By: Madison Snow
A wise man and reggae sensation, Bob Marley, once said, “love the life you live, live the life you love”. Thought-provoking, right? Consequently, I have to ask. Do you honestly love where you live? According to popular opinion, most people get so caught up in everyday life, and the obstacles within it, that they rarely have time to enjoy the perks of the state they call “home”. With that being said, most people, when considering a vacation, picture themselves on a beach or a cabin in a place far, far away. While that can be pricey depending on who you include, one of the greatest travel trends in 2019 is a simple stay at home vacation, or should I say “staycation?”. Whether it be a romantic getaway for two, or an excursion for the whole family, staying local and enjoying the beauty of Utah can be inexpensive and enjoyable.
The state of Utah has many alluring characteristics that can be enjoyed at any time throughout the year. From charming towns like Park City and Heber, to incomparable views in Moab and Zion National Park, there are endless options that can be amusing for all, and did I mention affordable? Checking out the places included on this list, regardless of where you live is a huge step towards learning to love where you live, outside of your comfort zone, home and office.
Located in southeastern Utah, Moab is a low-key spot that’s fantastic for a family camping trip, mountain biking, jeep safaris and much more. Home to Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park, many visitors are drawn to Moab for its striking views and fascinating rock formations. While it is near the Colorado River, many people take advantage of the scenery by renting a kayak and slipping it into the water, while others daringly enjoy white river rafting and paddleboarding. Located about 4 hours outside of Salt Lake City, locals come to Moab to escape reality, using its stunning characteristics for self-reflection, or as a gathering place for those who love the outdoors. Activities include options like horseback riding, zip-lining, rope climbing, and hot air balloon rides with loved ones. For those interested in learning about heritage, films, and the history of their home state, also located in Moab is the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage, containing memorabilia from films , both local and award-winning, that captured footage this beautiful place. Last but not least, at Moab’s Giants Dinosaur Park, kids and adults can stomp on the tracks made by dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era, encouraging fun and education for the whole family. From inns, to campsites, you’ll need more than a couple of days to visit this glamorous place, so don’t put it off!
Zion National Park
Nestled in the southwest corner of Utah, Zion National Park is a must-see for people of all ages. While Utah natives may get to see the mountains everyday, the beauty of the multi-colored rocks and the views from above and below them do not compare. In just under a 6 hour drive, and no cost to enter, the slimmest part of Zion Canyon known as the “Narrows” awaits. With handicapped accommodations, this one-mile hike that captures the clay red-orange rocks can even end in a swim fun for all ages. While some people enjoy camping out under the stars in fresh air, there are other options that allow you to view the canyon from a scenic drive during the day. Known for its switchbacks, Angels Landing is a popular trail among avid hikers. The challenge, both mentally and physically difficult is well worth it when you are looking out from an elevated perch taking in the views. An adventure to Zion can be both romantic and reasonable, with the parks complimentary shuttles that take you to multiple locations; not to mention that it is open 24-7, every day of the year.
For those who prefer the indoors, St. George is a quaint place in southern Utah that offers a variety of fun to people of all ages. From shopping at outlets, to art galleries, this location, not too far from Zion, is a very popular place. For men there are athletic activities such as fishing, golfing, and tennis. For women there is lots of shopping’s well as multiple destination spas, making St. George the perfect place for a girls weekend or bachelorette party. For the whole family there is theater performances, concerts, skydiving, and scuba diving. For Mom and Dad there’s nice restaurants, classy bars, and many activities to occupy the kids. Sounds like a dream, right? One thing tends to attract people from everywhere to St. George, Utah. What? You may ask. Well, its beautiful all year round. Who wouldn’t want to escape the snow for a little bit to get some R and R? If you haven’t been, what’s stopping you? It’s only 4 hours from Salt Lake City, and well worth the trip.
Known for its magical snowfalls and charming downtown, Park City puts the “stay” in “staycation”. Only 35 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, Park City is defined by both it’s date-night ambience with dinner and drinks on Main Street, as well as the multiple family-friendly activities offered year round. From 5 star restaurants, to local ski bars, Main Street is a must-see, especially during the holidays with its delightful vibe and sparkling twinkle lights. Surrounding this main road are multiple high-end ski resorts such as Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort, and Utahs’ own Olympic Park. Every year in January, Park City is home to the Sundance Film Festival, reeling infamous movie stars and artists from all over the world. From art lovers, to thrill-seekers, Park City aims to please a variety of people. Some go to shop at the outlets, while others go to Olympic Park to experience the bobsled ride and ski jump that made history during the 2002 Olympics. During the winter, Park City attracts locals who love to ski and snowboard. I mean come on, how great is it to have one of the most beautiful resorts in the US right in our backyard? Let’s not forget the summer. Both Park Silly Sundays, known for its flea market and upscale brunches, as well as the Kimball Arts Festival in August, are perfect for any Utah native. In one weekend getaway, one can go from enjoying the arts and culture on Main Street, to soaking up the beauty and wellness offered at resort spas, all while exploring entertainment for the whole family both on and off the mountain. If you haven’t been, get up and go before the crowds hit!
For those who love a weekend “off the grid” Heber City, Utah is the perfect place for you. While some people don’t even know it exists, those who do cherish this cute city as well as the history it holds. Just 45 minutes outside Salt Lake City, Heber City is home to the Heber Valley Railroad. Only open a couple of times a year, this 3-hour ride takes visitors towards the mountains, through the Provo River and into Sundance Ski Resort. Included in this experience is the chance to see the wildlife and other species that have made these mountains their home, including our beloved mountain lions. Next up is the Uinta National Forest, a place loved deeply by Utah natives, who fought to preserve the land for outdoor activities so that it can continue to bring families together and maintain family traditions. During the winter, most locals go to snowshoe and hunt; however, during the summer boating, jet skis, and tubing on Lake Jordanelle attract families who desire to make a day trip, or spend a week on a houseboat. After all, the more the merrier. Last but certainly not least, Heber City is home to some of the absolute best food in the state. Who doesn’t love a family-style dinner on a farm? From antiques and collectibles on display, to a mouth-watering brunch, the Snake Creek Grill is a hidden gem. Back 40, both quiet and concealed, has also been one Heber City’s most successful restaurants, serving foods made with only local ingredients in support of local farmers. From tiny inns, to log cabin rentals, Heber City and the farmland around it remain unappreciated by many; therefore, pack a bag, turn off your cell, and enjoy good conversation in this cute ranch town.
In conclusion, I challenge you with this question. How will you learn to love where you live, if you have not seen all that there is to love about Utah? The answer is simple. Get up and go! Regardless of the season, the company you keep, or the craziness of life, make some time for you and the people you love, and do it on a budget. People come from all over the world to see what Utah has to offer. Make your home feel like home, and live the life you love.