It’s Monday morning. Your mood is meh. All you can think as you go through your daily motions is, “I need more weekend.” Yes. Take a long weekend. Mini vacations decrease stress levels and boost your mood, the effects lasting even after you return home. And winter has several long weekends built into the calendar — from Thanksgiving to Presidents Day — perfect for a chill holiday getaway. Don’t wanna wait? No problem. These destinations are just as awesome on a Wednesday as they are on a holiday weekend. And each can be tailored to your needs. Whether you’re planning a fun-filled family vacation or a romantic anniversary getaway, Utah’s got something for everyone.
Its name may imply otherwise, but Bear Lake doesn’t hibernate. There’s still plenty to keep you entertained at this state park in the winter. Snowmobiling. Nordic skiing. Tubing. Ice angling. And here’s a fun fishing fact: Bear Lake’s Cisco Beach is the best place to dipnet for the scaly salmonids of the same name. There’s even an event called the Cisco Disco that’s part of the annual Bear Lake Monster Winterfest held in January.
Let’s not forget skiing and snowboarding. In the mountains 15 miles west of Bear Lake lies Beaver Mountain Ski Resort. The Beav isn’t a hoity-toity kinda place where you’re going to spend half your day in traffic trying to get there, only to be gear shamed once you hit the slopes. It’s a friendly, uncrowded resort where casual and serious riders alike can escape the everyday on 664 skiable acres.
But the beauty of a long weekend at Bear Lake is it can be as action-packed or action-lacked as you want. You can hunker down for the holidays here in a cozy cabin with your boo or a luxury vacation rental with your extended family if that’s what your heart desires. Sometimes all that matters is who you spend your vacation with, gathered around the fireplace making new memories together.
Bryce Canyon City
Bling it on. Snow-capped hoodoos sparkle like diamonds under the low winter sun, making us swoon in a honeymoon kinda way. (Insert heart-eye emoji here.) Bryce Canyon National Park is open 365 days a year and is one of the most amazing Utah getaways you can take.
Located just one mile from the park entrance, Ruby’s Inn is your basecamp for Bryce Canyon. Choose from family suites with separate rooms for parents/kids to prevent too much togetherness or king accommodations with an in-room jetted tub when you and that special someone can’t get enough of each other. Either way, there are a host of things to do the instant you wake up and walk out the door.
More than 30 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails begin right outside the hotel and wind through Dixie National Forest. Prefer platforms to planks? Strap on some snowshoes for a ranger-led snowshoe hike in Bryce. Feeling lucky? Plan your trip when the moon is neither waxing nor waning and enter the lottery for nighttime snowshoeing under its full sphere. In the morning, hike/snowshoe nearby trails like Mossy Cave or Lower Calf Creek Falls before the sun melts the icicles accessorizing the landscape.
Though this charming hamlet resembles Arendelle in many ways, Elsa does not live in the Ice Castles found at Soldier Hollow. But there’s no harm in letting the kids pretend she does as they sit on an ice throne or pose by a fountain in the carefully crafted formation. One of just five such attractions in the United States, Utah’s Ice Castles aren’t just for kids with Disney+. Those with mortgages and memories of VHS seem to have as much fun on the slides and in the tunnels as anyone. And a private alcove can be reserved for those looking for a unique place to pop the question or celebrate a special occasion.
While you’re at Soldier Hollow, race down the tubing hills then ride the magic carpet back up. It’s a whole new world up here. Shining. Shimmering. Splendid. Feel the need for more speed? Rev your way through the Snowmobile Complex in Wasatch Mountain State Park instead. Or do both. It is a long weekend, after all. And there are several different types of lodging in Midway — from quaint bed and breakfasts perfect for romantic getaways to large resorts with full-service spas.
But if you long for something more than a warm bamboo massage after your time outside, check out Homestead Crater — Midway’s OG hot tub dates back more than 10,000 years. You can soak, swim, snorkel or scuba in this geothermal feature. And with a year-round water temp of 90-96 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s impossible not to sound like the band Yello as you let out a guttural, elongated “oh yeah” while entering the mineral water. Cue the ...
Located in Cache County — a place named after the cache of pelts hidden here by early trappers — the Logan area now stashes a spate of outdoor activities. It’s the perfect place for a quick winter vacation in Utah. Spend a morning southeast of the city watching herds of wintering elk from the warmth of the Wildlife Education Center at Hardware Ranch, which is open from early December through mid-February. In non-drought years, get a closer look at the majestic creatures from a horse-drawn sleigh. Once the snow flies you can ride sleds powered by a different kind of horse on designated trails in the Hardware Ranch Snowmobile Complex. Or try your luck at ice fishing on the nearby Hyrum Reservoir for something a little quieter.
Are your teeth ch-ch-ch-chattering yet? Find yourself a hot beverage. If you mark all of the eateries in downtown Logan that offer cocoa and/or coffee with white dots on a map, you’d undoubtedly have visions of mini marshmallows swirling in your mug. Cocoa Camper, a local fave, offers seasonal flavors like s’mores, pumpkin and coconut. Sip, then stroll through the local stores lining Logan’s Historic Center Street to do your own hunting and gathering. Whether you’re shopping for antiques, Aggie apparel, goats-milk products or hand-dipped chocolates, you’ll find many unique items here.
Put on that U-State hockey jersey you bought and head to North Logan, specifically the Eccles Ice Center. Used as a practice facility for the 2002 Olympics, EIC now houses the Utah State University men’s hockey team. Catch a home game during the winter months or channel your inner Anna Shcherbakova at an open skate session. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce her name, let alone land a triple toe loop. Champ or not, gliding across the ice is cathartic. Think of it as walking in cursive. And if you fall? That’s just the punctuation on your slippery syntax.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, Utah is a great place to find chill winter vibes. And Utah.com is here to help you plan some fourth-season fun.