20 Things You Can't Miss Out On While Living in Utah

Utah is an incredibly beautiful state – full of grandiose mountains and bright colors year round. Fresh powder greets us atop the mountains of Park City and deep reds make for beautiful hikes in Zion. Those are two of the biggest reasons that out-of-state students choose the University of Utah to pursue a higher education – hiking and the snow. 

Growing up in Utah, I have been fortunate enough to learn of beautiful hidden gems in our state. While there are hundreds of places I could tell you about and thousands of things to do, I decided to condense it to a list of 20 things that you should and see during your time in Utah. 

 

1. Midway Ice Castles

At a 50 minute drive, the Midway Ice Castles are worth every second of that drive. Typically, they open in mid-December but are completely dependent on the weather. Seriously - you do not want to miss out on this. Try it at least once and I promise, it will leave you wanting to go back each holiday season. Watch a video on the ice castles here for more of a glimpse on what to expect.

2. The Narrows at Zion National Park 

Zion National Park is about 4 1/2 hours away from Salt Lake City. It's the perfect location for a weekend getaway with friends. The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon in the Park. The walls are a thousand feet tall and the river can sometimes be as little as twenty feet wide - make for absolutely stunning views. Late spring and summer are when the water level is lowest and the the water is at it's warmest. 

3. Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point 

Thanksgiving Point is a short 30 minute drive from Salt Lake City. Coming up at 280,000 tulips in hundreds of varieties - this festival is something that you definitely do not want to miss. It's reminiscent of Holland's tulip festival. The annual festival takes place from April 13 to May 5 each spring (closed Sundays). 

4. Sundance Film Festival 

Sundance Film Festival takes place annually in Park City. This year, it will be held from January 24th to February 3rd. This film festival aims to advance the work of independent storytellers in the form of film and theatre. You can purchase a pass, individual tickets, or even volunteer! Tons of celebrities line the streets of Park City during this time and you might get lucky - I've seen people meet celebrities anywhere from the Kardashian sisters to RuPaul (yes, from Rupaul's Drag Race) himself. 

5. Big Cottonwood Canyon 

Big Cottonwood Canyon is a mere 20-minute drive away. It's home to Solitude and Brighton - both world-class ski resorts. There's much more you can do - hiking, rock climbing, picnics, and mountain biking included. It's an incredibly beautiful drive if you'd just like to do that, as well. I highly recommend going during the spring time or the fall to really take in the beauty of it all. 

6. Hike Mount Timpanogos 

Mount Timpanogos is the second highest mountain in Utah's Wasatch Range. It rises to a stunning 11,752 ft above sea level. Not only that, but it's a staple for those who love hiking. It's stunning and worth every second of the hike - the views of the mountain range are marvelous. 

7. Ski/Board Park City 

Park City Mountain Resort is the largest resort in the United States. "In 2002, Park City became a field of dreams for athletes at the Winter Olympic Games. Park City Mountain hosted four events and six of the ten U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team medals were won on the mountain" (PCMR). Not only that, but they do offer great discounts for youth college student passes! 

8. Bonneville Salt Flats 

The Bonneville Salt Flats are incredibly stunning. Every year, they are home to the Lantern Festival and countless of other events. They're a special place - you're walking completely on a solid surface made of salt. They're stunning and you definitely want to make a trip there are least once - even if it's just for a great Instagram picture. 

9. Fifth Water Hot Springs 

I first experienced Fifth Water Hot Springs my junior year of high school - my prom date took me there for our day date. It was absolutely magical and we had a ton of fun. The hike isn't bad and it's definitely easy - I've seen multiple kids on this hike and they have done just fine. The water is incredibly beautiful and a dreamy blue. You can go here year round - and trust me, you don't want to miss it. You could sit there for hours and still not want to leave. 

10. Homestead Crater

Homestead Crater sits in Midway - about 50 minutes from Salt Lake. The Crater is a geothermal spring within a beehive shaped limestone rock. Here, you can swim, scuba dive, snorkel, or even take a paddleboard yoga class! 

11. Arches National Park 

Arches National Park lies just north of Moab - meaning that this would definitely be a weekend getaway with friends. The views are absolutely stunning and if you do decide to camp out (which I highly recommend) you get a beautiful view of the Milky Way! 

12. Deer Valley Concert Series 

Perfect for those interested in music - Deer Valley always puts on a great summer concert series. This year, there are some names you might recognize in line to perform - The Decemberists, Gavin DeGraw, Phillip Phillips, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, M. Ward, and Jason Mraz. 

13. Park City Historic Main Street

Growing up in Summit County, Park City Main was one of my favorite places to go and to be. With dozens of shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants, you can never get bored. There's multiple coffee shops along the walk and you might even get lucky and see an A-List celebrity - specially during ski season. 

14. The Lights at Temple Square

Whether you are religious or not, it is impossible to say that Christmas lights are not beautiful. Downtown, the LDS Temple lights up the square in beautiful colors to celebrate Christmas. It's free to roam the grounds and there is hot chocolate and donuts sold, as well. Additionally, City Creek Shopping Center is just a walk across the street - making it easy to shop for Christmas or grab a bite to eat. 

15. Christmas Concert at the Cathedral of St. Madeleine 

The Cathedral of the Madeleine sits downtown. Each year, the Madeleine Choir School as well as the Cathedral Choir put on Christmas shows for the public. While donations are highly recommended, entrance to the events are free. Their voices are beautiful and seem to ilght up Salt Lake City with their Christmas cheer. If you are a lover of music and the arts, this experience is perfect for you!

16. Mirror Lake 

Heading East from Kamas (just on the other side of Park City) into the Uintah Mountains, you will be met with beautiful views. Bald Mountain is near the lake and provides a beautiful view of the lake and it's surrounding area. 

17. Lambs Canyon 

Lambs Canyon is a short 22 minute drive from Salt Lake - just a quick trip up the Canyon. The trail is 3.7 miles and isn't too difficult. The view is incredibly stunning whether you hike it during the spring, summer, or fall. You go through a trail with beautiful aspens and then get a fabulous view of the mountains at the top. 

18. Lake Powell 

Lake Powell allows you to enjoy the waterways in a houseboat or rentals. You can also hike, fish, and camp. Additionally, you can kayak, wakeboard, and paddleboard. It's a great experience to have with some close friends and makes for a great weekend somewhere a little warmer than Salt Lake. 

19. Utah Olympic Park 

"Built for the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Utah Olympic Park is located in Park City, just 25 miles east of Salt Lake City, Utah. The nearly 400 acre venue houses one of only four sliding tracks in North America, six Nordic ski jumps, a 2002 Winter Games museum, and a multitude of adventure activities" (UOLF). Today, the venue acts as an official training site for Olympic athletes as well as serving as a park for us all to enjoy! During the winter season, you can try the drop tower, take a zipline, hit the discovery tower, and even have a bobsledding experience! Seriously, how cool is it to bobsled? 

20. Ensign Peak 

Ensign Peak is about a mile north of the Capitol Building. Today, it is nestled in a neighborhood. Nearly two-hundred years ago, Brigham Young stood atop of the peak and decided that this would be his new home. It was because of this view that he founded Salt Lake and Utah began. It's less than a one mile hike (and that's roundtrip) and is easy for everyone to enjoy. While beautiful during the day, the city really comes alive with lights at night! It's a fun, quick trip that you definitely need to make. 

 

Utah is a beautiful state. Make the most of your stay here while you study!

 

 

Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20