A land of sheer beauty bestowed with incredible wilderness, Utah is the 45th state in the United States. From its red rock mesas to its picture-perfect canyons and snow-covered peaks, this gorgeous state is a wonderland for adventure junkies. From hiking Zion National Park to bird watching at Antelope Island or skiing at Deer Valley Resort, there’s always something to keep you in the adventurous spirit. Besides, the state is also home to several historical attractions such as Bluff Fort Historic Site where visitors can learn about the history of the first Anglo community known as the Mormon pioneers. Cedar City, the largest city in Iron County, also features fun festivals, biking trails, scenic drives, and nearby parks. If you’re heading to Utah for your next vacation then check out our comprehensive list of things to do in Utah, the USA below.
1. Explore the magnificent Bluff Fort Historic Site
Bluff Fort Historic Site is an interesting attraction to learn about the history of the first Anglo community known as the Mormon pioneers who wanted to establish a mission at Montezuma on the San Juan River. As per historical records, about 250 men, women, and children left Escalante in southern Utah in 1880, and wagons had to be pulled onto the flat river bottom near Bluff. Because of the tedious journey, they decided to settle in the river valley which they named Bluff City. This interactive exhibition site showcases the life of the original settlers through the recreated 19th-century cabins accompanied by audio stories. The fun part is trying the free costumes or taking pictures of the teepees or bucolic wagons. There’s a gift shop and children can try the fresh brownies and cookies.
Bluff Fort Historic Site
Address: 550 Black Locust Ave, Bluff, UT 84512
Website: Bluff Fort Historic Site
Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)
2. Encounter wild animals at Utah's Hogle Zoo
If you’re on vacation with your children in Utah, then Hogle Zoo is where you’ll have the most fun and meet some incredible animals. Learn about wild animals through the Zoo Classes or participate in the feeding sessions and get the chance to caress one of your favorite animals. There are many theme-based exhibitions, from the Asian highlands to the African Savanna, where you’ll get the chance to hop on the Zoo’s Safari Express Train to meet the zebra, African lions, and ostriches. Another fascinating encounter is the underwater viewing experience, where you’ll see the bears, sea lions, and otters swimming.
Utah's Hogle Zoo
Address: 2600 Sunnyside Ave S., Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Website: Utah’s Hogle Zoo
Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 19 USD
3. See the historical aircraft at Hill Aerospace Museum
The Hill Aerospace Museum has attracted over 300,000 visitors over the years and for a good reason. The museum has a huge collection of about 100 aircraft including those which were used in wars by the United States Air Force. Aviation enthusiasts can feast their eyes on epic aircraft such as the Lockheed SR-71C Blackbird, Boeing B-17G-90DL known as the ‘Flying Fortress’, and the McDonnell Douglas F-15A-19-MC. Visitors also have the chance to learn more about the history of aviation and space technology of the Air Force in Utah. There is a gift shop as well to take some black-and-white prints of the aircraft as a souvenir.
Hill Aerospace Museum
Address: 7961 Wardleigh Rd, Hill AFB, UT 84056
Website: Hill Aerospace Museum
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am- 4:30pm (closed on Sun)
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4. Tour the 19th-century Beehive House
The 19th-century mansion is located in Salt Lake City and served as the primary residence of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), Brigham Young, who was also working as a territorial governor, and superintendent of Indian affairs. The president occupied this mansion from 1855 until 1877. The residence consists of suites, and Young’s offices, just ideal to accommodate his large family. Young was practicing polygamy (a principle by modern fundamentalist practitioners) and had a total of 55 wives. Interestingly, he married his son’s ex-wife, Mary Van Cott Cobb in 1968, when Young was 66. By the time he reached his deathbed, he had 59 children by 16 of his wives.
Address: 67 E S Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm (closed on Sun)
5. Enjoy skiing at Park City Mountain Resort
Conveniently located near the Salt Lake International Airport, a 35-minute drive, this four-season mountain resort invites adventure junkies to explore the 7,300 acres (2,954 hectares) of high-speed alpine rides, nature trails, and unspoiled terrains. Park City Mountain is one of the largest ski resorts in Utah, featuring exquisite ski and snowboard competitions. Mountain bikers are also rewarded with a number of good biking trails. There are several ski and snowboard lessons ranging from private lessons to teen and adult group courses, especially for beginners. Park City Mountain Resort also offers luxurious signature lodges designed for discerning guests who wish to enjoy the impressive mountain scenery from the comfort of their suites. Music lovers have the chance to attend the Summer Concert Series where live music shows are organized.
Park City Mountain Resort
Address: 1345 Lowell Ave, Park City, UT 84060
Website: Park City Mountain Resort
Opening hours: 9am - 4pm (daily)
6. Go on an educational tour at Bean Life Science Museum
If you are visiting Utah with your family then do visit Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum located in Provo, Utah at Brigham Young University. The museum is a fascinating one-stop shop to marvel at the incredibly beautiful creatures of our world. One of the fascinating exhibitions is the Predators section displaying wild animals such as the big cats in their re-created natural setting. There’s also the gigantic fiberglass globe that was mapped with the current NASA satellite images. Toddlers will enjoy the play area where they will learn about several animal habitats such as the bear cave and a tree nest. But one of the highlights is the Boyd K. Packer Gallery which features wildlife art by President Boyd (of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
Bean Life Science Museum
Address: MLBM, Provo, UT 84602
Website: Bean Life Science Museum
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 9pm; Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Sun)
7. Admire the beauty of Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
The Red Butte Garden is a paradise haven for anthophiles where one could discover an eclectic collection of vibrant flowers including roses, daffodils, penstemon, and lilac. These 21 acres (8 hectares) of display gardens are found on the eastern edge of the University of Utah campus (the largest botanical garden in the intermountain West region), and also a state arboretum. Smack in the middle of Red Butte Garden is the three-terrace gardens dedicated to medicinal plants which were created in 1996, inspired by the Greek physicians-Hippocrates of Kos. Those who wish to perk up their trip might consider hiking one of the hiking trails at the botanical garden. Otherwise, there are several seasonal events including art exhibitions which visitors can attend.
Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
Address: 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Website: Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
Opening hours: Thu - Tue: 9am - 9pm; Wed: 9am - 5pm
Price: 14 USD
8. Tour Utah State Capitol
The 20th-century neoclassic Utah State Capitol is one of the popular attractions of Utah due to its fine Corinthian architecture designed by architect Richard K. A. Kletting. The government house of Utah is nestled on Capitol Hill facing Salt Lake City. This sublime building is made up of five floors, including the three-story rotunda which reaches 165 feet (50 m) above the floor. This part of the complex is quite fascinating especially adorned with a large painting by William Slater, murals depicting the flying seagulls, and historical events in Utah. The complex consists of chambers and offices for 75 state members.
Utah State Capitol
Address: 350 N State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 7am - 8pm; Sun - Sat: 8am - 6pm
9. Visit the remarkable Natural History Museum of Utah
With over 1.6 million artifacts in its collection, the Natural History Museum of Utah is predominantly lauded for its paleontology collections where visitors can marvel at the fossilized remains of dinosaurs acquired in the 1960s. Most of its collection was procured from the intermountain region of the United States. Its collection also includes minerals, gemstones, prehistoric artifacts, and preserved heritage of the five Native nations located within the state’s boundaries. Visitors can access the Museum Cafe to relish lunch or buy some snacks. There’s a gift shop where handcrafted jewelry is on sale.
Natural History Museum of Utah
Address: 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Website: Natural History Museum of Utah
Opening hours: Thu - Tue: 10am - 5pm; Wed: 10am - 9pm
Price: 15 USD
10. Enjoy a family getaway at Deer Valley Resort
A family getaway like no other, Deer Valley is an up-market alpine ski resort located in the plush Wasatch Range some 36 miles (58 km) east of Salt Lake City. Bask in the beautiful views and enjoy the luxurious ambiance of this ski resort. Known for hosting discerning guests, Deer Valley offers a range of adventurous ski activities along with perks such as complimentary ski valets and parking shuttles. It has a vast range of fine accommodations including the Stein Eriksen Lodge, named after the Olympic gold-medalist alpine ski racer. The venue is also an ideal summer hideout for families who enjoy music, gourmet cuisine, outdoor activities, and understated luxury accommodation.
Deer Valley Resort
Address: 2250 Deer Valley Dr. S, Park City, UT 84060
Website: Deer Valley Resort
Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)
11. Pay a visit to Utah Field House of Natural History State Park
Utah Field House of Natural History State Park simply takes you back to the prehistoric time when dinosaurs were still reigning in the world. Be greeted by the colossal Diplodocus skeleton which measures around 90 feet (27.4 m) from tip to tail, and learn about their natural habitat. Learn more about these carnivorous animals through a short film documentary where you’ll see paleontologists uncovering fossils from the Uinta Mountains. Don’t miss to take a tour at the grand Jurassic Gallery which displays an impressive history of the dinosaurs dating back 145 million years ago.
Utah Field House of Natural History State Park
Address: 496 E Main St, Vernal, UT 84078
Opening hours: 9am - 7pm (daily)
Price: 7 USD
12. Marvel at the astronomy exhibits at Clark Planetarium
If you’re visiting downtown Salt Lake City then you can’t miss going to the Clark Planetarium, a popular attraction dedicated to promoting space science. From its numerous interactive exhibitions learn about our galaxy, and planets, and witness the authentic moon rock brought by Apollo 15. Experience the universe through a 3D high-definition video without having to wear glasses at the theater. Or view the Apollo Moon Landing video footage of the astronauts collecting the moon rocks. There are also some telescope displays and the Foucault pendulum to learn about the earth’s rotation.
Address: 110 400 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Website: Clark Planetarium
Opening hours: Sun - Wed: 10:30am - 7pm; Thu: 10:30am - 10pm; Fri - Sat: 10am- 11pm
Price: 7 USD
13. Check out the aquatic life at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
Experience the spectacular marine wildlife surrounded by sharks, stingrays, and some giant Pacific octopus in a 40-feet (12.1 m) underwater tunnel at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. Another highlight of this attraction is the Gentoo penguins, where you’ll get to learn about their biology and behavior. And enjoy feeding the penguins with capelin at the Penguin Encounter section. But to truly make the most out of your experience check out the Animal Vision exhibition where you will get the chance to see the world from an animal’s perspective.
Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
Address: 12033 Lone Peak Pkwy, Draper, UT 840204
Website: Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 6pm; Mon: 10am - 8pm
Price: 20 USD
14. Tour Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
If you’re visiting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary then you might be someone who cares for animals, especially those who need love, care, and protection. Nestled in between the red rocks of the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park, this animal sanctuary is home to several abandoned animals such as dogs, cats, horses, birds, and pigs. Enjoy a tour and learn about the different programs that aim to end the animal killing in America’s shelters. This is a unique way to get up close with different animal species. You can also stay in a cottage or RV site located at the Sanctuary grounds but you need to make a reservation in advance.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Address: 5001 Angel Canyon Rd, Kanab, UT 84741
Website: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)
15. Explore the exceptional Park City Museum
Located at 528 Main Street, just across the street from the Public Transit Center, the museum showcases the cultural and historical heritage of Park City. Visitors will have several exhibitions to explore based on different themes. Learn about the typical life of the local citizens in the 1950s and throughout American history, and discover the history of the American Backyard including tract houses and postwar garden designs. If you’re heading to the Park City Museum make sure to check out the educational events in advance. There is free parking available in the China Bridge Parking Garage until 5pm.
Park City Museum
Address: 528 Main St, Park City, UT 84060
Website: Park City Museum
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 7pm; Sun: 12pm - 6pm
Price: 12 USD
16. Visit the rustic Gifford Homestead
Nestled in the enchanting Fruita Valley, visiting the Gifford homestead reminds one of the early 1990s Utah rural farm homes. The bucolic homestead was first built by Calvin Pendleton, a polygamist, in 1908, and occupied this farmhouse with his family for eight years. Later when the Gifford acquired the house, they added a kitchen, a utility room, and a bathroom back in 1954. Today, the homestead symbolizes the cultural side of the early Mormon settlement, where visitors will be able to see the typical rustic barn, smokehouse, garden, and pastures. Do try the delicious apple pies which you might not be able to resist.
Address: Capitol Reef National Park, Scenic Dr, Teasdale, UT 84773
Website: Gifford Homestead
Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)
17. Learn about the history of Goulding's Trading Post
You might have spotted the dramatic landscape of Monument Valley in some of John Ford’s western movies if you’re visiting the Goulding’s Trading Post Museum. This impressive attraction aims to promote educating both local and foreign visitors about the Navajo culture and history. Head to the museum in Monument Valley and learn about the glory days of the Trading Post through historical photographs, and artifacts, where locals were trading goods among themselves. Tour the ‘Ware Room’, which used to be a room where surplus goods like saddles or bags of wool were stored. Today you can find displays of handcrafted pottery here.
Goulding's Trading Post Museum
Address: 1000 Gouldings Trading Post Rd, Oljato-Monument Valley, UT 84536
Website: Goulding’s Trading Post Museum
Opening hours: 7am - 9pm (daily)
Price: 2 USD
18. See the stunning Golden Spike National Historic Site
Visiting the Golden Spike National Historic Site is one of the interesting historical attractions, where you’ll get to see the first construction of the 150 years transcontinental railroad across the United States. Take a moment and feast your eyes at the up-close view of the vibrant Victoria-era replica locomotives. Enjoy the two driving tours and the most-anticipated ‘Re-enactment of the Driving of the Last Spike’. There are also some film documentaries that are shown at the park where visitors will get a better insight into the history of the site.
Golden Spike National Historic Site
Address: Box Elder County, Utah; United States
Website: Golden Spike National Historic Site
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 5 USD
19. Admire rock art at Nine Mile Canyon
One of the most beautiful sites in the west is the Nine Mile Canyon which is often touted as ‘the world’s longest art gallery.’ This archaeological site is filled with impressive Fremont, Archaic, and Ute rock art, which was featured in the National Geographic series. Back in the 1880s, the canyon became the main transport corridor, and ranches were built by some of the settlers. This ancient attraction is home to 10,000 stunning rock art sites consisting of petroglyphs and painted pictographs. Through excavation, archaeologists have found pit houses and granaries left behind by the Fremont. Apart from the incredible views, Nine Mile Canyon also features fantastic trails for mountain biking.
20. Check out Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a 200-million-year-old staircase of protected land in southern Utah. If you’re someone who wants to venture out into one of the remotest areas of Utah then take the Tropic or Henrieville near Kodachrome Basin State Park on Highway 12 to reach this spectacular network of slot canyons. Some of the incredible cliffs you might encounter are the Vermilion Cliffs, White Cliffs, and Gray Cliffs, which are separated by terraces.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Address: 745 U.S. 89, Kanab, UT 84741
Price: 6.50 USD
21. Visit the quirky Hole n' the Rock
In the middle of Canyonlands Country lies the quirky Moab’s Hole N’ the Rock- a famous pit stop that attracts hordes of curious visitors daily. The attraction consists of an intriguing gift shop, a trading post, and a 5,000-square-foot (464.5 square meters) home carved out of a huge rock by the Christensen family. And for children, there’s an on-site petting zoo home to some interesting animals like bison, camels, and zebra. Tour the Trading Post where you will find some gorgeous handcrafted jewelry, pottery, and dream catchers made by local Native Americans.
Hole n' the Rock
Address: 11037 US-191, Moab, UT 84532
Website: Hole n’ the Rock
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)
22. Walk around historical Cove Fort
Cove Fort was an important way station for people traveling the Mormon Road. Located in Millard County, the Cove Fort was constructed out of volcanic rocks by Ira Hinckley in 1867, following the request of Brigham Young. The fort was acting as a resting place for a blacksmith who would repair wagon wheels, and it was equally housing about 75 people at a time. Due to its facilities such as the telegraph office and the mail service, Pony Express, the site was used as a regional communication hub as well.
Address: Highway 161se, Beaver, UT 84713
Website: Cove Fort
Opening hours:Mon - Sat: 9am - 8pm; Sun: 10am - 8pm
23. Dip into the waters of Homestead Crater
Take a plunge in the natural hot spring Homestead Crater and experience a rejuvenating feeling. Situated at Midway Utah, this splendid geothermal spring is tucked away within a beehive-shaped limestone rock found on the Homestead property. The site was once used by miners as a respite location and it soon turned into a popular attraction among scuba divers and snorkelers. There’s a long tunnel that allows easy access to the crater, and inside there are two soaking areas that people can use.
Address: 700 North Homestead Drive, Midway, UT 84049-6409
24. Bring your kids to St. George Children's Museum
If you want to treat your children during your vacation in Utah, then head to the St. George Children’s Museum, where they will be pampered with a myriad of fun and educational activities. Inside the museum, children will discover theme-based rooms such as the art room where they can use their imagination along with the provided materials to create artworks. There’s also the ‘Desert Discovery Room’, which displays the dramatic deserts of Southern Utah and its native fauna and flora. Interestingly, the prehistory room showcases fossils and footprints of dinosaurs which will surely captivate your little ones.
St. George Children's Museum
Address: 86 S Main St, St. George, UT 84770
Website: St. George Children’s Museum
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 5 USD
25. Be awed by the unique Goblin Valley State Park
Back in the day, some cowboys who were searching for their cattle unintentionally discovered the Goblin Valley. They were awestruck by the unique rock formations and cliffs which were composed of beautiful parallel layers of rocks. And when visiting this gorgeous geological tourist spot, you will find that Goblin Valley is somehow similar to the landscape of Mars. To preserve this natural wonder the State of Utah designated the valley as a state park in 1964. Don’t forget to bring your cameras to click some great shots of the fascinating geological rock formations.
Goblin Valley State Park
Address: Goblin Valley Rd, Green River, UT 84525
Website: Goblin Valley State Park
Opening hours: 6am - 10pm (daily)
Price: 10 USD
26. See 17 Room Ruin up-close
A visit to the 17 Room Ruin-an ancient Puebloans site is a must if you’re someone who’s interested in ancient history. Located right on the Navajo Reservation close to the San Juan River, the ruin sprawls across a 100-foot-deep (30 m) alcove, where you’ll be able to spot the once cultivated land of the Puebloans. It was estimated that up to four ancestral Puebloan families were living in some of the dwellings dating back to the 1200s. Some archaeologists have mentioned the existence of 17 rooms filed against the cliff edge in the alcove.
17 Room Ruin
Address: South of San Juan River, Bluff, UT
27. Admire the beautiful Pando, the Trembling Giant
Nestled in the Fremont River Ranger District of the scenic Fishlake National Forest, meet the world’s largest living organism, Pando or the Trembling Giant. This single living organism is a clonal colony of male quaking aspen which has one huge underground root system extending over 100 acres (40 hectares) in size and weighs more than 14 million pounds! The root system is believed to be around 80,000 years old.
Pando, the Trembling Giant
Address: The Trembling Giant, Utah 84701
28. Experience the chills and thrills of Thistle Ghost Town
Thistle Town has once a flourishing farming and ranching community. Nestled in Spanish Fork Canyon in southeastern Utah, the town was a major stop on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. Today it has become a frequently visited attraction among the locals and tourists because of the unfortunate event that happened in 1983. A massive landslide dammed the Spanish Fork River which consequently flooded and destroyed most of the town. Families had only two hours to evacuate the place to seek shelter elsewhere. If you visit Thistle Town you will find sunken houses in the water, except for a red schoolhouse, and a church standing on a hill. It is known as the costliest landslide in the history of the United States.
Thistle Ghost Town
Address: Thistle ,Utah 84629, USA
29. Spend a day at Antelope Island on the Great Salt Lake
Take a trip to Antelope Island to meet the American bison, burrowing owls, raptors, and of course the antelope. This 15-mile-long (24 km) Island State Park is found on the Great Salt Lake, the largest Saltwater Lake in the Western Hemisphere. It offers adventure seekers many backcountry trails and hiking trails where they will have the chance to take incredible pictures of the animals. Head to the south of the island to the salty water of Bridger Bay and there’s a talcum-beach to relax, and facilities such as showers are also available. Antelope Island is about an hour northwest of downtown Salt Lake City.
Address: Antelope Island, Utah
Website: Antelope Island State Park
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 3 USD
30. Hike through the Narrows of Zion National Park
You definitely cannot leave Utah without visiting Zion National Park. Situated at the junction of the Colorado Plateau and the Mojave Desert regions, the national park is lauded for its diverse flora and fauna but also its dramatic geological landscape. The most accessible hiking route is through passing the 15-mile (24 km) Zion Canyon which is quite scenic due to its reddish walls and tan-colored sandstone. It’s the perfect spot for recreational activities such as camping and rock climbing.
Zion National Park
Address: Zion National Park, Utah
Utah, the land of adventure
Utah is one of the most sought-after travel destinations among avid travelers, owing to its sprawling natural parks, majestic cliffs, and historic spots. Check out the top things to do when visiting Utah and have the best time in this great land of adventure.
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