Best Places to Visit in Utah: Top 10 Adventures for Your Family's Utah Bucket List

Updated: Nov 17

JJ here, from The Minivan Bucket List. My wife, Brittany, and I are fortunate enough to call Utah home with our 4 kids. We love exploring all that this beautiful state has to offer - from the red rocks of Southern Utah to the majestic mountains of northern Utah and everything in between. Few places on Earth offer so many diverse landscapes to explore within a short drive. We started this blog because we want to help others discover the many bucket list-worthy adventures our home state has to offer and in an affordable, family-friendly way.

best places to visit in Utah - Utah Bucket List

That's why we created The Ultimate Family-Friendly Utah Bucket List with the 100 best places to visit in Utah for kids. Just click the link and you can download a PDF copy for free to track your adventures or inspire future road trips.

To get a preview of what's on the list, here are 10 of our favorite places to visit in Utah:

10. Salt Lake City

best places to visit in Utah - Salt Lake

Salt Lake City is the capital city of Utah and its largest city. It’s home to two professional sports teams – the perpetual NBA underdogs the Utah Jazz and the 2009 MLS champions Real Salt Lake. It’s also the global headquarters for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon church. Temple Square is the most visited tourist attraction in Utah and is especially popular during Christmastime thanks to its massive lights display and nativity scene. The temple itself is normally closed to the public. However, the temple is currently undergoing major renovations and will re-open briefly to the public for tours in 2024 before it is rededicated. You also might want to consider a day trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats, which is about 90 minutes west of Salt Lake City. These salt flats are best known for the location of the land speed record attempts and are also where several movies have been filmed, such as the Pirates of the Caribbean & World’s Fastest Indian. And because Salt Lake is nestled in a large valley surrounded by mountains on all sides, it’s also home to some great easy hikes with fantastic views. Check out these easy hikes near Salt Lake.

Where to stay in Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek

9. Capitol Reef National Park

best places to visit in Utah - Capitol Reef

Despite being a national park, Capitol Reef is one of Utah’s hidden gems. It’s located near the town of Torrey and is one of the lesser-known national parks. It received less than 1 million visitors in 2020, which sounds like a lot until you compare it to Zion National Park, which received nearly 5 times that many. Capitol Reef has stunning red cliffs, slot canyons, off-roading excursions, and arches. It's also a great place to experience both Native American and pioneer history, with petroglyphs and a working fruit orchard that was planted by Mormon pioneers in the 1800s.

Where to stay at Capitol Reef: check out how we saved $200/night on a covered wagon glamping experience.

8. Kanab

best places to visit in Utah - Kanab

Kanab is one of the best little towns in Utah to set up camp so-to-speak for a southern Utah adventure, and that’s because it’s located centrally to so many different things. Within a 90-minute drive, you have Bryce Canyon National Park, Lake Powell, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (which, by the way, only gets about 10% of the annual visitors as the South Rim but you are literally looking at the same thing). It’s also the only place where you can pick up a permit to hike The Wave, one of the most unique rock formations in the Southwest. Within a 30-minute drive, you also have the East entrance of Zion National Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, and Peekaboo Canyon. Check out our guide to 3 days in Kanab for under $400 for more info on the best things to do in Kanab.

Where to stay in Kanab: Best Western Red Hills (most affordable hotel in Kanab)

7. Park City

best places to visit in Utah - Park City

One of the best known places in Utah thanks to the 2002 Olympics, Park City is most famous for its ski resorts and the annual Sundance Film Festival. There used to be three resorts: Deer Valley, Park City, and Canyons, but when Vail Resorts acquired Canyons and took over management of Park City they merged the two. Now it’s technically the largest ski resort in North America. Local tip: because of the way the two are positioned geographically, it doesn’t make sense to try and ski them both in the same day. Your Epic Pass will get you access to both, but they have two different bases of operation and you’ll want to pick one or the other for each day you’re skiing. But there is plenty to do for non-skiers as well, like shopping and dining on charming Main Street, soaking in a thermal hot springs inside a crater at the Homestead Crater in nearby Midway, or checking out the Olympic Park.

Where to stay in Park City: Marriott's Mountainside (ski in, ski out lodging at Park City Mountain Resort)

6. Big & Little Cottonwood Canyon

best places to visit in Utah - Little Cottonwood Canyon

Speaking of skiing, you’ll want to consider resorts like Alta & Snowbird as well. Tourists go to Park City. Locals go here. And Utah locals are serious about their skiing. One year, Snowbird did a marketing campaign based around some 1-star reviews that angry tourists were giving it because the terrain was “too steep” or “too difficult”. But steep and deep is how we locals like it, so we took it as a badge of honor. Both Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood canyon feature multiple ski resorts and are less than 45 minutes from downtown Salt Lake. They’re also great places to visit year round, with epic hikes, unique waterfalls, beautiful wildflowers, and fall leaves. Check out our roundup of the best hikes in Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood.

Where to stay near Big Cottonwood & Little Cottonwood canyons: Courtyard Salt Lake City Cottonwood (at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon)

5. Bear Lake