See Where High School Musical Was Born
You know the songs like you know your own name. You’ve still got a fat crush on Zac Efron, even if you won’t admit it. You’ve binge-watched every episode of the new "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" on Disney+ and loved every dramatic second of it. Now it’s time to plan a trip to the iconic Utah sites where the "High School Musical" movies and TV series were filmed.
This four-day itinerary is every fan’s guide to the High School Musical universe. It will take you to the stage where Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez made their musical debut, the golf resort and baseball diamond featured in "High School Musical 2" and to the real-life East High School in Salt Lake City where the cast once walked, sang and danced.
Just like Troy and Gabriella, Utah’s heart can be found in two places: the surprisingly rich arts and cultural scenes in its urban spaces and its beautiful mountain and desert landscapes. Along with taking you to iconic film sites, this guide will throw you headfirst into both Utah’s performing arts scene and its sports and recreation experiences, with day one spent in the buzzing grid of downtown Salt Lake City and day two spent in the towering Wasatch Mountains that run like a spine down the city’s east edge.
Finally, you’ll end your journey at the striking red rocks of St. George and one of Utah’s natural leading ladies: Zion National Park.
Arianna Rees is a freelance writer living in Salt Lake City, but her heart is in Cache Valley, where she grew up. Her work has been featured in over a dozen publications, including Deseret News, The Startup, and The Beehive. When she isn't hurriedly typing away at her computer, Arianna can be found hiking and bouldering in the mountains or neck deep in a good book. Follow her on Twitter @AriWRees.
Header photo provided by ©2006 DISNEY CHANNEL. All rights reserved. NO ARCHIVING. NO RESALE.
Live Like A Wildcat
Salt Lake City has a thriving film scene that puts you on-set as well as in front of it. Run by the Salt Lake City Film Society, Broadway Centre Cinemas downtown plays exceptional independent films that make for great post-lunch matinees. After you’ve cozied up to a good flick, get a taste of what it would be like to be in one by swinging by East High School, where "High School Musical" was born and the "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" ("HSMTMTS") was filmed. The cast sang “Stick to the Status Quo” in the cafeteria and Troy led the Wildcats to victory in the gym. Sharpay’s locker(s) are even still painted pink to this day. (Note: East High School offers tours after 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday)
End your day the way Troy might by catching a Utah Jazz game and watching Utah’s favorite basketball team fight for a win.
Foodie Pick: Grab an espresso and a delicious piece of gourmet toast at Publik Coffee Roaster, which was featured in episode four of "HSMTMTS."
Alternative Nighttime Activity: If you’d rather indulge your musical-loving side than your sports side, plan a trip to the Eccles Theater downtown, which features several award-winning Broadway plays a year, or hit some pins at the Bonwood Bowl, featured in episode five of "HSMTMTS."
Overnight: Salt Lake City
Extend Your Trip: If you’ve got extra time to explore downtown, visit the Utah State Capital Building and meander through Temple Square to learn some of the more fascinating parts of Utah’s political and religious history.
Photo provided by ©2006 DISNEY CHANNEL. All rights reserved. NO ARCHIVING. NO RESALE.
Hit The Slopes & The Stage
While most of the "High School Musical" movie was filmed at East High, you can see the stage where Troy and Gabrielle auditioned at Murray High School — just make sure to call ahead and set up an appointment to see it beforehand. Travel east from Murray and bop to the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon to spend the day at Snowbird or Alta ski resort. Though you might not find true love and a duet partner there, you’re sure to find The Greatest Snow on Earth®. Snowbird boasts 2,500 acres and has the longest ski season in Utah, while Alta offers over 116 runs and enjoyable skiing for beginners. Both resorts are spiderwebbed with a network of trails that can be accessed for hiking, mountain biking, and beautiful wildflower viewing in the summertime.
After you’ve spent the day on the slopes or on the trails, wind down by seeing a musical in-person at the famous Hale Centre Theatre, one of the most technological theatrical spaces in the world with a stage that will make your head spin.
Foodie Pick: Utah got its first Shake Shack in 2019, and its burger is one of the best in the state.
Overnight: Provo/Utah County
Extend Your Trip: If you’re visiting Utah at the end of January, consider purchasing tickets for the Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the U.S. You’ll get the very first look at upcoming films and might also run into a celebrity or two.
Photo provided by ©2006 DISNEY CHANNEL. All Rights Reserved.
Getcha Head In The Game
Set out from Utah’s urban center and drive south to play among the dramatic red rocks of St. George just like a Wildcat. St. George is a sports and recreation lover’s paradise, with great cycling, golfing, and climbing among other thrilling sports. For the full "High School Musical" experience, visit The Inn at Entrada and hit the same greens Troy and Gabriella danced on in the second film, then catch a softball game at the Canyons Complex where the Wildcats won the staff baseball game. Near the end of your day, head northwest to Tuacahn where you can watch a musical under the desert sky on the weekends.
Foodie Pick: Eat at the Cliffside Restaurant for breathtaking sunset views of the city.
Overnight: St. George
Photo provided by ©2006 DISNEY CHANNEL. All Rights Reserved.
Break Free and Visit The Wild
Utah’s national parks aren’t featured in the "High School Musical" films, but you’ll catch them in hundreds of other films and TV shows because of their goosebump-inducing landscapes. Zion, which is an hour away from St. George, is no exception. Once in the park, step aboard a shuttle bus where you can relax and enjoy a brief history of the park while you get humbling views of its red rock cathedrals. Take the gentle Riverside Walk (which is wheelchair accessible) for a snippet of Zion’s beautiful scenery. Expert hikers can take the harrowing Angels Landing Trail to see the park from a dizzying bird’s eye view. Just be extremely careful when hiking it.
Extend your stay: Trek deeper into Zion National Park to explore the world-famous Narrows and other popular backpacking trails.