Updated: Sep 15
Moab is a mecca for thrill seekers - mountain biking, jeeping, you name it. Not to mention, it's world famous for not one but two national parks - Arches & Canyonlands. But did you know there is a ton of family-friendly things to do as well? Keep reading for our list of free or inexpensive things to do, best hikes, most affordable hotels, best restaurants, and money-saving tips.
Moab Money-Saving Tips
GO IN THE LOW SEASON. Winter in Moab is beautiful and even gets a little snow. But I'm talking about low season when the weather is still warm! We went the last weekend of February and even though it was chilly at night, we got sunny weather in the high 60s, which felt good enough to swim in the hotel pool and enjoy the hot tub at night. Hotel rates jump up the first week of March.
We did this 3-day trip with food, gas, lodging and park admittance for less than $500 because we went during the low season. To give perspective, the average price for Moab in the high season for 3 days is around $2100. 4x Higher.
BRING GROCERIES AND ESSENTIALS DOWN WITH YOU
Moab is a somewhat isolated town (and full of tourists) which means supply is low and demand is high. Groceries and essentials like diapers or suncreen are expensive.
BUY A NATIONAL PARKS PASS
With two national parks closeby at a total cost of $60, if you plan on going to just one other national park this year then it makes sense to pay the $80 for the annual National Parks pass.
Moab UT Hotels
Moab is an extremely popular place to visit, so hotels can be very expensive. Camping is always an option, but we're not big campers. We enjoy the amenities and loyalty rewards that come with staying at hotels, so we just look for deals!
Most affordable during high season: La Quinta Moab for $265 per night
We highly recommend staying at the MOAB MARRIOTT SPRINGHILL SUITES
We have stayed at a lot of Springhill Suites on our various family trips. We like it for the free, healthy breakfast and spacious rooms that have enough beds for our family of six. But this one in Moab was especially cool! It sits up against the red rocks, overlooks the Colorado river and has crazy awesome amenities including a splash pad, hot tub, and a pool with waterfalls and grottos. It was so nice to take a break from adventuring and just hang out and float in a tube. And remember, this was in late February!
Best Restaurants in Moab
Best Mexican: Quesadilla Mobilla
Best Italian/Pizza: Antica Forma
Best Thai: Thai Bella
Best Pub (and best reviewed): Trailhead Public House & Eatery
Best High-end: Desert Bistro
Best Breakfast: Moab Garage
Best Bakery & Desserts: Red Rock Bakery & Cafe
What to do at Moab
There is so much to do and see in Moab, it's impossible to do it all in one trip. We were only there for 3 days and spent most of our time at Arches, so this is by no means a definitive list! But hopefully this gives you some good ideas.
Arches National Park - $30 per vehicle (or go on a fee-free day)
Explore downtown Moab - FREE
Picnic lunch at Moab Rotary Park - FREE
Ride bikes or scooters on paved trails - FREE
Moab Giants Dinosaur Park: $10 per person (worth it)
Mountain biking at Slick Rock or Porcupine Rim - FREE or $-- per bike with local rental
See ancient petroglyphs (numerous places) - FREE
Other than Arches, our favorite thing to do in Moab was Moab Giants, an outdoor dinosaur museum with life-size models. It felt so amazing to experience what it would have felt like to live in the Jurassic Era. The gigantic sculptures were so life-like and walking around and learning about the dinosaurs while taking in the views was a special treat...even though my daughter was terrified of the raptors. The walking trial loop was perfect for kids and we loved the playground within the park too. The on-site cafe was also surprisingly tasty.
Best Hiking at Arches National Park
Arches National Park has over 2,000 arches so listing them all or hiking to them all would be impossible! I'll start with the most popular then list a few other favorites.