Dinosaurs, Craters, Animals and a Hike: 10 Family-Friendly Activities in Utah for 2019

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

George A. Goodrich, leaning on a shovel, standing next to the original dinosaur

When traveling across the state of Utah, there are a variety of activities for families to enjoy in a variety of seasons. Whether you are looking to surround yourselves in nature, learn something new as a family in the coming year or simply bond through a rush of adrenaline, here are 10 of the many family-friendly activities in the state.

Kanarraville — Kanarraville Falls

Just a few miles south of Cedar City, you can find a great family hike. The trail to the falls leads in and out of Kanarra Creek and is a nice way to keep everyone cool in the hot desert climate. The highlight to this fun and enjoyable hike is being able to climb up a one-of-a-kind ladder next to the waterfall. Spending a little extra time at the top and enjoying a few natural waterslides is sure to be a hit.

If you go: Kanarraville is about 13 miles south of Cedar City; $9 permit per person is required for this hike; hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., visit kanarrafalls.com for permits and safety information.

Draper — Loveland Living Planet Aquarium

This year-round activity offers a vast amount of animals and sea life that includes a 300,000-gallon shark exhibit and a 40-foot underwater tunnel. While the aquarium offers a broad range of activities and wildlife experiences, the most popular option is the Penguin Encounter. There is no better way for the family to gain a greater appreciation for these unique creatures than by getting a close-up view and even having the opportunity to feed them at various times throughout the day.

If you go: Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, 12033 Lone Peak Parkway, Draper; $19.95 for adults, $16.95 for students, military and seniors, $14.95 for children ages 3-12, free for children ages 2 and younger; Penguin Encounter 1 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, $24.95 per person, $19.95 per member (801-355-3474 or thelivingplanet.com)

Lehi — Thanksgiving Point

Whether you are looking to explore a vast tulip garden, experience an interactive kid-friendly museum or simply learn about prehistoric animals — Thanksgiving Point has a variety of activities. To top it off, the complex offers great events and fun festivities year-round for every holiday and season.

If you go: Thanksgiving Point, 3003 N. Thanksgiving Way, Lehi; admissions for different venues range from $10-$20 for adults and $10-$15 for children 3-12 and seniors; see thanksgivingpoint.org or call 801-768-2300 for information.

St. George — Thunder Junction All Abilities Park

When the weather is hot and you are ready to cool off, head over to Thunder Junction for a great splashing time. Not only can you keep cool during the peak heat of summer days, you can experience a simulated erupting volcano and ride a fun steam train around the perimeter of the park. The handicapped-accessible playground is something that not only makes the park unique, but helps make this an ideal place all can enjoy.

If you go: Thunder Junction All Abilities Park, 1851 S. Dixie Drive, St George; 9 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week; general admission is free. The train operates Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (hours are subject to change based on season, maintenance and weather); train rides are $1 per person; see sgcity.org

Park City — Mountain Village Adventure Park


For those who seek a little more thrill and rush, the Mountain Village Adventure Park in Park City offers an alpine slide, a coaster and zip line. Take a chairlift up the mountain for impressive views of the valley below and descend in the exciting way of your choice. Both the slide and coaster have levers to control your speed, making it ideal for riding with little ones and for those who feel more comfortable in slower speeds. Many of these activities open during the summer and the last ones close Sept. 30.

If you go: Mountain Village Adventure Park, 1345 Lowell Ave., Park City; prices vary by activity; see parkcitymountain.com for information.

Moab — Off-roading


While there are many family-friendly options throughout and around Moab, taking a little off-roading experience through Hells Revenge is one that is less known and oh-so-thrilling. Several companies offer guides and vehicle rentals for this and other trails. From the ascent up a thin boulder, squeezing through narrow paths and climbing up steep rocks — at times it felt more like a fun coaster than a car ride.

If you go: See "Hell's Revenge Trail" on utah.com or "Hells Revenge 4×4 Trail" grandcountyutah.net.

Vernal — Dinosaur National Monument


If you are looking to take a step back in time, head over to the Dinosaur Quarry located at Dinosaur National Monument outside of Vernal. The Exhibit Hall contains a wall with 1,500 fossil bones in addition to a hands-on experience exhibit where you can actually touch bones that are 149 million years old. Enjoy the many hikes around the area and imagine what a sight it must have been to have these incredible creatures roaming the area during the Jurassic period.

If you go: Dinosaur National Monument Quarry Visitors Center, 11625 E. 1500 South, Jensen, Uintah County; peak season/summer hours late May to mid-September, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., offseason/winter hours mid-September to late May, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day; (435-781-7700 or nps.gov)

Midway — Homestead Crater


Another one-of-a-kind family-friendly activity in Utah is the Homestead Crater in Midway. Float away in a natural crater hot spring that can only be accessed through a tunnel. Relaxing with the whole family in this unique setting will certainly make for a memorable experience.

If you go: Homestead Resort, 700 N. Homestead Drive, Midway; open Monday through Thursday 12:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., $13 for a 40-minute session; Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sundays 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., $16 for a 40-minute session; reservations required, 435-657-3840 or see the Homestead Resort website homesteadresort.com/utah-resort-things-to-do/homestead-crater.

Salt Lake City — Utah's Hogle Zoo


Turn your outing into a great learning opportunity by visiting Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City. With more than 800 animals, there are plenty of things to see and do. Experience what it's like to be a zookeeper by joining the Wildlife Connections program. Depending on the encounter you choose, you can feed a rhino, help train an orangutan or enjoy a giraffe VIP experience.

If you go: Utah's Hogle Zoo, 2600 Sunnyside Ave. (840 South), Salt Lake City; through Oct. 31, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Nov. 1-Feb. 28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; winter season prices, through April 30, $16.95 for adults, $14.95 for seniors, $12.95 for children ages 3-12, free for children under age 3 (801-584-1700 or hoglezoo.org)

Layton — Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve


Take a stroll through a wooden path along preserved wetlands. Spot wildlife along the way and enjoy another one of Utah's best spots for the whole family. The beautifully crafted wooden trail leads to an impressive observatory tower and effortlessly loops back around for a perfect leisure walk. This path is also wheelchair- and stroller-friendly, making it a great place for all to enjoy and to unwind from everyday life.

If you go: Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve, 41 South 3200 West, Layton; free; visitors center hours April to September, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., October–March, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (801-531-0999 and nature.org)

Source: www.deseretnews.com