Friday, May 22, 2020

The COVID-19 Guide to a Safe Summer Family Road Trip

The COVID-19 Guide to a Safe Summer Family Road Trip

The warm, sunny days of summer are quickly approaching, and with it, the wanderlust to explore new places. Though flights are canceled and cruises are postponed, there are still opportunities to enjoy an unforgettable vacation: a classic family road trip. Gas prices are down, crowds are slim, the country is slowly reopening, and states are lifting their stay-at-home orders. There’s simply no better time to enjoy the great outdoors⁠—while practicing proper social distancing, of course. To avoid a boring summer locked inside, here are five tips for a safe and successful summer road trip with the family:

Masks and spray bottles

Create a coronavirus safety plan

Traveling during a pandemic not only means taking care of yourself but thinking of others. Put together a kit of hygiene and sanitation items to keep you and those around you safe and healthy. Some things to keep in your COVID-19 kit include:
  • A box of rubber gloves
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Face masks (or some sort of covering)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bleach
  • Spray bottle
If you can invest, consider buying a portable vacuum and your own laundry detergent and hand soap. Keep everything in a plastic box that’s easy to carry in and out of hotels, tents, cabins, or wherever you’re adventuring this summer.

Disinfect your car and space frequently, including the outside. Germs abound in all places on a vehicle, so don’t leave a spot untouched. This even includes charging ports and turn signals. Wipe down major surfaces every time you get in your car, and clean your hands before getting in. While you and your family may be the only ones in and out of the car, you might bring back germs from restaurants, stores, hotels, and other places where coronavirus might sneak on you.

Road extending onward

Stock up!

To limit your potential exposure to coronavirus, you’ll want to visit grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses as infrequently as possible. Before you head out on your big summer family adventure, plan out what you’ll need and head to your local store and stock up on items like:
  • Medications
  • Paper products (toilet paper, tissues, etc.)
  • Water
  • Nonperishable snacks
  • Baby formula, baby food, diapers (if you have a youngster along for the ride)
  • Pet food (if your furry friends are joining you)
Not only will this prevent unnecessary exposure, but you’ll also have more time to explore your destinations rather than heading to the store every day to replenish your essentials.

Father and daughter at campfire

Head to natural socially distant destinations

This world is blessed with miles and acres of natural splendor where social distancing is the easy part of the trip. National parks, forests, and campgrounds are great family-friendly summer vacation sites where you can hit the trails and not see another person (though you might run into some wildlife). Rural vacations not only limit your exposure to others but encourage you to reconnect with nature and disconnect from everything else.

If your trip takes you to the city, consider avoiding the swanky high-rises where crowds can make it hard to social distance. Smaller two or three-story hotels and bed & breakfasts have more space and fewer people.

Camp chairs, umbrellas, and sports equipment

Plan ahead

While much of the country is slowly reopening as summer rolls around, some attractions you may have originally planned might still be closed. Think areas of big crowds, like amusement parks, concerts, casinos, and even some beaches. Research your destinations and find what’s open and what’s not, and create a plan b and plan c.

You don’t have to go to new and exciting places to enjoy a relaxing vacation. Bring along bikes, kites, scooters, rollerblades, balls, and other items to spend a day outdoors with the kids. When the weather gets bad, break out a board game or extra movie that you've packed.

If restaurants are closed, they are usually still open for takeout. Order ahead and take your to-go order to a sunny spot at the park or to your hotel balcony for a quiet family meal.

Have a health plan and always be prepared for the worst

One thing worse than getting coronavirus is contracting it when you’re on the road. On any vacation (even outside the pandemic), it’s important to know your health insurance plan and have family protocols in place in case of the worst. Especially if you have younger family members or someone with pre-existing conditions that could worsen a bout of coronavirus, make sure you know where to go and how to get treated (this goes for any illness⁠—not just coronavirus). Locate the closest hospital or urgent care center to where you’re staying and be sure that you can be treated there if need be.

In addition to potential sicknesses, prepare for any dire situation. Many auto shops might still be closed, so know where your spare tire and jack are and make sure the spare is full of air. Before you leave, refill your wiper fluid, change your oil, and make sure your car is up to date with anything that could go awry while miles from home.

After assembling your COVID-19 safety kit, make sure you also have an all-emergency kit ready just in case. Keep a flashlight, rope, first aid kit, and tools in it.

Mom, Dad, and daughter sitting in the back of car

Have the summer vacation of your dreams!

Your bags are packed, and your coronavirus kit is ready to go. With a plan in place, your family is set to have an unforgettable, adventurous summer road trip despite the pandemic. Coronavirus may have kept you locked away this past spring, but don’t let the summer get away from you too. Explore your surroundings⁠—and enjoy your freedom on the road.

Friday, May 15, 2020

The 12 Best Takeout Restaurants in Provo, Utah

The 12 Best Takeout Restaurants in Provo, Utah

If you are looking to support a local business and add something new to your stay-at-home meal routine, considering ordering food to go from one of these top restaurants in Provo. Ordering food to go keeps both you and the restaurant staff healthy and safe while also supporting your local economy.

Communal Exterior at night

Communal is currently offering both takeout and delivery options in downtown Provo. You can order online, place an order with DoorDash or Grubhub, or call ahead for a fresh, locally-sourced meal. They offer lunch, dinner, and Saturday brunch menus.

Many of their main dishes—including dinner and bunch entrees—are large enough to share. You can feed a larger group, enjoy a date night, or simply pack up the leftovers for another meal. Locally-sourced ingredients mean the menu is seasonal and always changing. They offer vegan and vegetarian options and are gluten-free friendly as well.

Chicken Sandwhich with cheese

Station 22 is currently offering delivery with DoorDash, takeout, curbside pickup, and gift card purchases. They pride themselves on their modern takes on comfort food classics, and they are open for both lunch and dinner. Station 22 is vegan and vegetarian friendly, and their menu is always rotating so you are sure to find something new each time you visit.

Overflowing burger and fries

This new restaurant is currently offering delivery, takeout, and curbside pickup. They are open later than many other restaurants in the area and use grass-fed beef as well as locally-sourced ingredients. Even though it is a burger restaurant, they are vegan and vegetarian friendly in addition to offering gluten-free options. They have many creative burger options in addition to house-made desserts on their bakery menu.

This fast and fresh Pacific Island-inspired restaurant is currently offering delivery and takeout. They pride themselves on their authentic cuisine in a family-oriented atmosphere.

Diners recommend ordering the lunch plate, which has more than enough food for one person giving you a snack or an additional meal for later. They have vegetarian options available and are a great pick for anyone looking to try something new or learn more about Pacific Island culture and traditions.

Chicken tenders and fries

Technically in Orem, this fried chicken spot originally had roots in the Provo Farmers Market and has recently opened multiple brick-and-mortar locations. It prides itself on hand-trimmed chicken cooked to perfection using their secret recipe. They are currently only offering takeout. They have a variety of comfort food style fried chicken options including sandwiches, platters, fries, and homemade dipping sauces. They are open later than many other local stops.

Empas specializes in empanadas and Argentinian cuisine with an American twist. They are open for both delivery and takeout, though they are only open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

The staff at Empas is more than willing to help you decide or learn more about the options on the menu if you are not familiar with Argentinian cuisine. They offer both traditional and creative menu options, so everyone is sure to find something on the menu that they will enjoy.

This fun downtown Provo spot is set inside of a music memorabilia shop and offers Mexican-American favorites. They are open for takeout only.

They are perhaps best known for their Swamp Nachos, a towering platter that feeds three or four people with all the classic toppings. They also offer huge burritos with your choice of fillings, perfect for sharing with a date. This spot is vegan and vegetarian friendly, and the staff is willing to work with you to create a meal that works with your preferred level of spiciness. 

hard shell tacos

This cafe offers from-scratch food that is freshly made each day. With a fusion of Native American, Mexican, and Southwestern Heritage, they are truly one of a kind and will delight your senses. Try their Navajo Tacos, their Blue's Fire Shrimp, or their burgers! If you want a real treat, try their desserts, including their Orange Habenero Creme Brulee. They do delivery and curbside pickup.

This hole-in-the-wall chicken shop is best known for its overflowing fried chicken sandwiches. They are open for takeout and call-ahead orders. Their menu is much smaller than that of some other establishments in the area, but it has a dedicated following and is referred to as a hidden gem by locals.

This Korean barbeque spot features classic cuisine fused with American-style dishes, allowing customers to enjoy the classics or try something out of the ordinary. They often feature a food truck in downtown Salt Lake City as well. Their three locations are currently open for takeout only with call-ahead ordering available. This restaurant is the perfect introduction to both Korean food and Korean barbeque since it features familiar classics.

noodles and shrimp on a plate

The family-owned-and-operated Silver Dish Thai Cuisine is currently operating via curbside pickup, takeout, and delivery with UberEats. The dishes are reasonably priced and made to order. They are well-known for their generous portions, especially when it comes to the lunch specials. They are open for dinner hours as well. If you are new to Thai cuisine and not sure what to order, the friendly staff is willing to answer questions or help you select a meal.

The award-winning pastry chefs at Fillings & Emulsions are currently offering their full menu for takeout only. Their menu offers a variety of both French and American choices with both sweet and savory options. They are also well known for their meat pies, a traditional Cuban option, and pasteles. Their menu rotates so visiting often is recommended. This makes a great date night spot for both lighter dinner fare and decadent international desserts.

If you are self-isolating in or near Provo, Utah, consider supporting a local restaurant for your next meal. The diverse options on this list are sure to mix up your routine and allow you to try something you may not have ever tried before. Support a local business now and you may find your new favorite restaurant!

Friday, May 8, 2020

12 Best Provo Wedding Reception Venues

12 Best Provo Wedding Reception Venues

Looking for the perfect reception venue for your wedding can be an overwhelming task, especially when there are so many great options to choose from here in Provo. We have done some of the leg work to make planning your special day that much easier. Here are twelve venues that range from elegant and budget-friendly to full-service in the countryside.

White Willow Reception Center Exterior

The White Willow historic mansion was built in 1904 and maintains most of its original design elements, now decorated in the French farmhouse style. $1000 to $2350 gets you use of the entire home, the gardens, tables, 100 chairs, centerpieces, a sound system, a managing on-site staff member, a kitchen with a refrigerator to store food, and use of their inventory of decorations (think: chalkboards and photo props). White Willow can accommodate up to 250 standing guests, and while they do not provide catering, for an additional cost, staff will serve and clean up your food.

White Shanty Venue Exterior

Boasting a rustically industrial farmhouse feel, the White Shanty is a 3,500 square foot venue eager to host your wedding reception. Rentals range in price from $750 to $2700 depending on the day of the week and time you will need it. The rental includes tables, chairs, electronics, an on-site venue coordinator, and working with you to set up a custom table layout for your reception. While they do not provide catering, they do have a list of their favorite caterers, favorite floral companies, and recommended DJ services on their website.

Reception center with chairs

A renovated candy factory, The Startup Building has a rustic feel with original brick walls and wooden beams. The 3200 square foot venue seats 120, and prices start at $1350 to $1900 depending on the day of your event. These rates include chairs, tables, a sound system, and various decorative items. For an extra charge, you can use the courtyard, other décor items, or serve alcohol. They do not have in-house catering, but they do have an extensive list of their favorites on their website, and unless you are planning to have a lot of glitter at your reception (they specifically have a “no glitter” rule), The Startup Building is a great option.

interior reception center with lights

Manor at the Riverwoods has a grand Venetian interior design if you're looking for an elegant reception venue. Starting at just $600, the rental includes tables, use of the warming kitchen, a sound system, and an event host. You can add on linen and centerpiece packages, DJ services, or permission to serve alcohol for an extra fee. They can accommodate up to 300 guests.

With its unique decorative lemon trees and flavorful banquet menu, La Jolla Groves provides an eye-catching reception venue. They can accommodate up to 225 guests (the popular Lemon Grove Room capping out at 150), and provide a variety of in-house catering packages. Choose a soup or salad, 1–2 entrees, and a dessert for $40–$70 per guest.

A quaint homestead that is family-owned, Conrad Ranch offers an amenities-rich option for the countryside lover. The reception-only package includes in-house single-serve catering for 100 guests starting at $3800 and buffet catering for 100 guests at $4200. They are available to host events Tuesday through Saturday, and offer in-house centerpieces, cake decorating, and flowers, in addition to providing tables, a dance floor, a grand piano, and access to the outdoor grounds.

Canyon Event Center is a classy, understated venue. Reception pricing starts at $1950 and includes tables, linens, set up and take down, a warming kitchen, an event hostess, a sound system, and access to the outdoor garden area. They also offer additional packages that can include catering services. While Canyon Event Center requires approval of all decorations, it can accommodate a large guest list of up to 400 and boasts a mountain view.

This picturesque hall starts at $1200, which includes access to a 4600 square foot banquet hall that seats 175, a ballroom, tables and chairs, sound systems, and a prep kitchen. For an additional cost, the Memories Package offers a full catering and hall rental package. In addition to the basics listed above, this package includes linens, centerpieces, and an Italian soda bar and dessert buffet. While they do not provide dinner catering, they do offer suggestions for outside catering and other services, some of which have partner deals available. 

bride and groom in front of desserts

Described on their website as having a classy, rustic feel, Southworth Hall is located in a historic building in downtown Provo. Starting at $1200 with tables and up to 200 chairs (discounts are available if you are okay with an earlier event end time), you can add on linens, a sound system, or even a photo booth for extra charges.

A more advanced option in downtown Provo, The Balcony offers space for 150 seated or 300 for a “free-flowing” reception. This venue can provide in-house catering as low as $10 per guest, provided by Good Thyme Eatery, who pride themselves on using fresh and local produce. Rental pricing starts at $200 an hour, with discounts for renting for a half or full day. Rental includes tables, chairs, set up and takedown, a concierge, and access to an AV system.  

If you are looking for something glamorous that maintains historic charm, The Bell Room might be right for your wedding reception. Up to 150 guests can be accommodated at this indoor-only venue, with fees starting at $600. The rental fee includes a dance area, a venue coordinator, and set up/clean up services. They do not offer in-house catering, but they do require that you choose from a list of their approved catering services.

With a self-proclaimed “speakeasy” vibe, this venue is perhaps one of the most unique on this list and will provide an ambient experience that your guests won’t soon forget. They are literally located underneath downtown Provo, offering in-house catering by Old Adobe Catering Company. Starting at $600, rental includes a stage, set up and clean up, a coordinator, and a dance area for up to 250 reception guests. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The 9 Best Fishing Spots in Utah County

The 9 Best Fishing Spots in Utah County

Once the last of the snow has melted and the ponds, rivers, and lakes are no longer frozen over, it is officially fishing season in Utah County. Whether a novice or an expert, and no matter what you are hoping to catch, there is a fishing spot in the area that is sure to meet your needs. Check with each location regarding hours, rules, permits, and catch limits before your visit.

Mountain and Lights reflected in Utah Lake

Utah Lake

The water quality at this spot might not be as pristine as at some of the other spots on this list, making it less than ideal for swimming, but that does not mean it is not worth a visit. This lake is known for more hardy species of fish that can withstand the environment of the lake, so be on the lookout for plenty of catfish and bass. The lake has about 70 miles of shoreline, with most fishing spots easily accessible via a short walk or hike. There are also roughly half a dozen boat ramps located around the lake.

Fisherman wading into Provo River

Provo River

Located in Provo Canyon, the Provo River is widely considered to be one of the top fishing spots in Utah and is a must-visit when you are in the area. It is one of the most-fished rivers in the state. The river is split into two regions—upper and lower—and both are extremely popular, which may mean more crowds on weekends and warm-weather days. You are likely to find dense schools of large brown and rainbow trout here. Locals recommend checking this spot out in the spring, before the fish populations become too depleted or the crowds become overwhelming. Make sure you dress warm! The water is cold!

Creek with Foliage all around

American Fork Creek

Located within American Fork Canyon as part of the Tibble Fork Reservoir, American Fork Creek is a great spot to introduce your kids to stream fishing. This is a mild-flowing stream and is regularly stocked—rainbow and brown trout are common catches here. If you make a visit early in the spring when snow is still melting, use caution as the water levels may be higher than usual. If you are more interested in lake fishing or would just enjoy a change of scenery, you can explore fishing at other parts of Tibble Fork Reservoir while you are in the area.

Boy fishing from a pier

Diamond Fork River

Diamond Fork River, located in Spanish Fork Canyon is already a very popular camping destination, making it a logical visit for fishing enthusiasts as well. You are likely to find brown trout or cutthroat trout here, and it is a highly recommended spot for fly fishermen as well, so long as they proceed carefully. If you visit in early spring, the river and its surroundings may be too muddy and therefore slippery. Summertime is perfect for a weekend of camping and fishing in the river. It is located off of Diamond Fork Road just off of U.S. Highway 6.

Spring Lake Trout Farm

This hatchery and fish farm is perfect for someone who would prefer a more controlled fishing environment and a guaranteed catch at the end of the day—a great stop for families with kids looking to try fishing for the first time. Located in Payson, they have been in business since 1912. They offer fishing at $6 a pound, which includes the use of equipment, bait, and cleaning and filleting your catch. If you prefer catch and release, you can enjoy fishing for $5 per person per hour. No license is required and no catch limits are in place.

Highland Glen Park

This peaceful pond located in Highland allows for seasonal fishing, though your catch is limited to two fish per day. However, anglers are encouraged to release all largemouth bass. There is a small boat ramp available for use. You are most likely to find rainbow trout and channel catfish. The park also features a playground, a pavilion, a beach volleyball court, and a swimming area.

Manilla Creek Park Pond

Located in the suburban Pleasant Grove community, this park is a popular destination for visitors of all ages whether or not they are looking to fish. The pond is stocked regularly with rainbow trout, brown trout, and occasionally bluegill, and anglers are encouraged to release grass carp and all bass. The pond, like that of Highland Glen Park, has a daily catch limit of two fish per day. There is a fish cleaning station on site and a marked swimming area on the beach for use during the summer months. You will need a current fishing license in order to fish at this pond.

Salem Pond

A popular destination at Christmastime for the annual tree lighting, you can also visit the community fishery at Salem Pond in the spring and summer to fish for rainbow trout, channel catfish, largemouth bass, walleye, or green sunfish. Any grass carp or bass caught must be released. Boating and swimming are available at the pond from May to October. While at the pond, you can also enjoy birdwatching, a playground, grassy picnic areas, and a walking path.

Canyon View Park Pond

This community park and fishery, located in the Spanish Fork, provides a great introduction to fishing for kids in a more controlled environment. The park has a fishing pier and only allows fishing in its pond for kids 13 and under. You are most likely to catch trout, and are encouraged to release all largemouth bass. You can also enjoy birdwatching, nature trails, walking paths, and a volleyball court.

Fishing is a great outdoor activity for the whole family when the weather is nice; it is peaceful and allows you to spend time in nature. It is a great opportunity to teach kids about wildlife as well as helping them develop a sense of patience. Utah County is full of wonderful fishing spots that are perfect for you and your friends and family.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Most Instagram-Worthy Destinations in Utah Valley

The most instagram-worthy destinations in Utah Valley

Your vacation or weekend getaway is not complete until you post a that perfect photo on Instagram to show off your adventures to your followers. Utah Valley has a great mix of stunning destinations, from city scenery to natural beauty. There are many hidden gems in the area that will make for eye-catching content and will have your friends asking, “where was that?” Here are the top 15 places in Utah Valley to snap your selfie.

Fancy home with turrets and towers

1. Wadley Farms: these 18 acres are full of vineyards, gardens, and orchards surrounded by quaint pastoral scenery. The farms are a popular destination for weddings, events, and parties with both indoor and outdoor areas available.

Disney murals on the street

2. Provo Wall Murals: there are over 30 hand-painted murals scattered around downtown Provo, and the fun is finding them all yourself! On the first Friday of each month, the community gathers for a self-guided stroll and a tour of the murals to discover new creations and artists.

mountain reflected in lake

3. Utah Lake State Park: open to the public since 1967, this park contains the 148-square mile freshwater Utah Lake, with recreational fishing access, swimming, boating, and paddle boarding. Within the park there are 31 RV campground sites. A special use permit may be required for professional photography.

4. Rugged Grounds Coffee Shop: Rugged Grounds has two locations, one in Provo and one in Salt Lake City. They serve locally-roasted, fair-trade, organic coffee and local teas, kombuchas, and light food items. The building was renovated entirely with reclaimed materials in 2017, making it the perfect backdrop for your next Instagram post.

waterfall among lush cliffs

5. Stewart Falls: this is a majestic and heavily photographed waterfall in Utah Valley. It is over 200 feet tall and can be accessed via a moderately strenuous, 3.5-mile hike. Locals recommend hiking in the summer, for the weather, or the fall, to take in the changing leaves. You can also snowshoe here during the winter months.

6. Sundance Ski Lift: skiers and non-skiers alike will enjoy this scenic lift ride to the top of Ray’s Summit, available only during the summer months. Take in the stunning views around Sundance Ski Resort, and either ride the lift back down or enjoy a hike.

7. Provo City Center Temple: this is a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and was built on the property upon which the historic Provo Tabernacle once stood. It has been fully restored and opened again in 2016, but is not open to the public, so your photos will have to be taken from the outside, on the beautifully planted temple grounds.

8. Kissing Point: if you are visiting the area with your significant other, this street sign is a must-see. Located on Center Street in Provo, this adorable spot is perfect for a PDA-filled social media post and is popular with engagement and wedding photographers.

9. BYU Bell Tower: you may have heard it's music, ringing out various melodies throught the day. The BYU Centennial Carillon, or bell tower, is located on the campus of Brigham Young University. It was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the school’s founding, and today stands as an iconic symbol of the university, easily identifiable in photos.

10. Ashton Gardens: located within Thanksgiving Point, Ashton Gardens features 55 acres of gardens, grand lawns, and the largest man-made waterfall in the western hemisphere. There are 15 themed gardens for you to wander through and explore, or you can rent a golf cart for a speedier tour. Open in the summer months only, the gardens’ bright colors are sure to add something eye-catching to your social media feed.

11. Roots of Knowledge: covering a wall of Utah Valley University’s Ira Fulton Library is the 80-pane Roots of Knowledge stained glass window. It is ten feet high and 200 feet in length, and incorporates over 60,000 pieces of glass in addition to naturally found materials like rock, fossils, coins, wood, and coral. It is accompanied by a fully interactive educational experience so you can learn more about each component of the window.

12. Pioneer Book: this is the largest bookshop of used and rare books in Utah County, making it a required destination for bibliophiles. The staff is well-trained with diverse educational backgrounds to provide a customized in-store experience. It has been in business since 1980 and is always changing its inventory. You are sure to find something that interests you here, or at least makes for a good photo #bookstagram.

13. Payson Lakes: the campgrounds of Payson Lakes are located 12 miles outside of Payson. The campgrounds provide plenty of fishing and canoeing opportunities as well as natural scenery without driving too far out of town. This area is very well-known for its wildflowers during the summer months. The shore of Big East Lake is a popular daytime trip, with a swimming beach, picnic areas, and a nature path.

14. Hike the Y: located just east of the BYU campus is the Y mountain trail within Slide Canyon. This steep, 1-mile hike leads up to the iconic block Y—the largest collegiate symbol in the United States—at the summit as well as panoramic views of the city of Provo and Utah Lake. Go at night to see stunning city lights. Just make sure to bring a light for your trip back down.

15. Petroliana Museum: car enthusiasts and vintage explorers will not want to pass up this spot located at AAA Lakeside Storage. The museum features kitschy items like antique porcelain signs, an antique gas station, and close to one hundred antique gas pumps going back to 1917. It also has antique cars and car memorabilia, paying homage to a time when good customer service was the key component of a gas station. Find your favorite sign and take lots of photos!

The best part of exploring a new destination is always sharing what you found, and that task often falls to social media these days. Whether you are a Provo local or a visitor, you are sure to find something unique to add to your Instagram feed and also provide indelible memories of your latest adventure. Enjoy your trip and do not forget to take plenty of photos along the way – even if they don't make it to your social media feed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Hiking the Highest Peaks in Utah Valley

Hiking the Highest Peaks in Utah Valley

Utah Valley is composed of thousands of square miles of wilderness, making it one of the best hiking destinations in the United States. Utah Valley features six mountain peaks that are over 10,000 feet tall and more than 300 miles of trails. Thrill seekers looking to get out of the house and into nature are sure to find adventure here! Make sure to check if the trail heads are open before heading out.

group of back-packers

Tips for Hiking in Utah Valley

The key guidelines for spending time in nature, no matter where you are and how long you are staying, are referred to as “Leave No Trace.” By not leaving a trace of your expedition, you are helping preserve the outdoor experience for those who come after you and care for the natural environment. There are seven principles to this philosophy:

  1. Plan ahead for your trip and make sure you are prepared in both terms of equipment and physical abilities.
  2. Travel and camp on intended surfaces, so you do not hurt yourself or damage the land. For example, stay on hiking trails and camp in marked areas.
  3. Dispose of litter properly, even if you have to carry it with you throughout your trip.
  4. Leave what you find; do not keep flowers, leaves, or other pieces of nature no matter how small.
  5. Minimize the impact of campfires by putting them out entirely and following the rules for fires posted in the area.
  6. Respect wildlife: do not feed, disturb, or come close to wild animals. This is their home!
  7. Be respectful of other visitors by not being too loud, giving uphill hikers and horseback riders the right of way, and keeping your pets leashed and under control.

Before setting out on your adventure, make sure to pack light by only bringing the essentials with you. Map out your hike, including potential stopping points like water sources, scenic areas, or campgrounds. Ensure that you are in good physical shape by taking frequent short hikes leading up to a bigger trip. Give your trip details to a friend or family member so they can help keep you safe. Consider hiking with a friend to help you stay safe, avoid getting lost, and help pass the time.

When on your Utah Valley hike, be prepared for high altitudes that may make your trip more strenuous. Wear layers to keep you warm in cooler months and prevent sunburn in warmer months—sunburn is more common at higher elevations. Finally, make sure you adhere to the Leave No Trace guidelines to protect the environment and keep it beautiful for future visitors.

timpanogos peak with snow

The Best Hikes in Utah Valley

These hikes are intended for those more experienced due to their high elevations, longer trips, and steep climbs. The best time of year to hike in this region is between June and September, due to the milder weather and lack of snowfall.

Mount Nebo Snow-capped

Mount Nebo: this is an 8.5-mile hike with an elevation of 11,928 feet and an elevation gain of 3,851 feet. This is the highest peak in the Wasatch Range, and is located along the Nebo Loop at the start of the North Peak Trailhead. The trail is often covered in snow all year, so be prepared by bringing snowshoes. Also be prepared with plenty of drinking water; there are no stops to refill along the route. This is a difficult hike, but the views at the summit are worth it.

Mount Timpanogos covered in snow

Mount Timpanogos: hikers have two options here, and both are very popular among locals. The longer hike starts in Aspen Grove and is 15.9 miles in length, with an elevation gain of 5,492 feet. The shorter hike relies on Timpooneke Trail and is 14.3 miles in length with an elevation gain of 4,566 feet. Both hikes have a final elevation of 11,749 feet, and are very scenic with mountain goats, wildflowers, and views of the valley along the way.

Provo Peak: this is an 11.4-mile hike with an elevation of 11,068 feet and an elevation gain of 7,119 feet. This mountain sits just behind the famous Y Mountain in Provo, and is not as popular. It is a steep and strenuous hike requiring some dirt road travel to reach the trail. Experts recommend camping along the way to break up the trip. You will be rewarded at the summit with panoramic mountain views.

Box Elder Peak: this is a 10.2-mile hike with an elevation of 11,101 feet and an elevation gain of 4,812 feet. The peak is located in the middle of the Alpine Loop. The easiest way to access it is from Alpine City to Dry Creek Trail, though there are other options as well. This hike is well known for its wildflowers and bird watching opportunities and offers beautiful views throughout.

Spanish Fork Peak: this is a 10.6-mile hike with an elevation of 10,192 feet and an elevation gain of 4,685 feet. It is a mainly uphill hike featuring a freshwater stream, a small lake, and plenty of wildlife. Hikers report having seen elk, deer, cows, and even bears here, so proceed with caution and do not disturb the wildlife. This hike is recommended to be taken with a friend as navigation gets more tricky the closer to the summit you get.

Experienced hikers from all over the country are drawn to the opportunities in the Utah Valley region. Though more strenuous than some other popular hikes, these hikes are great for spending longer periods of time in nature and taking in stunning mountain views. They may be challenging, but they are worth it when you reach the summit. Make sure your physical conditioning is up to par, you have the essential supplies, and you have picked a friend willing to take on this adventure with you.

After your hike, you are sure to walk away with stories, photos, and a strong sense of satisfaction for having made it to the summit. If you are in good physical shape, enjoy an adrenaline rush, and are looking for your next adventure, consider one of the hikes available in Utah Valley.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Best Family-Friendly Activities in Provo, Utah

The Best Family-Friendly Activities in Provo, Utah

Whether you are visiting Provo for the weekend or the week, there is plenty of activities to do with the entire family. Whether you're five or fifty, there are countless things to do. Best of all, these activities are all free (or close to it).

Empty BYU Football Stadium

Spend the Day at Brigham Young University

This scenic campus has something for everyone. It boasts five different museums and plenty of hiking trails, including the trail to the iconic mountainside Y. Visitors can take guided tours of campus to learn more about its history, or take in a sporting event if they visit during the school year. The campus also has its own creamery—perfect for a post-hike snack!

fence beside curving road

Drive Through Provo Canyon

No matter what time of year you visit, Provo Canyon features beautiful scenery. Bridal Veil Falls is the most famous waterfall in Provo and makes a great pit stop on your hike. There are several gorgeous spots to pause along the way for a picnic or a family photo.

autumn forest and mountains

Explore the Alpine Loop

For just $6, your family can drive from Sundance to Alpine and take in the mountain views. Stops along the way include Cascade Springs and Tibble Fork Reservoir, as well as plenty of waterfalls. If your kids are old enough, you can also summit Mount Timpanogos.

Discover Timpanogos Cave

This cave is a national monument located along the Alpine Loop. A one-mile hike brings you to the cave, and tickets to guided tours are available for purchase. These tickets often sell out, so plan ahead if this is a stop you want to make.

indoor swimming pool

Swim at the Provo Rec Center

The Provo Recreation Pool is fun for the entire family. Their indoor pools feature a lazy river, two water slides, and a climbing wall (positioned over a pool that you can drop into). They also have a playground. If you are visiting Provo during the warm summer months, there are two water slides and a kid-oriented play area, along with a wave pool. You can go to the indoor pool at any point if you need a break from the sun.

Cool Off at the Provo Splash Pad

This is one of the many splash pads located across Utah; this one is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This is a great pit stop to make if you and the family need to cool off. It features a playground, bathroom facilities, plenty of shade, and a pavilion.

Walk Through Paul Ream Wilderness Park

This park offers a peaceful walk along the Provo River and the opportunity to enjoy the wilderness without a long drive to get there. Your little ones will like feeding the ducks that live in the pond, and the entire family will enjoy exploring the shaded trails. It is conveniently located just off the 1-15.

Pioneer Village Sign

Visit the Provo Pioneer Village

This is one of the more educational stops on this list, and it is free to visit. The village is run by the Sons of the Utah Pioneers and features pioneer replica buildings plus period actors. Visitors can play the same games that the pioneers did, watch the blacksmith forge tools, and learn a little bit of Provo history in the process. It is in close proximity to the Provo Daughters of the Pioneers Museum if you want to learn even more.

Spend Time at Neptune Park

This park is fun for all ages—even if you do not have kids! There is a rope pyramid for climbing that attracts adults and children alike. There are plenty of grassy areas for playing, bathroom facilities, basketball courts with hoops of varying heights, and a pavilion.

Visit Thanksgiving Point

This stop is a highlight of Utah County. While not technically in Provo, it is a little over 20 minutes away and features four different venues, so the entire family is sure to find something they will enjoy. You can purchase a day pass to all four museums, or just pick one. Thanksgiving Point features

  • The Museum of Natural Curiosity—the best stop for the entire family
  • The Museum of Ancient Life—with dinosaurs
  • Farm Country—with a petting zoo
  • The Ashton Gardens if you are interested in a scenic stroll through thousands of plants.

Hike Battlecreek Falls

This easy 1.5-mile hike is perfect for all ages and experience levels. No matter the time of year you visit, you will be able to see the beautiful waterfalls. On hot summer days, nothing feels better than the cool mist coming off of the water.

See an Arch

About 20 minutes from downtown Provo, still in Utah County, you can find an arch within the Red Ledges Picnic Area. This is a fun area to explore, but due to its lack of shade may be less than ideal during the summer months.

a couple seen through a bookshelf

Buy a Book

On Provo Main Street, there is a book store called Pioneer Book that sells used books—everything from paperback fantasy to hardbound classics. The walls are covered, floor to ceiling, with the tales of the ages, and offers any book-lover a wonderful story to take home for bargain prices. Or just lose yourself in the bookstore if you're on a tight budget. The sections of the store are organized by genre, so be sure to ask the person at the front desk where they keep their ___fill in the blank____ (a. fantasy, b. sci-fi, c. romance, d. mystery, etc.) books. There are two levels, so be sure to check out the top floor as well as the ground floor. If you love books, you already know you're gonna love this visit.

Enjoy the All Together Playground

Located in Orem, this recently-opened playground was specifically designed to accommodate children of all abilities. It features smooth surfaces for safety purposes, lots of structures to climb and explore, two ziplines, and even a merry-go-round.

No matter how old your children are, or how adventurous you are feeling, you are sure to find something to do in Provo! It is a family-friendly destination that lets you explore and try new activities without breaking the bank, and a destination you are sure to find yourself returning to again and again.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Best Comedy Clubs in Utah County

The best comedy in Utah County

Whether you are visiting Utah County for business or pleasure, visiting a comedy club is a great way to meet the locals, learn more about the culture, and support rising talent from the area. There are plenty of venues in the area. Take note that many of these venues do not offer alcohol, so be prepared for a slightly different experience than what you may be used to. They all offer a cleaner brand of comedy that is fun and relevant for teenagers in addition to adults, making these spots perfect for date night.

comedian on stage before crowd

Dry Bar Comedy

If you are looking for clean comedy, consider stopping by the staple Dry Bar Comedy in downtown Provo. They have comedians known for their clean jokes. They fly in and compete, so you will see multiple acts each night. These comedians are known for funny stories, quips, and one-liners with nary a swear word. They list the acts on their Facebook page before the show in case you are looking for someone or something in particular. Seating is first-come, first-served, so be sure to arrive early especially if you are with a larger group. Parking is available on the street. If you are a frequent visitor to the area or really enjoy clean comedy, consider the VIP pass: it allows you to cut the lines and have access to unlimited soft drinks and popcorn. They also serve movie theater-style snacks and some dinner options

lobby with old decor


If you want to be a part of your evening entertainment, this comedy club prides itself on a completely interactive and personalized comedy show, offering improv-style shows with a set scoring system, not unlike a sporting event. They also offer improv workshops, private events and shows, team-building workshops, and improv classes if you are interested in learning more about the craft. The performances are not as polished or rehearsed as you may find at a professional comedy club, but they feature clean jokes that all ages can enjoy. The show is fast-paced and fun, and allows for audience participation throughout. There is no assigned seating, so be sure to arrive early to have a great view of the show

people laughing in a theater

Quick Wits Comedy

Though a little outside of Utah County, Quick Wits is home to an improv comedy troupe that uses audience participation and suggestions to come up with sketches on the spot. Teams compete for points throughout the evening, with the results being a different show every single time and a heavily invested audience. They also do private events at other locations. They primarily perform at the Midvale Main Street Theatre, sharing the space with local theater productions.

They offer an earlier show and a later show; the earlier option guaranteed to be family-friendly and the later option being better suited to a more mature crowd. Though the humor is still clean, some of the jokes may skew towards an adult’s sense of humor. Parking is known to be limited but there are street parking options available, and standard theater concessions are available for purchase once inside

comedian sitting on stool

Egyptian Theatre

Just east of Utah County, this is not only a comedy club. The Egyptian Theatre offers a wide variety of entertainment options to the Park City area in a historic landmark setting. It hosts live stage performances including theatre, dance, comedy, and concerts. They also have their own theatre company. The Egyptian Theatre may be best known for screening Sundance Film Festival movies, and many touring productions make their Park City-area stops here. The Egyptian Theatre is a local icon with tons of history and iconic décor.

In years past, the Egyptian Theatre has been home to stand-up comedians, traveling improv shows, and more. It is a small theatre with an intimate audience experience; there are no bad seats in the house and they have a powerful sound system. The staff is friendly and welcoming. They serve alcohol only during Sundance Film Festival, but snacks are always available for purchase if you are in the area for a different form of entertainment. The theatre is also surrounded with local restaurants within walking distance if you wanted to get something more substantial to eat before or after the show.

comedian with mic

Wiseguys Comedy

Just north, in Salt Lake City, Wiseguys Comedy has been known for live stand-up comedy, combining national touring acts with lesser-known local talent for over twenty years. They offer typical bar food and a small dinner menu plus beer, wine, and liquor service. If you are specifically interested in seeing a homegrown talent act, they specifically offer an amateur night and an open-mic night. If you are a local and will visit this venue often, it is important to note that you may see some of the same acts—and jokes—more than once in a short span of time, though the lineup changes every week.

Parking is available on the street and in a nearby parking garage. Seating is not reserved in advance and although the room is large, it tends to fill up quickly based on the act’s popularity. There are no bad seats due to the layout of the room. They have two locations—one in Salt Lake City and one in Jordan Landing. It is widely regarded as one of the best comedy clubs in the country.

If you find yourself in the Salt Lake City, Park City, or Utah County areas of Utah for a weekend, be sure to check out one of the many comedy clubs on this list for a hilarious way to spend an evening based on good, clean fun.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Visiting the Young Living Lavender Farm

Visiting the young living lavender farm

As more and more people become aware of possible health implications of the products they use every day, essential oils are having a moment in the spotlight. Many people use dozens of hair, makeup, skin, and bath products every day containing chemicals that are absorbed through the skin, the long-term effects of which have not been thoroughly studied. Essential oils can often be used as an alternative natural remedy, cleaning product, skincare, nutritional supplement, or fragrance substitute. Essential oils are the concentrated extracts of plants, and many natural or alternative health practitioners use them in aromatherapy and naturopathy. Many plants contain compounds that may be beneficial to overall human health and although there is not always the evidence to support these claims, many people feel more confident using concentrated natural products as opposed to something more heavily processed and store-bought. Young Living is a multi-level marketing company based out of Lehi, Utah selling genuine essential oils and related products. They are the largest essential oils company in the world clearing over $1 billion in revenue every year. Although their line has expanded over the years to include diffusers, substitutions for processed products, nutritional supplements, and healthcare solutions, their essential oils remain their most popular product. They are perhaps best known for their multi-level marketing sales model, relying on distributors and direct-to-consumer whole selling.

Young Living Lavender Farm

Distributors of Young Living products can get invited to the annual convention and retreat. One of the biggest attractions of the convention is a trip to the Young Living lavender farm, called Whispering Springs Farm. It is also a popular tourist destination and road trip stop in the area. The farm is located in Mona, Utah, about an hour outside of Salt Lake City in a valley of the Rocky Mountains. The highlight of the farm is allowing visitors the opportunity to see exactly how the products are produced and what work goes into growing the plants. The farm is open to the public all year in addition to being the highlight of the Young Living retreat and convention. The company is founded on a “seed to seal” promise – the understanding that Young Living takes all of its products from the first step to the last directly without outsourcing. This is very different from mass-produced products from similar companies that you may find in stores. Even if you are not interested in Young Living as a company, you can learn something new about essential oils, natural products, and the farming process. If you have young children, it can be an educational experience for them as well. The farm contains 1,400 acres of lavender fields and oil distilleries, plus a natural reservoir, perfectly landscaped gardens, a herd of over 100 horses, and gorgeous views of the mountains. Visitors can take self-guided tours of the distilleries and see what is being produced on that particular day. They also have the opportunity to learn first-hand what goes into farming the products by talking to the highly knowledgeable farmers and staff, wandering the fields, and taking a stab at repotting the plants themselves

Rows of lavender bushes

The farm facilities are available to rent for family reunions, company parties, and weddings. They also have various events throughout the year, including a 5k run, hay wagon rides, small animal farm visits, paddleboat cruises on the reservoir, essential oils classes, free distillery tours, horse shows, rodeos, and the annual Lavender Day Festival in June.

For users and distributors of Young Living products, one of the strongest selling points is that the plants are grown all-naturally without the use of pesticides. Since the inception of the company, they have made it a point to never use chemicals on their plants in order to keep the resulting essential oils as pure as possible. Visitors can pick leaves off the plants directly from the ground and eat them without worrying about ingesting pesticides. The farmland is also weeded by hand.

Also growing on the farm are some non-native plants that company founders Gary and Mary Young are attempting to grow locally in order to shorten the supply chain. For example, they are currently experimenting with growing wolfberry trees in the Utah climate to see if they can produce the resulting essential oils without importing an additional product

lavender soft-serve icecream

Lunch is available to farm visitors, and items are available for purchase that are made from the plants grown on the farm. For example, visitors can enjoy lavender ice cream or lavender lemonade and know that it was locally sourced and as close to nature as possible. Young Living products, apparel, and other merchandise are available for sale right on the farm. This is probably the most efficient way to purchase the freshest-possible essential oil products. However, if you are only interested in the product and not the parent company, you can also hand-pick and take home your own lavender for a small fee. The best time of year to do this is in June or July when the lavender is in full bloom. As part of its business model, Young Living partners with other farms and helps them produce essential oils from its products. One such product is sandalwood; grown in Hawaii, the product is then sent to the Young Living facilities that produce and sell the essential oils. These partner companies sometimes also sell the hydrosols – the water that is left over after distilling the water – and markets it as floral water with varied uses. Although Young Living prides itself on “seed to seal,” it tries to be a good business partner with other farms by working together in this way.

small house among rows of lavender

Whether you are a distributor or user of Young Living products, or if you just have an interest in a healthier, more natural lifestyle, a trip to the lavender farm can be a very educational experience. Bring the family and make it an educational trip for all ages, and leave with a stronger understanding of the farm experience.