Thursday, June 27, 2019
Utah is well-known for its abundant outdoor activities, as well as its majestic scenery and National Parks and Monuments. Hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, and of course skiing bring thousands of tourists to Utah every year. Families should add visits to some of the great water parks while in Utah during the warm weather. Here is an assortment of the best:
AQUA x ZONE in Heber City is located inside Jordanelle State Park, about 35 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. Children love this park because visitors have to swim out to the inflatable activities that float on the water of the reservoir. The floating park accommodates up to 75 people at a time, and all can jump, swing, run, slide, and swim as they enjoy this unique water park. Group discounts and season passes are available.
Cedar City Aquatic Center is located about 250 miles south of Salt Lake City. The center offers an Olympic size pool and a small outdoor pool, as well as a water playground, lap pool, slide, lazy river, and hot tub. Cedar City is known as the "Gateway to the National Parks" because of its proximity to a number of parks, specifically Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef or the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is also known for hosting a large variety of festivals, from Shakespeare to classic cars. Take in a few of these after a day of swimming at the aquatic center!
Cherry Hill Water Park in Kaysville is small but offers everything from camping to restaurants to miniature golf and basketball with trampolines. And, of course, the water park with a four-lane racing slide, bumper boats, an interactive water play area, and two pools. The Great Salt Lake is just west of this area so a side trip to see this great body of water would be worth the time.
Classic Fun Center in Sandy is another all-purpose family entertainment center that includes a small outdoor water park. There are four water slides and a zero-entry pool. The entertainment center includes laser tag, roller skating, a bounce house, a climbing house in a “jungle” setting, and a foam ball blast area.
Cowabunga Bay is 10 minutes south of Salt Lake City in Draper, Utah along I-15. Cowabunga Bay is the home of the largest indoor interactive play area, so your children will love this park. It has 12 levels and 300 play features, complete with a huge tipping bucket. There are a number of slides and a lazy river and Kid’s Cove, a play area for younger children. The park also offers Tiki Cabanas and Lounges for rent.
Lighthouse Point Splash Zone in Salt Lake City is unique because it is located inside a zoo. Hogle Zoo is a 42-acre property dating back from 1931. It is home to over 800 animals, complete with a Conservation Carousel made up of models of endangered species. The Splash Zone includes a blowhole and tidal pools, as well as the Lighthouse Slide and a shipwreck for the kids to explore.
Lagoon A Beach Water Park is 17 miles south of Salt Lake City in Farmington. Calling themselves the Ultimate Aquatic Playground, Lagoon A Beach is a surf and slide water park, complete with rapids and a lazy river which includes waterfalls, tunnels, lagoons, and a castaway island for kids. There is also an R.V. Park and campground with access (and discounts) to the water park.
Layton Surf 'n Swim is another inexpensive municipal facility that turns its pool into a wave pool for specified hours each day, allowing visitors to experience waves typical of different parts of the world. There is also a lap pool that includes a small pool with a diving well and a play area for younger kids. Check the website for restrictions and rates to rent the wave pool.
Logan Aquatic Center is located in north central Utah near the 10,000-foot high Bear River Range. Logan is just east of I-15, the major north-south interstate traveling through Utah. The Aquatic Center has an outdoor Olympic-sized pool, an adaptive aquatics program, fitness and swimming classes, water aerobics, and water safety classes. There is also a kiddy pool and a lap pool, as well as an array of slides, a lazy river, and a fun zone for smaller children. Plan your trip so you’ll arrive in Logan on Monday; it’s family discount night with $15 passes for the entire family.
Provo Beach bills itself as “50,000 square feet of indoor fun” complete with its signature Flow Rider. The Rider pumps 30,000 gallons of water into a true ocean experience, suitable for both expert surfers and novice boogie boarders. Located about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City along I-15, Provo is the third largest city in Utah and is adjacent to the Wasatch Front mountain peaks and the Utah Lake recreation area. Provo Beach provides something for everyone in the family, with not only the Water Park but also laser tag, a family ropes course, arcade, miniature croquet, and bowling.
The SCERA Park Pool in Orem offers a family-friend area for play and relaxation, with plenty of lounge chairs, tables, and shade. The water park provides a lap pool, diving board, a heated splash pad, a current channel, slides, zero-depth beach entry, and a sand play area for the kids. Family night is Monday when the whole clan can enjoy the park for $25.
7 Peaks Water Park is in Provo and covers a 26-acre area with slides, a wave pool, bumper boats, and a lazy river. There are also 4 attractions for smaller children, including a play park. Indoor activities include a variety of rides, laser tag, rock climbing, mini golf, and an arcade.
Wayne Bartholomew Family Park in Springville is an outdoor family park with a sandy beach for water fun plus many other activities like volleyball, ring toss, and horseshoes. Equipment for the games is free on a first come, first served basis. Bring a picnic lunch and eat under one of the pavilions or purchase food from the concession stand.
Thursday, June 20, 2019
Timpanogos Cave National Monument is a must-see for avid hikers and adventure junkies. This trail-and-cave combo holds rich historical significance and is sure to be a memorable experience for everyone. Its history extends all the way back to the Gold Rush prospecting era, even though the cave was not discovered until much later. The paved hiking trail is perfect for adventurers of all ages. It boasts beautiful views of the Mt. Timpanogos valley, and the fact that only parts of it have guard rails gives the whole experience a slightly more dangerous vibe. The constant incline of the trail provides a great workout, while the cave at the top serves as a great opportunity to cool off. Some locals use the trail as their morning workout, and they love seeing their little slice of heaven enjoyed by people from all over the world. Don’t miss out on your chance to hike in one of the most beautiful areas of the country and see one of the best-preserved caves in the world.
The HistoryTimpanogos Cave was discovered by accident in the summer of 1913. Two teenage boys, who were on a tour of a nearby popular cave, left their group to go exploring on their own. After traipsing around in the Utah wilderness, they noticed an odd-looking rock. When they tried to dig it out of the sand, the rock tumbled backward into a black hole that seemingly came out of nowhere. This hole would eventually become Timpanogos Cave! The boys kept it a secret for eight years. During that time, the newly discovered cave was only a rumor, and the boys never returned to it again. In 1921, curiosity got the best of an adventure addict named Vearl Manwill. He was determined to find out if the rumors were true. Ironically, Vearl re-discovered Timpanogos Cave the same exact way the boys did eight years ago: by attempting to dig a rock out of the sand, only for it to tumble back into a dark opening. Ever since, the contents of Timpanogos Cave have been preserved, and over 80,000 hikers tour the cave yearly.
Hitting the Trail!Now for the exciting part… Before you tighten your hiking boots and start pounding the pavement, be sure that you reserve your tickets in advance. The cost is $8 for adults 16 and over, $6 for children ages 6-15 years old, $4 for children 3-5 years old, and free for any child under 3! The day of your hike, you can pick your tickets up from the Visitor’s Center, which is where the trail begins and ends. The trail is paved asphalt, but it is a constant incline all the way up to the cave entrance, so it is not for the faint of heart. The whole hike is approximately 3 miles and takes about 3 or 4 hours to complete, including the cave tour. Something important to keep in mind about the hike is that parts of the trail are exposed to the valley. Basically, keep a close eye on children and stay away from the edge of the trail: the drop-off is steep, and a few people have died from accidental falls. Along the way, there are plenty of areas to take breaks, drink water, and enjoy the beautiful views.
The Cave TourThe cave tour can host up to only 16 people at a time, due to the confined space. The entrance to the cave is at the end of the trail. There are plenty of lockers for you to stow backpacks, water bottles, or any other personal belongings that you’d like to leave behind. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your backpack behind, the tour guides recommend that you simply wear your backpack in front of you. The cave can get pretty narrow at spots, so bring only the essentials. There are also bathrooms outside the cave entrance, so you’re not caught in between a rock and a hard place if you have to go. Also, the tour guides suggest wearing a headlamp, but it isn’t necessary; both the front and back guide wear headlamps, so there is plenty of light. During the tour, be sure that you don’t touch the walls of the cave. This ensures that the natural beauty is preserved, and tours can continue for as long as possible. Wear a sweater, too! Temperatures in the cave can dip to 40 degrees.
How to Get ThereTimpanogos Cave is located in northern Utah, about half an hour southeast of Salt Lake City. If you’re tech-savvy, use your favorite maps app to find your way to the Visitor’s Center. If you prefer to get places the old-fashioned way, take note of which direction you are coming from. If you’re coming from Salt Lake City, take I-15 south. Take exit 284 for Highland/Alpine. When you get off the exit, turn left onto UT-92 East, also known as Timpanogos Highway. Stay on this road for 12.5 miles. You’ll reach a ranger station where you will need to buy a 3-day pass, which is only $6. After purchasing your pass, continue straight for 2.3 miles, and the parking lot will be on your right.
On the other hand, if you are coming from the south, take I-15 north. Take Exit 275 for Pleasant Grove Blvd and turn right as soon as you get off the highway. When you reach the first stoplight, turn left onto 2000 W/N County Blvd, and stay on this road for 5.5 miles. The name of this road changes a few times along the way, so don’t be alarmed, just continue straight. Turn right onto UT-92 North and follow it for 6 miles. This is where you’ll reach the fee station and continue straight to the parking lot.
It’s easy to see that the Timpanogos Cave provides unforgettable experiences for people of all ages. Whether you’re young or old, or you enjoy beautiful views rather than dangerous risks, there is something for everyone. If you arrive prepared, your experience as a whole will be satisfying. You’ll get breathtaking views, an invigorating hike, and an exciting cave tour. Some important things to remember that seem like random tidbits of information are as follows: Reserve your tickets before you leave. You can reserve your tickets by visiting the Timpanogos Cave website.
Only bring the essentials with you: water, a sweatshirt, and a camera if you’d like to capture the views you’ll see along the way.
Be prepared for parts of the trail that are exposed to the valley. Tell any children coming with you to stay away from the edge of the path.
Lastly, have fun! The Timpanogos Cave is a memorable experience. Enjoy every bit of it.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Freedom is a big deal. We can easily forget the long road that dedicated individuals took to secure the rights of every man, woman, and child in this country. It can be easy to take this for granted but if you want to show your gratitude, there are many different methods.
Think of all the fun, exciting festivals that take place in Utah which celebrate our rights as Americans. Take a moment to appreciate how far our nation has come at one of these 8 freedom festivals you do not want to miss.
Save The Date: July 2nd at 6:30pm
Location: Utah Valley Convention Center, Provo
Freedom Days takes place over the course of three days. Residents and travelers alike fill downtown Provo, indulging in unique eats and browsing local vendors. There is live music, kids activities, and much more. Enjoy the art of locals and make the day a family-fun adventure. You can explore one day or all three, each one will give a variety of live performance and vendors.
Specialties from the region are shown-off, including paintings, jewelry, and many products you will only find in this area. Bring the whole family to this kid-friendly event.
Save The Date: July 2nd-July 4th at 10am until sunset
Location: Center Street, Provo
Maybe one of the most eye-opening freedom events in Utah is the Freedom Walk. First, those involved will be paired with an immigrant impersonator for effect, but also have real immigrant information printed for each participant. This will include the name of a real immigrant that went through the process in Ellis Island to join our nation. The first stop is the Second Continental Congress which teaches the point independence needs to be declared, then the next stop is the Constitutional Convention. You guessed it, it is completely about what makes up a Constitution and what principles to base it on.
A great variety of stories are told, titled ‘Cries For Freedom’ and immigrant’s real-life stories and their hunt for freedom by coming to America is told. End the tour with an oath of citizenship. When discussing price, you will want to make a donation, since the foundation puts events on all year, but ultimately it is free to the public.
Save the Date: July 2nd-July 4th All Day
Where: SCERA Center for the Arts, Orem
Hot air balloons grace the canyons in the Utah Balloon Festival. Games are played from the air between hot air balloon operators. There are 25 balloons showcased and as they take to the sky. The designs vary from traditional bright vertical stripes to whimsical entertainment-inspired designs.
Now, you must rise early for this one, it will only occur in the morning for two hours. It is free for all onlookers.
Save the Date: July 4th-July 6th at 6AM
Where: Bulldog Field, Provo
For daytime activities, join in at the largest 4th of July parade in Utah and one of the biggest celebrations of the country throughout the States. The floats are made with expertise by professionals, and performances will take to the streets among the giant floats and abnormally large balloons. Each year a prospective 300,000 people surround the parade.
Basic admission is free for the entire family but those who want to enjoy the show from a great vantage point can reserve bleacher seats for only $7.
Save The Date: July 4th at 9 AM
Where: University Avenue and Center Street, Provo
Taking place on the Fourth of July, Stadium of Fire will host performances that end with a spectacular fireworks presentation. Country music superstar Kieth Urban is headlining the show this year and will be joined many excellent performers that are not easy to forget. The show will have many patriotic songs, both originals, and covers, so be sure to save your voice to sing along with classics, appreciating our country.
Dependent on where you would like to sit, tickets will range from $35 to $250. Tickets sell out fast, so be sure to grab your seat soon!
Save the Date: July 4th at 8pm
Where: Lavell Edwards Stadium (BYU football stadium), Provo
This blast from the past will interest any history buff. Throughout the Colonial Heritage Festival, there are complete colonial demonstrations which provokes a story-telling nature to real historical events. Spend the day playing colonial games and exploring time-appropriate shops like gunsmiths and blacksmiths. There are canon firings, as well.
This is a free event for any coming to celebrate their freedom on Independence Day.
Save the Date: July 4th- July 6th at 9 AM
Where: SCERA Park, Orem
Fallen soldiers are honored by the ‘Walk of Honor,’ in the Cries of Freedom festival. Take a seat and be entertained by “Cries of Freedom the Musical,” which pays tribute to the beginning of our nation. Children will love the animal show and adults will appreciate the creative memorial to those who have risked and given their lives for freedom.
Save the Date: July 4th - July 6th at 10am
Where: SCERA Center for the Arts, Orem
Whether you are a Utah native or simply are taking a trip to the great state in July, there are many different events and activities to explore. Break out the red, white, and blue and learn about the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and an immigrant's journey to citizenship. All while enjoying fantastic foods and entertainment.
Thursday, June 13, 2019
If you mention Utah to the average person, the first thing most will probably think of is gorgeous red rock, snow sports, or Mormons. The Beehive State is a popular destination for many. Outdoorsy types in particular flock to the area for the opportunity to explore the incredible landscape. Film lovers, on the other hand, likely consider Utah the capital of art house cinema. The Sundance Film Festival, America’s largest independent film event for the last 41 years, is held primarily in Park City. Just a short drive from Salt Lake, Park City has made Utah somewhat of an oasis for independent filmmaking.
Art house (independent) films are created outside the influence of Hollywood and the mainstream filmmaking system for a variety of reasons. Major studios are generally unwilling to finance projects with niche audiences or hyper-specific topics. It is difficult to make a profit on films few people will want to see. However, they have grown in popularity over the years. This rise in popularity can be partially attributed to the Sundance Film Festival, which has brought independent film not just to Utahns but Americans everywhere.
Here are some places in Utah where anyone can start their independent film journey:
Salt Lake CityOne of the first places you should look is in Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah. The Salt Lake City Film Society is a nonprofit community for art house cinema that provides access to independent film, documentaries, and international film. Their goal is to use cinema to educate about cinema. They currently have two locations, the Broadway Centre and the Tower, each with their respective strengths.
You can find movie times and future releases at the Broadway Centre on the Salt Lake Film Society’s website.
If you’re not interested in sticking around Salt Lake City, don’t worry. Try these other locations:
Still looking for more options? This last one might surprise you:
Mainstream TheatersWith the rising popularity of independent films, you will be pleased to find that you can sometimes catch a showing at non-specialty theaters near you! If you aren’t located near an art house cinema, don’t worry. Many large theaters are catching onto the trend of indie film and dedicating some of their early morning or late night showings to these movies. Be sure to regularly check showtimes near you in order to catch a showing or two without going too far out of your way.
While it might be more exciting to visit a unique specialty theater, you can rest assured that no matter where you buy your tickets, you are supporting the art of independent filmmakers when you go see an art house film. The importance of storytelling and representing the underdog, so to speak, has not been lost to the past. We are no longer relegated to only watching films produced by the mainstream film industry. There are still countless individuals and many organizations dedicated to letting artists speak their voice and promoting their work as widely as possible. On your next night out, lend them a hand and make an effort to find an art house showing near you.
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Utah’s beauty is often understated. With sprawling National Forests, breathtaking deserts colored red, and glistening lakes, a trip across the state will take your breath away. Big cities may attract large crowds of tourists, pouring over monuments and capitals, but in between these metropolises, there can be hidden gems with unique shops and lovely sights.
With the grand landscape in Utah, many of the small towns are brimming with beautiful natural structures, and that wonderful ‘home sweet home’ feeling waiting to welcome tourists:
Springdale is a tucked-away town that helps welcome hikers to one of Utah’s most popular National Parks. The town is at the foot of Zion’s National Park, among red rock cliffs carved by the Virgin River.
Shops and restaurants make up a large portion of the small town, hoping to appeal to the backpackers and adventures traveling through. Most of the city’s revenue is brought in through tourism, which only creates a more welcoming atmosphere.
Mona is a small town in Utah with a population around 1,500. Nestled at the very base of Mount Nebo, it is a great place for small climbing excursions. Their downtown has many locally-owned businesses to support and the entire town is pristine with bouquets lining street corners.
This town is rather famous for lavender-covered hills that make up violet paths up to Mount Nebo. There are multiple farms that all visitors can enter (most for free) for a relaxing day among beautiful, fragrant lavender.
The scenery of Torrey is truly amazing, framed by many natural and individual rock formations lining its silhouette. Most visitors come for the extended trails and sights of Capitol Reef National Park, or when participating in the Tour of Utah bike race. Between these two activities, thousands of visitors are warmly welcomed yearly.
Torrey houses less than 200 people, but their intricate pioneer past is obvious due to the various historic structures still standing throughout the small town.
4. Green River
The name of this small village says it all - a great river runs through the city’s majestic surroundings. Less than 1000 people call this Green River home, so it is truly a place that can take you away from the hustle of regular life. The fruit in abundance is melon, and some say you’ll never taste one as sweet than in Green Rivers rolling hills.
Featured in town is the John Wesley Powell Museum which is filled with boats that voyaged along the river. These river paths can lead through the Gray and Desolation Canyons, and planning an excursion is possible at most times of the year because storms are irregular in the area.
Midway is rich with Swiss immigrant heritage, and it's Midway’s Swiss Days which fills the streets with thousands of guests each year. This August festival showcases local food vendors and live performances.
Scuba diving is also a popular activity for the town, one of the few places this is possible so far from the coast. Standing towards the center of town is the Homestead Caldera, a geothermal hot pool. From the beautiful mountain views to the range of fun activities, Midway is a must see along your way.
Moab is one of the most visited small towns in Utah. The most notable sight is the rock formations found in Arches National Park. This small town is a great place to rest for those visiting the nearby Canyonlands National Park.
This is a true southwestern city. Though Moab has an old-timey welcoming feel, the downtown area is renowned for its modern dining and shopping. There are crowds of young people running homemade clothing shops and even specialty coffee shops.
7. Heber City
Right in the heart of Utah’s mountains is the town of Heber City. This is an area of Utah where all activities are centered on the outdoors. From boat tours and paddle boarding on the water to hiking and horseback riding through the surrounding wilderness, lovers of the outdoors will love Heber City.
Heber Valley Historic Railroad Line is a great option for a day excursion; at the top is a clear view of what people call the "Utah Alps." These beautiful views that surround Heber City are easily the splendor those experienced when first settling the Wild West.
8. Garden City
You can find Garden City along the edges of Bear Lake. The winters can be harsh and make the town a little less exciting, but in the warmer months many festivals and events spring up to take advantage of the huge lake. Known as the Caribbean of the Rockies, for the beautiful color of the water, the summer is all about spending time on and around the water, but the surrounding wilderness is something to see.
In August, there is a festival for the raspberry harvest, featuring more raspberry recipes than you’ll know what to do with. The Pickleville Playhouse is known all over Utah for its outstanding community theatre productions. The combination of an exciting day on the water, followed by dinner and a show, leaves nothing to be desired.
9. Brigham City
Brigham City can give visitors enough activities to comfortably stay in town for weeks. The Wellsville Mountains are great for those looking for a nature escape, but in case the city life is missed, this town lies only 60 miles from the capital of Utah.
There is the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge with many different species and learning information on the local habitat surrounding the river. If time allows, several monuments exist with the center of town, including the Golden Spike National Monument. Peach Days festival is a highlight of the city’s events, a multi-day appreciation of the town's famous peach harvest.
Leave the city life behind by becoming entwined with nature at one of the many beautiful small towns Utah has to offer. Small places like these offer stunning secluded scenery and a secluded comfort the big cities will never be able to compete with.