Utah’s saying is “Life elevated.” Life is really elevated in Utah and with my second trip ever to the state, I finally got to see what that means with what’s up north in Utah. You’ve probably heard of the capital city of Utah, Salt Lake City, and the city Provo is just 45 miles away from it.
I had taken the opportunity to travel to Provo because one of my good friends had a wedding close to there in December and I wanted to celebrate her special life event. I love traveling to places wherever my friends are and I thought I could go check out what Provo is about and share that with you guys.
Provo is known for its natural beauty and you can see that from the towering 11k+ mountains, for having one of the biggest religious universities (Brigham Young University), and for its preserved historic sites. When you check out the city, you’ll see exactly what these things are.
Here are 8 of the best things to do if you are planning on traveling to Provo, Utah:
1. Downtown Provo
One of the first things you should do when visiting a new city is to see what their downtown has to offer! From my experience, every downtown area of a city always has something different to offer. The downtown area is the heart of Utah County and with a huge student population (from the universities of Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University), so it’s got to be packed with a lot of areas to sit in and dine at. There are in fact 50+ restaurants and stores, especially with international food! My theory as to why this is, is because many of the Mormons who attend BYU served in different places on their missions and it also attracts the missionaries who are training for their missions and converts.
2. Provo Canyon
This place is a real stunner. If you’re looking to do a scenic drive around Provo, you must go here! The massively high canyon cliffs of Provo Canyon will amaze you as you drive through Highway 189 and there are so many sections to just pull aside to explore the canyon.
Located in the east of Utah Valley, Provo Canyon provides plenty of opportunities to hike and for sightseeing. The popular Bridal Veils (in Provo Canyon, Utah, not Yosemite National or Colorado with the same name) are the 600-feet waterfalls that Utah residents and tourists try to see when they’re around the canyon. These waterfalls are beautiful and are even more unique when they’re frozen in ice!
I had the opportunity to explore Provo Canyon with a friend I reunited within Utah and we did see a couple of areas with it, and even found some mountain lion paw tracks in the snow!!! It was an interesting discovery but I know mountain lions do roam around Provo Canyon. These were the other areas we saw aside from doing the Provo Canyon Scenic Drive and Bridal Veil Falls:
- Vivian Park – Vivian Park is a family-friendly historic park where it overlooks the Provo River and was named after a nearby post office worker’s daughter who is a young 7-year old girl where the resort owner thought her name was pretty. There are plenty of things to do here: you can eat at a picnic table, play volleyball, fish in the Provo River, cook BBQ, have kids play on the playground, and use the firepits.
- East Southfork Road – This road is right beside Vivian Park and leads to a scenic mountain view (see below). You can choose here to just hike by and this road goes further out to take you to the next park.
- Big Springs Park – This very open park surrounded by mountains is a place you’d like to just find peace in. There are picnic tables around and there’s also the Big Spring Hollow River that runs across the middle of the park. This is where we found the mountain lion paw tracks in the snow, but don’t let that deter you from visiting as many mountain lions do not want to be seen especially in the light of day (we did not see it), but they do visit areas wherever there’s a source of water so they can drink it, as there was this river creek. It’s great to hike here in the snowy winters and there’s access to trails here.
3. Visit A Temple
This might not be an expected stop, especially if you’re not a Latter-Day Saint (also known as Mormon) like I am, but temples are amazing architectural buildings you might appreciate. You might’ve heard that Utah is where the headquarters are for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and that means there’ll be a lot of buildings associated with the church.
Before I ever converted to the religion, I thought temples looked phenomenal and unique, even though I knew temples were religiously symbolic. Temples are sacred so you won’t be able to access them unless you’re a member with a temple recommend. Temples are also placed in some of the prettiest areas and you might admire the scenery, you can also just walk around the area outside, which is a nice stroll you can take and in the springtime, you may find a lot of beautiful flowers planted. In Provo, there are two temples: Provo Utah Temple and Provo City Center Temple.
4. Utah Lake State Park
Utah Lake State Park has the biggest freshwater lake in the whole state with a size of 148 square miles. This park is so massive that you can see this view so clear from your airplane window! It’s also massive enough to do a lot of water activities there from fishing, boating, and paddleboarding, and then you can also do some camping there with your RV (there are 31 sites for that).
5. Fifth Water Hot Springs
This has to be one of the prettiest trails to do if you’re looking to go hiking for hot springs. Unfortunately at the time I visited Provo, I wasn’t able to do this trail as it was closed off and would be much harder with snow (unless you have snow shoes)! However, this trail is still highly recommended as I’ve been told in less difficult conditions. Located near Mapleton, Utah, which is just 15 minutes away from Provo, this trail is full of a lot of soaking pools (that are very blue due to its minerals!) and has waterfalls.
6. Visit A Museum
There are a lot of museums you can see in Provo if you’re a museum lover. Many museums you may want to visit will be associated with BYU (Brigham Young University) but university museums are just as fun to visit as those not affiliated with one. I mean, I can kind of brag about how awesome the museums at my college were (I attended Rutgers University). Museums in BYU to see are: BYU Museum of Art, BYU Life Science Museum, BYU Museum of Paleontology, and BYU’s Museums of Peoples and Cultures.
Other museums to see (not affiliated with BYU) are Springville Museum of Art, which is a highly rated art museum to see, and Petroliana Museum, a museum full of fun antique porcelain signs with an antique gas station that shows you what gas stations were like back in the day as far as 1917.
7. Mount Timpanogos
Looking for more nature to explore? Then you might find interest in the second-highest mountain in Utah called Mount Timpanogos. Located in the Wasatch Mountain Range, this 11,752 feet peak can be hiked, although it is challenging, and you can find wildflowers along the trails as well as fall colors when it’s fall time. Wildlife can also be spotted along the trails such as mountain goats, majestic beautiful animals that live in alpine environments. Hard and long hikes (can be day hikes if you start really early and don’t take a while to hike) on Mount Timpanogos can be done from Timpooneke Trail and from Aspen Grove.
8. Do A Zipline Tour
Zipline tours can be done in Provo Canyon actually! This adrenaline-pumping activity of a zipline canopy tour is a great way to face your fears and get a view of the Wasatch Mountains up close and the Provo River. You can book a tour with Provo Canyon Adventures for $65 per adult with 5 different zip-lines.
Other tips to visiting Provo, Utah (especially during a pandemic)
Rent a car! Or take decent transportation.
At the time of my trip, it wasn’t as ideal traveling without your own rental car as I usually do visiting cities. I don’t blame the shortage for anything but what times of the pandemic had bought us. I do highly recommend renting a car here as many of these places are widely spaced out. You can also take some alternative transportation by using Uber and Lyft car rides, but when it comes to using those transportation services with a longgg wait or high surge prices as I’ve experienced, then I recommend using Champion Taxi (call 801-874-6454) as this taxi service works around Provo, Utah and are much more likely to be reasonable.
Book your hotel ahead!
I actually stayed in the city of Springville, which is 9 minutes away. The hotel I stayed in was the Days Inn by Wyndham Springville. It was a nice hotel with a cozy modern and clean hotel room so I do recommend trying it out for a reasonable price per night as hotels can spike up in prices during these times. Or you can book below to find other hotels:
Watch me explore Provo, Utah
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