Provo is the third-largest city in Utah, located south of Salt Lake City, and is very religious. About eighty percent of the city’s population are The LDS Church members, which you can feel throughout the city and its enterprises, like Velour Gallery and Station 22, smoking and alcohol-free.
Provo is also home to Brigham Young University and many educational and entertainment facilities on its campus, including Art and Paleontology Museums and the LaVell Edwards Stadium. Provo is the perfect combination of city life and recreational areas. Many of the best state parks in Utah are located directly in Provo or very close. It’s a lovely destination, perfect for exploring in couples, with friends and family.
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Provo (UT)
1. Thanksgiving Point
Located 20 minutes from Provo, Thanksgiving Point is like a small city. It’s a perfect destination for families and represents an enormous farm, a beautiful garden, and a museum complex. Here visitors can escape the city, enjoy nature, have fun, and educate themselves. The main features are the Museum of Natural Curiosity, the Museum of Ancient Life, The Butterfly Biosphere, the Ashton Gardens, and the farm. 2.8 million visitors come here every year.
Museum of Natural Curiosity is a 45,000-square-foot building with four galleries – Rainforest, Water Works, Kidopolis, and the Discovery Garden. Kids will enjoy a Trading Post where they can exchange items they found for prizes. Museum of Ancient Life is home to an impressive collection of 50 dinosaurs, 100 flying reptiles, and interactive exhibits. The Butterfly Biosphere is a unique attraction with over a thousand butterflies, 20 species of tarantula, and other insects. Ashton Gardens have the largest human-made waterfall and are real eye-candy. There’s also a farm with many greenhouses and lots of animals.
2. The Shops at Riverwoods
The Shops at Riverwoods are Provo’s best shopping destination, famous throughout the whole Utah Valley. It’s an open-air shopping center with great architecture, perfect mountain view, a European cobblestone walkway, and active water elements in the summer.
Here visitors will find big national retailers along with unique local boutiques found only in Utah. If you get hungry, there are several options to choose from – starting with fine dining to fast food chains. There’s also a 12-screen theatre complex available for high-quality entertainment. Make sure to stop by at the local books and antiques store where you’ll see an element from the Berlin Wall.
3. Evermore Park
Located in Pleasant Grove within a 20-minute drive from Provo, Evermore Park is a unique combination of theatre, an amusement park, and a theme park. It’s a 15-acre park with Victorian-style buildings, forests, gardens, and a town square.
Each season the park organizes a themed event. The visitors can interact with amusing characters or engage in a theatrical experience through an interactive story with technical and visual effects. There are also many fun activities like ax throwing, archery, train rides, and of course, delicious food.
4. Provo City Center Temple
Provo City Center Temple is the most iconic building and historical landmark in Provo. Completed in 2016, today it is a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a treasure for architecture lovers. Built on the same site as the former Provo Tabernacle, some of its design elements, like the wood-paneled ceiling or the grand staircase, were inspired by the original building. It’s also a relaxed place with beautiful gardens and a calming atmosphere.
Destroyed by fire in 2010, the Provo Tabernacle hosted church meetings, cultural events like concerts and performances, and even a speech from the United States President. Grab an opportunity to take some memorable pictures at this beautiful site, an essential part of the local community and a symbol of its heritage.
5. Brigham Young University Museum of Art
BYU Museum of Art is a somewhat smaller art museum with an impressive collection and an outstanding reputation. This local university’s art museum is one of the best-attended on-campus art facilities in America. Opened in 1993, it’s a 10 000-square-foot space with more than 17 000 art pieces displayed. The museum has attracted almost 400 000 visitors, with its world-class changing and permanent exhibits. And the admission is free, too.
The idea to create a museum originated because an art professor, Wesley M. Burnside, understood the value of the university’s collection, became its acquisitions director and helped the museum to become what it is today. Visitors will enjoy the 19th-century European and American paintings and works by local artists. Faculty staff and students also showcase their artworks in special exhibits.
6. Hruska’s Kolaches
Hruska’s Kolaches is a breakfast tradition of the locals in Provo and a must-do experience for tourists. Ross Hruska opened a small bakery on Center Street in 2014. With lots of help from his brothers and a traditional recipe from his grandmother, the place quickly became the number one place in downtown Provo.
Kolaches are a Czech delicacy similar to donuts but different at the same time. At Hruska’s Kolaches, there are all kinds of flavors, from sweet to savory. It’s an excellent example of European food served in an American manner. To get the best selection, visit the bakery early in the morning as they usually run out of kolaches by noon.
7. Bean Life Science Museum
Bean Life Science Museum is a free natural history museum located on BUY’s campus. Opened in 1978, the museum received its name after Monte Lafayette Bean, a Seattle-based magnate who founded the museum, paid for its construction and donated a large part of his animal trophies. Today this exciting venue welcomes about 100 000 visitors each year and is home to over 200 million animals, plants, birds, reptiles, and fish.
The museum’s unique, exciting features include an 8-foot (in diameter) fiberglass globe with the most up-to-date NASA satellite pictures, a display of animals in the wild, and a butterfly made out of smaller butterflies. The museum has also dedicated a play area for younger kids to explore and learn with a talking owl, a bear cave, a tree nest, and a slide.
8. Utah Lake State Park
Located at the west end of Center Street and on the shore of Utah Lake, Utah Lake State Park has lots of recreation and sports opportunities. The central gem of the Park, Utah Lake, is the largest freshwater lake in the whole state. The 96 000-acre lake is also shallow and is an excellent place for boating, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing.
Visitors can enjoy a lovely getaway on the lake or even stay there for a night or two. There are campsites available, which are suitable for RVs and tents. All of them have running water, electricity, fire pits, and picnic tables. When visiting this state park, take time to see the visitor center, which offers a display of fish, a collection of Indian arrowheads, and lots of historical artifacts and pictures.
9. The All-Together Playground
Located in the City Center Park in Orem, only 15 minutes from Provo, this 19 000-square-foot playground is a fantastic site for family fun. It’s the first playground in the state designed for kids of all abilities and ages to play together.
The playground opened in 2016 and was built in only a week by more than 4000 volunteers. It’s a fun place for kids to play and for parents to relax. It has zip lines, a rock-climbing wall, a few tunnels, a swing, slides, and many more items. There are two areas – one for kids under five and another one for older adventurers.
10. Timpanogos Cave National Monument
Put on a good pair of walking shoes and take a 1,5-mile steep hike to reach the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Opened in 1922 and located in American Fork Canyon near Mount Timpanogos, this national monument attracts many adventure-seeking visitors. You visit the Cave from May to September and only through a guided tour.
Timpanogos Cave is one of the three caves in the system; the other two are Hansen Cave and Middle Cave. They are connected through human-made tunnels and represent uniquely colored cave formations, used to be an ancient shoreline. You can even see and feel small fossilized shells in the cave walls. It’s a bit chilly inside the caves, with average temperatures of about 46 degrees Fahrenheit or 8 degrees Celsius.
11. Cascade Springs
Provo visitors can enjoy the outdoors and get closer to nature while visiting Cascade Springs. Located in the Alpine Scenic Loop, it’s an artesian spring with naturally-formed terraced cascades and water pools. The springs are beautiful any time of the year, but most flowers blossom from June to September, and most trees change to fall colors from September to October.
Scenic views of the ponds, waterfalls, and the gorgeous mountains open up from a few bridges and benches located around the area. Three 15-minute easy hiking loops surround the area. The ponds are shallow, and the water in them is very clear, so prepare yourself for some trout-spotting.
12. Provo Beach
Provo Beach Resort makes locals and tourists feel like on a seaside vacation for a day. This 50 000-square-feet two-level center has lots of entertainment options that you can enjoy with friends and family. The most prominent feature of the resort is the indoor wave FlowRider, where you can learn surfing or ride the waves if you’re a pro.
Other fun features include a large hot tub, eight bowling lanes, four golf simulators, miniature croquet themed for California National Parks, a laser tag area, and a ropes course. Younger visitors can spend some time at the arcade, in a toddler town, or ride the carousel. For a sweet break from all the fun, everyone can have some premium ice-cream at Ike’s Creamery. They serve ice cream on homemade waffles in the 1950’s ice cream parlor atmosphere.
13. Waffle Love – Provo
Waffle Love is the go-to place in Provo if looking for a tasty breakfast or a delicious after-dinner treat. Adam Terry, a former banker, followed his passion for food and opened Waffle Love in 2012. He started with a colorfully painted truck, which was a restaurant on wheels. He later added a few more and became so popular that a fixed location was born in 2014.
The mouth-watering gourmet waffles served at Waffle Love will have anyone hooked from the first bite. There are sweet choices like Churro Waffle or Banana Cream Pie and savory flavors like Grill Cheese and Bacon with Egg. Restaurant guests can also build their waffles. Any option will not disappoint as the main ingredient is always love, as the owner says.
14. Squaw Peak Overlook
Located in Provo Canyon, this is one of the most recognizable sites in Provo. Squaw Peak Overlook offers incredible views into the Canyon, over Utah Valley and Utah Lake. Many people come here at night to reflect while enjoying the shimmering city lights.
There are several hiking trails and walking paths that lead to the Overlook. The main one, called Squaw Peak Trail, is an 8-mile trail. It’s not too hard, accessible to less experienced hikers, and offers terrific views of the mountain range. You can also drive up to the Overlook as there’s a spacious and comfortable parking lot on top.
15. Nielsen’s Grove Park
Perfect for recreation, Nielsen’s Grove Park is a spacious 21-acre state park located in Orem nearby Provo. Started in 1880 by Jorgen Nilson, a Danish immigrant, it’s the first official park in Utah. Inside the park, you’ll find Nielsen’s Grove Museum focused on the history of the Nielsen family and how the park appeared, as well as the rich history of the local area.
There are beautiful gardens with design elements similar to those found in European castle gardens. The tulips blooming in spring are a lovely sight. The park also has a pond with ducks, which you can feed. You can do some fishing. Other than that, the park offers a water fountain, a reflecting pool, picnic pavilions with BBQ grills. Kids can play at the playground or go on a carousel swing. For more active explorers, there’s a 2-mile walking path.
16. Pioneer Book
Satisfy the bookworm in you by visiting Pioneer Book, a bookstore located on West Center Street in Provo. The store’s Instagrammable exterior catches the eyes of everyone walking by. Since its foundation in 1980 by Richard Horsley, a Provo native, this store has been an inspiration to locals and out-of-towners alike.
Pioneer Book is the largest independent used and rare bookstore in Utah. Members of the staff have different life backgrounds, and each person specializes in a particular area. They help visitors find a perfect asset for their collection, and at a great value, too. Although Pioneer Book focuses mostly on used books, there’s also a new section available.
17. Paul Ream Wilderness Park
True to its name, Paul Ream Wilderness Park does offer the peace and tranquility that the wilderness provides. This 7-acre centrally-located park is far from the busy city’s pace. It’s an ideal place to gather your thoughts, have a picnic with friends, or enjoy some time in the sun with the family.
The park is adjacent to the beautiful Provo River. You have to cross it to get to the park’s territory. There’s a duck pond with very friendly ducks used to frequent park guests. The park has vast grassy areas, pavilions with picnic tables and BBQ grills, and a playground with a few slides and swings.
18. Velour Live Music Gallery
An American magazine called this music venue one of Utah’s best-kept secrets, and it perfectly describes Velour Live Music Gallery. Founded in 2006 by Corey Fox, it’s been a premier music venue for smaller and larger bands alike. Some very famous ones, like Imagine Dragons or Neon Trees, have called Velour their home as it helped them grow.
Located on University Avenue, Velour is a smoking-free and alcohol-free gallery that welcomes visitors of all ages. Artists performing here represent a unique and carefully curated mix of genres. Many locals and tourists appreciate this place because of its classy but luxurious interior, pleasant vibe, and top-quality performances.
19. Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is an iconic attraction and a gem of the Provo Canyon. Being more than 600-feet tall, it’s one of the tallest waterfalls in Utah. This natural double cascade waterfall pleases its visitors with a fantastic view and the beautiful sound of the splashing water.
One way to see the Falls is the lookout area on the road. Another way is to take a 1,5-mile hike up to the waterfall base to get a closer look. Since the Falls are a popular tourist attraction, it’s best to avoid crowds and visit the site in the morning. Close to the Falls, there’s a lovely 3-acre Bridal Veil Falls Park. It has picnic tables with BBQ grills and a few charming paths to walk around and relax.
20. LaVell Edwards Stadium
LaVell Edwards Stadium is an outdoor stadium unlike any other. Surrounded by the mountains, the stadium’s guests can enjoy a surreal view from their seats. The stadium stands on the campus of Brigham Young University and hosts mainly college football games. It opened in 1964 as Cougar Stadium, but in 2000 a newer and bigger stadium replaced it. The site got a new name after LaVell Edwards, the head coach at the university for 29 seasons, retired in 2000.
But the stadium isn’t home to sports exclusively. It hosts many seasonal events, like The Stadium of Fire in the summer, but the most popular event is the Farmer’s Market held every Thursday in the fall. The city’s vendors offer local produce, baked goods, artworks, and handmade crafts. There are also many food tasting opportunities. Don’t miss out on traditional Cougar Tails (sausages) and demonstrations by the university’s Executive Chef.
21. Highland Glen Park
Breathe some fresh air in a beautiful outing or enjoy a few hours on the beach in Highland Glen Park. Located in Highland City, half an hour from Provo, it has a large pond, which resembles a small lake, and is home to many ducks and geese. The sandy beach surrounds it, so if the weather allows, you can swim in the pond and play volleyball at the park’s beach volleyball court.
As in many local parks, there is a big pavilion with BBQ grills enough to host a small BBQ party (free of charge!). For the eager explorers, this 3,25-acre park offers access to a longer trail called Murdock Canal Trail. Fishing enthusiasts can take advantage of the pond with an appropriate permit. The site is very family-friendly, with many grassy areas and a playground.
Taste is an artisanal chocolate shop, a factory, a cafe, and a tea room – all in one. Located on University Avenue, Taste is a place where people come primarily for delicious chocolate, an exclusive ambiance, and memorable experiences. Taste’s visitors can watch the chocolate-making process and learn about the craft by taking a small chocolate factory tour. There are also chocolate-making classes and tastings available.
But if, like many others, you’d like to taste delicious, heavenly desserts, this is the right place. Some of the menu’s best items are a chocolate lava cake, a brownie, frozen hot chocolate, and ice cream with vinegar and sauces. In this European-style cafe, you can taste the Explore collection, which focuses on flavors from various locations worldwide. With everything made fresh on the spot, it’s a perfect place to grab a chocolate bar or two to take home with you.
23. BYU Museum of Paleontology
BYU Museum of Paleontology is one of the best educational and fun places in Provo. The museum opened in 1976 with a collection donated by James A. Jensen, an American paleontologist, called “Dinosaur Jim” in close circles. It used to be the BYU Earth Science Museum until its expansion and renaming in 2009. Since then, it’s been attracting more than 25 000 visitors every year.
Today this small and free museum hosts an extensive collection of fossils and dinosaur bones. There are full-sized dinosaur displays, like the skeleton of one of the Jurassic period’s largest predators or an exhibit of an enormous sloth. Since it is primarily a research center, visitors can see paleontologists at work and even watch the process through a viewing window.
24. Provo Pioneer Village
Travel back in time and learn about the life of early Utah settlers in Provo Pioneer Village, a historical museum founded in 1931. The Daughters and Sons of Utah Pioneers run the museum, which covers Provo in the mid to late 1800s.
Provo Pioneer Village is the oldest open-air museum in Utah. Reflecting on the life of a community that lived mostly in isolation, it has a great collection of items. The visitors can see furniture, clothing, tools, guns, arts, and photographs on display. But the most exciting part of the museum is the display of the original buildings created by the pioneers – a schoolhouse, a log cabin, a blacksmith shop, and others.
25. Station 22
Located in Historic Downtown Provo, Station 22 Cafe is a local treasure with excellent service, generous portions, and a few surprises. Famous for its Southern-style food, it’s a favorite spot for the locals and a go-to place for travelers.
Station 22 is unique as they don’t serve any alcohol but rather provide an elaborated drink menu full of delightful sodas. One of their specialties is the house root beer, served in large mugs. All drinks go perfectly with some of their best dishes like fried chicken, Whiskey burger, bacon Mac & Cheese, and deep-fried cookie dough.