Utah’s incredibly diverse terrain includes breathtaking snow-capped mountains, glistening lakes, red-rock landscapes, and arid deserts. But the Beehive State is also home to a host of picture-perfect towns, with charming settings that capture the true essence of America’s West.
Whether you want to ski the slopes in Park City or enjoy the quiet of a quaint mountain retreat, these beautiful small towns have something for everyone.
The red rock landscape of Moab, Utah is a symphony of adventure waiting to be experienced. It’s a place where mountain bikers test their skills on Slickrock Trail, hikers find peace under Delicate Arch, and four-wheel drivers explore the back country.
The town’s central district is a lively center of microbreweries, restaurants, shops, and galleries. Diners can choose from a range of family-run establishments or newer restaurants that have caught on to the area’s reputation as an outdoor adventure capital.
Nearby Canyonlands and Arches National Parks provide world-class hiking, mountain biking, and four-wheel driving. To the south lies the Needles District, offering remote hiking and off-roading away from the crowds. And to the west is a vast labyrinth of canyons and rivers, ideal for multi-date whitewater rafting adventures. The newest addition to the region is Utahraptor State Park, which features dinosaur fossils in a unique playground. This is a must-see for any child (or adult) visiting Moab!
In a town that has been home to many Utah pioneers, Fillmore has plenty of history to offer. The original Territorial Statehouse is still standing and is a must-see for anyone who visits the city.
The town is also the perfect place to visit for a fun day of ATVing. The area offers over 900 miles of trails and is world famous for its ATV activities. ATVers can experience petroglyphs, lava tubes, rock hounding and fossil collecting. Fillmore is also surrounded by four extinct Volcanoes, which offer adventurers the opportunity to explore craters and lava fields.
While most people think of this central Utah town as a stop along Interstate 15, Fillmore is so much more than just a rest stop. It is full of adventure, history and great food. Be sure to visit Cluff’s Carhop Café, which has been family-owned since the 1950s. This family-friendly eatery serves delicious French fries, shakes and more!
Located along Utah’s Scenic Highway 12, Torrey’s rugged landscape and close proximity to Capitol Reef National Park and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument make it an ideal base camp for outdoor adventurers. From here, you can hike in red sandstone canyons and aspen forests and explore boulder domes, deep canyons, and otherworldly vistas in Capitol Reef and the surrounding area.
The town hints at its pioneer roots with classic old-west buildings and tidy streets lined with trees. But it also offers modern amenities like a small selection of restaurants and stores, including specialty shops that offer outdoor recreation gear.
In 2015, Torrey earned the honor of being a certified International Dark Sky Place, meaning the town’s national parks are exceptionally dark and provide great opportunities for stargazing. You’ll be able to enjoy the dark skies in nearby Capitol Reef National Park and Boulder Mountain, as well as other national and state parks near your Torrey lodging.
Kanab is surrounded by red rock cliffs and has plenty of things to do. It’s also a short drive to some of Utah’s most famous attractions like Zion and Bryce national parks. It’s also known for its wild west film history. Visitors can stay in a hotel where stars from John Wayne to Clint Eastwood once slept, learn about filming at the exhibits, and take a jeep tour of the area.
There are plenty of hiking trails in Kanab too. One of the best is to explore Moqui Caves, a series of man-made caves that you can hike into. Another popular trail is to visit the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which is one of the largest no-kill shelters in the country and houses dogs, cats, horses, and pigs. Visitors can tour the facility, volunteer, and foster or adopt animals.
Kanab is a great base for exploring the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and is close to Zion, Bryce, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s also a good option for visiting nearby Lake Powell and the Navajo Nation Tribal Lands.
Located twelve miles up Ogden Canyon from the city of Ogden, this small town offers breath-taking mountain scenery and an array of outdoor activities. Founded by Jefferson Hunt in 1860, this alpine lakeside town is the perfect spot to unwind and relax away from the hustle and bustle of big-city living.
Embark on a leisurely hike through the breathtaking Box Elder Mountains or spend an afternoon cruising around Pineview Reservoir, which is a summertime favorite for boating, swimming and fishing. Then, visit the Shooting Star Saloon, which is famous for its world-famous burgers and claims to be the oldest saloon west of the Mississippi.
Retirees seeking tranquility and a fulfilling lifestyle will find everything they want in Utah’s picturesque towns. With easy access to not one, but two of the state’s most popular national parks, these small towns offer a unique blend of natural splendor and a tight-knit community.
6. Garden City
A wholesome community, stunning views, and plenty of recreational activities make Garden City a perfect getaway for families and anyone who enjoys the outdoors. The town is situated on the western edge of Bear Lake and surrounded by mountains, making it a prime vacation spot for those seeking relaxation or adventure.
Visitors can spend their days relaxing on the beach or exploring the area’s many hiking and biking trails, including the popular Swan Creek Trail. Golfing is another favorite activity, and the nearby Bear Lake Golf Course features beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.
Families with kids can check out the Pickleville Playhouse for a day of entertainment, and the Bridgerland Adventure Park offers old-fashioned family fun, with incredible views of Bear Lake to boot! Those looking for an escape from the everyday can try their luck at the local Garden City Escape Room. Finish your trip with a thick shake made with local raspberries (in season), and you’ll understand why so many people return to this picture-perfect town year after year.
7. Spring City
If you’re looking for an off the beaten path destination, look no further than Spring City. Located in Sanpete County near Manti and Ephraim, this tiny town packs a lot of history into its small square mile radius.
A wide variety of historic homes showcase adobe and log styles from the town’s early days. Yankees and Southerners brought familiar house designs from home, while Danes (a sizable percentage of the community’s founding population) constructed Scandinavian house types such as parstugas with three contiguous rooms on one level. Architectural pattern books influenced many of the later homes in the town.
The Emil Erickson House is a good example of an elaborate Victorian-era house. It was built in 1888 by a Swede, and the current owners Craig and M’lisa Paulsen have restored it room-by-room.
The town’s Heritage Day celebration is held the Saturday before Labor Day and offers plenty of activities. Visitors can tour historic homes, shop an antique fair and eat a BBQ turkey lunch. The town also hosts an arts plein air and studio tour during the same weekend.
Midway’s picture-perfect scenery and year-round recreational activities make it a hidden gem in Utah. Whether you enjoy hiking, golfing, swimming, or skiing, this town has something for everyone!
The Provo River flows gracefully through the heart of downtown Midway, offering a soothing backdrop for a stroll. This charming area features architecture with a Swiss theme and has several unique shops to browse through.
One of the most memorable things to do in Midway is to soak or swim at Homestead Crater, a natural limestone crater and geothermal hot springs that’s over 10,000 years old. This one-of-a-kind experience will rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul!
Another memorable activity in Midway is taking a ride on the Heber Valley Historic Railroad. This beautiful train offers a relaxing atmosphere with breathtaking views of the mountain landscape, pristine lakes, and farmlands. Captivating themed rides add an extra level of enchantment, ranging from Wild West adventures to the holiday magic of the Polar Express.
Located along the I-15 in Iron County, Parowan is considered by many locals to be the “Mother Town of Southern Utah.” This charming small town offers fantastic places to dine, cozy accommodations, and access to a variety of year-around activities.
The quaint town’s center features an area known as Main Street, which is home to a number of good dining options. The city also claims to have the best cinnamon rolls in the state, and offers a Sweet Tour where visitors can find out for themselves.
The town is surrounded by a wide variety of unique natural scenery and outdoor recreational opportunities. In the winter, the mountainous landscape provides plenty of opportunity for skiing and snowboarding at Brian Head Ski Resort. For those interested in history, the town offers numerous historic buildings and the Parowan Gap petroglyphs, which are believed to be more than 1,000 years old. Parowan is an ideal destination for those looking for a relaxing weekend getaway in Utah.