12 Family-Friendly Winter Activities in Utah

12 Family Friendly Winter Activities in Utah

By Mo Edwards
February 21, 2021

Feeling cooped up? Try these indoor and outdoor winter activities for kids and parents alike. Utah is a family-friendly place (highest birth rate in the nation, heh heh) so we have a kid-friendly infrastructure ready for long, dark winter days. From swimming to sledding, the whole family will enjoy (or at least appreciate) these fun winter activities.

Indoor Winter Activities

Natural History Museum of Utah

Cost: $18-23 per person

Time: 2-3 hours

WhereSalt Lake City 

Walk through time on a switchbacking boardwalk at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Built in 2011, this modern museum has a collection of exotic butterflies, minerals and indigenous masterpieces. Everything is fascinating, but your kids might beeline to the dinosaur gallery to get skull to skull with a Allosaurus, Utahceratops and Utahraptor.

Thanksgiving Point Museum of Natural Curiosity

Cost: $17-24 per person

Time: 2-4 hours

Where: Lehi

Finally! A museum where kids can touch and play with everything! This children's museum is educational in a delightfully tactile way. Let your kids get soaked in the Waterworks section or break out of jail in Kidopolis. Be warned: There are a lot of kids here, but if you can handle some chaos, then this place is worth the trip.

Indoor Swimming Pools

Cost: $3-7 per person

Time: 1-3 hours

Where: Various locations along the Wasatch FrontUtah’s new and improved public swimming pools are basically playgrounds. They have lazy rivers, slides and buckets that pour water in your eyeballs when you least expect it. Needless to say — kids love it! The water is comfortably warm and shallow enough for toddlers. How's that for a Utah family winter activity?

Indoor Pools With Playgrounds

Fairmont Aquatic Center

1044 East Sugarmont Drive (2225 South)

Salt Lake City, UT 84106

(385)-468-1540

Holladay Lions

1661 East Murray-Holladay Road (4800 South)

Holladay, UT 84117

(385)-468-1700

Lehi Aquatics Center

123 North Center Street

Lehi, UT 84043

(385)-201-2000

Provo Recreation Center

320 West 500 North

Provo, UT 84601

Clearfield Aquatic Center

825 South State Street

Salt Lake City Public Library System

Cost: Free

Time: 1-3 hours

Where: Various locations in Salt Lake City

Once upon a time, the library was a place of silence and stern librarians. But these days, libraries are humming with activity. Think of them more like community hubs, where staff and volunteers teach free workshops on reading, art, computers, legos, yoga, storytime and more. They’ve gone digital too. Catch a virtual workshop, join a book club or check out an audiobook. Pro tip: At the Main Library in downtown Salt Lake City, you can take a ride in the glass elevator to the roof, observe the dormant beehive, then walk down the swooping steps to the courtyard. 

Loveland Living Planet Aquarium

Cost: adults, $18-28; children (3-12), $13-23

Time: 2-3 hours

Where: Draper

Utah may be hardcore landlocked, but you can still watch antarctic penguins swim and play. The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium is home to many creatures, both scaly and feathered. Say hi to the toucans, then stare at the mesmerizing sharks. It's like going from the bottom of the ocean to the canopies of the Amazon Rainforest in one day.

Utah State Railroad Museum

Cost: $3-7 per person

Time: 1 hour + commuter train time

WhereOgden

Your kid likes trains? Try this: Ride the FrontRunner commuter train to the Utah State Railroad Museum in Ogden. Get off at Historic Union Station and choo choo! You’re there. Check out the retired engines and cabooses outside and head inside to watch some model trains doing their thing. Fun times for kids who like trains.

Outdoor Winter Activities

Snow Tubing and Sledding

Cost: Price varies

Time: 1-2 hours

Where: Various locations on the Wasatch Front and Park City

Sledding is a winter classic that every kid has gotta try at least once. Sled for free at the iconic hill at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City. If you don’t feel like trudging up a hill 17 times (it is good exercise though) head up to Woodward Park City to their state-of-the-art tubing lanes. Lay back and watch the scenery as you and your kids glide down the longest tubing hill in Utah, then take the magic carpet back up.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Cost: It depends, but $$$

Time: 3-8 hours

Where: Utah’s family friendly ski resorts

Passes to ski and snowboard resorts are expensive, but don’t give up yet, powder pauper. Deals like Alta Ski After 3, Brighton night skiing, Ski Utah’s heavily discounted passes for 4th-6th graders, and the fact that most resorts let young kids ski for free, can make skiing affordable again. Smaller resorts like Nordic Valley and Brian Head even offer free season passes for kids 10 and under. Pro tip: Pack your own lunch and a thermos of hot chocolate to keep spirits up and costs down.

Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing

Cost: Free

Time:1-3 hours

Where: Everywhere

Yep, you read that right. Hiking in winter is perfect for getting the family out of the house and into the crisp fresh air. Go as far as you want on Little Cottonwood Trail up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Or hike Ensign Peak on a clear day and get a 100-mile view of Salt Lake Valley. Rent snowshoes to go off-trail in that fresh Utah powder snow.

Ice Castles

Cost: adults, $18-23; kids (4-11), $12-16

Time:1-2 hours

Where: Midway

Let it all go on a walk through the Ice Castles in Midway. Icicle artisans spend the winter building the castles through magic and science. Anna and Elsa fans will appreciate the frozen wonderland all lit up at night in blue and pink. Afterward, try ice skating at the Midway Ice Rink. It's quaint and cute, just like Midway. Don’t forget to wear long underwear under your Olaf costume.

Backyard Fun

Cost: Free

Time: 1-4 hours

Where: snow banks, backyards, fields, parks

Since the dawn of time, families have been balling up snow and throwing it at each other. It's just a natural way to release that pent-up winter energy. Use that energy to build a snow fort. Then add color with snow paint. Then add some ice sculpture gargoyles to intimidate the enemy. Now you are ready for total snowball war. Just be sure there aren’t any cops watching. In Provo, it's a misdemeanor to have a snowball fight. For Sparta!

Bonfire With S’mores

Cost: $10-$15 

Time: 1-2 hours

Where: Your backyard or park pavillion

Fire + candy = fun. Instead of having yet another movie night, try a backyard bonfire with hot chocolate and s’mores. Maybe your teens can help you come up with the weirdest s’more combination, such as Starbursts and saltines. (Salty and sweet? Sounds good!) Everyone in the family will get fired up about this one.

Start Planning Your Summer Vacation

It's never too late to look forward to summer. Start making summer vacation plans today. Book a river trip or reserve that popular campsite your family loves. Get some ideas from our road trip itineraries, bucket lists and family friendly hikes. Utah’s state and national parks will be thawed out before you know it!

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