Updated: Sep 15
This little southern Utah gem used to be known as the filming location of old westerns, but there are so many other things to do in this one-horse town--mainly affordable and adventurous activities for families.
Growing up, I would pass through Kanab on my way to Lake Powell. It was always pretty dead and known as the place we would stop for gas/cheap grocery donuts. To be honest, when JJ told me he wanted to make Kanab a travel destination, let alone a family travel destination--I laughed in his face. Well, the joke is now on me because this little underdog of a town is up and coming and for good reason--It's EPIC for family adventuring.
Hotels in Kanab UT
Kanab is still a small town, so there aren't many hotels to choose from and most are only two-star hotels or motels. But don't let that deter you. There are still plenty of good options. Here's what we recommend (these aren't affiliate links, just options that we'd personally use):
For a boutique hotel experience: Canyons Hotel $160/night
For larger, comfortable rooms: Comfort Inn and Suites $120/night
For Budget: Red Hills Best Western $70-$80/night
Cabin rentals: Arrowhead Country Inn & Cabins in Mt. Carmel $160-290/night
We stayed at the BW Red Hills and would recommend it for anyone traveling on a budget. We liked the game room for the kids, free breakfast, and outdoor pool/hot tub.
Restaurants in Kanab Utah
Free at Hotel
Kanab Bakery: Fun european style ambience, pastries and quiche.
Glazier's Grocery: Fresh Donuts
McDonald's: Scoff all you want but kids always love a good Big Breakfast or McGriddle from Mickey D's.
Sunny Creek Coffee Food Truck: Pastries, breakfast burritos, coffee
Pack a picnic lunch to take to the park
Asava Juice and Smoothies
Escobar's Mexican- Can't go wrong with a kid's quesadilla
Soda Fountain Cafe: Paninis, salads, ice cream, novelty sodas, Italian soda. Try the Campfire (root beer + marshmallow flavor)!
We liked the Soda Fountain a lot. It was a little overpriced but we just learned that most food in Kanab is marked up. We got the BLT, grilled cheese and pesto chicken paninis and they were delicious. My kids loved eating the mini ice cream cones--birthday cake flavor, rainbow sherbet, cookie dough and strawberry were the yummy flavors. Eating on the patio was a nice treat in 75 degree weather. Plus, while you wait for food, the drug store is a fun place for the kids to look at souvenirs or toys.
Wild Thyme: This place had a cool ambience and is a Kanab staple-- but was honestly, not our favorite. The service was so slow all our kids had hangy meltdowns and the burgers were ordered were mediocre. We wish we had gone to Big Al's Diner instead because it would've been quicker, cheaper, and yummier food.
Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen - known for wood-fired pizza & burgers
Best Restaurant in Kanab Utah
Looking for high end? Try Sego Restaurant - the best reviewed restaurant in Kanab
Things to do in Kanab UT
Jacob Hamblin Park: Swimming, skateboarding, scootering or the park
This place had awesome views and the kids loved the park. We grabbed lunch and had a picnic here. The windmill was quaint and it felt very old western.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes: sand-boarding, sand play, dune buggies
One time on the way home from Lake Powell, we took a detour and briefly visited Coral Pink. This was before we had kids and just jumping around back then was fun--doing flips, cartwheels, etc. Now that we have kids, including one boy who is especially obsessed with sand, we've been wanting to go back for a while. We heard you could rent sandboards (yeah, sandboarding is a thing!) for $25 for the day, so we decided to give it a shot. It felt like floating on top of the desert - seriously such a good time. The kids had a blast and surprisingly were able to fly down to the bottom of the steep sand hill with ease. Even JJ had a good time, despite falling... a lot. He's a skier so board sports are not really in his wheelhouse. We also grabbed some $2 sand toys. Hours of entertainment. I loved watching Baby B do sand yoga and the kids laugh while they dug holes and found sand beetles.
Coral Pink Dunes tips:
It gets windy at the top of the dune and sand blasting kids in the face is not fun. Go down into the dune for sand play so the hill is blocking you.
The walk is far from the lot to the dunes especially with small kids so if you have a collapsible wagon, bring that to carry things in.
Plan ahead for a board because they sell out quickly, especially on weekends and holidays. But if they're sold out, just be patient and keep an eye out for people returning theirs to the visitor center. We got lucky that someone came back right as we got to the visitor center.
Paria Painted Hills: These are beautiful hills with layers of sandstone and in the right light, they look almost rainbow. We attempted Paria around sunset with the kids and got halfway until we realized we were almost out of gas and had to turn around! It's about 30 minutes down Highway 89 then another 6 miles on a bumpy dirt road, so it takes a while to get there. Plan accordingly with extra time and make sure your gas tank is full!