Utah is known for its two distinct regions: the southern canyons featuring soaring red rocks and awesome adventures, as well as the northern mountains with numerous hiking opportunities and urban areas. When you stay at one of many Utah vacation rentals, you can enjoy convenient access to a range of end-of-summer activities that include swimming, sunbathing, and family-friendly fun. Here are a few of the top Labor Day getaway spots in Utah.
1. St. George
St. George lies in the southwest corner of Utah by the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area. While temperatures can reach the 90s during September, they average in the 80s, the perfect temperature to go hiking in the surrounding red rocks or strolling down the quaint downtown area. The Red Cliffs NCA boasts restored 19th-century buildings (such as the Orson Adams house) and 14 hiking trails. The White Reef, Silver Reef, and Anasazi trails all are popular for hiking and biking. Get in some end-of-summer swimming at the Sand Hollow State Park and Reservoir. Take in a show at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre, an outdoor venue.
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2. Cedar City
Cedar City is a bit northeast of St George and lies between the Dixie National Forest, the Zion National Park, and the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. Zion National Park — known as Zion’s to the locals — features jutting cliffs and red sandstone canyons. Angels Landing is one of the most popular hikes, a strenuous 5-mile trek definitely not suitable for children. On the other hand, the Canyon Overlook Trail, an easy hike that offers fantastic views is perfect for the entire family. Labor Day also falls in the middle of the nationally known Utah Shakespeare Festival, a series of plays that run from June to October.
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The town of Escalante is located in the middle of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a 1.7-million acre area covering five distinct life zones. A vacation rental in Escalante is literally surrounded by natural beauty. Here you can view deserts, coniferous forests, slot canyons, river canyons, and mountains. Devils Garden and Escalante River are both great hikes for young families. Other popular trails include Calf Creek Falls, Golden Cathedral, Death Hollow, and Hole in the Rock. See all the most beautiful areas with Utah Slickrock Guides, the Wildland Trekking Company, Forever Adventure Tours, or Dreamland Safari Tours. Head over to Otter Creek State Park and Reservoir for fishing — you can rent a boat at the local marina — or spend your time relaxing at the Rockin’ R Ranch, where you can go on horseback rides, swimming and tubing, and hiking at the nearby Antimony Canyon.
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Moab, in the southeastern corner of the state, is happily located between Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and Arches National Park. Start out touring Canyonlands in your car. Both Island in the Sky and The Needles are great scenic drives, about 40 miles all together. If you have four-wheel-drive, try the White Rim Road and the Maze, both which offer beautiful views. Next, do some geocaching at Dead Horse Point State Park, which was once the site of wild mustang drives. There are three geocaches available for discovery. Finally, head to Arches, one of the iconic Utah destinations, and hike Delicate Arch, Double Arch, or Balanced Rock.
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Provo offers both city and outdoor fun. Start off with an early morning hike to Grotto Falls or Fifth Water Waterfalls and Hot Spring, or drive half an hour to the south to Mount Timpanogos, one of the most well-known Utah hikes that culminates in a guided cave tour. Then head over to Utah Lake for some swimming and boating before it gets too cold. Rent paddle boards at Utah Rentals or Utah Boat and Jet Ski Rentals. End at the Provo’s Rooftop Concert Series, which has featured such artists as Fleetwood Mac in the past.
Lehi is the home of Thanksgiving Point, an activity complex that features gardens, a children’s museum, the Museum of Ancient Life, the Museum of Natural Curiosity, an interactive farm, movie theaters, and restaurants. During Labor Day weekend, this area is transformed into a tropical paradise for the annual Polynesian Days Festival. There are food and craft booths, hula and ukulele workshops, underground pig roasting demonstrations (known as umu), and live music and entertainment. The festival culminates in a luau with traditional food, feasting, and fun. You can also go to Lehi Heritage Days featuring a Mad Hatter Birthday Tea Party and games for the children, a car show for the adults, and plenty of food.
Midway is located on the east side of the Wasatch Mountains in what is known as little Switzerland (or technically, Heber Valley) because of the alpine beauty, green mountains and foothills, and running streams. Also, Swiss immigrants originally settled there. It’s only natural that every Labor Day weekend, Midway hosts the popular Swiss Days Festival, which features real yodeling and flower hair wreaths. The whole thing starts with a parade where traditional alpine jigs are performed in traditional dress. There are booths featuring arts, crafts, and artisanal foods. In fact, Heber Valley Milk and Artisan Cheese is just down the road, so you can tour the factory (or just visit its booth at Swiss Days). While in Midway, take advantage of its proximity to Deer Creek Reservoir to do some end-of-season swimming, and then hike Soldier Hollow.
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8. Park City
Park City also lies on the east side of the Wasatch Mountains and is known for its skiing and snowboarding in the winter and hiking during the summer. Hike up to Gobblers Knob or explore Iron Mountain. Labor Day in this part of the state shares time with Miner’s Day, a local holiday. There’s a parade celebrating the region’s mining heritage, live music, games, and even a fun run for all ages. Perhaps the biggest draw, though, is the Running of the Balls, a charitable event where adopted balls are released down the Main Street for a truly unique race. The first one to the bottom wins.
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9. Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City also offers a combination of urban and outdoor delights from hiking along the Wasatch Mountains — if you’re up to it, hike Mount Olympus, one of the most spectacular hikes in the area — to shopping at the City Creek Mall. While visiting the mall in the downtown area, take a walk around temple square featuring the Salt Lake City Temple and Tabernacle, two of the oldest buildings in the city. There are also tons of great restaurants, including Alamexo, Eva, Spitz, and From Scratch. Head up to the mountains for biking and hiking. During Labor Day weekend, Snowbird Resort in the Wasatch Mountains hosts Oktoberfest, a German festival complete with traditional German foods, rides and activities for the kids, and a beer garden for adults.
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10. Garden City
Garden City lies in northern Utah just south of the Idaho border on Bear Lake. Celebrate the holiday and end of summer by sailing on the lake. There are several watercraft rental services, including Marina Rentals, Bear Lake Rentals, Epic Adventure Center, and Bear Lake Funtime. Enjoy local eateries such as Bear Trapper Restaurant or Cafe Sabor, make sure you stop at LaBeau’s for a raspberry shake, a local specialty.
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