Nestled between Utah Lake and the Wasatch Mountains, the Utah Valley offers endless opportunities to get out and explore with the kids. From hiking and exploring to enjoying the city, there are so many places out among the mountains and streams that will get your kids off their screens and awaken within them a wonder of the natural world.
These are the five best outdoor things to do with the kids in the Utah Valley:
1.Spend the Day at Thanksgiving Point
With museums, gardens, explorable farmland, and more, Thanksgiving Point offers days upon days of activities and educational opportunities that will entertain the kids—and the adults, too! Located in the town of Lehi, Utah, the complex is home to the Museum of Natural Curiosity, which features a ropes course and intricate playgrounds.
Take the family to learn about natural history and immerse yourselves in the world of fossils at the Museum of Ancient Life, or head to Farm Country, where you can try your hand at milking a cow, take a ride aboard a farm wagon, and even learn about how produce makes its way to stores and restaurants.
Ashton Gardens, which features the tallest manmade waterfall in the western hemisphere, is home to 15 different gardens. Families can take an entire day to explore the gardens and learn new things about nature.
There’s also a Butterfly Biosphere, where you can explore a garden conservatory filled with more than a thousand butterflies. Kids will love learning about the different butterflies and insects, including tarantulas, large beetles, and much much more.
Really there are so many things to see around Thanksgiving Point, it's better not to try to do them all. Just pick what most interests you and enjoy!
2.Visit Bridal Veil Falls
Your kids will love a hike to see Bridal Veil Falls, one of Utah’s tallest waterfalls. Located in Provo Canyon, the 1.5-mile (round-trip) trail is completely paved and easy to traverse. The result is a breathtaking view of Bridal Veil Falls, a 607-foot-tall cascading plume of water. You can even scale some of the lower falls to get up closer to the waterfall. Bring water shoes if you have them, it makes walking over the stones a lot less painful.
There’s also another trail that takes you for a closer look at the falls and a nearby picnic area with tables and grills if you want to make it a day-long affair. The trail is open all year, so visitors even have the opportunity to see the frozen falls in the winter months.
In the 1960s, the falls used to be privately owned, and visitors enjoyed spending weekends there at a lodge and restaurant, and they were even able to take a tram to the top of the falls. While these activities are no longer available, the area is still beautiful and a must-see in Utah Valley.
3.Hike to Stewart Falls
Another kid-friendly hike takes you to Stewart Falls at the Sundance Mountain Resort. The two-mile hike begins at Aspen Grove, near the Theater-in-the-Pines picnic area. The trail ascends a mountain, but some lifts take you up the mountain and offer breathtaking views of the surrounding vistas.
The hike is especially beautiful in the fall as the aspens change leaves, making it one of the most photographed natural phenomena in the state. The surrounding area offers beautiful views year-round, and there are more than 10 miles of trails if you want to go off and explore some more. In the summer, the icy spray from Stewart Falls provides a cool mist.
The trail to Stewart Falls is very well-maintained, and horses are allowed to use it. There is a nominal fee for a permit to use the trail, but the small price pays off with amazing views and a great time for the kids.
4.Ride Along Heber Valley Railroad
This historic railroad carried passengers on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad up until the 1960s, and families can now take a ride along the Heber Valley Railroad on the "Heber Creeper" for a three-hour round trip along with spectacular views.
The antique Union Pacific No. 618 steam locomotive takes passengers from the Heber Depot up to Provo Canyon. As you make your way up the 16-mile track, you’ll see the amazing sights of Utah Valley, including Mount Timpanogos and Soldier Hollow.
The Lakeside Limited two-hour train ride takes passengers on a trip with beautiful views along the Deer Creek Reservoir and Mount Timpanogos, and the sights are just as spectacular in the winter as they are in the summer. Food is available for purchase on the train, and your kids will have a blast trying to spot wildlife along the way.
Don’t let the fun stop with the train ride! Packages for this adventure include the option to add a zipline tour or whitewater rafting adventure. The railroad offers themed activities throughout the year as well, including the Wizard’s Train for a magical day and a rock n’ roll experience that includes a free concert, trivia, and sing-along songs. There’s also a Wild West Days event that offers family-friendly western-themed sing-alongs and a staged train robbery.
5.Timpanogos Cave National Monument
Known as one of Utah’s most recognizable mountains, the 11,749-foot-tall Mount Timpanogos towers over Utah Valley. While it is a popular activitiy in Utah to complete a harrowing climb to the peak, this isn’t recommended for kids! Families can explore below the mountain in the expansive cave system known as Timpanogos Cave National Monument.
Not only will you discover the world underneath, but cave tour guides will teach you about how the rocks were formed and how they discovered these awe-inspiring underground mazes. Visitors can also try their hand at beginner spelunking and explore the caves for themselves.
Three limestone caves sit below the mountain, but visitors must climb a 1.5-mile trail to get to the entrances. The trail can reach very high temperatures in the summer, so be sure to bring lots of water for the family. Tickets for tours can be purchased up to 30 days in advance.
The city of Provo and its surrounding suburbs offer a variety of things to do with the family, and the mountains and lake provide adventurous opportunities to explore. From underground explorations to a mountainside train ride, your kids will love all that they discover in Utah Valley.