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Bounded on the east by towering mountains and on the west by Utah Lake, the city of Provo is a haven for lovers of the outdoors. From hiking and fishing to skiing and rafting, the destination offers both peaceful recreational activities and adrenaline-filled adventures all throughout the year. The region is also a prime spot for culture vultures with Brigham Young University and nearby Utah Valley University hosting a wide variety of stage shows, musical events, lectures, and other artistic and educational activities. And with Park City, Sundance, and Utah’s capital of Salt Lake City all within an hour’s drive, quaint shopping, rustic resorts, and big-city living are all at your fingertips.
Provo surely draws visitors for its proximity to mountains, canyons, rivers, and lakes, but there’s also a thriving scene to be found outside of its recreational activities. These are the places you need to know to uncover everything Provo has to offer.
The downtown area of Provo boasts charming historic architecture and a remarkable range of culinary options, including Italian, Dominican, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Czech, and Salvadoran, all within 5 blocks. Along Center Street and University Avenue, you can find small boutiques, live music venues, and a few bars, as well as a performance facility with an auditorium, dance studios, and experimental theater space. At the heart of downtown is the Provo City Center Temple, the Victorian-style temple run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
South of the downtown area is East Bay, where you’ll find a mix of both indoor and outdoor entertainment options. A large portion of the neighborhood is taken up by the Provo Towne Center, boasting a selection well-known retail stores and chain restaurants. Further south is the East Bay Golf Course, a sprawling range set between glassy Provo Bay and rugged Buckley Mountain.
The aptly named Foothills neighborhood lies at—you guessed it—the foothills of Provo’s Wasatch Mountains. Here, you can set off on a hike up the Y Mountain Trailhead to a height of 1,074 feet (327 m), or hop onto Bonneville Shoreline Trail, which runs roughly 260 miles (418 km) from Santaquin to the south of Provo to the Idaho border. In the Foothills are two other popular attractions—the 26-acre (10.5 ha) Seven Peaks Waterpark and the Peaks Ice hockey and skating arena.
North of the Foothills is the Oak Hills neighborhood, home to the trailhead that leads you west to Rock Canyon, a geological wonder known for its scenic hiking and rock climbing. The area is also a popular place for mountain biking and bird watching in the summer, and snowshoeing, sledding, and cross-country skiing in the winter.
The area of Provo Bay begins west of downtown and runs to the eastern shore of Utah Lake. It comprises the Provo Airport, Utah Lake State Park, and the start of the Provo River Parkway. This paved trail stretches for 15 miles (24 km) to Vivian Park in Provo Canyon and is an easy-going spot for bikers and rollerbladers of all ages.
As home to Brigham Young University, the largest religious university in the United States, the city of Provo has a thriving college district where thousands of students live, work, and play. Located northeast of downtown, it’s here where you can find endless attractions and exhibits at the Bean Life Science Museum, the BYU Museum of Art, the Royden G. Derrick Planetarium, and the Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center. Also known for its outstanding athletic programs, BYU boasts 10 courts, fields, tracks, and arenas where you can take in everything from football to soccer to gymnastics.
In the breathtaking Utah Valley, there’s no end to the sightseeing you can do. Strap on your boots for a climb to the top of Mount Timpanogos to see unparalleled views of Utah Lake from a height of 11,752 feet (3,582 m). For even more spectacular scenery, embark on a scenic drive along the Alpine Loop, which runs 20 miles (32 km) from the mouth of American Fork Canyon to Provo Canyon Road. Marvel at stunning views of the mountains’ copper-hued peaks and the colorful aspen groves that light up the region with yellow and orange. Along the way, makes stops to see 2 of the valley’s most captivating sites—the magical underground world of the Timpanogos Cave and the otherworldly Cascade Springs pouring through limestone terraces and sparkling pools.
It’s all about the outdoors when you’re paying a visit to Provo. Set out to uncover the countless hiking trails across the region, from easy treks like Battle Creek Falls to the strenuous climb to the top of Mount Nebo. If you’re traveling in the winter, a ski or snowboard rental package can have you flying down the frosty slopes in nearby Park City. If you’re visiting in the summer, there might be even more to do outside. Head out of town for a whitewater rafting excursion on the mighty Weber River, go fly-fishing in the waters of the Provo River, or soak in the golden sky during a sunrise hot air balloon flight above the verdant valley.
Of course, there’s more to Provo than exploring the outdoors. On your way in or out of town, make a stop by Thanksgiving Point, a unique destination where education, recreation, and peace come together. This fascinating complex houses 400 interactive exhibits at the Museum of Natural Curiosity, more than 50 dinosaurs and reptiles at the Museum of Ancient Life, and an oasis with 55 acres (22 ha) of stately gardens, immaculate lawns, and the largest manmade waterfall in the Western Hemisphere.
During the summer, Provo and the surrounding areas come alive with outdoor attractions. At the Sundance Mountain Resort, enjoy a concert series featuring renowned singers and songwriters from Nashville, or watch theater in the park with Mount Timpanogos providing the backdrop for the play. Provo’s largest summertime activity is America’s Freedom Festival, a month-long fair with more than 20 events celebrating the Fourth of July. The highlight of the festival is the Stadium of Fire at BYU, a fireworks show and concert which has previously featured famous performers such as Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, and Toby Keith.