When was the last time everyone in the family agreed on something? While most people come to Utah to ski and snowboard, that’s not the only reason to visit in the winter. If you have someone in your group who doesn’t enjoy letting gravity help them down the mountain, Utah still offers plenty of activities to make for a great winter vacation. Even if you dream of skiing on fresh Utah powder, sometimes the body needs a break between runs. Here are 10 non-ski activities to make your trip to Utah special, even if you never make it to the chairlift.
1. Dog Sledding
Want a different way to have fun in the snow? Take a dogsledding trip with some truly special animals. All Seasons Adventures is just 15 minutes from downtown Park City and offers rides through the meadows of the Wasatch and Uinta Mountain Ranges. The team of huskies will pull you along, and you’ll learn about the handling and care of the dogs. These dogs love to run, and it’s a thrill to be part of the team.
Snowmobiles are one of the best ways to explore the Utah backcountry in thrilling fashion. Thousand Peaks offers multiple trips ranging from two to four hours, starting from its ranch in Oakley, Utah. Summit Meadows Adventures operates from Garff Ranch, which is just eight miles from downtown Park City—and free transportation to and from the ranch is available. The guided tours on groomed trails offers stunning views of the Wasatch range.
Kids, and kids at heart, can enjoy the thrill of sliding down the mountain without the skis or a snowboard. Gorgoza Park in Park City features seven lighted and lift-serviced tubing hills, which offer variety in steepness and distance. You’ll also find mini snowmobiles designed for kids aged 6-12, plus a winter play area for kids under 6. Tubing is also available at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, which was the venue for cross-country skiing at the 2002 Olympic Games. It features the longest tubing runs in Utah (1,200 feet) and, of course, lifts to get you back to the top. You could also rent cross-country skis and give that sport a try as well. Lessons are available through the Nordic Center.
4. Spa Day
Enough about the outdoor sports: Take a relaxing day and have yourself pampered at one of the many spas either at the resorts or in the immediate area. The 35,000-square-foot Spa Montage Deer Valley includes redwood saunas, steam rooms, jetted whirlpools, deluge showers, and an indoor lap pool with spectacular views of the mountain. His and hers relaxations rooms offer serene meditation by the crackling fire. The Spa at Stein Eriksen Lodge, Utah’s only Forbes Five Star Spa, also offers a huge amount amenities, including couples treatment rooms, hot and cold plunge pools, a salon, and wellness studio.
Take a stroll along one of the many pedestrian-friendly shopping areas. Historic 25th Street in Ogden dates back to the days of the railroad boom, and it has now transformed into the city’s top spot for art galleries, shopping, and entertainment. Park City’s Main Street also dates back to the 1800s as merchants catered to miners who established the town. You’ll find more than 70 retailers there, including everything from designer apparel to one-of-a-kind boutiques. The options are endless in Salt Lake City, but consider the City Creek Center for clothing and department stores—and just about anything else—or you can hunt down something unique at a variety of antique stores in the city.
6. Unleash Your Inner-Olympian at Utah Olympic Park
Another legacy of the 2002 Games, Utah Olympic Park was the venue for bobsled, skeleton, luge, ski jumping and the Nordic Combined events. Elite athletes still train here for those sports, so you can often see them jumping and sliding both during training and competition. There are two free museums that cover the Olympics and Utah’s skiing history. But the signature attraction in the park is the Comet Bobsled, which takes patrons on a ride down the Olympic bobsled run—with the help of a professional driver. It’s something you’ll never forget.
7. See a Movie
Utah becomes the center of the entertainment industry for 10 days at the end of each January as the Sundance Film Festival is held in Park City. Screenings of some of the top independent films in the country are held at locations in both Park City and Salt Lake City, and tickets are available to the public for most showings. Or hang out in Park City and people watch, which can be almost as much fun.
8. Tour Art Galleries
Wandering around the main shopping areas of Ogden and Park City, you’ll find plenty of galleries to explore. But if you’re interested in art, make a point to visit the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City, which always has several fascinating exhibits on display. In Park City, the Kimball Art Center is also worth a visit. It’s mission is to promote arts education, but it also has rotating exhibits that never fail to inspire.
9. Learn Natural History
The new building for the Natural History Museum of Utah is nestled in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains with an impressive structure that blends into the landscape. The building itself is worth a visit on its own, but thankfully the accompanying museum is top-notch as well. With exhibits on the sky, past worlds, the Great Salt Lake, and the First People, just to name a few, you can discover more about the state of Utah and its plant and animal life through its entire history. You’ll look at the state in a whole new way.
10. Ice Skating
Slip on some skates and take to the ice at the Gallivan Center, a beautiful rink right in the heart of Salt Lake City. You can also skate on the Utah Olympic Oval, also in Salt Lake, which features the same 400-meter ice oval the speedskaters used during the 2002 Olympics. You may not go quite as fast, but it’s an entertaining way to enjoy the ice. Other skating options include the Resort Center Ice Rink at the base of Park City Mountain Resort. The outdoor rink is conveniently located close to about everything in Park City and features an excellent view of the surrounding mountains as you skate. The Park City Ice Arena and Sports Complex is a indoor, year-round skating facility with an Olympic-sized rink to enjoy.
Originally written for Ski Utah.