Utah Valley is a sprawling area of Utah, covering Sundance, Provo, Orem, American Fork, and Lehi. Within this outdoor wonderland, you will find scenic mountains, lakes, rivers, and much more.
The kids and I had a more low key summer this year aka we mostly stayed home. We did manage to go on a few trips and one of our favorites was Utah Valley. Utah Valley is an area encompassing an area of Utah that tends to be a bit overlooked. After experiencing it first hand, I can easily tell you it should not be overlooked!
What to do in Utah Valley
There was a wide range of things to do while we were in Utah Valley. Our itinerary isn’t necessarily what we would do on a vacation, so although I am including things we experienced ourselves, I am also including things I happen to think would be more fun like fly-fishing and floating a river.
We love playing virtual reality games, but the VR Junkies in Orem was hands down the best VR we’ve down so far. They have several locations throughout Utah Valley. If you have teens I 100% recommend bringing them here. Up to four people can play one game together. We had so much fun playing two different games. It’s been several months since we played here and the kids are still talking about it.
Krishna Temple and Llamas
I have seriously mixed feelings about this experience. This is totally a personality-based activity. I hate llamas and the last thing I want to do is do Hindu yoga. If you love llamas and your into different types of yoga, you will love this place.
The kids liked the llamas, they hated the Hindu history stuff and were less than thrilled about doing yoga. However, Noah slayed the yoga. I would have done better, but my clothes were too tight. Diet here I come.
Ashton Gardens is lovely and for teens a good spot for an excellent Instagram photo. It takes a little while to walk around, but you can do it in under an hour and a half if you skip a few things. On a hot day, you will roast here. You’ve been warned!
Tip: Make sure you find the secret garden. It was our favorite section.
The butterfly biosphere is super small but super interesting. They are home to thousands of butterflies and some creepy crawly things. We were in and out of here pretty quick.
If you have toddlers or small children, there’s a play area they will enjoy. If you have teens with you, they can take weird photos with the large caterpillar.
I noticed some of the parents judging me while I was taking this photo. However, I was laughing so hard it didn’t bother me.
Located at: 3003 N Thanksgiving Way, Lehi, UT 84043
Now, the Timpanogos Cave is quite impressive, if you can make it. To see it, you will have to hike straight up the side of a mountain. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. The hike is full of switchbacks and quite steep, specifically 1,092 feet over 1 1/2 miles. Why they don’t offer an ATV service to get you up there is beyond me. I would have gladly paid for a ride.
The cave is a bit chilly, just 45 degrees Fahrenheit, but don’t worry. You will be sweating profusely by the time you arrive and the cold will be welcome.
This activity can only be done during the warmer months, June until October. Wear tennis shoes and bring water!
Stewart Falls Hike
Hiking Stewart Falls is slightly challenging. It will take you 1.5 hours – 3 hours depending on your physical condition. We had to hike through a lot of water and along a narrow trail at times. You see sweeping views of Sundance during the hike.
Halfway through the hike, you are rewarded with a waterfall, but then you have to hike down the mountain. On the way down you might end up walking through a neighborhood. I’m unsure if that was supposed to be part of it, but we made it, so it worked. It took us about two hours to finish the hike.
Make sure you can wear shoes that can be trashed.
Here is an epic video I put together of the hike. JK, it’s an average video.
Provo River Float Trip
Utah Valley can get excessively hot. We know because it was ridiculously hot while we were there. I was essentially sweating buckets the entire trip. Granted, I sweat more than the average person.
Floating the Provo river is the perfect way to cool off and it’s cheap. I know many people do not feel comfortable floating the river with kids, but if you are comfortable you will really enjoy this. Remember to always put a life jacket on your kid.
Sundance Zip Tour
While we were at Sundance we did their full Zip Tour. This is only four lines, but they are all extensive zip lines and fairly intense. During your zip tour, you go all the way up to the top of the mountain, so it takes a while to complete. One of these zip lines has the biggest vertical drop in the country, a 2,100-foot drop!
Tip: You will be in full sun when you are on the chairlifts, be sure to wear sunscreen. We didn’t wear sunscreen and we fried!
Sundance Summer Theatre
The Sundance Summer Theater blew Eden and I away. I had fairly low expectations, but they put on a full-blown musical production. This summer was Mamma Mia. I assumed they would do a condensed version, but no, it was almost the entire thing. It was so well done.
Tip: At first glance, it appears that the concession stand has no alcoholic drinks. However, if you look at a small sign you will see that they offer a variety of beers.
Oddly enough, we’ve now seen Mamma Mia multiple times. You may recall our last Mamma Mia moment was quite different when we were at Agora Beach Bar in Greece.
Museum of Natural Curiosity
They’ve got an incredible kid’s museum at Thanksgiving Point. If you have young kids or elementary kids, they will enjoy this museum for hours!
Seven Peaks Water Park
Over in Provo is the Seven Peaks Water Park with 11 water slides, a wave pool, and a lazy river. This is a great way to spend a hot summer day.
You can fly fish on the lower Provo river for trout and cutthroat. Fly fishing is a relaxing yet fun activity for families. Kids should be at least 8 years old. If you have younger children with you, ask to stick to spots on the river that do not require crossing the river.
You can rent a Razor or an ATV from ATV Rentals Utah and take a tour of the Utah Valley mountains. They have vehicles that will hold 4 – 5 people, perfect for families. I highly recommend off-roading with teens, it will liven up the whole vacation.
There are two hot springs in this area that are worth a visit. The Saratoga Springs hot springs and the Diamond Fork hot springs. We went to neither, hence no photos.
Museum of Ancient Life
If your kids love dinosaurs you will definitely want to stop in. They have 60 complete dinosaur skeletons and at least 50 hands-on exhibits. Even older children will enjoy this museum.
Where to Eat in Utah Valley
Utah Valley boasts 900 restaurants, including 230 international cuisine restaurants and 100 food trucks. In addition to all that food, they have 10 specialty soda shops. In Provo alone, you can take a culinary trip around the world and dine at restaurants representing 16 countries, within a 5-block walking distance in downtown Provo.
After eating at many of the restaurants, I can recommend a number of them. We didn’t have a bad meal while were were here.
La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita is a family-owned Italian eatery that’s a bit of a hole in the wall, but they have out of this world Italian food. Sadly, I’m not an Italian food expert yet, but regardless I thought this place was fantastic. The Chicken Alfredo was stellar.
Address: 61 N 100 E, Provo, UT 84606
Holy moly, Station 22 is an amazing southern food restaurant. The restaurant was decorated great, but it’s the food that really stands out. Everything we tried was amazing. By far the best thing we ate was dessert. They make a deep friend cookie dough dessert with ice cream that will blow your mind.
The restaurant is super casual and known for having a variety of sodas. For those hoping for a cocktail, know that they are an alcohol-free restaurant. This is a common occurrence in Utah. I’m not declaring you should carry a flask, but I’m not saying you shouldn’t.
Address: 22 W Center St, Provo, UT 84601
Strangely, this was my second time to eat at Foundry Grill. Last time I ate here it was for lunch during a Hyundai Santa Fe drive about a year prior.
During this visit, I had the chance to try the breakfast. The avocado toast was brilliant. I had the huevos rancheros and I do not recommend them. They were some of the worst I’ve ever had. The lunch I had here was substantially better than the breakfast we had.
Address: 8841 N Alpine Loop Rd, Sundance, UT 84604
Aubergine is good, but it’s not really the kind of food we are into. It’s clean eating, so if that’s what you enjoy, you are going to love this place. They do not serve coffee, so I ended up walking next door to the 7/11 to get coffee. And in case you are wondering, the gas station coffee met expectation.
Located at 3430 Ashton Blvd #100, Lehi, UT 84043.
Tsunami Restaurant & Sushi Bar
We think Tsunami Restaurant and Sushi bar is fantastic. I don’t eat sushi, but my kids do. Go figure. According to them, the sushi was good and according to them, they are experts.
They have these really interesting fried chicken tacos that are quite tasty. Out of everything we tried it was the cheesecake that knocked our socks off. It might just be the best cheesecake we’ve ever had!
Located at 1616 W Traverse Pkwy, Lehi, UT 84043.
Craving Alisha’s Cupcakes
We visited the most delightful little cupcake shop after dinner one night. We tried four different kinds of cupcakes, including a tres leche, almond joy, and two others that sadly I cannot remember. What I do remember is that all four rocked our world!
The little bakery itself is super cute too. It’s a great place to take a photo. Had I not been stuffing my face, I would have taken some photos inside the cafe.
Located at 93 S Main St Suite C, Pleasant Grove, UT 84062.
There are all these little soda places in Utah Valley and our favorite is Swig. You can customize a soda anyway you like. I recommend the Texas Tab, it was so good. They have several locations, so your chances of finding one nearby is high.
Where to Stay in Utah Valley
Courtyard – There’s a nice Courtyard in Lehi with an indoor pool and hot tub, and a small work out room. They have a large suite that’s perfect for families. We certainly enjoyed having all that room. However, they offer no free breakfast, no free coffee in the lobby.
Hyatt Place – Hyatt Place has an outdoor pool and hot tub. They also offer a free hot breakfast. Some of the people we hung out with during our trip were staying here. According to them, it was fabulous and they seemed like honest people.
Sundance Resort – Sundance doesn’t have a hotel. Instead, they have lots of duplex type cabins that they rent out. These are owned by individuals but rented out through Sundance.
Our rustic cabin was super cute despite not having a view and no air conditioning. There were robes and nice amenities.
Oddly enough, I found the Jacuzzi bathtub to be enthralling. Never had I ever seen a bathtub do what this bathtub did. After it drains, it self-cleaned itself. I just sat there watching. It sprayed water around washing it all out and then blew a bunch of air around to dry it. I found this so fascinating I made the kids watch as well! It’s the little things y’all.
So there you have it. Where to stay, where to eat, and what to do in Utah Valley. One thing is for sure, in Utah Valley, you won’t run out of things to do and you won’t starve to death.