Utah with Kids
Utah families tend to be larger than anywhere else in America, so it's no surprise it's such a great place to travel with kids. Indoor and outdoor recreation opportunities abound, touching upon perennial kid delights such as dinosaurs, trains, planes, sports, and camping. From Dinosaurland and Bear Lake in the far northeast of the state to the slot canyons of the south, the only argument will be how to fit it all in. Furthermore, virtually no site, restaurant, or destination is off-limits to kids, so don't be bashful about including them in your itinerary.
In and around Salt Lake City, start with two very kid-friendly museums in Gateway Mall. The Discovery Children's Museum has a Life Flight helicopter, television news set, pint-size village, construction site, and much more. The Clark Planetarium opens kids' eyes to the universe and natural phenomena through its IMAX theater. This Is the Place Monument, Red Butte Garden, Tracy Aviary, and Hogle Zoo are four year-round, outdoor destinations within city limits—bundle up in the winter and have any one of them virtually to yourself. See bison in a natural setting on Antelope Island (if visiting in October, don't miss the annual roundup of the animals), and hit the Lagoon theme park on the way up or back. In Ogden, you can jump out of an airplane (simulator), learn to surf, or rock-climb, indoors in the state-of-the-art Salomon Center. Older kids can kayak a man-made course on the Ogden River and catch the Raptorz who are, along with Salt Lake's Bees and Ogden's Owlz, a fun, inexpensive, entertaining minor-league baseball team.
Utah's outdoor attractions provide plenty of outlets for kids' energies. Hikes offer larger-than-life rewards that can even lure kids away from video games. Each of Utah's five national parks has special youth-oriented programming and a Junior Ranger program. In Arches, hardy kids over the age of 6 can likely make the 3-mi round-trip hike to Delicate Arch. Make Sand Arch a destination for littler ones—it's right off the road and offers a massive "sandbox" of soft red sand. In Zion kids 10 and up can trek up the Virgin River toward the Narrows. At Bryce or Zion you can go horseback riding to take you places where little legs might fail you.
There are dinosaur excavation sites near Vernal, St. George, and Price. Stargazing and scorpion-hunting are night-time programs offered by park rangers at Goblin Valley State Park. Moab has kid-friendly bike trails, and you might find that your BMX-riding teen is more comfortable on the Slick Rock Trail than you are.
Finally, if you have swimmers, great places to cool off in hot summers include Lake Powell, Bear Lake, and glacier-fed rivers and creeks that fill national forest land across the eastern half of the state.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe