Don't Miss These Favorite Activities at Thanksgiving Point
By Lynn Blamires Content Writer for My Local Utah
It is difficult to live in Utah for long without knowing about Thanksgiving Point, but if you haven’t been there lately, you might be missing out! Their magical Butterfly Biosphere, numerous exhibits, and beautiful gardens transform each season and create an immersive experience sure to please! Founded in 1995 by the Ashton Family from funds obtained from the sale of Word Perfect, a software company, the family planned to build a community garden and farm experience. They named it Thanksgiving Point as an expression of gratitude.
The opportunities to enjoy Thanksgiving Point are endless. Let’s review some of what there is to do!
The Butterfly Biosphere
Butterfly Release and Lab Tour
Get your cameras ready! Complete your visit with an up-close and personal Butterfly Release experience. Help one of our butterflies complete its long journey to their first flight in our conservatory. In addition, you will receive a certificate trading card of your very own butterfly. Come again to collect all your favorite butterfly cards. Butterfly Biosphere admission not included.
Monday-Saturday 11:00-11:30 pm or 5:00-5:30 pm
Butterfly Release: $4 per person
Stop by the critter cart on your trip around the museum. At the regular show times (12 PM, 2 PM, 4 PM, and 6 PM) our Explorers will be handling a bug for you to see. The bugs will be out for approximately 30 minutes. Although you won’t be able to hold it yourself right now, you can still engage with our Explorers and their bug friends. Just stop by anytime during one of these half hour blocks to say hello!
Monday-Saturday 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm
Included With Venue Admission
Free For Thanksgiving Point Members
These amazing invertebrates are the newest permanent exhibit at the Butterfly Biosphere! Visit our colony of 65,000 female leafcutter ants and watch their amazing farming process. Leaf fragments are carried into the nest and an assembly line of ants cuts them into smaller pieces, mulches them into pellets, then fertilizes and arranges the pellets into piles, and finally plants strands of fungus onto them to encourage new growth. Colonies this size are only successful because they work together. Guests entering the Butterfly Biosphere will be able to immerse themselves in the lives and work of these amazing ants.
Complete your visit with an up-close and personal Butterfly Release experience. Help one of their butterflies complete its long journey to their first flight in their conservatory. In addition, you will receive a certificate trading card of your very own butterfly. Come again to collect all your favorite butterfly cards.
Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the lab of the Butterfly Biosphere! Visit with an entomologist to discuss invertebrates, insects, arachnids, how they care for them and more. Each tour includes your own butterfly release experience in the Butterfly Biosphere.
Your visit to the Biosphere can also include a visit to the Critter Carts. Bug handlers will have bugs on display in the afternoons at specific times for an up close look at some amazing bugs.
Museum of Ancient Life
Make a cast of a dinosaur fossil in the Jr. Paleo Lab to take home. Using rubber molds and Plaster of Paris, guests can copy one of three fossils featured in the main exhibit halls.
Do the works of a paleontologist as you prepare a fish fossil. Take your fossil home with you when it has been completed. Jr. Paleontologists will try their hand at uncovering fossil fish using an air scribe and techniques common to the art of fossil preparation.
Note – the Jr. Paleo Lab is closed temporarily. Watch for information about a reopening event.
Become part of an adventure at a 3D movie at the Mammoth Screen Theatre located inside the Museum of Ancient Life. The action will jump out and grab you in. Explore new worlds and experience things like you have never seen before with our selection of films. Ride with the dinosaurs, explore the depths of the earth in the ocean or above the earth in space, or visit natural landscapes near and far.
An exhibit that opened April 30 celebrates and honors Native American tradition and heritage at Thanksgiving Point’s Roots of Wisdom exhibit, located in the Museum of Ancient Life, and What’s the Story exhibit, located in the Butterfly Biosphere.
Native American leaders from Utah’s tribes will share their traditions of storytelling, and discuss how the original stewards of the land used their science to ensure environmental sustainability. Native American partners and Thanksgiving Points team of entomologists will discuss, compare and contrast the origin stories of invertebrates such has the ant, the butterfly, the scorpion or the spider, and the western science perspective on those animals.
Tales for Tots is a story telling adventure. Staff will engage guests with interactive storytelling as well as movement and/or music activities that connect to the story theme of the day.
Bubbles and Bites – Fish Food for Thought: The Alligator Gar is sometimes referred to as a “living fossil” because scientists can trace them in the fossil record back 100 million years. Join the Museum of Ancient Life staff to watch these agile predators hunt for their lunch.
Museum of Natural Curiosity
Canopy Tours – Test your courage on the high ropes course at the Museum of Natural Curiosity. Suspended over 40-feet in the air, the high ropes course lets you experience the Museum from above while traveling through several fun ropes course challenge areas. A waiver is required and certain restrictions are in place so it will be important to understand these when you sign up for this course.
Maze and Brain Games is exploding with challenging maze experiences that will propel visitors of all ages down paths of mystifying illusions and mind-boggling puzzles. Each maze is a dynamic environment where you’ll discover surprises around every corner and new methods of problem-solving through improvisation, trial and error, observation and testing, and logic and reasoning.
Full-Body Games Thanksgiving Point is pleased to present this refreshing line-up of mind-bending adventures, 3-D puzzles and full-body games. Created by Minotaur Mazes, Mazes & Brain Games sends visitors of all ages on an unforgettable adventure that’s sure to challenge, entertain and amaze.
Trading Post curious minds can explore the natural world right in our own backyard. Go outside in nature and see what is out there. Look under rocks, peer into a stream, and gaze into a tree to see what you can find. Then you can bring in what you find and trade it in for points at the Museum of Natural Curiosity Trading Post. When you’ve saved up enough points, you can pick out a special treasure to take home. You have your choice of everything from magnifying glasses to rocks and minerals, from shells to animal bones and antlers.
Farm Life – Try your hand at gathering eggs in the ‘Farm Life’ classroom. Check out the chicks in the incubation station and the bunnies in the rabbit hutch, and be sure to visit in April for a chance to meet our newest baby animals who make their debuts in the spring.
Wagon Rides – Enjoy a wagon ride pulled by a large farm tractor or two of their draft horses. You’ll love the chance to see some of the Thanksgiving Point property in this slow-paced ride, suitable for families of all ages.
Pony Rides – A trip to Farm Country is not complete until you ride one of their beloved ponies. Each child is matched with a pony that ensures a fun, safe, and memorable ride. Come make a new four-legged friend on your next visit.
Cow Milking – Each day you can come help milk a cow and learn how milk is bottled. Cows are such an important part of our daily lives and this hands-on exhibit allows families the chance to really see the importance of these great animals.
The Gardens are organized like rooms of an estate, with trees, shrubs and grasses serving as living barriers between spaces so guests pass from “room” to “room.” As an oasis in the desert, the Ashton Gardens features stately gardens, grand lawns, as well as the largest man-made waterfall in the Western Hemisphere.
Come rejuvenate yourself and enjoy nature’s beauty in these secluded gardens. Stroll through the 15 themed gardens to discover how the differences in each “room” blend together to make Ashton Gardens
- The Light of the World sculpture garden features 15 scenes and 35 statues. It features 14 scenes from the New Testament and an LDS Church-inspired scene depicting Joseph Smith’s First Vision.
- The Fragrance Garden is elevated so that as you stroll through this “room”. It is easier to sample scents and aromas from all of the other garden “rooms.”
- The Koi View Pier allows you to feed and enjoy the peaceful movements of the Koi fish.
- The Italian Gardens feature the tranquility of moving water as it cascades down the steps of fountains in this special garden.
- The Vista Garden gives a bird’s eye view of all the other gardens.
- The Secret Garden “room” is inspired by the book, “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This section of the garden comes to life for those who love the book.
- The Rose Garden has always been a draw to those who love roses. Each variety is on display to be appreciated and enjoyed.
- The Garden season begins the last Saturday in March and ends on the last Saturday in October. Each winter the Gardens are transformed into Luminaria: Experience the Light, a winter light wonderland featuring an interactive walk filled with the scents, music and scenes of the holidays.
There is so much peace and beauty to discover in the Ashton Gardens, but it has even more to offer:
PlantSnap – As part of the American Public Gardens Association, Ashton Gardens has partnered with PlantSnap to help build the most comprehensive database of plant photos in the world by empowering garden visitors to become citizen scientists in their own communities.
Simply by snapping photos, visitors contribute to national and international conservation efforts and help build more resilient gardens. PlantSnap’s open source plant database features 600,000+ plants and 150 million+ plant images. The app recognizes nearly all species encountered in public gardens and is available in 37 languages.
Special Events at Thanksgiving Point
His enormous, ambitious, gravity-defying, and astoundingly precise structures present a playful spin on traditional sculptural art—making it accessible to guests of all ages and backgrounds. Sean Kenney has been creating art with LEGO bricks professionally since 2005.
Sean was the first person in the world permitted to buy LEGO pieces in bulk directly from the company. He views LEGO bricks as an artistic medium and constantly tries to push the envelope of what’s possible. He tries to imbue life into the eyes of everything he creates, and loves making sculptures that look as if they have some kind of magic or spark of life to them.
Sean uses only regular everyday off-the-shelf, commercially available LEGO pieces. No special colors, shapes, etc. are used. Every piece is connected to each other the way you’d expect, built within the rules of the LEGO system, without cheating things into place. Sean goes through about 250,000 to 400,000 LEGO pieces every year, and keeps millions on hand at any given time.
View these amazing sculptures when the exhibit opens May 21. Many of his pieces will be on display in this exhibit until the close on August 28, 2021.
The Harvest Restaurant – Serving up lunch and dinner with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Table service is provided in a casual atmosphere made unique by hand-painted galleries imagining simpler times on a country estate. Experience Harvest’s award-winning food with handcrafted fruit lemonade and finish it off with a mouth-watering dessert.
The Tower Deli – Serving lunch, and dinner, the Tower Deli offers sandwiches served on artisan breads, house made soups, and delicious salads. Freshly baked desserts and cookies are prepared daily in their kitchen.
Anniversary Parties – Thanksgiving Point has hosted hundreds of anniversaries and you can be sure that your party will be executed with the same care and planning that Thanksgiving Point is known for. Anniversary parties can select from specialty menus including a Hawaiian Luau or a Pacific Rim theme. Your loved ones will be hosted in your choice of beautifully decorated rooms or a beautiful garden.
Birthday Parties – Parties for the young and the young at heart can include a private party adventure at the Museum of Ancient Life, or Nature Explorer party at the Museum of Natural Curiosity, or a western themed Farm Country celebration.
Weddings – Whether you want a modern wedding complete with contemporary décor or a classic garden ceremony surrounded by breathtaking blossoms, Thanksgiving Point is your all-inclusive venue for an unforgettable, stress-free wedding and reception. Wedding and reception venues at Thanksgiving point can handle gatherings of any size—and with expert planners, florists, décor specialists, and a world-class culinary team on site – they can take care of everything from cakes and catering to creating a custom look that’s just your style.
Venues – Elegant and stylish indoor venues are available in a wide range of sizes and layouts to suit any ceremony or reception. Plan a garden wedding that takes full advantage of their beautiful outdoor venues, complete with charming water features and incredible views.
Thanksgiving Point Golf Club
The course is open to the public. Book a tee-time and play the most exhilarating and stunning collection of Par 3’s in the state. This championship caliber course covers more than 200 acres, making it the largest golf club in the state.
Come Visit Today