Funnest Things to do in Utah: Zion, Salt Lake City, & Beyond


November 21, 2021

After living in Utah for a year, we’ve realized that the beehive state has tons to offer (skiing, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and ice skating)! We wanted to hit the ground running before we even moved to Utah, so we compiled a list of the funnest things to do in Utah so we could go on adventures, capture memories, and even bring our dog along to some of the pet friendly activities in Utah!

Whether you’re the type of person who wants to off-road on the 30,000+ acres of salt flats at Bonneville Salt Flats or the kind of person who wants to ski Deer Valley and Park City, there are tons of fun activities in Utah! We’re a couple in our mid-to-late 20s, and we consider “fun” to be a conglomerate of mountains, rivers, hiking trails, dog friendly viewpoints, and restaurants!

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Utah Landscape

You can drive by panoramic views of western landscapes forever in the the beehive state! Utah is a landlocked state that has Nevada on the west border, Idaho on the north border, Wyoming on the northeast border, Colorado on the east border, and Arizona on the south border. The geological landscape of Utah consists of canyons you could get lost in for days, delicate arches that formed from millions of years of erosion, mountains, ridges, spires and buttes. The northern part of Utah is home of the High Uintas which has 6 mountain peaks of 13,000 feet and dozens of lakes! Families and wildlife enthusiasts will flock to Mirror Lake Highway to fish on Mirror Lake, Fehr Lake, or Trial Lake!

Utah Wildlife

We love how nature and wildlife friendly the state of Utah is! Utah is home to a variety of wildlife including rabbits, foxes, wild cats, bighorn sheep, and deer! A lot of wildlife enthusiasts will keep an eye out for black bears which are known to look more like brown bears in Utah due to their light black fur. Southern Utah’s desert landscapes are home to reptiles like lizards, snakes, and tortoises!

One of our photography friends, Arthur Lefo Photography, is a traveling wildlife photographer who frequently explores Utah and Wyoming to capture astonishing wildlife images of bear cubs, moose, elk, and bighorns! And the crazy thing is you do not need to go 3 hours into the wilderness to see Utah wildlife, Arthur frequently captures wildlife images in Big Cottonwood Canyon and Guardsman’s Pass which are 45 minutes or less from Downtown Salt Lake City!

Funnest Things to do in Utah

This list of recommendations for the funnest things to do in Utah is in no specific order! We made this list because we wanted to make the most out of our time living in Utah. Life is short and you never know how long you have to appreciate something, so we wanted to cross off as much of our Utah bucket list as possible in our first year! We will cover which are the must do experiences in Salt Lake City and beyond!

Zion National Park

Zion National Park in southern Utah is a popular spot for visitors to enjoy hiking to epic landmarks like Angel’s Landing or wading through the Virgin River and The Narrows. Zion is open year round and we recommend going in the winter months when it is not scorching hot outside – especially for those hiking straight up hill to vantage points like Angel’s Landing. Fun fact about Zion is that it is Utah’s first national park!

Getting to Zion National Park

Zion National Park is less than 4 hours from Salt Lake City, less than 3 hours from Las Vegas, and less than 7 hours from Los Angeles. Most people rent a car to drive from these major metropolitan areas.

Camping in Zion National Park

Camping in Zion National Park is easy because there are 3 campgrounds located in the park: Watchman Campground, South Campground, and Lava Point Campground. There are also numerous “glamping” experiences within a 45 minute drive from the park entrance.

Best Airbnbs in Zion National Park: Cabin Rentals + VRBOs in Zion

There are plenty of Airbnbs near Zion National Park including cabin rentals and VRBOs in Zion! Here’s a map of the local accommodations at this time:

Mirror Lake Highway in the High Uintas

One of the first thing we did when we moved to the mountainous state of Utah was drive to the highest paved road by elevation which is on Mirror Lake Highway in the High Uintas! The road is called Bald Mountain Pass and it is only open during the summer and fall months before the snow falls. You can snowmobile here in the winter but you’ll be 20+ miles away from the nearest gas station, convenience store or hospital! Bald Mountain Pass on highway 150 has a top elevation point of 10,715 feet and is a gorgeous drive (or bike ride if you are a cardio boss) for viewers to take in panoramic mountain views. There’s something about the pristine smell of the pine and aspen trees that keeps you coming back to this place!

Utah 9 Mile Canyon

The Utah 9 mile canyon, which is actually 50+ miles long, is a popular place for history and geology enthusiasts to see rock art, unique plants, and petroglyphs that are over a thousand years old! Utah 9 mile canyon is a pet friendly hiking area that locals and visitors enjoy when they want to get outside!

Silver Lake Flat Reservoir

Another one of the funnest things to do in Salt Lake City is the Silver Lake Flat Reservoir! It’s recommended to take a 4×4 vehicle or an SUV with moderately high clearance to travel the 3+ mile dirt road to this location. A lot of people come here from Salt Lake City to have fun for the day because you can kayak and paddle board in Silver Lake Flat Reservoir. You can have a family BBQ by the water with the mountains in the background which is what makes this place such a fun time! Another bonus is that this lake is dog friendly!

Silver Lake Flat Reservoir is located in American Fork Canyon which is 60 minutes or less from Downtown Salt Lake City. American Fork Canyon has an abundance of Utah wildlife, beautiful trees, and gorgeous reservoirs. On your way up to Silver Lake Flat Reservoir, you’ll pass by Tibble Fork Reservoir. Make sure to stop there for a picture because Tibble Fork is another noteworthy lake to check out in American Fork Canyon!

If you are concerned about driving on the dirt road to Silver Lake Flat Reservoir, watch the first 10 seconds of our YouTube video. Be safe and have a blast!!

Guardsman’s Pass in Park City, Utah

Another one of the funnest things to do in Utah is the road to Guardsman’s Pass in Park City! During the summer and fall when there’s no snow, visitors can enjoy driving 24 miles through rock mountain landscapes in the Wasatch mountains. The Park City side of Guardsman’s Pass is dog friendly if you want to hike Park City with your dog! Sometimes we’ll leave our dog with a trusted dog walker like Park City Mountain Dogs if we decide to go skiing or out to dinner somewhere in Deer Valley where pets are not allowed! Michael from Park City Mountain dogs is a local dog lover who hikes with dogs in Park City to give them the ultimate dog walking experience!

photo of three dogs posing in front of trees and mountains near guardsman's pass in park city, utah. michael from park city mountain dogs takes a picture of three dogs. one of the funnest things to do in utah is hiking with your dogs.

Meadow Hot Springs in Fillmore, Utah

There’s a town called Fillmore, Utah that’s known for 3 hot natural pools called Meadow Hot Springs. Fillmore, Utah is 2 hours south of Salt Lake City and is frequently visited by outdoor enthusiasts in the colder months who want to warm up their muscles after a few days of hiking or skiing. Meadow hot springs has a wooden platform to jump into the water at one of the three swimming holes! This place is extremely photogenic at first light for sunrise or at last light for sunset because you can see steam shimmering off the top of the water – it’s angelic! Dogs are allowed at Meadow Hot Springs but they are not allowed to go in the water for sanitary reasons.

A lot of people stay away from hot springs because of the smell of the sulfur, but Meadow Hot Springs doesn’t have the smell! Other hot springs like Fifth Water Hot Springs have a nasty sulfur smell, but Meadow Hot Springs is around 75 degrees which is perfect for a warm dip without the smelly smell! The ones that smell bad are 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more.

drone photo of bree and stephen swimming in meadow hot springs in fillmore, utah. meadow springs is one of the funnest things to do in utah
drone photo of bree and stephen swimming in meadow hot springs in fillmore, utah. meadow springs is one of the funnest things to do in utah

Provo River Parkway Trail in Provo, Utah

The Provo River Parkway Trail is a scenic trail that runs along the Provo River in Provo, Utah which is less than 45 minutes south of downtown Salt Lake City. The sound of the river flowing against logs and rocks is so peaceful, it’s no wonder why thousands of visitors explore this trail every week! Here on this trail you can enjoy 15+ miles of mountain views. This is a popular trail for hiking, jogging, biking. A huge bonus is that the Provo River Parkway trail is dog friendly so do not forget your four legged friend (and their leash)! This pet friendly hiking trail in Salt Lake City is on I80 so if you have any plans to go from Salt Lake City to Park City, stop here on the way to or from Park City so you can stretch your legs and enjoy the views of Bridal Veil Falls.

Bonneville Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Flats, a dries up salt lake bed that is 2 hours west of Salt Lake City near the Nevada border, is one of the funnest things to do in Utah for those of you who enjoy off-roading, photography, or campfires in the middle of nature! You may have heard of the Bonneville Speedway, where cars and motorcycles frequently break the world record for fastest vehicle on Earth! Couples often times travel to the salt flats to have their wedding ceremony or take pictures in their wedding clothes for an anniversary! Best part about this place is that, if you have a dog, Bonneville Salt Flats is pet friendly! Just be careful not to let them scrape their paws on the rough salt.

Utah Ice Castles in Midway

One of the new trendy activities in the region is the Utah Ice castles in Midway. If you and your fellow visitors are into art walks and winter scenery, the Utah Ice Castles in Midway is for you! Midway is around 60 minutes southeast of Downtown Salt Lake City and within 20 minutes of Park City.  A lot of people even call this place the Park City Ice Castles because they confuse Park City with Midway due to their proximity!

Ticket prices are $15-$22 and go on sale during the fall. We feel like the experience is well worth it considering you’ll be there for 45+ minutes, get plenty of pictures, and even get ride down the ice slide. The tickets for the Utah Ice Castles in Midway sell out fast so make sure to snag your tickets the day they go on sale because you may only have 24 hours to secure a time slot!

The Cliff Lodge Cliff Spa

Next on our list of the funnest things to do in Utah is the Cliff Lodge Cliff Spa! This place is ridiculous! The Cliff Lodge Cliff Spa is a relaxing hot tub and heated pool on the rooftop of the Cliff Lodge in Snowbird, Utah! You can take in panoramic views of Little Cottonwood Canyon and even watch the snowfall from the comfort of your outdoor hot tub! To get access to the Cliff Spa, you go to the 9th floor and check in with the staff who will give you comfy slippers, towels, and a bath robes so you can get in that cozy state of mind! We always grab some coffee, croissants, and breakfast burritos at “The Atrium” on our way into the hotel!

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Home to world class ski resorts like Brighton and Solitude, Big Cottonwood Canyon is another fun activity in Utah for outdoor enthusiasts! One of the top visited spots in Big Cottonwood Canyon is Cecret Lake in Albion Basin. We recommend going here for a sunrise or sunset walk because it’s a short walk (less than 2 miles around the lake) and you have a gorgeous view the whole time!

A lot of family photographers will take family portraits in Big Cottonwood Canyon during fall time because of how scenic the autumn colors are! It can get crowded during the autumn so make sure to plan early so you can get a parking spot that is close to your photo spot!

Thanks for enjoying this list of the funnest things to do in Utah! Bree + Stephen are adventurous entrepreneurs based in Salt Lake City, Utah! They’re pioneers of the NO BS Podcast and hosts of their YouTube channel where they share travel videos, business tutorials, and lifestyle content! They live with their German Shepherd, Sequoia and are usually chugging coffee while on their way to a hike! Please contact for business inquiries or collaborations! 

funnest things to do in utah: zion national park, ice castles, salt lake city, and more

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