Thursday, August 30, 2018

Must-See Museums in Provo, Utah

Provo is one of Utah’s most interesting towns, with a rich historical background and a lively community. It’s also home to the renowned Brigham Young University, which contains many unique and interesting museums that are worth exploring on your visit. There’s something for everyone in Provo’s collection of museums, ranging from science to anthropology to art and much more. Here are the biggest must-see museums in Provo, Utah.

BYU Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum 

The Monte L. Bean is a museum dedicated to the preservation and collection of biological specimens. One of their most unique features is that they host live animals shows for the purposes of education and entertainment. These shows illustrate the way that animals have adapted over time and the way they interact with nature. The museum is also home to a wide range of engaging exhibits, focusing on everything from endangered species to marine life to plants, birds, and much more.

Crandall Historical Printing Museum 

This unique museum is home to a working Gutenberg Press replica, one of the only places you can see this. These machines were used to print many important documents throughout history, ranging from key political documents in the American revolution all the way to the Book of Mormon, which has important historical significance for many Utahns. Whether or not you’re religious, it’s fascinating to see just how printing techniques have evolved and how some of the most influential documents in the world came to be.

BYU Museum of Art 

This large art museum is home to a range of permanent collections kept at the university, and they’re often rotated in and out so there’s always something new to see. The types and eras of art featured range quite widely, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. For example, current exhibitions in summer 2018 include Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs, the quirky modern works of Nina Katchadourian, and a collection of historical religious paintings, just to name a few. There’s also a sculpture garden outdoors to explore.

BYU Museum of Paleontology 

The mountain region of the country is home to many archaeological sites that have turned up significant fossils, so it’s no surprise that BYU is home to a fascinating paleontology museum. Dr. James A. Jensen worked at BYU for decades collecting, studying, and archiving fossils, which are now on display at the museum. Virtually everything he collected is on display here, and there’s plenty of fascinating information about the wide range of fossils. Although it’s not the biggest museum in town, it is one of the most unique.

Provo Pioneer Village 

Utah was settled by pioneers in the 1840s and ‘50s, and the Provo Pioneer Village transports visitors back to that era. The village actually contains some of the original structures that were built in Provo, as well as a range of historical artifacts, pioneer wagons, and an authentic general store. The pioneers at the time were true homesteaders, growing their own food, making their own clothes and tools, and even building their own homes. The village is completely interactive and is fascinating for both adults and children to explore. Please note that the village is only open to the public daily during the summer. Throughout the rest of the year, it’s open by appointment only.

North American Museum of Ancient Life 

The Museum of Ancient Life is located in Lehi, just a short drive from Provo, but it’s worth the travel time. This museum contains over 60 completed dinosaur skeletons, as well as several interactive exhibits for kids and adults. There’s a recreated crustaceous ocean as well as a carboniferous forest, which are designed to completely immerse you in ancient life. There’s a working paleontology lab where you can immerse yourself learning about fossils and ancient creatures. The museum also hosts community events throughout the year.

BYU Museum of Peoples and Cultures 

This small museum features anthropology exhibits designed to help you learn more about people around the world, both past and present. They have a variety of interactive exhibits designed for kids, and although the museum is small, everything is hands-on, so you can really make the most of the experience. The current exhibitions focus on Paquime, an abandoned city in northern Mexico with a rich archeological history, as well as Ostraka pottery, which was used as a form of communication. The museum’s activities strive to make these subjects relevant and interesting for kids today.

Springville Museum of Art 

Located in nearby Springville, this charming art museum focuses on local artists and community events. The museum is also home to the area’s annual quilt show, and many of the other exhibitions have local significance, such as Mormon art and art of the American West. They also have a large collection of Soviet Russian art. The local focus sets this museum apart from others, and is interesting for both locals and tourists. It’s also housed in a gorgeous historical building. They host events very frequently, so be sure to check their current calendar before visiting.

BYU Planetarium 

The BYU planetarium hosts shows on Monday and Friday night that give you a unique view into space. Monday night shows are hosted by science professionals, while Friday night shows are hosted by students from the BYU Astronomical Society. Although you can only visit the planetarium during shows, it’s a wonderful and unique activity to try if you want something to do at night. It’s also a very affordable way to experience this natural scientific wonder, with shows costing $4 maximum.

Provo has quite the range of museums to explore, making for a very enlightening and educational experience. Most of the museums in Provo are kid-friendly as well, which make it an ideal destination for families. Tickets are quite affordable, and most of the museums host local events as well. This small town has developed a big presence in academia, and it’s really reflected in the high quality of the museums in the area.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

10 Must-See Places in Downtown Provo

Downtown Provo has many unexpected treasures. These places are must-sees for locals and tourists alike. We’ve made a list of 10 of the best places in downtown Provo to make sure your visit is the best it can be.

1. It’s a bookstore! It’s an art gallery! It’s a meeting space! It’s Writ & Vision! This multipurpose store was designed to provoke respectful conversation and to help people learn from each other. Even if it’s not being used for a gathering when you visit, taking a look around the gallery and admiring the new and used books is an experience in itself. The pieces on display in the art gallery always have a theme and the pieces work to explore that theme and leave the visitor a little wiser than before. They also have several rare books and documents. Writ & Vision is meant to be an intellectual retreat that is accessible to everyone and it succeeds with a style all its own.

2. Taylor Maid is a costume store that was started in the 1970’s by a family who did makeup in Hollywood. They started small, but they were the only makeup and costume store in the area. In that time, Halloween was a holiday mostly for children, not adults, but the Taylor family saw the change coming and positioned themselves to be the lead supplier for children’s and adult costumes for Halloween and any time of year. Now their store has been open for over 40 years and it’s a wacky and wonderful place to visit.

3. A store in downtown Provo has plans for world domination. In the realm of chocolate, that is. At Taste, their goal is to make the best chocolate in the world. Visitors who sample their chocolate swear Taste isn’t very far from their goal. In this store, you get what you pay for, and what you get is utterly amazing chocolate. If you’re not sure what to get, they host tastings at the store. Signing up for a tasting class will not only get you incredibly delicious chocolate, olive oil, and sipping vinegar (yes really), but they will teach you how to enjoy chocolate like a connoisseur. If you’re too intimidated to try a class, visitors can also stop in for a Mini Tasting.

4. For visitors who are trying to eat more healthy food but don’t want to compromise on taste, The Spoon is the perfect lunch spot. This restaurant has a wide array of food on its menu and everything promises to be delicious as well as healthy. Everything from the appetizer to the main course is carefully crafted and portioned well, making it easy to enjoy your lunch and not regret it later. For those who are trying to avoid drinking sodas, they have many different kinds of flavored waters and lemonades as well.

5. Visitors will find an unexpected treat in Se Llama Peru, a Peruvian restaurant in downtown Provo. If you want to practice your Spanish, this is a great place to chat with the wait staff. Otherwise, you can chat in English. Although be warned about asking what’s good on their menu because everything is. Not only is their food delicious, but they also clearly take pride in how the food is presented. Everything is plated beautifully, making a meal here a trip for all of your senses.

6. Another store in Provo has plans for dominating the dessert market, however, this one is an ice cream store. Rockwell Ice Cream Co. has set itself up to be the local favorite and the ice cream place that locals take their friends to. The ice cream is made to be creamier than other kinds of ice cream and the owner takes pride in sourcing all of his ingredients locally. He visits the farms to make sure the milk from the cows, or honey from the bees, or flavors like mint, are all taken care of as they grow. The owner takes such pride in making the ice cream as delicious as it possibly can be and one taste makes that devotion obvious. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line, but be sure it will be worth it.

7. Pioneer Book is a bookstore whose owner loves books far more than most people do. For proof of that, you start with the outside of his bookstore, which is painted with the spines of several larger-than-life books. The titles of these books were carefully chosen by the owner because not just any book would do. Inside, the bookstore is crammed with books of all sorts from new to used to rare and out of print. The staff of the bookstore was picked so that collectively they have knowledge of just about every facet of literature. If you can’t find a book you love in this bookstore, you’re not trying.

8. If you need a quick pick-me-up between some of Provo’s fantastic trails, Ivie Juice Bar is a great place to visit. As the name suggests, it’s a juice bar, but it’s more than just juice. The owner, Ivie, was trying to understand how nutrition impacted her body and she found a fix that worked for her. Once she realized that changing her diet completely and including more fresh fruits and juices helped her, she knew she had to share this with the world so others could feel as great as she did. Accordingly, all of Ivie Juice Bar’s juices, smoothies, shakes, and acai bowls are made to be both delicious and healthy.

9. Although it may be unexpected to find in Provo, Hruska's Kolaches is a restaurant based on a mix of Czech and Texan recipes. This family-run eatery combines the buttery bread type pastry of a kolache with any sort of filling you could imagine. They range from savory fillings like biscuits and gravy to sweet fillings like fruit and cream cheese. The owners are fanatical about using fresh ingredients and creating everything themselves, from cutting their own meat to making their own jams. These tasty snacks are definitely for the morning. Hruska's Kolaches closes once they’ve sold out for the day, and this will likely happen around lunch time, so make sure you get there before that happens.

10. Finally, if you want to look around a shop that will have things you’ll never see again, Cat’s Cradle Antiques is the place to be. They pride themselves on finding the most unique items, jewelry, antique dolls, and much more. Looking around this shop is like looking at a museum with an erratic curator, except you can buy anything that’s on display. Even if you don’t go into the shop expecting to buy anything, looking at everything they have is an experience. And if your curiosity is piqued, you can always ask a member of the staff about their collection. After all, curiosity may have killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.

Although you might not have known it, there are many fantastic things to do in downtown Provo. This sampling is just a small portion of the gems that await you there. Provo is a vibrant town with more than you expect waiting just beneath the surface.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Top 10 Hiking Trails Near Provo, UT

One of the best things to do around Provo is go hiking. There are a variety of trails, so hikers of all skill levels can enjoy getting out in nature. Most of the trails mentioned in this list are easier and more accessible, however, we have a few more challenging trails as well. Obviously, summer and fall are lovely times for a hike, but many people in Provo go hiking in the winter too! With these gorgeous trails, you’ll understand why.

#1 Bridal Veil Falls

This is the signature trail of Provo. The trail leads out to beautiful waterfalls in the warmer months, where you can splash a bit after your hike. In the winter, the falls freeze over and some hardy souls climb up the ice. This is an easy trail, so it’s good for families and is accessible for dogs on a leash. Because it’s an easy trail and a popular one, you might want to start your hike early in the day to avoid the crowds. This trail is about 15 minutes from Hines Mansion.

#2 Stewart Falls Trail

This is a more moderate trail, but it leads to one of the most photogenic waterfalls near Provo. Stewart Falls is a waterfall in two tiers that both drop more than 200 feet. This is a good family hike, with just one steep part on the trail. This trail is at its best in the summer and fall because of all the pretty plants along the way. However, some also choose to snowshoe out to the Falls in the winter. This trail is about 30 minutes from Hines Mansion.

#3 Big Springs Hollow Trail

This is an easy trail, great for families of all ages as well as dogs on a leash. It is also a good place to find mountain bikers nearby. This beautiful trail winds its way past hordes of wildflowers and trees, and the butterflies seem to enjoy the trail as much as the people. This trail is beautiful spring through fall. That being said, the trail is open year-round for those who like a winter hike. It’s easy enough that a winter hike is feasible for most. This trail is about 30 minutes from Hines Mansion.

#4 Timpanogos Cave

This is an easy but steep trail. In order to go into the caves, you must take a guided tour and the tickets are available at the trailhead. Once you get your tickets, it’s a 1.5-mile hike up a steep but paved trail to the caves themselves. Inside, the cave has mostly smooth floor, but there are some wet spots and stairs. Strollers and dogs are not allowed on the trail. This cave system is incredibly popular. During the week, you might not need to book ahead, but you will on the weekend! This trail is about 30 minutes from Hines Mansion.

#5 Fifth Water Hot Springs

This is an easy trail with plenty of chances to soak. The trail has several pools for hot springs as well as three scenic waterfalls. Visitors are allowed and encouraged to soak in the pools. It should be noted that no one is allowed to soak in them nude, but some people still do. This trail is great in the warmer months, but it is also wonderful in the winter. Typically, hikers will not need snowshoes to make the hike and the hot springs are still hot. This trail is about an hour from Hines Mansion.

#6 Battle Creek Falls

This is an easy trail. It starts in the bottom of the canyon and stays there for most of the trail, next to a lovely stream. As you approach the waterfall that feeds the stream, the trail begins to climb a bit. It is an easy hike down to the base of the waterfall, or you can continue up the canyon for several more miles. This trail is about 20 minutes from Hines Mansion.

#7 Devil’s Kitchen

This is an easy trail, with some unique scenery. This path has red rock pillars, as well as other interesting formations. Looking at them, it’s easy to see where this trail gets its name. It has similar features to Bryce Canyon, although it is much smaller. The trail also runs through a forest and leads out to an observation platform where hikers can see a vista of these red rocks. This trail is about an hour from Hines Mansion.

#8 Grotto Falls Trail

This is an easy trail with log bridges placed at stream crossings. This trail is good for the whole family, especially with what waits at the end. While the other waterfalls on this list are majestic, this waterfall is almost more intimate. It drops from above into a grotto and, because it does not tumble down into open space, this waterfall seems more like it was placed there just for you. If it is warm outside, go ahead and wade into the spray and let it cool you off. This trail is about 35 minutes from Hines Mansion.

#9 Y Trail on Y Mountain
This is an easy but steep trail. The Y on the mountain is a white, concrete Y for Brigham Young University. It is said to be the biggest collegiate symbol in the United States. When on this trail, you will need to bring your own water, but the view from the top is worth it. Y Mountain gives a beautiful view of the town of Provo as well as Utah Lake. This trail is about 15 minutes from Hines Mansion.

#10 Timpooneke Trail to Mt Timpanogos
This last trail is an intense hike, but great for intrepid hikers. You will want to be sure to wear good hiking shoes or boots and to bring layers because it gets colder as you walk up the mountain. Some visitors do this hike in a long day, while others prefer to backpack and spend a night along the way. Once you make it to the top of the mountain, you can continue on to see the snowfield, which is at the top of the mountain no matter the season. This trail is about 40 minutes from Hines Mansion.

Most of the trails listed above are great for a family vacation, but many of these trails are also easy enough for hikers who want a relaxing hike. Whichever of these trails you choose, you are sure to get some beautiful photographs of nature and have a great time. If you don’t have time to do all of the trails you want, just be sure to put them on your list for your next visit.