Provo is the third largest city in Utah and is rich in historical attractions and cultural experiences. Provo is also home to Brigham Young University.
Provo gets its name from a noted explorer and fur trader, Etienne Provost, who established a trading post on the shores of Utah Lake.
Today, the Provo-Orem area is regarded as one of the nation's top metropolitan areas for well-being and quality of life, often ranking #1, thanks to safe, family-friendly communities, a surging technology economic cluster and incredible outdoor recreation assets.
Sanctity of the Outdoors
Often called the "Garden City" because of its extensive fruit orchards, trees, and gardens, Provo is a major gateway to a stunning outdoor recreation mecca, the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. It is also the home of Robert Redford's Sundance Resort, a haven for winter and summer recreationists, as well as artists and environmentalists.
Like Salt Lake City to the north, Provo is blessed with virtually unparalleled access to incredible natural resources for outdoor enthusiasts. Provo Canyon features Bridal Veil Falls, a fantastic year-round destination that in the summer serves as the scenic backdrop for abundant biking, mountaineering, rafting and hiking opportunities and in the winter is a must-visit destination for ice climbers the world over. Look for bike and tube rentals as well as guide and snack services.
Nearby in American Fork Canyon, you'll find the mystic beauty of Timpanogos Cave National Monument, three exquisitely dazzling caverns connected by a man-made tunnel beneath scenic Mt. Timpanogos.
Though quieter than similarly sized metropolitan areas, Provo has both a highly regarded culinary scene headlined by the Heirloom Group's Communal restaurant and Pizzeria 712, a fierce local and independent business community complemented by prominent headliners Vivant, Qualtrics and Ancestry.com, and even some great nighttime hangouts. The Owl Bar at nearby Sundance Resort is a must-visit watering hole for both the libations and the history.
Provo is also home of the private Brigham Young University (BYU), whose student ranks swell the town's population by about 31,000 each school year. Utah Valley University adds an additional 33,000 students, now the largest public school in the Utah System of Higher Education.
The classic in-state rivalry between Provo's BYU and Salt Lake's University of Utah makes for some exciting athletic competition in football and basketball, as well as many other college sports and academic pursuits.
Heritage and Other Attractions
Utah Valley was the traditional home of the Ute Indians, from whom the state derives its name. Today, visitors to Provo can see several sites that have great historic significance. The Brigham Young Academy was founded in Provo in 1875. This school grew into what is now Brigham Young University (BYU). The Academy today stands restored in its original location, but as a beautiful public library. The renovated Provo Tabernacle, located on University Avenue between Center Street and First South, is another of Provo's historic landmarks. Unfortunately, the tabernacle suffered fire damage in 2010 and is currently being restored. The building was originally completed in 1898 at a cost of $100,000.
Northward, the town of Lehi, named for a Book of Mormon prophet, features historic buildings, such as the Lehi Historic Hotel, built in 1884. West of Lehi is Camp Floyd Stage Coach Inn State Park, an old military post, which housed the largest contingent of troops anywhere in the USA in the late 1850s. It later became an overnight stop on the Pony Express Trail.
Looking for ancient history? Thanksgiving Point houses the North American Museum of Ancient Life, one of the largest dinosaur museums of its kind, with more than 50 skeletal displays, standing dinosaurs, and over 100 reconstructed flying reptiles. It makes an excellent prelude or follow-up to BYU Museum of Paleontology, recognized world-wide for having one of the most valuable Jurassic dinosaur collections, including a 150-million-year-old dinosaur egg.
Thanksgiving Point also features everything from the Johnny Miller designed-Thanksgiving Point Golf Club, to gorgeous garden displays and a dinosaur museum, complete with a Mammoth Screen. Outdoor outfitter, Cabela's, in Lehi, draws enthusiasts from a multi-state area for its shopping and wildlife displays. Seven Peaks Water Park is just down the road, as is the Peaks Arena, home to the Women's Hockey Event during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Provo also offers museums and galleries, a theater company, and restaurants featuring a variety of cuisine.For more information, visit www.utahvalley.com.
Family Fun Adventures Seven Peaks Water Park is popular for its thrilling waterslides and giant wave pool, 1330 E. 300 North, (801) 373-4386, www.sevenpeaks.com.
The Quarry offers indoor rock climbing in a 12,000 sq. ft. facility with kids programs, 2494 N. University Pkwy, (801) 418-0266, www.quarryclimbing.com.
Feed the paddling ducks at Utah Lake State Park. Take a break from swimming in Utah's biggest freshwater lake to feed the ducks that gather around the lake's south side and the river year-round, 4400 W. Center Street, (801) 375-0731.
The BYU Museum of Paleontology has an extensive collection of late Jurassic and early Cretaceous dinosaurs. Exhibits include the largest and smallest dinosaurs, a 150-million-year-old Allosaurus egg, fossil plants, minerals, and an array of pterosaur and Ice Age mammal skeletons, 1683 N. Canyon Road, (801) 422-3680.
In the Vicinity Family Fun Activities
Lehi At Thanksgiving Point, there are many things for families to enjoy each season, including the beautiful Thanksgiving Point Gardens, the Children's Discovery Garden, Farm Country, the Museum of Ancient Life, shopping at The Emporium, or dining at one of the facilities' restaurants. Thanksgiving Point is located just-off I-15 in Lehi, (801) 768-2300, www.thanksgivingpoint.com.
Orem Trafalga Family Fun Center has indoor and outdoor miniature golf, an arcade, batting cages, and a track raceway, 168 S. 1200 West, (801) 224-6000, www.trafalga.com.
Sundance At the Sundance Nature Center Summer Camp, kids ages 8-12, spend time experiencing the outdoors in creative programs, 15 miles northeast of Provo on Hwy 92 at Sundance Resort, (801) 223-4044.
Thrill Seekers (18 years and older)
A new drop zone for skydiving opened in Nephi, Utah, about 30 minutes south of Provo. Skydive the Wasatch provides access to what are arguably some of the best, most adrenaline-charged views of Utah's dramatic and beautiful Wasatch Mountain Range. (385) 321-0284.