One of the best places to visit in Utah is Goblin Valley State Park. The park is approximately 4 hours from Salt Lake but only about 2 hours from my front door. Growing up in Utah I had heard about Goblin Valley. People always told me it was great fun. So after spending all of my life in Utah, I finally took an adventure to check it out for myself. Do you know what? They were right! It is great fun.
Goblin Valley has hoodoos everywhere. There is a small entrance fee for the state park but once inside you are able to climb and hike for hours. We had a wonderful time. We climbed to the tops of cliffs, scaled to the tops of hoodoos and hid among the goblins. When nighttime came we witnessed a large family (or several families) playing hide and go seek among the goblin shadows.
A very brief history about Goblin Valley: Back in the 1920’s some cowboys were looking for cattle when they came upon the strange little rock creatures surrounded by eroded rock cliffs. In 1964 the area was obtained by the state of Utah and designated as a state park. In 1974 the park was opened to the public as a state park.
Last fall Kirk and I decided to upgrade our camping trailer. We loved our trailer. We would take it up to our mountain property every spring, leave it, and camp all summer in seclusion and beauty. It was a tough decision but the trailer did not function as well for us as empty nesters with a little Sidekick Suki.
I had a list of things that I needed for our new Camp Needs!
1 – First and foremost, a walk around bed. Our old camp trailer had a bed that was placed in the corner. I hated making that bed. I would have to crawl across the top to tuck in the blankets. I wanted to be able to walk around the bed to tuck everything in with hospital corners.
2 – A slide out living area. Our camping trailer was very cramped when we had visitors so I wanted to have more space for when all 10 of our children came to visit us while we were camping. We could more easily squish them all into a trailer with a slide out living area.
3. More storage space. The camping trailer was fine but there were only 3 drawers and one cabinet for the kitchen. I love to cook and I need lots of stuff to cook with and it needs to be stored somewhere.
4. A place for Suki. Well, Suki actually fits just about anywhere. She loves camping!
So the hunt was on. Kirk’s criteria was that it had to be reasonably priced and make me happy. We looked at so many campers, trailers and motorhomes. Some were so beautiful but not reasonably priced. Others were reasonably priced and not so nice. Then one day I saw a motorhome with a little chandelier in it. I told Kirk that I really wanted to look at that one. We drove to Salt Lake to take a look at it. The motorhome had been sitting for a few years and was dusty and needed a good cleaning. It had a walk around bed, a slide out living area, lots of storage, and a place for Suki. And bonus, a cute little chandelier over the table.
We bought a 1996 Allegro Bay. Sure it is old. Sure the outside is a little faded. But it was reasonably priced and had all the necessities we needed. Now it is so nice. We cleaned it, gave it a good tune up, and now that old motorhome is our favorite get in and go vehicle.
Here is my favorite part of the whole deal! There are 2 old televisions hooked up to an old VCR. Now I can watch all my old favorite movies while I am camping. If I feel like getting a new old movie I can usually pick them up at thrift stores for under a buck. Sweet!
The Christensen and Hymas light display in Draper is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. Set to music, this awesome light display runs from 5:30 to 10:30pm up until Christmas. Tune into 99.9FM and enjoy from your car!
Address: 11693 S 700 E #100 Draper, UT 84020
Hours: 5:30-10:30pm every night after Thanksgiving until Christmas.
I grew up in Provo, and one of our favorite places to see lights has always been in the hill streets of east Provo. You can access these streets from Timpview Drive or 9th East. Just keep driving east and up, and pretty soon you’ll see some pretty amazing light displays.
Tip: Be sure you either know the area or leave plenty of time, since it’s pretty easy to get turned around! If you get lost, no worries, that just means more lights.
3. Lights in the Riverbottoms Provo
When it comes to Christmas lights, this has been the go to spot for my family for years. These homes really go all out. It’s definitely worth a visit, no matter where you live in Utah county.
How to get there: off of I-15, get onto University Avenue towards 3700 N (Will’s Pit Stop for those of you familiar with the area). Turn onto 3700 N and then take your first left. Take a right onto any of the streets you come to, the lights shouldn’t be hard to miss!
The Shops at Riverwoods put on a beautiful display each year. Wander around the peaceful shops, warm your hands at any of the fire pits scattered throughout and enjoy. For those of you with a little money to spend, stop at the Provo Beach Resort for a fun time.
Address: 4801 N University Avenue, Provo, UT 84604
Hours: Most shops are open Monday through Saturday 10am-9pm, but the lights can be enjoyed at any time. If you plan on eating while you’re there, contact the restaurant for hours.
Assuming you have no issue with being in a cemetery, there is a fantastic lookout point at East Lawn Memorial Hills in Provo. You can see the entire valley from here and it’s a breathtaking view whether it’s Christmastime or not.
Address: 4800 N 650, Provo, UT 84601
How to get there: Get on University Avenue off of I-15 headed towards 4800 N (Orem Center Street). Head east on 4800 N. The road to East Lawn will be on the left. You will need to walk a ways once you get there to reach the lookout point.
Hours: The road to East Lawn is closed off to cars after 10pm but you can still get there on foot.
6. The Lookout Point at Rock Canyon
Another great lookout point is located at the base of the Rock Canyon trail, just above the Provo Temple. My husband and I have been known to drive up this way to get our daughter to sleep and then spend a romantic half hour cuddling and looking at the city lights.
How to get there: Get on University Avenue off of I-15 headed towards 2230 N. Turn east on 2230 N and continue past the Provo Temple. The road will reach a point where you can either go straight or follow it right. Go straight and park in the first parking lot on your left, facing the valley. 7. Pond Town Christmas
Photo courtesy of www.pondtown.org
Salem, Utah puts on a magical display each year for the Christmas season. Even better, it’s completely free! Learn more here.
8. Christmas Caroling
Christmas caroling seems like it’s a dying art, but that’s no reason not to resurrect it! Get a group together and visit the homes of some families you know could use a little smile.
Did you know there are fifteen Daughters of Utah Pioneers museums in Utah county? Neither did I! What a cool way to learn about Utah history. I plan on adding this to my bucket list, and so should you!
For a complete list of the museums and accompanying info, visit this link and scroll down for Utah County.
I visited this gem over the summer and had a great time. This is a similar experience to the Church sites in Palmyra for those of you that have been. Villagers in costume explain to you the significance of each building and demonstrate activities from life in that time.
Address: 500 W 600 N, Provo, UT 84604
Tours are by appointment only during the winter months. For more information, click here.
“This museum showcases many fossils from the Jurassic Period, which spans a period from approximately 210-140 million years ago. The museum houses one of the top five collections from the Jurassic Period in the world”
Most commonly known as the “Bean Museum”, the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum was recently remodeled and has a very impressive display of every species imaginable. A great indoor day trip for you and the kids. For even more fun, call ahead to schedule a live animal show. It’s free! You can also schedule a tour of the exhibits.
Address: 645 E 1430 N Provo, UT
Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-9pm, Saturday 10am-5pm. Check here for holiday hours.
Along with a great place to send your hubby when you want him occupied for well, days, Cabela’s in Lehi has a pretty fantastic animal display, surrounded by a stream of live fish. It’s a fun way to pass the time if you need a break from shopping at the Outlets.
Most of us know about the daily and weekly free events held at our local library. However, I’d venture to say that few of us really take advantage of it. So go ahead, check out the schedule at your city’s library and add it to your itinerary!
Art Museums and Galleries
25. Brownstone Gallery
Address: 3370 N University Ave, Provo, UT 84604
26. BYU BF Larsen Gallery
Located in the Harris Fine Arts Center on BYU Campus. For a map of BYU campus, click here.
“Terra Nova (which is Latin, meaning “new ground”) was created to give local emerging and established artists an opportunity to exhibit their work in a fresh, new venue. The concept behind the gallery is simple — provide exhibit space for original works from artists who are ‘ready to hang’ but are not tied to a particular gallery.”
“The Window Box Gallery brings you fine quality, affordable Limited Edition Art from the top-named artists who’s originals are accessible to only a few. The Window Box Gallery also carries original art from many well-known Utah artists. The art we carry can evoke emotions and memories as well as help you find collectible art that results in a valuable investment opportunity.”
Our family spends a lot of time here during the colder months. I’m an avid runner and my husband loves to run with me and track his times. Now that we have our daughter, we can take along BOB (our stroller, yes he is a member of the family) and make it a family date.
Tip: If possible, don’t go in the evening between 5 and 7. This is when all the families go right after work so the track is quite crowded. We’ve found the best time to be mid morning or late evening.
Hours change based on the semester, so be sure to visit here to double check before you go.
Photo courtesy of utahvalleyboredombusters.blogspot.com
The Treehouse Playground inside the University Mall in Orem is a fun place to take the kids. It’s never too crowded, and there’s lots of stuff to explore.
Address: Inside the University Mall (575 E University Pkwy, Orem, UT) At the north end by Payless Shoesource.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-9pm.
36. Play Day in the Snow
We all know some of the best activities can be done right at home. With our daughter old enough to enjoy it, I’m looking forward to building some snowmen and making snow angels this winter, snow permitting.
Rock Canyon Park in Provo has a great sledding hill for snowy days. It is pretty popular, so expect some crowds, but it’s still worth it.
Address: E 2620 N Provo, UT 84604
Want to make your winter staycation even better? We are giving away over $500 in prizes for your own Staycation in Utah! Prizes include a $100 gift card to the Marriot Hotel, 4 tickets to the SCERA, four passes to Tracy Aviary, a $20 gift card to Lowe’s Xtreme Air Sports, two copies of The Best of Utah Valley on the Cheep, a backpack from The Salt Project, 4 Leonardo Body Worlds passes and a Wasatch Saving Guide.