Want dinner and a show in Utah? Just head into the city. Which city? It should be obvious. It’s the city with world class outdoor recreation right out its front door, an iconic ski resort nearby, a bustling downtown and nightly live performances of world renown. Park City? Um, no. Salt Lake? Never heard of it. Provo? Wow, you’re pretty bad at guessing — it’s Cedar City, obviously!
Of course, there are plenty of cities with shows and scenery, but none quite like this. Here visitors can explore astonishing natural areas like Cedar Breaks National Monument, Brian Head Resort and Zion National Park, then trade their backpacks for slacks at the end of the day for the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival. If you’re looking for a day of adventure and entertainment this summer, there may be no better place to go than “the city.”
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It’s daylight, dummy, so get out and explore! You’ve got plenty of time before the main events, and the “Breakfast and a Show” lineup can certainly be missed. The witches in “MacGriddle” aren’t scary, “Much Ado About Muffins” is contrived and “Antony and Cleo-Pancake” isn’t worth the price of admission. But you should definitely make a point to see the famous “With beans or not with beans?” speech in “Ham-Omelet.” It’s beautiful.
That’s probably enough Shakespeare breakfast puns. (OK one more — “The Tragedy of Oth-Eggo”). The point is, there’s plenty to see and you’ve got plenty of time to see it before curtain time.
Head up — way up — to Brian Head Resort for summer fun of all kinds. Home to Utah’s highest elevation skiing in the winter, you’ll enjoy cooler temperatures in the heat of summer as you play at 10,000 feet. What’s there to do without the snow? Plenty! Enjoy activities like:
Just down the road you’ll find Cedar Breaks National Monument. This giant natural amphitheater bears a striking resemblance to its nearby cousin, Bryce Canyon. The same soaring views of red rock towers and spires abound, as do more than 150 species of wildflowers and some of the oldest bristlecone pines on Earth. Take the 6-mile scenic drive to four stunning overlooks, or hike along the rim to take it all in on foot. The red rocks might not pop as much as they do on a Brian Head powder day, but you’ll just have to “settle.”
Kolob Canyon: close to town, far from the rest of Zion. If you know anything about Zion in the summer, that’s a very good thing. Escape the crowds and enjoy the relative quiet as you drive along the 5-mile Kolob Canyon scenic drive, gaze up at the towering red rock, hike among the wildflowers and wander into one of the region’s incredible canyons. This underrated area is a perfect way to see one of the world’s most impressive national parks and be back in time for a tragic love story that ends in death.
Still got time to kill? Kill it with ear poison to be festive! Then hit the trails and check out any number of lakes, waterfalls and viewpoints in the area. Or, bring your bike along for the day and explore Cedar City’s trail systems on two wheels.
OK, so you’ve been to a natural amphitheater, now it’s time to go to … well, a regular amphitheater. The Utah Shakespeare Festival is in full swing all summer, and there’s always a show to see.
You really worked up an appetite exploring, and you can’t head to the theater on an empty stomach. But you need all your fresh veggies to throw at the actors like the old days! What a dilemma.
Cedar City’s got plenty of choices as far as food goes, and if you’ve got time before or after a show, you can also enjoy some nightlife. As the Bard himself once said, “Good company, good wine, good welcome can make good people,” so why not heed his words and head over to IG Winery for some of the finest vino in the area? If wine isn’t your cup of tea, try a beer over at Policy Kings Brewing, Utah’s only Black-owned brewery. They’ve even got tea-infused beers, which are bound to be your cup of beer tea.
Now it’s time to settle in for a night of storytelling under the stars. That’s right, under the stars! The Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, the festival’s main stage, is an outdoor theater modeled after the Elizabethan era playhouses in which Shakespeare’s works would have been shown. In this unique theater you’ll find most of the festival’s Shakespeare productions, as well as other selected works that are appropriate for the Elizabethan setting.
Because at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, you’ll find plays of all varieties. A steady diet of Shakespeare is served up, of course, but so are popular modern classics like “The Sound of Music” and “Sweeney Todd.” In addition to the outdoor Shakespeare theater, the festival’s venues include two indoor theaters.
And those aren’t even the only shows in town. Head back up to Cedar Breaks National Monument and you’ll enjoy one heck of a production courtesy of Mother Nature. Dedicated as an International Dark Sky Park, Cedar Breaks offers some of the best stargazing in the state. Get there early to catch the sunset over red-rock spires, then lie out beneath a blanket of stars as you ponder your place in the universe.
Need some help pondering? Try some Shakespeare: “We make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance.”
Or how about another of his classics: “Hey now; You’re an all-star; Get your game on; Go play.”
That’s him, right?