The Perfect Places to Visit in Utah for Every Traveler

Extraordinary landscapes such as Padre Bay on Lake Powell make Utah the ideal spot for outdoor enthusiasts
Extraordinary landscapes such as Padre Bay on Lake Powell make Utah the ideal spot for outdoor enthusiasts | © Henk Meijer / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Cassam Looch
Social Editor5 September 2021

Rugged red rocks, homely retreats in the snow and several prehistoric sites make Utah the ideal destination for domestic tourists and adventurous international travelers alike. Stargazing in Helper, the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks – there’s so much to see and do in this mountainous state, you’ll need help picking out exactly where to go on your next trip, and that’s probably why you find yourself reading this handy guide!

Salt Lake City

Natural Feature
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Salt Lake City Utah skyline showing downtown buildings and the snow-covered Wasatch Mountains in the background.
© Utah Images / Alamy Stock Photo

The Utah state capital draws visitors from all over the world, thanks to all its city amenities – and it’s also a leading winter-sports destination. There are several resorts within an hour’s drive, including Park City and Deer Valley – two of the best known in America. Most trips to Utah will begin here, and it’s a great place to base yourself if you want an easy stay with incredible terrain within easy reach.

Kanab

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Slot Canyon  and Eroded Vertical Rock Walls with Hiking Trail in Buckskin Gulch, Utah United States
© Autumn Sky Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Dubbed Utah’s Little Hollywood, Kanab has a great movie heritage – it’s been seen on screen for close to 100 years and there are parts of the town that still look like they belong in the Old West, but there are other attractions, too. The Wave, a unique rock formation just across the border in Arizona, is as well known as any movie shot in Utah; but there are also the likes of Peek-a-Boo slot canyon, Buckskin Gulch, White Pocket and Coral Pink Sand Dunes. If you’re an adventure tourist, you’ll find plenty to see and do here.

Panguitch

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Road with tunnel through red rock arch in snow, at sunset, Highway 12, sandstone rocks, Red Canyon, Panguitch, Utah, USA
© Valentin Wolf / imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

Panguitch is an important base camp for many of southern Utah‘s top natural wonders, including Zion, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks, but you might find it hard to explore beyond the town itself if you harbor any dreams of a cowboy/girl lifestyle. The main drag in Panguitch sits on the National Register of Historic Places and offers quaint, western-themed local shopping and dining options. This isn’t a fake experience, though – the town really does have an authentic Old West charm.

Park City

Architectural Landmark
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PARK CITY UTAH USA - Trolley on Main Street
© Rob Crandall / Alamy Stock Photo
Park City is easy to reach from Salt Lake City and has all the appeal of a mountain town, plus some glamorous additions. Hundreds of films have been shot here, and the annual Sundance Film Festival also takes place here each January. Join thousands of like-minded film fans, or just take in the sights of this fabulous winter resort.

Helper

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Helper Utah rustic downtown, mining town.
© Don Despain / Alamy Stock Photo

Once a mining town, Helper has reinvented itself as a modern artsy paradise full of coffee shops, galleries and laid-back cool. Take a walking tour of the town to fully understand the history of the place – and also see how the past has helped influence the art of today. Helper is also recognized as part of the official Dark Sky Community, which means that, on a clear night, all you have to do is look up to enjoy a spectacular light show in the sky.

Boulder

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Drone shot of famous blue water of Bear Lake Utah, boats and people in water
© Brett Taylor / Alamy Stock Photo

Tucked away on a quiet corner of Highway 12, close to Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks, Boulder is a tiny town perfect for inquisitive foodies. Highlights here include Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm, Magnolia’s Street Food and Burr Trail Grill. Further north, don’t miss Garden City for the legendary raspberry shakes that can be enjoyed on the shores of Bear Lake, which playfully calls itself the Caribbean of the Rockies.

Vernal

Architectural Landmark
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Vernal, Utah - September 24, 2020: Sign for Vernal Utah, with its famous pink dinosaur statue, taken at dusk
© Melissa Kopka / Alamy Stock Photo

If you were to pick one destination for families to visit while in Utah, it would have to be Vernal. Dinosaur National Monument is essentially an outdoor museum where kids (and grown-ups) can discover prehistoric treasures imbedded in the rocks of quarries that were dug out years ago. It’s a fascinating place which gets you as close to the past as any Jurassic Park movie. If you want to see the area from a different perspective, you can also try rafting along the Green River.

Heber

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Historic 25th Street in Ogden, Utah
© Philip Scalia / Alamy Stock Photo

Check out the historic Heber Valley railroad for a beautiful way to see the surrounding landscapes, and while you’re here don’t miss Ogden – a town that was once home to a variety of Native American tribes before becoming a Mormon settlement. Historic 25th Street was a rebellious and often raucous gathering place for railroad workers and those passing through. Now, it’s a gentrified and beautiful historic downtown, but a good time is never far away.

Midway

Historical Landmark
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Midway's Homestead Crater
© Media Drum World / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’re after a dose of wellness with a difference, then head to Midway’s Homestead Crater. You can scuba-dive in this natural geothermal hot spring and even paddleboard across it. If you’re feeling flexible, then posing in downward-facing dog in the cavernous limestone rock is also an option – providing you can also balance on the board at the same time.

Logan

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The Bear River Mountains in Logan Canyon, Utah, USA.
© David R. Frazier Photolibrary, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

Logan is a great base for nature lovers in the northern part of Utah. The burst of fall colors is up there with the best in the country, and you get the added bonus of great outdoor recreation such as fishing, camping, mountain biking, hiking and boating. Bear Lake isn’t far from the center of town; and if you really want to do something out of the ordinary, check out the Utah Opera and Musical Theatre festival, which takes place every summer. An all-year round dream destination.

These recommendations were updated on September 5, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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