Downtown salt lake city with mountains in the background

9 Things to Do in Utah that Have Nothing to Do with the Desert

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Even though Utah may seem like a place where only desert thrives, there’s a lot more to the Beehive State than meets the eyes.

As a matter of fact, Utah is home to a wide variety of landscapes, terrain, and destinations that have absolutely nothing to do with the desert, which can range from charming small towns, alpine locales, and bustling cities.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Utah that aren’t desert-related, here’s a list of a few destinations and attractions worth checking out!

Things to Do in Utah that Have Nothing to Do with the Desert

Downtown salt lake city with mountains in the background
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Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a place where history, religion, and entertainment meet.

Home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (more colloquially known as the Mormon Church), a lot of the attractions you’ll find at Salt Lake have a religious theme to them.

Even if religion is not your jam, visiting a few of these attractions is a must in order to understand Utah a little better.

A few places worth checking out include the This is the Place Monument, the Mormon Tabernacle, Temple Square, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and the Old Deserted Village, a living museum where you’ll be able to see a representation of an older Mormon community.

Of course, not everything in Salt Lake City is religion-based. A few examples of attractions worth checking out include the Tracy Aviary, Hogle Zoo, the historical library park, and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Venue. 

Great Salt Lake National Park
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Great Salt Lake National Park

Located close to the capital, Great Salt Lake National Park is the largest natural lake in Utah.

While its humongous size is reason enough to visit, what makes this lake extremely unique is the fact that, due to the fact that there it has no outlet and that it leaves behind lots of mineral deposits, its water is saltier than ocean water!

While here, you’ll get to feel as though you’re on an actual beach inside a landlocked state. Some of the things you can do at the Great Salt Lake include swimming, boating, birdwatching, and fishing.

Keep your eyes out for bison, as they tend to roam around the park’s grounds. 

Moreover, we highly recommend staying inside the park for sunset. During this time, the sky reflects over the lake, creating a spectacular display of colors that look almost as though they should belong in a painting.

Bonneville Seabase
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Bonneville Seabase

Great Salt Lake homes a very odd inland sea that was created as a result of salty water being filtered through Lake Bonneville’s bed.

This place is a perfect location for snorkeling and scuba diving even though it’s hundreds of miles away from the coast!

During your visit, you may just get to forget you’re even in Utah, especially when you see sailboats gliding over this tiny inland sea that adds to the tropical flavor of the place.

Park City
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Park City

Set a few miles away from Salt Lake City, Park City is a favorite winter getaway for locals and visitors alike.

Park City is located within the Wasatch Mountains, making it a prime spot for skiing and various other winter sports (in fact, the town became famous after being a location at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics!).

Aside from being a go-to spot for snow activity aficionados, Park City also homes a pretty incredible fine dining scene and many luxury resorts.

During the rest of the year, the town is a great place to go hiking, mountain biking, golfing, and hot air ballooning.

Cascade Springs 
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Midway, Homestead Crater, and Cascade Springs 

Tucked away inside the Wasatch Mountain State Park, Midway is an excellent place to explore Utah’s nature beyond its deserts.

One of the best things to do nearby is visiting Homestead Crater, a gorgeous geothermal spring that just happens to be the only place in the continental USA where you can do warm water scuba diving.

Other great things to see include Cascade Springs, a display of terraced pools and waterfalls inside a forest that create a gorgeous scene as well as Deer Creek Dam, where you can boat, swim, zipline, and more.

If you’re visiting during the winter, make sure you pay the Hollow Solider ski resort a visit. It’s considered one of the best places in Utah for cross-country skiing!

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Hardware Ranch

If you’re into wildlife encounters, Hardware Ranch is a fantastic destination to visit on your Utah itinerary.

Here, you’ll be able to see hundreds of elk roaming around freely around the ranch.

This only occurs during the winter, though. The ranch remains closed during spring, summer, and fall when there are no elk around.

Brigham City
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Brigham City

Located at the skirts of the Wellsville Mountains, Brightman City is a small town where charming 17th-century architecture and nature reign supreme.

Here, you’ll be able to stroll through a series of centuries-old buildings, all while being surrounded by beautiful alpine nature and getting to feel as though you were transported back in time.

As a bonus, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge sits a close distance from the city.

Here, you can see American White Pelicans in the summer and Tundra Swans in the fall as well as over 200 bird species the rest of the year.

Bear Lake utah
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Garden City

Garden City is commonly nicknamed the Caribbean of the Rockies thanks to the fact that it sits right by Bear Lake, a lake whose waters display vibrant blue tones that will make you feel as though you’re somewhere in the tropics!

Top activities at Garden City include sunbathing, water skiing, sailing, swimming, and many other activities you’d usually only expect to find in coastal cities.

provo utah
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Provo is the third-largest city in Utah and a perfect gateway for outdoor adventures on the Wasatch Front.

One of the reasons most people visit Provo is to hike Mount Timpanogos, the second-highest mountain in Utah.

If you’re not up for the challenge, though, there are plenty more things to see in this quaint city, including tubing down the Provo River, boating on the lake, or hiking amid the many forests that surround the city.

Which of these non-desert destinations in Utah catch your eye the most? We’d love to know which ones made it into your itinerary, so let us know in the comment section below!

More things to do in Utah:

Cache Valley 

Heber Valley

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9 Things To Do in Utah Beyond The Desert

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