Planes, trains and orangutans: 12 distinctly Utah things to do this summer
Summer excursions • 12 distinctly Utah things to do this summer

By Scott D. Pierce

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: May 30, 2013 10:49AM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:32PM
Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune Goats, pigs and lambs mix with people outside the baby animal barn at This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City.

Summertime is almost here. Kids will be looking for fun things to do, while their parents will want them to do something interesting and educational.

While there’s always a park or swimming pool, we suggest trying one — or all — of these 12 adventures that are distinctively Utah.

Antelope Island State Park

This island filled with bison, pronghorn and bighorn sheep is a Utah treasure. There’s a great visitor center, hiking, biking, backpacking. And it’s the best way to see the Great Salt Lake.

Where • 4528 W. 1700 South, Syracuse

Open • Seven days a week, 7 a.m.-10 p.m..

Admission • $9 per vehicle ($6 seniors); $3 cyclists and pedestrians

Online •

Heber Valley Railroad

The historic, restored engines and passenger cars are like stepping into a movie or TV show. This weekend, Friday-Monday, that will be especially true: Thomas the Tank Engine from “Shining Time Station” will be in Heber.

Where • 450 S. 600 West, Heber City

Open • Times and tours vary. Check the website for more information.

Admission • $8-$30; family packages available

Online •

Hill Aerospace Museum

This indoor-outdoor museum features more than 90 aircraft and missiles. Kids will be fascinated, as will adults.

Where • 7961 Wardleigh Road, Hill AFB,

Open • Seven days a week, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Admission • Free, but donations accepted

Online •

Hogle Zoo

The most distinctively Utah thing about this zoo is its location — a 42-acre site at the mouth of Emigration Canyon.

Where • 2600 E. Sunnyside Ave., Salt Lake City

Open • 9 a.m.-5 p.m. seven days a week

Admission • $9.75-$12.75

Online •


Utah’s amusement park is part of the state’s history. It opened in 1886; it includes the Pioneer Village (filled with historic buildings); the wooden coaster dates to 1921. It’s a local tradition.

Where • 375 Lagoon Drive, Farmington

Open • Now open weekends and Memorial Day; open seven days a week June 7-Aug. 25; times vary.

Admission • $29.95-$49.95 day pass; season passes available

Online •

Natural History Museum of Utah

This is where you’ll find the dinosaur bones. Learn about American Indians. Discover gems and minerals. And look into the future. Fascinating for kids and adults.

Where • 301 Wakara Way (on the University of Utah campus), Salt Lake City

Open • 10 a.m.-5 p.m. every day but Wednesdays, when it stays open until 9 p.m.

Admission • $8-$11

Online •

Ogden Nature Center

This 152-acre nature preserve features walking trails, bird blinds, live bird exhibits, picnic areas, tree houses and more.

Where • 966 W. 12th St., Ogden

Open • Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Admission • $2-$4

Online •

Rocky Mouth Trail

There are plenty of places to hike around Salt Lake City, but this trail is perfect for small children. The start is a bit steep, but the trail only rises 200 feet and is one-quarter mile long. Best of all, there’s a waterfall.

Where • Near 11248 S. Wasatch Blvd. (directly east of the LDS chapel)

Open • Seven days a week, dawn to dusk

Admission • Free

Online •

This Is the Place Heritage Park

Relive Utah’s pioneer days. It’s hands-on history with a variety of activities, including many aimed at younger kids.

Where • 2601 E. Sunnyside Ave., Salt Lake City

Open • Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission • $7-$10

Online •

Tracy Aviary

Not all cities have a bird zoo. It’s very hands-on with shows and interactive activities in addition to the exhibits. Plus, you can make a day of it and let the kids play at Liberty Park.

Where • 589 E. 1300 South, Salt Lake City (in the southwest corner of Liberty Park)

Open • Seven days a week, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Admission • $5-$7

Online •

Utah Olympic Park

Relive the 2002 Winter Olympics on the bobsled ride by hurtling down a mountain at 80 mph pulling 5 G’s. This is not a kiddie ride — you have to be at least 16 and weigh at least 100 pounds — but it’s an experience you won’t get in Texas. The park also features adventure courses (ropes, ziplines), chairlift rides and more.

Where • 3419 Olympic Parkway, Park City

Open • Weekends and Memorial Day through June 2; then open daily June 8 to Sept. 2; 1-5 p.m. Sundays; noon-5 p.m. other days.

Admission • $75 per person for the bobsled ride; $40 per person for an Adventure Pass that offers the choice of three of the following activities: Summit Course, Canyon Course, Discovery Course or Drop Tower plus unlimited rides on the scenic chairlift; season passes available.

Online •

Wheeler Historic Farm

E-I-E-I-O! This is a chance for kids and their parents to visit a farm without leaving the city. Milk a cow. Feed the ducks. Have a picnic.

Where • 6351 S. 900 East, Murray

Open • Dawn to dusk seven days a week.

Admission • Free — but there are fees for some of the activities ($1 to milk a cow, $2 for a wagon ride, etc.)

Online •

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