Move over, California. If you’re looking for the perfect vacation spot for this spring break, it may be closer to home than you think. Check out these beautiful, family-friendly destinations in the Beehive State.
If you like beautiful red rock scenery — and who doesn’t? — Moab is a hiker’s paradise. About 190 miles southeast of Provo, Moab is located near both Arches and Canyonlands national parks. This small town offers lodging and restaurants, and it makes a good base camp for whatever mountain biking, hiking or exploring activities you’ve got planned. Just five miles from Moab, Arches National Park has more than 2,000 natural stone arches and short hikes for kids. About 40 minutes from Moab is Canyonlands National Park, the largest national park in Utah. There you can visit the Island in the Sky district, which sits atop a 1,500-foot mesa and offers breathtaking views of the Colorado and Green rivers.
2. St. George
Beloved by both high schoolers and families as a spring break destination, it’s hard to find a place with more varied outdoor activities than St. George. Depending on the weather, you can play at the splash pad in the Town Square Park, or visit the indoor Sand Hollow Aquatic Center with water slides and a 5,800-square foot leisure pool. Nearby Snow Canyon State Park offers both advanced and child-friendly hikes, and it has a paved bike path that even beginning bikers can handle. Less than an hour away is Zion National Park, Utah’s first national park. Its gorgeous scenery includes sandstone cliffs, narrow slot canyons and child-friendly beginner hikes.
3. Park City
If you’d prefer a spring break that’s more goggles and skis than sun and surf, Park City may be your perfect Utah spring break destination. April is a great time to score deals at one of Park City’s area resorts and to enjoy the area’s 9,000 acres of skiable terrain. After a day on the slopes, your family can eat at one of the city’s 100 restaurants —Main Street is a popular spot for dining and people watching — or visit the nearby Tanger Outlet Center to shop. Park City also has snowshoeing, snowmobiling, snow tubing and hot air balloon rides available.
4. Salt Lake City
For families wanting to staycation, Salt Lake City is brimming with child-friendly activities perfect for day tripping. You can take a Mormon history tour by visiting The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Temple Square. (Note that the Church History Museum is closed for renovation until the fall of 2015.) Then head over to South Temple to tour the Beehive House and eat lunch in the cafeteria of the Lion House, both historic homes of LDS Church president Brigham Young. To the east, Utah’s Hogle Zoo has more than 800 animals in its collection. And nearby This is the Place Heritage Park shows what early Utah settlements might have looked like. It has 50 historic homes and structures and many child-themed activities such as train and pony rides.
5. Goblin Valley
The scenery at this state park is so out of this world that its director Dean Parisot filmed part of his 1999 alien movie “Galaxy Quest” there. The valley is filled with thousands of “hoodoos” (misshapen rock pillars formed by the forces of erosion), commonly referred to in the valley as goblins. Spring is an ideal time to camp at this state park, before the soaring summer temperatures make the exposed terrain unpleasant. Goblin Valley is located outside the town of Hanksville, some 180 miles southeast of Provo. In addition to the excellent hiking in the park, you can find hiking, mountain biking and ATV trails at nearby Temple Moutnain.