A good weekend getaway location has three requirements: a one-of-a-kind activity, tasty dining options and a comfortable place to rest your head. While there are many places in Utah that offer a fun-filled retreat, here’s a look at two destinations that go above and beyond, providing a surplus of activities, good eats and plenty of rest.
With an average temperature of 41 degrees in December, St. George isn’t as warm as Hawaii, but a weekend getaway there will still feel more temperate than in Utah’s northern cities.
The Tuacahn Amphitheater, known for its warm-weather musical productions, celebrates the wintry season with a Festival of Lights and live nativity. This production’s actors are local volunteers depicting the Bible’s rendition of the Christmas story. Complete with angels, shepherds and live animals, the play shows twice each night, costs $2 a person and is only 20 minutes long. That leaves plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings glowing with thousands of Christmas lights. There is also live music and entertainment on the plaza, a bonfire, concessions and a train ride back stage to see sets and costumes of Tuacahn productions.
Good Food Options
There is plenty to do in St. George’s Ancestor Square, year-round, such as visiting the historic buildings, shopping at local boutiques and enjoying a meal at one of the many restaurants—including The Painted Pony. This upscale restaurant features dining in a simple Southwestern way. The menu items change seasonally, but in recent winters some favorites have been butternut squash ravioli and steamship shortribs. Make a reservation ahead of time—and if you really want the full experience, request seating at The Pony Table (seats up to four people). This table has been painted by a local artist and is sometimes reserved weeks in advance.
Rest Your Head
As the name implies, The Seven Wives Inn was the home of a polygamist family living in St. George in the 1800s. Within walking distance from Ancestor Square, the rooms are furnished with period décor and housed within two neighboring homes and a small cottage. The innkeepers bring you a complementary freshly baked breakfast to your room each morning, and you can also request a boxed lunch for your drive home or afternoon activities. And there is wireless Internet access if you need to catch up on some work.
Dashing Through the Snow
If you’re in the mood to enjoy winter’s splendors, head to Cache Valley where you can take a ride on a horse-drawn sleigh—and although laughing all the way is actually discouraged on this ride, it’s worth the quiet to see hundreds of elk close enough to touch.
The Hardware Ranch, a wildlife management area owned by the Utah Division of Natural Resources, feeds 200 to 600 wild Rocky Mountain Elk depending on the time of year. Herds of these large animals hang out near the feeding ground, and visitors can observe them on sleigh rides beginning December 18th. It’s best to arrive earlier in the day because on weekends, there can be quite a crowd. Sleigh ride tickets are $5 and the last ride of the day leaves at 4:30 p.m. There is also a visitor’s center with educational exhibits and an indoor picnic pavilion if you’d like to bring your own lunch.
Good Food Options
While you’re in Cache Valley, you may want to check out a few dine-out offerings. Caffe Ibis is the perfect place to warm up with its fair trade coffees and flavored hot chocolates. The cafe also serve sandwiches, baked goods and feature local art décor. For dinner, try Le Nonne Ristorante Italiano, serving fresh pasta and other Italian favorites made by an authentic Italian chef. You can catch live jazz music there on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Rest Your Head
A short drive from Le Nonne is The Anniversary Inn, which has 23 themed rooms to choose from. Take refuge from the cold in the Hawaiian Paradise, La Hacienda, African Safari or Lake Powell suites. But don’t worry, complementary apple cider, cheesecake and breakfast is still available no matter how exotic or far-away-feeling your room is. Luxurious, quaint, fun, adventurous or elegant, their rooms start at $99.
1100 Tuacahn Drive
The Painted Pony
2 West St. George Blvd
St George, Utah
Seven Wives Inn
217 North 100 West
St. George, Utah
15 miles east of Hyrum, Utah
in Blacksmith Fork Canyon
52 Federal Avenue
129 North 100 East
The Anniversary Inn
169 East Center Street