Utah Valley Adventures

10 Things We Highly Recommend Doing in Utah Valley

When we first started traveling three years ago, we lived in Utah. Utah Valley to be exact. Garrett grew up there. It’s about a 30 minute drive south of Salt Lake International. I lived there off and on for twelve years. We both went to Brigham Young University and spent six years of our marriage there. We thought we knew our home town really well..

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to work with Explore Utah Valley and explore a little more of our old backyard. We surprised ourselves at how much we hadn’t seen or done.  All of them are activities and spots we’d highly recommend to a local or visitor. 


Payson Lakes

Just a little bit south of Provo and up the Payson Canyon are some stunning views. We had never been. We stopped at the most quite, calm and adorable little lake. We met up with Epic Recreation to do some stand-up paddle boarding. They brought out a HUGE paddle board that could fit the whole family. Seriously, HUGE. Garrett paddled us all around while the kids did their best to help and not fall in. I held on tight to Cali. This place is somewhere we’d for sure revisit and bring a little picnic for a nice afternoon outdoors.

In a sad turn of events, the recent wildfires in Mapleton and Payson, we’ve learned that this lake we spent the day at was spared the the surrounding areas were affected.


Rowley’s Red Barn

We frequently drive south past to Rowley’s Red Barn on our way down to Sanpeete County to visit Garrett’s dad.  I can now safely say that this place will be a tradition each time we go down to Grandpa’s house. At the barn you can take hay rides, pick fruit (apples, peaches, cherries, etc.) in the orchards and go inside their store to buy freshly picked  produce and local foods.  If you go, don’t miss out on the fresh apple juice and the apple slushy float. Rowley’s is a family business that’s been passed on over the years. We were lucky enough to meet some of the brothers/owners and hear a little more about the place. We were told they have a really great October festival with corn mazes, hay rides and lots of pumpkins. So, check that out for me and let me know how it goes!



Sundance was one of the stops on our our itinerary that we had visited before. We love it up there! It’s great year round and it never gets old.  We took the chairlift up to the top of Sundance and cruised around.  The kids loved the chairlift and we watched the mountain bikers blaze down the mountain. There’s a bunch of hikes and trails all over Sundance for the summertime, gorgeous full moon chair lifts during the fall, and great skiing during the winter. Sundance is a perfect date night activity where you can go walk around, get some fresh air, breathtaking scenery and enjoy some wonderful restaurants.


Fifth Water Hot Springs

There are beautiful hikes all over Utah Valley.  Fifth Water Hot Springs hike is up Diamond Fork Canyon which is off of the Nephi Canyon. This one was a great family hike and ends up at some really fun (a little sulfur-y smelling) hot pots.  We slowly made our way up the trail playing in the stream along the way.  It’s about a 3 hour hike round trip. Make sure you bring water, sunscreen and a towel to dry off afterward.


Thanksgiving Point - Holdman Studios

I’ve been to Thanksgiving point many times with the kids when we lived here but had never been to Holdman Studios  We were lucky enough to spend some time with Tom Holdman.  He is nothing short of a genius.  He brought us back and showed us how to do glass blowing.  I created a leaf while Dorothy was able to make a little glass ball.  The glass blowing process is incredible and would make for such a fun date night. He also took us on a little tour of his studio.  He showed us some of his recent work on a piece that is soon headed to the Rome Temple.  It was one of the most stunning pieces of art I’ve ever seen.  It’s amazing to see such a unique craft hard at work.  The work of Mr. Holden and his team is also on showcase outside the library at Utah Valley University campus.  Our last stop of the day was to see this piece called the Roots of Knowledge. It was so cool to learn about the art of glass making and stained glass and then see a magnificent piece put together.

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Thanksgiving Point - Farm Country

Farm Country is a guaranteed win in our family.  It’s always packed with young families and the kids love getting to ride the little ponies.  There’s cows, rabbits, horses, turkeys, goats and our kid’s favorite - the baby chicks! 

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Thanksgiving Point - The Light of the World Garden

If you live or will be in the area, put this on the top of your list - The Light of the World Garden. I’m afraid to say this was something that I didn’t know was even at Thanksgiving point and it may have been my favorite thing we did all week! We took a beautiful walk down to the garden.  As soon as you walk into the garden you’re filled with a wonderful sense of peace, gratitude and love.  There are fifteen different pieces depicting the various parables and miracles of Christ.  As we walked around, we were able to teach the kids a few stories that they had not heard.  We would highly recommend this to someone visiting Utah Valley!


And 3 Great Restaurants to Check Out

We did a lot in just a few days all over Utah Valley.  As I reflect, the thing that stands out to me the most are the amazing, passionate, and talented people that live there.  From the Rowley brothers that are passionate about their family business and bring such wonderful, fresh produce to the valley, to the owner of Epic Recreation who had a giant trailer full of SUP, kayaks and canoes to go out adventuring, to Mr. Holdman and his wife who are are modern-day Renaissance Artists and the lovely owners at Aubergine restaurant who are so welcoming and passionate about what they do.  Utah Valley is filled with beauty and people who are trying to make the world more beautiful, more meaningful and more enjoyable for everyone.  Check out the Explore Utah Valley website to see more about our hometown and the fun adventures to be had.