12 Family-Friendly Winter Activities in Utah
Feb 26, 2021
By: Mo Edwards
Feeling cooped up? Try these indoor and outdoor winter activities for kids and parents alike. Utah is a family-friendly place (highest birth rate in the nation, heh heh) so we have a kid-friendly infrastructure ready for long, dark winter days. From swimming to sledding, the whole family will enjoy (or at least appreciate) these fun winter activities.
Covid-19 update: Everybody is doing their best to stay safe and healthy and the places on our list are no exception. Some are currently closed or have limited hours of operation. Our best advice is to call ahead, check websites and bring masks.
Indoor Winter Activities
Cost: $9.95-$14.95 per person
Time: 2-3 hours
Where: Salt Lake CityWalk through time on a switchbacking boardwalk through the fossil record at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Built in 2011, this modern museum has a collection of exotic butterflies, minerals and indigenous masterpieces. Everything is fascinating but your kids might beeline to the dinosaur gallery to get skull to skull with Allosaurus, Utahceratops and Utahraptor.
Covid-19 update: Reservations and masks are required. Hands-on exhibits are closed.Thanksgiving Point Museum of Natural Curiosity
Cost: $15-$20 per person
Time: 2-4 hoursWhere: LehiFinally! A museum where kids can touch and play with everything! This children's museum is educational in a delightfully tactile way. Let your kids get soaked in the Waterworks section or break out of jail in Kidopolis. Be warned: there’s a lot of kids here, but if you can handle some chaos then this place is worth the trip.
Covid-19 update: Reservations and masks are required. Hands-on exhibits are closed.
Indoor Swimming Pools
Cost: $3-$7 per person
Time: 1-3 hoursWhere: Various locations along the Wasatch FrontUtah’s new and improved public swimming pools are basically playgrounds. They have lazy rivers, slides and buckets that pour water in your eyeballs when you least expect it. Needless to say — kids love it! The water is comfortably warm and shallow enough for toddlers. How's that for a Utah family winter activity?
Covid-19 update: Pool hours and closures vary. Call ahead or check city and county parks and recreation websites.INDOOR POOLS WITH PLAYGROUNDS
Fairmont Aquatic Center
1044 East Sugarmont Drive (2225 South)
Salt Lake City, UT 84106
1661 East Murray-Holladay Road (4800 South)
Holladay, UT 84117
Lehi Aquatics Center
123 North Center Street
Lehi, UT 84043
Provo Recreation Center
320 West 500 North
Provo, UT 84601
Clearfield Aquatic Center
825 South State Street
Time: 1-3 hours
Where: Various locations in Salt Lake City
Once upon a time, the library was a place of silence and stern librarians. But these days libraries are humming with activity. Think of them more like community hubs where staff and volunteers teach free workshops on reading, art, computers, legos, yoga, storytime and more. They’ve gone digital too. Catch a virtual workshop, join a book club or check out an audiobook. Pro tip: At the Main Library in downtown Salt Lake City you can take a ride in the glass elevator to the roof, observe the dormant beehive, then walk down the swooping steps to the courtyard. Covid-19 update: The City Libraries are currently closed for in-person stuff, dang it.
Cost: $14.95-$19.95 per person
Time: 2-3 hours
Where: DraperUtah may be hardcore landlocked, but you can still watch antarctic penguins swim and play. The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium is home to many creatures both scaly and feathered. Say hi to the toucans, then stare at the mesmerizing sharks. It's like going from the bottom of the ocean to the canopies of the Amazon Rainforest in one day.
Covid-19 update: Reservations are required.
Cost: $3-$7 per person
Time: 1 hour + commuter train time
Where: OgdenYour kid likes trains? Try this: ride the FrontRunner commuter train up to the Utah State Railroad Museum in Ogden. Get off at Historic Union Station and choo choo! You’re there. Check out the retired engines and cabooses outside and head inside to watch some model trains doing their thing. Fun times for kids who like trains.
Covid-19 update: Open but with limited hours.
Outdoor Winter Activities
Cost: Price varies
Where: Various locations on the Wasatch Front and Park CitySledding is a winter classic that every kid has gotta try at least once. Sled for free at the iconic hill at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City. If you don’t feel like trudging up a hill 17 times (it is good exercise though) head up to Woodward Park City to their state-of-the-art tubing lanes. Lay back and watch the scenery as you and your kids glide down the longest tubing hill in Utah then take the magic carpet back up.
Cost: It depends but $$$Time: 3-8 hoursWhere: Utah’s family-friendly ski resortsPasses to ski and snowboard resorts are expensive, but don’t give up yet, powder pauper. Deals like Alta Ski After 3, Brighton night skiing, Ski Utah’s heavily discounted passes for 5th and 6th graders, and the fact that most resorts let young kids ski for free can make skiing affordable again. Smaller resorts like Nordic Valley and Brian Head even offer free season passes for kids 10 and under. Pro tip: Pack your own lunch and a thermos of hot chocolate to keep spirits up and costs down.
Covid-19 update: Masks are required at all resorts and some have limited parking that requires a reservation.Winter Hiking and SnowshoeingCost: FreeTime:1-3 hoursWhere: EverywhereYep you read that right. Hiking in winter is perfect for getting the family out of the house and into the crisp fresh air. Go as far as you want on Little Cottonwood Trail up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Or hike Ensign Peak Trail on a clear day and get a 100-mile view of Salt Lake Valley. Head to Utah County and check out the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls in its icy glory. Rent snowshoes to go off-trail in that fresh Utah powder snow.
Cost: $9.99-$19.99 per person
Let it all go on a walk through the Ice Castles in Midway. Icicle artisans spend the winter building the castles through magic and science. Anna and Elsa fans will appreciate the frozen wonderland all lit up at night in blue and pink. Afterwards, try ice skating at the Midway Ice Rink. It's quaint and cute just like Midway. Don’t forget to wear long underwear under your Olaf costume.
Covid-19 update: Open for business. Masks for all guests are required.
Cost: FreeTime: 1-4 hoursWhere: Snow banks, backyards, fields, parks
Since the dawn of time, families have been balling up snow and throwing it at each other. It's just a natural way to release that pent up winter energy. Use that energy to build a snow fort. Then add color with snow paint. Then add some ice sculpture gargoyles to intimidate the enemy. Now you are ready for total snowball war. Just be sure there aren’t any cops watching. In Provo it's a misdemeanor to have a snowball fight. For Sparta!
Bonfire With S’mores
Cost: $10-$15 Time: 1-2 hours
Where: Your backyard or park pavillion
Fire + candy = fun. Instead of having yet another movie night, try a backyard bonfire with hot chocolate and s’mores. Maybe your teens can help you come up with the weirdest s’more combination like starbursts and saltines. (Salty and sweet? Sounds good!) Everyone in the family will get fired up about this one.
Start Planning Your Summer VacationIt's never too late to look forward to summer. Start making summer vacation plans today. Book a river trip or reserve that popular campsite your family loves. Get some ideas from our road trip itineraries, bucket lists and family-friendly hikes. Utah’s state and national parks will be thawed out before you know it!