Friday, May 29, 2020

Discover 7 of the Best Campgrounds in Utah County

Discover 7 of the Best Campgrounds in Utah County

Looking to plan a camping trip in the great outdoors this summer? Want to experience the natural beauty of Utah? With stunning scenery ranging from mountain vistas to serene waterfronts, camping in Utah County offers all sorts of landscape varieties all within driving distance of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.

Utah Lake beneath the mountains

For all those boating and fishing enthusiasts out there, this is a must-visit campground destination. Located less than an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City (and only 10 minutes from Hines Mansion), Utah Lake State Park gives you access to Utah Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the state. Some of the waterfront amenities include boat slips, a marina, and fish cleaning stations so that you can take your catch straight from your boat to the barbeque. The campgrounds are located on the east side of the lake and offer shower/restroom facilities, playgrounds, and hiking trails. Everything has been recently renovated for a comfortable camping experience. It’s also conveniently located next to the Provo River Trail, which is a scenic and accessible path for every level of hiker.

Tent and campfire beneath trees

If you’re looking to escape the crowds, this is an up-and-coming campground to add to your must-visit list in Utah County. Lincoln Beach is located along the southeast portion of Utah Lake’s shoreline and has been recently updated to offer water and restroom facilities for its visitors. These well-maintained campgrounds are ideal for water enthusiasts who need easy access to Utah Lake for kayaking, canoeing, and other water activities. However, the main draw is the recently-installed floating boat dock that offers you direct access to everything Utah Lake has to offer. Although the campground is on the small side, the shoreline offers majestic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Nunn's Park Campground Entrance

Best known for being the first hydro-power plant in the United States, this lush campground is located along the Provo River Parkway and near Bridal Veil Falls. Visitors can take advantage of biking and jogging trails, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and fishing during their stay at Nunns Park. There are also pavilions available to rent for larger group dinners or functions if needed. The campgrounds also allow dogs and offer amenities including barbecue grills, fire pits, and drinking fountains near the campsites.

Willow Park Entrance

This campground offers something for everyone. Located near the Jordan River, Willow Park’s campsites offer easy access to hiking trails, a canoe dock on the Jordan River, and a playground for the kids. The campgrounds also feature plenty of grassy fields for group sports.

Tent by the river

Granite Flat is another great option if you’re planning a camping trip with a large group of people. The spacious campgrounds feature full amenities, including restrooms, picnic tables, and even a baseball field for group sporting events. It’s also conveniently located in an area with several sightseeing spots within driving distance. Make sure to visit Timpanogos Cave and take an underground cave tour if you decide to stay here. This spot can easily provide a full day’s entertainment for adults and children alike.

Family of four camping

This is one of the more unique campgrounds featured on this list. It offers all the usual camping amenities – picnic tables, grills, access to trails – as well as a historic amphitheater that gives the campground its name. With access to several trailheads as well as a waterfall nearby, you won’t run out of sightseeing options or activities at Theatre-in-the-Pines. This would be a great option to visit with friends or family for a more unique camping experience.

People by campfire and tent

While all the other options on this list require reservations, this campground is great to keep in mind if you’re an experienced camper who wants to go on a spontaneous last-minute camping trip. With access to beautiful trails and ample space to view the surrounding majestic mountain scenery, Salamander Flat doesn’t reserve campsites and is first-come, first-serve. Before planning your trip, also keep in mind that this campground doesn’t offer any of the amenities that the other campgrounds on this list offer. While you’ll need to bring your own water and won’t have access to electrical power at your campsite, the unspoiled views and access to trails are unparalleled, making this a great destination for an experienced camper.

One thing to note regarding all of the campgrounds listed above—before setting out on your next camping trip, make sure to check online if reservations are needed or if there are any campsite rules or restrictions. For example, all of the sites maintained by the United States Department of Agriculture limits camping to a maximum of two nights unless your family brings an RV or trailer with its own restroom and showering facilities. Carefully review each park’s reservation policies and amenities before deciding on where best fits your wants and needs.

With its proximity to mountain ranges, rivers, and a freshwater lake, Utah County encompasses some of the best campsites that the state has to offer. Camping experts and novices alike will appreciate all seven of these destinations for their amenities and access to stunning mountains, lakes, and trails to take advantage of. There truly is something for every type of camper in Utah County.

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.