We love to dream about weekend getaways this time of year. A few peaceful days spent taking in the colors of the season is so enticing. Just about any road out of the Salt Lake Valley will land you somewhere amazing within an hour or two. A desert wonderland awaits to the south, majestic peaks to the east, and National Parks in every direction. Here are ten suggestions to get your wheels turning.
Photo credit Grand America
If you prefer being close to home, consider our recommendations for an unforgettable staycation.
1. Grand America—Treat yourself to a weekend at the pinnacle of luxury. Immerse yourself in the amenities that make The Grand America a 5-Star hotel: 24-hour room service, treatments at the spa, and an exquisite Sunday brunch.
2. Hotel Monaco—Situated in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, Hotel Monaco is the perfect base for a cosmopolitan night on the town. The Capitol Theatre, which is right across the street, is home to Ballet West, Broadway Across America – Utah, and Utah Opera.
Within an hour
If you’re ready to get out of the valley for a couple days but not ready for a long trek, consider these nearby mountain escapes. Bonus – many ski resorts have “off-season” discounts on lodging this time of year!
3. Heber Valley—If you’re pining for an action-packed weekend, Heber Valley is the place for you. Make-believe that you’re on an epic vacation in the Alps with a stay at the Swiss-themed Zermatt Resort in Midway. Or venture into the crater at the Homestead, the only warm scuba diving destination in the continental US. You can enjoy the sights from the Heber Valley Railroad, which offers special fall-themed train rides such as the Pumpkin Train and the Halloween Train. There are 90 holes to golf, excellent mountain biking, a zip-line, endless fishing, and even hot air balloons.
Photo credit Stein Erickson Lodge
4. Deer Valley—Deer Valley has everything you need for your picture-perfect escape: vibrant fall leaves, invigorating mountain air, and a bevy of outdoor activities to choose from. Just minutes from downtown Park City, Deer Valley has an assortment of luxury accommodations ranging from reasonably priced to over-the-top extravagance. A stay at Stein Eriksen Lodge, St. Regis, or Montage would be delightful.
5. Snowbird—A short and awe-inspiring drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon will bring you to the year-round resort. A tram ride is ideal for enjoying the colorful foliage of the season. Utah’s original Oktoberfest runs weekends through mid-October.
6. Sundance—Driving the Alpine Loop is the quintessential fall experience in Utah. It can easily be done in a day but it’s worth taking your time to truly appreciate the scenery. Turn your expedition into a weekend retreat with a stay at Sundance. Robert Redford’s vision for “environmental conservation and artistic experimentation” is displayed in every detail of this unique resort.
A little farther
Fall is a wonderful time to explore the far reaches of Utah. Cooler temperatures, golden leaves, and smaller crowds.
7. Vernal—Does your family include a budding paleontologist? Take the scenic three hour drive to Vernal and you’ll find yourselves immersed in a pre-historic wonderland. Dinosaur National Monument is just east of Vernal and is a huge (210,000+ acres) outdoor classroom. You can view 1,500 fossils in the Quarry Exhibit Hall, hike to petroglyphs, and river raft on the Green or Yampa rivers.
8. Saint George—Get a dose of palm trees and desert breeze when you’re feeling sad about summer coming to an end. Saint George is one of the most popular weekend getaways for Salt Lakers, especially in the colder months. There’s always more to explore in this region. Start with Sand Hollow State Park, Snow Canyon State Park, and the Red Cliffs Desert Preserve.
9. Bear Lake—Known as the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its turquoise waters, Bear Lake is wonderful place for a fall escape. The two and half hour drive north winds through Logan Canyon. Make reservations well in advance to try glamping at Canestoga Ranch.
10. Lava Hot Springs, Idaho—Soak in the warmth to get prepped for the cold months ahead. Lava Hot Springs is about two hours north of Salt Lake City and offers a plethora of pools. There are a variety of lodging options in and around the charming town.