Here’s one to stump the kids: Bet they can’t tell you which state has more more national parks than any other.
Hint: Besides hitting the parks, visitors can fly down a bobsled at up to 70 miles per hour—even in summer, research their family tree or mountain bike for miles and miles. We’re talking about Utah, of course, home to the 2002 Winter Olympics and Utah Olympic Park with its bobsled ride www.olyparks.com, the Park City Family Tree Visitors Center Family History Library www.familysearch.org, and of course those five national parks—Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands, Arches and Capitol Reef. www.nps.gov, Not to mention all the fun and games at Utah’s ski resorts like Park City Mountain Resort with its Alpine Slide--one of the longest in the world-- and Alpine Coaster.www.parkcitymountain.com
There are even-the-teens-will-think-they’re-cool national monuments like Rainbow Bridge, the world’s biggest natural rock span (278 feet wide and 309 feet high) and Dinosaur National Monument where some 1,500 dino bones are still embedded in the rock wall.
Snow lovers head to Utah’s 14 ski resorts for its famous powder (typically 500 inches a year) But what many don’t realize is that in summer, Utah offers just as much for families to do with hotel deals as low as $75 a night. Go river rafting on the Green River, mountain biking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, golf, even hot air balloon rides. www.utah.com
Let’s get the learning out of the way first. Whether the kids want to or not, stop at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. It is, after all, Utah’s top tourist destination and home to the Mormon Church. My kids, when they were small, were amazed by the giant organ (it’s got 11,623 pipes) in the Mormon Tabernacle. You might be able to catch the famous Tabernacle Choir rehearsing. While you’re walking around, throw out a little Utah history—how Brigham Young brought his band of pioneers here in 1847 seeking religious freedom. They named Salt Lake City for the Great Salt Lake, saltier than the ocean.
You may want to base yourselves in Park City. www.parkcityinfo.com In summer, you might catch athletes at the Olympic Park practicing their jumps. Every Saturday, in fact, Olympic hopefuls and national team athletes put on a freestyle aerial show. If the kids are at least 14, they can take a turn on a wheeled bobsled. (An experienced driver steers down the length of the Olympic track.) There’s also a wealth of activities at Park City Mountain Resort including the ZipRider™ which propels you 110 feet above Park City Mountain Resort's ski runs at speeds up to 45 miles per hour. The Alpine Slide, Utah's only Alpince Coaster, Climbing Wall, Legacy Launcher Trampolines, Miniature Golf, mountain biking, hiking and more. In the summer Park City Mountain Resort turns into a fully operational summer vacation destination, including shopping, a variety of dinning choices and the scenery is unparalleled.
The bikers and hikers in your family, meanwhile, will think they’ve found vacation heaven in Park City: It’s got over 325 miles of trails—nearly half the mileage of New York’s subway system. Even better, the trails are accessible from most hotels and condos and link the town, the mountain resorts and more. You can take your bike up the lift at Park City Mountain Resort and bike down. The Skateboarders aren’t left out either. Park City has got a skateboard park right in City Park—the largest outdoor cement facility in the entire state.
Shoppers and foodies in your gang will be in their element along Park City’s historic Main Street —the town boasts more than 100 restaurants, most kid-friendly, and dozens of shops—yet is small enough to let your teens wander on their own.
Even here, with all of the attractions, you’ll also find plenty of affordable lodging (www.parkcityinfo.com hot deals for condos under $100 a night) and free entertainment all summer long.
Good luck tearing the kids away to hit the national parks.
For more Taking the Kids, visit www.takingthekids.com and also follow “taking the kids” on www.twitter.com, where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments.
© EILEEN OGINTZ
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