This summer we did things a little…different. Typically we use the summer months as the opportunity to take family vacations; to fly away for a week at a time, spend a ton of money creating memories in far away places. And while we love to travel and show our kids the world, this summer we cancelled several exotic vacations and work trips, and instead focused on creating memories here at HOME, by finding family-friendly things to do in Utah Valley.
It was our best summer EVER.
Our goal was to explore close to home, and to try as many new things as possible within an hour or two of our front door. One notable weekend we took just 1.5 days, Friday and Saturday, and used Explore Utah Valley to make a family-friendly Utah Valley itinerary to hit up as many local sites, spots, and activities as possible in that short amount of time. The best part? Some were completely FREE! We had such a great experience and enjoyed everything we did so much, I thought I'd share what we did, where we went, and our experience with it all so you can try out these activities for yourself!
First, here's a 2-minute video summary of everything we did in just TWO days:
(Watch the video online or watch below:)
Super fun, right?? Here's a breakdown of what we did:
We wanted to hit up a local spot that was family-friendly but had GOOD food, and was in the heart of down-town Provo, so we went to Chom Burger. It was delicious! I highly recommend the sweet potato fries.
After dinner we walked around the corner for some Rockwell ice cream. Hands-down, the BEST ICE CREAM we have ever had! We brought our friends with us who are self-proclaimed ice cream connoisseurs (…literally. He even took a gourmet ice cream cooking class from a top ice cream chef!) and he said it passes the test of KILLER ice cream!
After dinner we took our kids to the Bean Museum at BYU, as per the suggestion of Explore Utah Valley. Bubba and I are BYU alumni, and it's sad how infrequently we go and visit! I guess it's because I don't think of it as a family-friendly place; hard to park, mostly college students, not a lot for kids to do…
But boy, this proved me wrong!
This museum was the PERFECT family activity. Wasn't crowded at all, plenty of parking (alleluia!) and, uh, it's COMPLETELY FREE! We had planned to only go for an hour, and let me tell you, it wasn't nearly long enough. We could have stayed there all day.
The kids loved feeling actual animal pelts. In fact, the hardest part of the night was prying the cute otter out of Mory's cold dead fingers…
…even Bubba became mildly attached, ha!
The favorite part of the night was when they brought out the live animals! (Minus when they brought out the snake. Mama no likey snakes…)
We definitely will be going back to the Bean Museum again, hands-down. It's now on our top places to visit when we have guests in town, especially in the winter when it gets too cold to play outside for long!
MORNING ACTIVITY (FREE, or FEE):
We got up and out early to float the Provo River! Sadly, it's something we had never done with our kids! We left our two youngest (2 and 3 yrs old) at home because back in Oregon going “rafting” is something that you only do with older kids, since the rivers are pretty treacherous. The Provo River? Totally different story! The river is so mild, it's an activity even our youngest kids can enjoy! Next time, we will bring them along, hands-down.
You can bring your own rafts and tubes, but since it was our first time, we opted for a guided tour with High Country Adventure. They were great! The guides were friendly and made it a fantastic time for all of us.
Next time we will take tubes and kayaks so our older kids can learn to navigate the river right along beside us. Definitely on our list to do again next summer!
Again, we wanted to hit up a true Utah Valley local favorite, so we headed over to The Pizza Factory in Provo. Oh my word my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Their pizza is delish, but their breadsticks are TO DIE FOR. Bring your appetite, and be sure to get one order of garlic breadsticks, AND an order of the cinnamon ones! I couldn't decide which is my favorite, so clearly you just need both ;).
AFTERNOON ACTIVITY (FEE):
After lunch we worked off our breadsticks at Funtopia! We had heard what a fun place it was, but had never been. Seeing as how Utah gets cold in the winter we really wanted to give it a try, to see if it was worth adding to our list of indoor/winter activities. Good news…it is! It was SO FUN!
It's essentially an indoor climbing gym for kids (attached to a real climbing gym for adults), where all the walls have the cutest, most clever themes!
We had such a great time, Priya ended up doing her 7th birthday party there later in the summer.
EVENING ACTIVITY (FREE):
One of the things we really wanted to take advantage of during our weekend Utah Valley adventure were local activities that only come 1x per year. We decided to take advantage of the Lehi Stock Parade, and it was so cute! It's before the Lehi Roundup rodeo, and it's a free parade that shows off all the local horses, rodeo queens, and live stock owned by locals. It was a nice short parade, and our kids loved seeing all the horses, especially.
If you are looking for fun/cheap/free things to do in Utah in general, check out the city websites and go to as many local activities as possible!
Between the parade and rodeo, we hit up dinner at El Mexiquense in Lehi, as per the request of Explore Utah Valley. The food and service were fantastic (I got the nachos and highly recommend them!), but what has me dreaming at night was the Horchata! It was, hands down, the best horchata I've ever had.
Great, now I'm salivating.
NIGHT ACTIVITY (FEE):
To end the night we hit up the Lehi Roundup rodeo. Now, being from a rural town in Oregon, I LOOOOVE me a good rodeo, and have been to many. Let me tell you, Lehi takes their rodeo to a whole new level! It was PACKED! So many people came out to support the riders, which was fun to see. And the commentator was the best I've ever heard. I appreciated that he took the time to explain how scoring worked, the rules of the events, and interesting back-stories of the riders. Small, subtle difference that meant the world to us as spectators.
The rodeo is packed, but luckily they have assigned seats so be sure to snag your tickets early (and sit near an aisle if you have young kids).
So there you have it!
Thanks to Explore Utah Valley we were able to cram in TONS of meaningful family memories in our own back yard, in just one weekend. Definitely add these stops and activities to your list next Summer, and in the meantime, check out Explore Utah Valley for year-round activities and ideas as well!
Now, get out there and explore your back yard, too!