yourself be pampered at a spa or resort.
1.Park City Mountain Resort
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Park City Mountain Resort is the second largest ski resort in America and is a major American skiing destination. The resort covers the 7,300-acre mountain and offers over 330 trails. Several runs are used for training by the U.S. ski team and it was the host for 2002 Winter Olympics snowboarding and some slalom events.
Night skiing is available on selected runs, with the remaining slopes operating from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm daily during the winter. Park City Mountain provides lessons at their Park City Ski and Snowboard School, where students of all ages and abilities can learn on trails appropriate to their skill level. More things to do in Park City
1345 Lowell Ave, Park City, UT 84060, Phone: 800-222-7275
2.Natural History Museum of Utah
© Natural History Museum of Utah
The Natural History Museum of Utah holds more than 1.5 million artifacts. In the paleontology section, visitors can see items with a focus on the Intermountain West, while the anthropology section houses specimens dating back to 11,500 BC. The vertebrate zoology section offers mammal, bird, reptile, and amphibian samples, and in the botany section, guests can view frozen swatches used for DNA research.
The malacology section holds examples from the six classes of marine mollusks, while the minerology section displays beautiful minerals from around the globe. The entomology section similarly contains representative samples of insect life from six continents. Aside from exhibits, the museum conducts educational and recreational programming for all ages and has both a gift shop and in-house cafe. Best things to do in Salt Lake City
301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108, Phone: 801-581-4303
3.Hill Aerospace Museum
© Hill Aerospace Museum
The Hill Aerospace Museum's unique layout is in the shape of an aircraft, which is fitting for an establishment that operates as a field museum for the U.S. Air Force. Hill Aerospace houses over 4,000 historical objects from five eras, although at any given time only 20% of the collection is on display.
The artifacts include artwork, the majority of which is located in the Lindquist Art Gallery, and the museum hosts a Plane Talk lecture series, where speakers cover topics related to aerospace and defense. The Utah Aviation Hall of Fame is also on site.
7961 Wardleigh Road, Building 1955, Hill AFB, UT 84056, Phone: 801-825-5817
4.Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
© Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
As the country’s largest no-kill center, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is home to approximately 1,700 animals available for adoption. Homeless animals like dogs and cats, bunnies and birds, horses and barnyard animals are sent here from all across America. Best Friends is also home to recovering wildlife and special needs animals.
The sanctuary houses animals in groups (Dogtown, Cat World, Horse Haven, Bunny House, Marshall’s Piggy Paradise, and Parrot Garden) to promote exercise and socialization. In the visitors center, guests can sign up for tours, learn about the animals, and participate in events such as bunny yoga, Thanksgiving dinner, and Paint Your Pet’s Portrait.
235 South 100 East, Kanab, UT, Phone: 435-644-8584
5.Bean Life Science Museum
© Bean Life Science Museum
Located on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum specializes in the science behind life on our planet. Exhibits cover topics such as how Earth's characteristics sustain life and how all life is interconnected, the causes underlying extinction, the ideological view that humanity is the planet's steward, and the predator-prey relationship.
The museum also has a play area for toddlers, plus two galleries, one with a collection of over 100 bird species and one with wildlife art. Bean Life Science Museum’s schedule includes popular items such as in-house live shows (animal or reptile), lectures, and Night at the Museum events. Best things to do in Provo
645 E 1430 N, Provo, UT 84602, Phone: 801-422-5050
© Clark Planetarium
Clark Planetarium is a far cry from the light shows of yesteryear and while the planetarium does hold cosmic light shows during the evening from Thursday to Saturday, they are courtesy of the latest technology. The facility’s Hansen Dome Theatre is similarly of the moment, using 3D computer animation and digital projection to provide a 360-degree experience.
The IMAX theatre displays 3D films on a gigantic, five-story screen alongside 14,000 watts of digital sound. The planetarium also offers community programs to the public and hosts free astronomy exhibits with models of the solar system and NASA equipment as well as interactive elements.
110 South 400 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, Phone: 385-468-7827
7.Bluff Fort Historic Site
© Bluff Fort Historic Site
The Bluff Fort Historic Site gives visitors a chance to learn about both the fort itself and the treacherous Hole-in-the-Rock expedition. Cabins were built with their windows and doors facing inwards towards the fort’s square to offer protection from invading forces.
The Bluff City meeting house served all communal purposes and was a school, church, and public meeting venue, while the Bluff co-op sold food and staples to residents. The fort was dismantled in 1883, but the community persevered and switched from farming to ranching. During the 1890s, residents constructed Victorian-style houses, which have been restored along with the fort. The site includes a visitors center and a gift shop.
550 East Black Locust, Bluff, UT 84512, Phone: 435-672-9995
, From LA
© Utah Symphony
The Utah Symphony is a major internationally recognized American symphony and an integral part of the American West’s cultural landscape. The symphony supports and provides educational programming and conducts tours throughout the region to promote the arts, especially music.
Along with performances at Abravanel Hall, the Utah Symphony holds summer concerts at Park City’s Deer Valley Music Festival. The symphony records extensively and has been nominated for Grammy Awards a number of times. Business or business attire is common at concerts, although jeans through formal wear are also seen. Most concerts begin at 8:00 pm, while pre-concert lectures for MasterWorks performances begin at 6:45 pm. Concerts run for 90 to 120 minutes, including intermission, and VIP packages are available.
123 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, Phone: 801-533-6683
Next read: Wheeler Historic Farm
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The Gifford Homestead is located in the heart of the Fruita Valley and lets guests experience a Mormon settlement as it existed in the valley at the turn of the 20th century. The homestead features rock walls and includes a farmhouse as well as a garden, smokehouse, barn, and pasture.
The farmhouse is illustrative of the favored austere design and contains a front room where the kitchen is located as well as two small bedrooms on the ground floor, while the two bedrooms upstairs are only accessible by an outdoor ladder. The homestead has a sales outlet where guests can buy locally made food goods and replica pioneer artifacts.
52 West Headquarters Drive, Torrey UT 84775, Phone: 435-425-3791
© Courtesy of os city - Fotolia.com
The Beehive House was the home of the early Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints leader Brigham Young and was where he entertained guests. The home’s design accommodated the large Young family, with senior wife Mary Ann choosing to live in the property’s White House while first wife Lucy Ann acted as hostess in the Beehive House, where she lived with her nine children.
A suite of rooms in the Lion House, where Young’s offices and bedroom were located, is connected to the Beehive House. The property also includes the Brigham Young Historic Park. The building underwent restoration between 1959 and 1960 and today operates as a museum and offers 30-minute tours. During the summer, the park hosts free concerts and evening lectures on gardening.
67 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150, Phone: 801-240-2681
11.Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
© Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
Red Butte Garden is open all year round and offers different plants and events for each season. While spring and summer are popular times to visit the garden to see flowers and trees coming to life in a tapestry of colors, autumn offers spectacular fall foliage and winter provides red buds against a stark white background, perfect for hiking or snowshoeing. During the summer, the garden hosts performances in the amphitheater.
Red Butte includes themed gardens and private or group tours are available. The garden features quiet resting areas and visitors can make use of chairs, tables, and umbrellas in the Four Seasons Courtyard.
300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, Phone: 801-585-0556
12.Utah's Hogle Zoo
© Utah's Hogle Zoo
Hogle Zoo covers approximately 42 acres and is home to over 800 animal residents. The zoo’s animals are representative of animal life from all over the world and include species from every ecosphere on Earth. As a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Hogle Zoo ensures that animals have a species survival plan to preserve genetic diversity.
Visitors can purchase one-on-one animal encounters with a personal tour guide, and group experiences are also available. Groups can choose from feedings (rhinos, tortoises, or birds), orangutan training sessions, delivering daily enrichment to apes, or having an up-close and personal introduction to a giraffe via the VIP observation tower.
2600 Sunnyside Avenue (840 South), Salt Lake City, UT 84108, Phone: 801-584-1700
13.Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
© Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
has wildlife from all over the globe located in its 136,000 square feet, including sections on the Antarctic, Utah, the ocean, South America, birds, invertebrates, mammals, and fish. Get eye-to-eye with sharks in the aquarium’s 40-foot underwater shark tunnel, view rainforest animals in the two-story rainforest gallery, or get tactile with aquatic life in one of the aquarium’s two touch pools.
Aside from viewing marine animals during an aquarium visit, Loveland is also available for corporate and private events. The facility can host both formal and informal functions, with a maximum of 450 guests for seated dinners and up to 1,000 guests for receptions.
12033 Lone Peak Pkway, Draper, UT 84020, Phone: 801-355-3474
14.Monument Valley Safari
© Monument Valley Safari
Monument Valley offers safari adventures of 1.5 to 7 hours in length across different sections of Monument Valley. Both Lower Monument Valley and Mystery Valley safaris are termed scenic and cultural, while the company’s award-winning combination safaris provide visitors a chance to see two areas in one tour: Lower Monument Valley (3 hours)/Mystery Valley (3 hours) or Tear Drop Arch (2 hours)/Mystery Valley (4 hours).
Monument Valley’s specialty tours include a 7-hour Sunset Photography Tour of Hunts Mesa (recommended for adventurers seeking an off-the-grid experience) and the 3-hour Starlight or Full Moon tours of Monument Valley. Private tours are also available. Read more
Oljato-Monument Valley, UT 84536, Phone: 928-209-1364
15.Utah State Capitol
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When in the state capital, make sure to take a 1-hour tour of the Capitol Building. Guided tours are available hourly from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and by reservation on Wednesdays at 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Tours start at the east doors on the 1st floor. Visitors can also take a self-guided tour during the building’s hours of operation using brochures available at the desk at the east doors.
A Pioneering Women Tour is available by reservation only and covers Utah’s uncommon support for the suffrage movement and women’s equality. The capitol includes several in-house dining options, including Capitol Cafe, Rise and Shine, Crisp, The Grill, 2Mato and Outtakes Grab-N-Go.
350 North State Street, 120 State Capitol, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114, Phone: 801-538-1800
16.Deer Valley Resort
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If you're searching for a luxury skiing experience, Deer Valley is renowned for catering to wealthy clientele, with services like ski valets and parking valets at no cost as well as fine dining and shopping boutiques on site.
Aside from hosting International Ski Federation competitions and FIS World Cup events on a regular basis, Deer Valley was a 2002 Winter Olympics host for freestyle mogul, aerial, and alpine slalom events. The resort has consistently ranked in the top three ski resorts in North America and held the #1 spot every year from 2007 through 2011. Meanwhile, Mariposa at Silver Lake was rated the best restaurant in all of Utah by the Zagat Restaurant Guide. Read more
2250 Deer Valley Dr S, Park City, UT 84060, Phone: 435-649-1000
17.Park Silly Sunday Market
Park Silly Sunday Market is an eco-friendly open air market in Park City, Utah, held for 14 Sundays each year between early June and mid-September. The market, which was originally founded in 2006, is free to attend, attracting nearly 200,000 annual guests and nearly 2,000 vendor booths throughout the season. Visitors can peruse farmer's market stalls and select from a variety of delicious pantry goods or browse antique and regional arts and crafts vendors for unique finds. A selection of regional food trucks and vendors are on site for dining options. Live music performances are showcased throughout the season, along with strolling performers such as magicians, stilt walkers, and balloon artists.
780 Main St, Park City, UT 84060, Phone: 435-714-4036
18.Park City Museum
© Park City Museum
Park City Museum covers the history of Park City and its role in developing the West. In addition to exhibits in the Tozer Gallery, the museum offers lectures, historical walking tours, and other living history events and presentations. Guided tours of exhibits and historical presentations are available on a reservation-only basis, with reservations as well as private tours required three weeks in advance.
Walking tours run Monday to Friday from Memorial Day through Labor Day (ages 13+). The annual Historic Home Tour lets visitors see a highlighted historic home, while the Hal Compton Research Library acts as an additional resource for learning about Park City’s history and its role in regional industry.
528 Main Street, Park City, UT 84060, Phone: 435-649-7457
19.Dark Ranger Telescope Tours
© Dark Ranger Telescope Tours
Dark Ranger provides astronomy tours and run both their Have a Bryce Night and Summer Telescope Tour nightly. Private tours are also available Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights and include personal Dark Rangers. Full Moon Hikes happen on strategic evenings and are 1.5 to 3.5 miles per round trip; hiking shoes or boots are required gear to participate.
The Winter Telescope Tour happens Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with participants encouraged to dress warmly since a wind chill of -0F is possible. Dark Ranger’s Introduction to Astrophotography workshops are 2.5 hours long and teach the use of the latest equipment to photograph the night sky.
550 W, 550 N, Tropic, UT 84776, Phone: 435-590-9498
20.Utah Field House of Natural History State Park
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The Utah Field House presents interactive exhibits and activities surrounding prehistoric geological objects. Current exhibits include the Uinta Fossil Journey, featuring a 90-foot diplodocus skeleton and the Stories in Stone film. At the Morrison Dig Site and Fossil Lab, guests can determine whether an article is a fossil or debris on a simulated dig site before exploring the lab.
The Jurassic Hall exhibit displays three skeletons from 145 million years ago, while the Eocene Gallery showcases objects from that era and the Rocks Revealed exhibit uses fossils to cover the four major eras in the planet’s history. The museum also hosts programming and has a children’s lab to entertain young patrons as well as a dinosaur garden with models.
496 E. Main, Vernal Utah 8407, Phone: 435-789-3799
Next read: Lagoon Amusement Park
21.Goulding's Trading Post Museum
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The Goulding’s Trading Post Museum provides a window into the history of trading and tourism as well as the part that Goulding’s Lodge played in the movies of legendary Western filmmaker John Ford.
The Trading Bull Pen, Ware Room, Joseph Muench Room, and living quarters contain representative articles, artwork, and photography from the era. For movie enthusiasts, the movie room runs a John Ford-John Wayne film and displays movie artifacts from classic Hollywood films shot in the area, including a map marked with film locations. Film buffs will also appreciate the cabin behind the museum, which Ford used for both interior and exterior shots in many of his films.
1000 Main Street, Oljato-Monument Valley, UT 84536, Phone: 435-727-3231
22.Golden Spike National Historic Site
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Golden Spike National Historic Site celebrates the final spike during the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad. The railway served an integral part in the growth of America as a country, and the Golden Spike commemorates this piece of American history.
On Saturdays and holidays from May through mid-September, the site holds re-enactments of the ceremony that accompanied the depositing of the last spike, complete with volunteers dressed to portray the attending dignitaries. Re-enactments are followed by a steam demonstration, where locomotives are driven down the track. Steam demonstrations also occur daily throughout the week. Aside from these events, visitors can explore the site’s landscape, see some of the steam locomotives at rest, watch historic films, view photographs, and tour the visitors center.
6200 North 22300 West, Promontory Summit, UT 84307, Phone: 435-471-2209
23.St. George Children's Museum
© St. George Children's Museum
The St. George Children’s Museum contains 10 exhibit rooms built with interactivity in mind. The museum seeks to encourage both children and their adult companions to learn and grow and to explore their imagination as they play with each exhibit. The museum aspires to maximize the patrons’ involvement with exhibits and activities in order to prompt critical and creative thinking.
The rooms cover culture (Art, Music, and Theater), geography (Castle, Desert, and Sea), infrastructure (Farm, Bank, Government, Grocery, Post Office, and Transportation), science (Veterinarian, Prehistoric, and Science), and movement (Sports and Exercise). Classes are held throughout the week, with lessons focusing on topics explored in museum exhibits.
86 S Main St, St George, UT 84770, Phone: 435-986-4000
24.Utah Shakespeare Festival
© Utah Shakespeare Festival
Held at the Beverly Center for the Arts, the 2017 Utah Shakespeare Festival runs from June 29 to October 21. This season features nine plays and multiple events. Festivalgoers can discuss performances in play seminars, which are conducted in the morning. Repertory Magic happens on Mondays and Fridays, where participants can watch and ask questions about the scene changing process.
Participants can also enjoy backstage tours and see the props, scenery, and other elements used in the season’s plays. Luncheon Q&As happen throughout July and August, and Bardway, Baby! is this year’s one-night-only Broadway production. The festival also presents free events: One of three free Greenshows are held nightly from June 29 to September, while prop, costume, and actor seminars cover production components on different days throughout the week. Production seminars happen daily.
The Beverly Center for the Arts, 195 W Center St., Cedar City, UT 84720, Phone: 435-586-7878
© Cove Fort
Cove Fort Historic Site is the only remaining fort built in the 1800s by the Latter-Day Saints and was constructed to provide food, water, and shelter to Latter-Day Saints travelling between Idaho and California. Fort tours let visitors experience fort life in the 1800s.
Here you can see the kitchen or “big room”, where visitors were fed and residents held religious services and meetings; the washing and weaving room, where all washing and bathing was performed; and guest rooms and family rooms as well as the telegraph office, which also functioned as an overflow eating hall. Visitors can also tour the stage and post office, bunkhouse, prairie wagon, replica barn, and blacksmith shop.
Highway 161 SE, Beaver, UT 84713, Phone: 435-438-5547
25 Best Things to Do in Utah
- Park City Mountain Resort, Photo: Courtesy of Silvano Rebai - Fotolia.com
- Natural History Museum of Utah, Photo: Natural History Museum of Utah
- Hill Aerospace Museum, Photo: Hill Aerospace Museum
- Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Photo: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
- Bean Life Science Museum, Photo: Bean Life Science Museum
- Clark Planetarium, Photo: Clark Planetarium
- Bluff Fort Historic Site, Photo: Bluff Fort Historic Site
- Utah Symphony, Photo: Utah Symphony
- Gifford Homestead, Photo: Courtesy of beatrice preve - Fotolia.com
- Beehive House, Photo: Courtesy of os city - Fotolia.com
- Red Butte Garden and Arboretum, Photo: Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
- Utah's Hogle Zoo, Photo: Utah's Hogle Zoo
- Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, Photo: Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
- Monument Valley Safari, Photo: Monument Valley Safari
- Utah State Capitol, Photo: Courtesy of Legacy Images - Fotolia.com
- Deer Valley Resort, Photo: Courtesy of pureradiancecmp - Fotolia.com
- Park Silly Sunday Market, Photo: MNStudio/stock.adobe.com
- Park City Museum, Photo: Park City Museum
- Dark Ranger Telescope Tours, Photo: Dark Ranger Telescope Tours
- Utah Field House of Natural History State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- Goulding's Trading Post Museum, Photo: Courtesy of laurac111 - Fotolia.com
- Golden Spike National Historic Site, Photo: Courtesy of Steven Miller - Fotolia.com
- St. George Children's Museum, Photo: St. George Children's Museum
- Utah Shakespeare Festival, Photo: Utah Shakespeare Festival
- Cove Fort, Photo: Cove Fort
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Legacy Images - Fotolia.com
Joseph Smith Memorial Building
The Joseph Smith Memorial Building has been serving up Mormon hospitality for over 100 years. The building contains several event and conference rooms, three restaurants, the Legacy Theater, and the world-renowned FamilySearch Center. The 500-seat Legacy Theater runs films relevant to Mormon life, while the Roof Restaurant and the Garden Restaurant on the 10th floor keep visitors well fed while taking in gorgeous views of Temple Square and downtown.
A sandwich shop in the lobby (Nauvoo Café) is a more casual dining option. At the FamilySearch Center, guests can access their family history with the help of the Mormons’ impeccable records and have fun in its interactive discovery center.
15 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150, Phone: 801-531-1000