Most people, when they think of Utah, think one of two things. Either they worry that they’re headed straight into a religious revival center or they cannot wait to hit the slopes – and the greatest snow on earth. In either case, though, you’re missing so many other parts of Utah that you truly have to see to believe. And, because it is Utah, almost everything here is 100% parenting, kid, and family friendly. So the next time you come visit Utah, be sure to stay a while. Because you’re going to want to experience at least some of these 15 breathtaking things to do in Utah with your kids.
National Parks and natural beauty: Outdoor things to do in Utah with your kids
Utah has an amazing number of national parks – there are 13 National Park Service units (including 5 National Parks) and then 3 more that the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) operates. In fact, only California and Alaska have more parks than we do!
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1. If you’ve ever seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, then you’ve visited Zion National Park. Massive sandstone cliffs, slot canyons, critters and plant life everywhere, and suddenly you’re the star of your own Western movie. While the views are spectacular on film, they will take your breath away in person. There are plenty of hiking trails, camping accommodations, and outdoor adventure for all ages.
2. Not too far from Zion’s is Moab – and two more national parks. The red sandstone arches at Arches National Park are bigger than life – and the hike to get there can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. A word of advice, though. You may want to bring a hiking backpack or the best baby carrier ever invented for children under two. Their feet do get tired – whereas the older kids love the slot canyon hikes.
3. Want to see where the dinosaurs lived, walked, and died? Then take your dinosaur-enthusiasts to Dinosaur National Monument. Technically, it spans both Utah and Colorado. But you can only see the actual dinosaur fossils while in Utah. And if your budding paleontologists want to see rub shoulders with the real dinosaur scientists at work, be sure to check out the Dinosaur Quarry area.
4. Ready for some beach time? Head over to Bear Lake – a glacial lake in the mountains that’s so blue it’s turquoise. The only thing that’ll make you realize that you aren’t in the Caribbean is that cool mountain breeze and the cold water! Waterski in the summer or ice fish in the winter. Just make sure you add getting a local raspberry milkshake to your to-do list.
5. Need more unique things to do in Utah with your kids? If you’ve got a racing enthusiast, you’re going to want to visit the Bonneville Salt Flats. The ground here is so flat and empty (and white!) that it’s almost an alien landscape. It’s the perfect place for racing – and the Bonneville Speedway. No matter how many times you see it, it’s always hard to believe that it’s salt – and not bright white snow.
6. Want another taste of the wild west? Go camping with all sorts of flora and fauna – including bison – at Antelope Island. That’s right – bison range free on this island in the Great Salt Lake. Camping here is a little rougher, but my kids love seeing the “big cows,” even if they didn’t much care for the smell.
7. Ready for some four-wheeling? Why not head out to Coral Pink Sand Dunes. The sand is pink – and kids of all ages love the warm pink sand. Some like to dig in it – while others go off-roading. Either way, it’s a gorgeous, unique view that’s only in Utah.
8. Remember how Utah has the best snow on Earth? Well, we’ve got the ski and snowboarding slopes to prove it. Ski, snowboard, snowmobile, cross-country ski, or snowshoe to your heart’s delight in the mountains. One of the resorts, Powder Mountain, has over 7,000 skiable acres – and not a single fake snowflake.
More fun things to do in Utah with your kids – without the camping
Okay, now before you think that all we do in Utah is go camping, we’ve got plenty of other breathtaking and fun activities for you and your kids.
9. Want some culture with your visit to Utah? Then be sure to tour Historic Salt Lake City and go see Temple Square. The architecture is amazing, the dining is exquisite, and the new shopping centers are phenomenal. And if you’re big into genealogy or family history, be sure to visit the Family History Center. They’ve got some amazing exhibits that my kids love to see any time we’re there.
10. Rise and shout – the Cougars are out! Not real cougars – the BYU Cougars. They’re in Provo and the campus is gorgeous. In fact, the whole town has undergone a renovation and it’s worth seeing – and exploring. So if you’ve got a young sports enthusiast, make sure you go say “hey” to Steve Young’s old stomping grounds.
11. Ready for some thrill rides? You don’t have to travel far – just head to Davis County (just north of Salt Lake City) and you’ll see that Utah has its own amusement park. Lagoon is one of Utah’s best-kept secrets – and it’s got some of the best roller coasters found in the nation. One of our favorites, Cannibal, has a 116 degree beyond vertical free-fall that shoots you into a 140-foot tall inverted loop at 70 miles per hour. If that’s a little too thrilling for you, don’t worry. This is Utah – and Lagoon has rides for all ages, heights, and types.
12. Want to see some dinosaurs – but not leave the city limits? Go check out Ogden’s George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park. My kids love seeing all of the dinosaur statues, the functional paleontology lab, the exhibits, and the dinosaur-themed playground. And, if you keep reading, I’ll share a hint that’ll save you a ridiculous amount of money on entrance fees.
13. I have to admit that the last time we took my kids to the Tracy Aviary, the youngest ones were a little terrified of all of the birds! But every time we go back, the kids fall in love a little more with the exhibits, the birds, and trying to guess which birdcall comes from which bird. We’re still pretty awful at the last one, actually.So the next time you come visit Utah, be sure to stay a while. Because you're going to want to experience at least some of these 15 breathtaking things to do in Utah with your kids.
14. Want to see more exotic animals? Utah’s Hogle Zoo may not be able to compete with some of the ridiculously large zoos, but this zoo is perfect for kids. My kids love seeing the animals – and they’ll even do extra chores to earn the $2 they need to ride the train that takes them through the African savannah exhibits. I don’t mind it because there are still gates between them and the lions.
15. Finally, one of the best things to do in Utah with your kids is the Ogden Nature Center. My kids love the short hike into the visitor’s center – right past the birdhouse contest winners – and then on into the preserve. There, they can hike, run, jump, climb a treehouse, and see all sorts of native wildlife while not ever leaving Ogden city limits. Oh – and the yearly membership to the Nature Center is an amazing deal – it gets you access to both the Nature Center and the aviary and the Odgen dinosaur park. #yourewelcome
More Fun Things to do in Utah with Kids:
- Top 20 Places to Take Kids in and around Salt Lake City
- Traveling with Children in Utah
- 10 Kid-Friendly Places in Utah to Visit
My Must-Have Traveling Resources:
- Carry those cute kiddos without killing your back with the best baby carrier ever made (and the only one I use)
- Seriously – go get an Ogden Nature Center Membership. Totally worth the $45 family membership fee as it gets you into so many other nature centers nationwide – as well as the Eccles Dinosaur Park, the Tracy Aviary, and Union Station museums! They aren’t paying me to tell you about this – it’s just that good of a deal.
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