Even though Utah is world-renowned for its striking desert landscapes, there’s a whole lot more to the Beehive State if you know where to look.
Utah is home to many exciting destinations and attractions that have nothing to do with the desert, ranging from mountain resorts, bustling cities, idyllic lakes, and historical sites.
If you’re wondering what to do in Utah besides checking out the desert wonders, here are some destinations you’ve got to place on your itinerary.
1. Salt Lake City
As the capital of Utah, Salt Lake City offers a great blend of religious history, entertainment, and city vibes.
Salt Lake City was where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was established (more commonly known as the Mormon Church), meaning many of the city’s highlights have a religious background.
Temple Square, the Place Monument, The Old Deseret Village Living Museum, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the Gilgal Sculpture Garden, the Mormon Tabernacle, and even the State Capitol are all related to the Mormon Church.
Even if you’re not into religious sights, they’re worth checking out to understand Utah’s culture a little better.
Of course, plenty of other attractions worth visiting all over the city don’t have a religious connotation. A few of them are Tracy Aviary, Hogle Zoo, the historical Liberty Park, and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Venue.
2. Great Salt Lake State Park
Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake in Utah. It got its name because of the mineral deposits it leaves behind when water evaporates, making it saltier than ocean water!
A few activities you can do at Great Salt Lake include fishing, boating, bison-spotting, and swimming. Moreover, the sunsets are absolutely splendid here, so I recommend lingering a while in the park to experience one.
3. Park City
Home to two of the most famous ski resorts in Utah, Park City is a prime winter sports destination all over the country, but it’s also a great mountain town to visit year-round.
Thanks to its privileged location in the Wasatch Mountains, Park City is a mecca for beautiful hiking trails, mountain biking, fish flying, and rafting during the hotter months. Moreover, hot air ballooning is also a thing here and a wonderful way to see the mountains from up above!
4. Garden City
Sitting on the shores of Bear Lake, Garden City is commonly nicknamed “the Caribbean of the Rockies” due to the turquoise-toned waters of the lake.
Garden City is a favorite destination for visitors and locals alike who want to spend time enjoying the water, be it through swimming, sunbathing, sailing, water skiing, and all sorts of activities you wouldn’t expect to find in a landlocked state! It’s one of the best lesser-known lake vacation spots in the US.
As the third-largest city in Utah and the gateway to the Wasatch Front, Provo boasts a mountaineering scene like no other.
During your time in Provo, you can choose from activities like hiking, tubing, boating, fishing, and more, all while being surrounded by forest scenery and snow-capped mountains. For the ultimate adventure, you can hike up to Mount Timpanogos, the second-highest mountain in Utah!
6. Hardware Ranch
If you’re into wildlife spotting, Hardware Ranch is a wonderful place in Utah for unique animal encounters.
Thanks to its location inside the Blacksmith Fork Canyon, during the winter months, Hardware Ranch becomes the favorite hangout spot for Rocky Elk, who love roaming casually around the ranch!
7. Midway, Homestead Crater, and Cascade Springs
If you’re looking for wonderful outdoor activities, look no further than Midway, a small town within the Wasatch Mountain State Park that offers year-round activities thanks to its closeness to fantastic natural gems in Utah.
Close to Midway, you’ll find the Homestead Crater, an unusual geothermal spring that provides the only warm scuba diving in the continental United States!
Moreover, you’ll also be able to visit Cascade Springs, a series of terraced pools nestled under a waterfall that looks straight out of a storybook.
If you’re visiting during the winter, Midway also homes a fantastic ski resort that was the exact one used during the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and provides wonderful cross-country skiing opportunities.
8. Brigham City
Brigham City is a quiet mountain town where time seems to stand still.
Sitting on the sloped side of the Westville Mountain, you’ll find charming streets dotted with colorful 18th-century buildings and nature pretty much everywhere you turn.
Moreover, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge sits close to Brigham. This is a wonderful place to visit to observe birds (over 200 species living here) and see a few migratory birds (American White Pelicans come here during the summer and Tundra Swans visit in the fall!)
9. Bonneville Seabase
The Bonneville Seabase is a peculiar inland sea located in the Great Salt Lake. Even though it’s located 600 miles away from the coast, the salty water and overall landscape of the Bonneville Seabase feel just like the ocean and provide tons of opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving.
As you see traditional sailboats glide over the seabase and smell salty air, you may just forget you’re in the middle of the USA!
What are some other great non-desert-related activities to do and places to visit in Utah? If you know of any others, you’d like to recommend, please do so in the comment section below!
More Tips For Your Utah Family Road Trip
Getting ready to road trip through the Beehive State? You may also like to read next:
- How to road trip through the Utah Mighty 5 – with suggested one-week itinerary and map.
- Getting from Salt Lake City to Zion – plan out a whole day to make this journey down the I-15 an integral part of your Utah family road trip!
- Check out these interesting stops to make between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.
- If deserts are totally your thing, why not try this 9-Day Utah & Arizona road trip for some serious desert magic?
- What do you need to know to prepare you and your car for a drive in the desert? Make sure you’ve gone through our desert driving tips.
- Never forget an important road trip item again! Download our road trip essentials checklist before you hit the road.
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