Written By Lynn Blamires, feature writer for My Local Utah
The shorter days of winter may cast longer shadows, but they need not be synonymous with dreariness. Despite the reduced daylight, there’s a unique charm and beauty in the cozy ambiance of early sunsets and the gentle glow of winter evenings. Embracing the magic of Utah’s winter wonderland can transform the season into a time of warmth, reflection, and shared moments. Instead of hunkering down and staying indoors, this article is about illuminating the positive aspects of winter and encouraging you to embrace the outdoors. Discover the joy of the season and explore these delightful activities. We are all familiar with the winter staples: skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, but some might be just up your alley.
Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride
Sleigh rides don’t work in the summer months for obvious reasons. You need snow. The Snowed Inn Sleigh Company is an unforgettable Western experience, perfect for families or special occasions. Located on the slopes of the Park City Mountain Resort offers horse-drawn sleigh rides to Snowed Inn for a western-style dinner with live music. Ride up to the Snowed Inn in a horse-drawn sleigh guided by a real cowboy, covered in warm blankets with brilliant stars overhead. This throwback experience will give you a taste of the old West as you are pulled on a forested trail through the mountains. See SnowedInnSleigh.com for details.
Snow Tubing at Nordic
Utah is known for its fantastic snow. People come from all over the world to enjoy it. We are already here! Nordic Valley has another reason to get out of doors this season. Instead of a death-defying run straight down a tubing hill, the people at Wasatch Parc Snow Tubing has set up a fast, curvy tubing hill for your death-defying fun. Even the most dignified tube riders will have difficulty controlling their screams on the fast turbo turns built into this track. Once at the bottom, a conveyor lift will whisk you back to the top. You will have enough time to catch your breath before losing it again on your next run. Children love this winter activity. Find more information at WasatchParc.com.
Hardware Ranch Elk
The chance sighting of wildlife in Utah is always a treat. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are once again offering the opportunity to see elk in all their majesty at Hardware Ranch. Haviland’s Old West Adventures will offer horse-drawn sleigh rides through the elk herd on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Dec. 1 through Feb. 11. Rides start at 10 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. each day. Each ride lasts about 40 minutes. The Hardware Wildlife Education Center is open during the same days and times the rides are offered. Fees are $4 for children 4- 8, and for children nine and older, they are $10, and children under 4 are free. Find details at Wildlife.Utah.Gov/Hardware-Visit.
Crystal Hot Springs
Imagine snowflakes falling in the water as you soak in the luxury of a natural hot spring. Crystal Hot Springs is where you can make this dream a reality. Crystal Hot Springs is unique in that it sits at the convergence of hot and cold springs. The spring ranges in temperature from 120-134 degrees Fahrenheit. These springs have the highest mineral content of any other springs without the sulfur smell sometimes associated with them. These healing waters are a wonderful place to regenerate. During World War II, President Roosevelt, a huge advocate of the healing abilities of mineral hot springs, started a rehabilitation program for wounded Veterans. During the war, buses brought hundreds of soldiers to the spring. The Crystal Hot Springs pools consist of three jetted hot tubs, a soaker pool, a lap pool, an Olympic-sized pool, and two 360-foot water slides. The combination of water from the two springs fills the pools. The temperatures of the water vary in each of the pools, which enriches your soaking experience. This is one of my favorite winter activities. Find more information at CrystalHotSprings.net.
Ice Bumper Cars at Station Park
Ice Bumper Cars are now bumping together in Fountain Square at Station Park in Farmington. Amusement Park bumper cars have always been a favorite activity of mine. Farmington Station took these out of summer and made them a fun winter activity. Bring your friends, hop into an ice bumper car, glide on the ice, and bump into each other. You will love spending some time being a kid again. The $10 ride lasts from 7 to 10 minutes. America First Credit Union sponsors Ice Bumper Cars in Utah. If you are a member and use your card to pay for your admission, you will receive a $5 discount.
Farmington Bay Birdwatching
Farmington Bay is a fantastic place for bird-watching. They are known for bald eagles and other large birds of prey. Many migratory birds pass through Farmington Bay Migratory Bird Refuge, so different birds will be there at different times of the year. The bald eagle is an iconic symbol of the United States, and Utah tends to have the most significant winter population of the bird in the lower 48 states. Every year, thousands of Bald Eagles migrate to Utah to winter here from November through March, and Farmington Bay is one of their favorite places to hang out. Their numbers typically peak in the middle of February. Utah typically sees around 500 bald eagles in the cold season. They mostly keep to northern Utah’s reservoirs and the Great Salt Lake wetlands. The Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area covers 18,000 acres near the Great Salt Lake. Millions of birds call this place home throughout the year, and many stop by for just a short time during their migration. Their massive 7-and-a-half-foot wingspan makes them the star of the show at Farmington Bay. They come down from Alaska and Canada. The winter weather here is balmy by comparison. Put The Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area into Google Maps for directions.
Glass Blowing in Park City
At Red Flower Studios, you’ll delve right into learning and practicing the art of glassblowing. This includes melting the glass in the oven and designing your creation before it cools down. Make a Christmas ornament, take it home, and share it with friends. Your creation will remind you of this one-of-a-kind experience. Book a session for yourself alone or make a memory with family or a group of friends at Red Flower Studios.
Indoor Aquatic Centers
Some city aquatic centers bring summer activities indoors for the winter. While most have indoor pools for swimming laps and water aerobics, some have long curving water slides, lazy rivers, water toy features, in-water jungle gyms, and shallow areas for playtime. It is easy to forget about winter while playing with your family in the warm waters of one of these fun facilities. Regarding Christmas activities, some families take their young children to one of these aquatic centers on Christmas Eve to wear them out and get them to bed early so that Santa can prepare for a morning that often comes way too early. Google Aquatic Centers in Utah. From Logan to Cedar City, there are so many. Check each of the websites for the type of facilities that will be the best fit for your family.
Indoor playgrounds have been popping up all over Utah. Some are only designed for small children, and others provide play for a range of ages; they all offer a wonderful family experience. Parents can watch their children explore a fantastic array of slides, jungle gyms, ball pits, and things to climb. Keeping kids active in the winter takes work. It is essential to stimulate activity year-round. Physically active, creative play helps kids learn faster. It also teaches children how to make friends. Visit an indoor trampoline park for a day of bouncing and active fun. Many parks also offer activities like dodgeball and foam pits. Check out indoor sports centers that provide basketball, volleyball, or soccer activities. Some facilities have open play sessions for families. Find one near you by Googling indoor playgrounds.
Located at Soldier Hollow, Ice Castles is an excellent family activity. The Ice Creation is a vast ice castle made by skilled artists who turn water into ice formations. Exhilarating ice slides are created to be enjoyed by all ages. Crawl tunnels are made just large enough for children and adults who are adventurous enough to squeeze through. Visit the Ice Castles at night when lit from without and within with colorful beams of light, or visit during the day for a completely different experience. Currently, it isn’t open for visitors, but check their website for opening days and times. For more detailed information, visit IceCastles.com
Obviously, Christmas lights around every neighborhood and municipality are on your list of winter to-do, but hopefully, we just gave you more ideas. These are just a few delightful activities to infuse warmth and excitement into your winter days, don’t let the chill take away the thrill! For an ongoing source of inspiration and the latest updates on Utah’s vibrant events, keep exploring MyLocalUtah.com. Discover more winter wonders and make the most of the season’s magic with your loved ones. Happy winter adventures!