Where will your kids take theirs? Probably to the places you took them. Luckily, Utah is overflowing with tradition-ready destinations and activities. Midway and Sundance are quiet little places that are easy getaways for a day trip or an entire weekend.
HIKING IS FOR SUCKERS
TRADITION NO. 1 | HIKING STEWART FALLS
And you thought hiking was for the fit, the tough and the exceptionally brave. Wrong. It’s time you changed your thinking. And you might as well change your thinking about children and sugar as well--specifically sugar that comes in the form of artisan-quality suckers on a wooden stick at the Sundance General Store (available in a variety of ambrosial flavors). You’ll be sure to create a dopamine-infused and very permanent memory that your kids will (guaranteed) repeat with their grandkids over and over again in their dementia-filled old age.
What does hiking have to do with suckers? Follow along, dear readers:
- Drive to the Sundance Resort parking lot.
- Locate the trail that leads to Stewart Falls. (Shortcut tip: ride the Ray’s Summit ski lift.)
- Make sure you’re well prepared for the hike. Consider this: Small children can hike most of the trail, but may need to be carried here and there. Adults can easily carry a baby in a carrier or backpack. Take plenty of snacks, water and hats.
- For older kids, teen and the young (at heart) adults: You might be super glad you’re wearing clothes that can get wet (waterfall!), and that you packed a water-friendly shoe such as sandals or flip flops.
- At the falls, take lots of photos and enjoy the gorgeous view.
- Eat. Snacks, lunch, suckers and anything else you like to gorge on while hiking.
- The fun part: There’s a secret passageway just behind the waterfall at the base. Run like lightning through it--you’ll feel like a superhero.
- Back to Sundance you go...TO BUY SUCKERS!
Hiking is definitely for suckers.
TRADITION NO. 2 | ALL THINGS SUNDANCE
Sundance Resort is kind of a family tradition dream come true. So close. So easy. So crazy-gorgeous. Family + Fun = FFun.
4 FAVORITE SUNDANCE HIKES : BEGINNER & ADVANCED
Black Forest Trail | Easy | 2.5 miles
Arrowhead Summit Trail | Moderate | 3.7 miles
Mandan Short Loop | Easy | 1 mile
Dry Lake Loop | Moderate | Adventurous | 3.7 miles
If someone in your group absolutely despises hiking, hoist them on the ski lift for a ride. Problem solved. You’re welcome.
If there are thrill-seeking members of your family, get them on a mountain bike for a faster tour of the mountain.
Be sure to bring yummy snacks and tantalizing lunches that you can eat as you go--empty bellies don’t make for positive memories.
• Relax and wander around the resort. Take some photos, or throw rocks politely in the river. Maybe you could take a little nap in the car with the windows rolled down while your sister takes your kids to buy a sucker.
• Ring the dinner triangle (figuratively) because after your nap it’s time for the barbeque! Yes, a B-B-Q! Sundance hosts a Barbeque every night for dinner just before you head up to the outdoor theater--good thing you have tickets in your pocket…
• Everyone in your entire family can attend plays at Sundance--even the baby!
• After the play? It’s NOT time to go home. No way. No one can go to bed yet because you’re all riding the lift for the Full Moon Lift tradition you do every single year.
NATURE'S HOT TUB IN A CRATER
TRADITION NO. 3 | HOMESTEAD RESORT NATURAL CRATER
No, we’re not talking about sending a hot tub to the moon. There’s a crater in small town Utah (Midway) that wasn’t formed by an asteroid collision. Nay, ‘twas formed when water dissolved limestone. It’s the only warm scuba diving destination in the entire continental U.S. of A (Alert! 90 - 96° Fahrenheit). Take note: you need to make a reservation ahead in time in order to see or use it.
The crater is for aquaphiles and geology-lovers alike.
For aquaphiles: swim, scuba dive (equipment available for rent), snorkel, soak in the mineral waters or take a paddle board yoga class.
For geology-lovers: tour the crater to learn about its geology, history and archaeology.
All Generations: Imagine you, your kids, your parents and,if you started your family Utah age, your grandparents all gathered in one big warm and fuzzy hot tub, gazing up through the limestone at the sky. Marvelous!
Solidify the Tradition: Food. Drive into Midway for all the Swiss-themed smorgasbord restaurants. There’s Fanny’s Grill and the Homestead or Main Street’s Cuckoo Cafe. Choose one, and never ever go to another one, because tradition.
BEACHIN' IT IN THE MOUNTAINS
TRADITION NO. 4 | DEER CREEK RESERVOIR
Who doesn’t love a state park that’s also a lake? Well, it’s not a lake. It’s a reservoir. Take note: this reservoir is watershed and doggies are not allowed on the beaches or anywhere near the water. Now that’s sad for Bingo, but if you have really young kids and you like to spread your delicious snacks out on a blanket, you won’t have to worry that man’s best friend might turn on you and eat all of your delicious snacks and make your kids cry.
BRING ALL GENERATIONS:
Activities for All Ages
Pro tip: Wear your life jackets for all water sports
• For the very young (A.K.A. babies): sand, water, sand, water, small pebbles (do NOT eat!).
• The young (ages 2-8): sand, water, hopefully sand toys and a small floaty boat that mom and dad can push along.
• Older kids (ages 8-12): sand, water, sand toys, inflatable boats, small kayaks, frisbee and a good ol’ game of Catch or Flies Up.
• Teens: water ski, kayak, canoe, paddle board, swimming, frisbee, sun tanning on the beach, sand, water, sand toys (don’t take them from the babies!).
• Adults: camping chairs, food, books, crafty projects like knitting, sun umbrellas, fast and furious rentals (speed boats), slow and quiet rentals (fishing boats), swimming, frisbee, babies to chase, pebble-in-mouth removal, sun tanning, sun screening, life-jacket installing, and the ever-faithful water and sand toys.
• Respected Elders: must wear swimming suits or other clothing at all times; bring radios that play loud music and blame it on the teens; pretend you are a shark in the water, but only scare ages 10 and older; get a really nice sun tan; eat plenty of potato chips and drinks lots of soda; make sure you wear your best movie star sunglasses.
YODELING IS A BEAUTIFUL THING
TRADITION NO. 5 | MIDWAY'S SWISS DAYS
Yodel-eh-hee-hoo! C’mon, give it your best! Your granny can do it, and you want to make sure that you pass this skill down through the centuries to come. If you’re not a great yodeler, it’s probably time to start a new family tradition and start going to Swiss Days every year. You can learn from the master yodeler himself, Kerry Christensen, who will perform not once, not twice, but and amazing four times during Swiss Days.
Swiss Days Everything:
10K & KIDS’ RACES
WILLIAM TELL CHILDREN’S PLAY
SWISS MISS ROYALTY
IRISH DANCING & CLOGGING
MUSICAL BANDS (JAZZ, FIDDLES, ACCORDION DUETS, HAND BELLS, BAGPIPES, BARBERSHOP)
KNOCKWURST SANDWICHES, LEMON YODELS, SWISS CHICKEN, TACOS
MARKET: TOYS, GAMES, BIRD HOUSES, JEWELRY, FURNITURE
We infinity-dog dare you to find someone in your family who wouldn’t find something fun, entertaining and tasty at this event--an event so memorable it will create a sharpie memory (because sharpie memories are permanent). Ok, ok! Maybe your very grumpy old Uncle Monday will not, but, except for him (who won’t have fun anywhere), the rest of you will retain perma-grins for two entire days because that’s how long the festival lasts.
TUBE + TRAIL
TRADITION NO. 6 | PROVO RIVER SUMMER DAYS
The Provo River hosts tubes, fishing poles and rock-throwers.
SUMMERTIME IS FOR TUBESTERS
If you have your own tube, lucky you. Otherwise, you can rent a tube from a rental company. You’ll start just below the dam at Deer Creek Reservoir, and you’ll end at Vivian Park. A car shuttle is definitely necessary.
Now, in order to be a Provo River Tubester, you need to be a fairly decent swimmer, and you need to make sure the weather will be very summery and sunny because the river water is basically Uber Frigid. Tube the river again and again, like a broken record.
RIVERS ARE FOR FLY FISHING
If someone in your group doesn’t like tubing, then you can pull out the fishing gear (get a license, follow the rules and please don’t snag any tubesters). The Provo River is one of the best rivers to fish in the world. Try it. Want a guide? Click here.
VIVIAN PARK IS FOR HOMEBASIN’
Maybe some people are boring and don’t want to tube or fish. It might happen. So they can settle in at Vivian Park to do park things like eat, swing, slide, eat, nap, eat and make dinner for everyone else. Make sure a food-filled and game-playing rendezvous awaits all the river folk. When everyone’s done with a day’s adventure, head back up to Heber or Midway for a tasty cold dessert--because it’s tradition.
PROVO RIVER TRAIL
This is for all the bikers, runners, walkers, big-wheel speedsters, scooter-racers, wagon-riders and bike-trailer queens and kings. The trail begins way the heck over by Utah Lake and ends, once again, at Vivian Park (this must be an amazing Rendezvous Park). Start at any point along the trail, but a great starting point is at Mt. Timpanogos Park near the mouth of Provo Canyon. There are several stops along the way where you can use bathrooms and take rests. Ride for as long as you wish. Go out and back, or arrange a car shuttle if you need one.
TRADITION NO. 7 | TIMPANOGOS STORYTELLING FESTIVAL
When you think on your memories, I’ll bet your bottom-dollar that all of them could make a good story. Why not duplicate everything and make the memories out of stories? Then you could make stories out of stories! The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival so hilarious, chilling, interesting, curious and tasty that you could spend hours at family reunions retelling your favorites year after year.
Tents will be set up all over the place, and from 10:00 A.M. until after dark you will find stories and more stories and yet more of them. At night it gets especially good because there are first bedtime stories, and then after those, scary stories on one night, and really funny stories the next night! Restaurants will be there offering food to you to buy (average meal costs $9.00). Choose from a selection of deliciousness from ice cream to pizza to sandwiches.
Not only are there human storytellers but you will be happy to know that puppets will also be there! And jugglers! And music! Sort of like an old fashioned Village Fair, minus the jousting. This is something that you’ll want to do year after year, all ages will look forward to it--worth every bottom dollar you have.
The festival takes place right in Provo Canyon at the Mt. Timpanogos Park.
Not recommended for toddlers and babies. Sorry.