Utah is home to a variety of fun activities, and with much of the population belonging to large families, it is no surprise that there are options for all ages. The state is also known for its extremely hot and dry summers, so activities involving water are typically a highlight from around May to September. No matter which of these months you choose to visit, you are sure to find something your family will enjoy. Below are some of the locals’ favorite family-friendly water activities, all within a short drive from Salt Lake City.
Itching to get outdoors with your kids, but aren’t in the mood for an extreme adventure? Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas offer fun in the form of splash pads.
Lighthouse Point Splash Zone
Lighthouse Point Splash Zone is located within the Hogle Zoo, so you can hit two birds with one stone (figuratively speaking). And, if you’re thinking this is just your average splash pad, think again. Lighthouse Point features a slide (don’t worry, it’s dry), a shipwreck, a tide pool, and a blowhole. Be sure to bring your towels!
Wardle Fields Regional Park
Another Utah favorite is Wardle Fields Regional Park, located just 20 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. Not only does the splash pad have a waterfall, but it is also surrounded by playgrounds, ziplines, climbing walls, pickleball courts, and three reservable pavilions. This park is truly an experience for all ages.
Last, but certainly not least, is Liberty Park located in the heart of Salt Lake City. Here, you will find not one, but two splash pads. You can find the smaller splash pad—great for smaller children—at the northwest corner of the park. In the middle of the park are the Seven Canyons Fountains that represent the streams flowing from Utah’s seven canyons along the Wasatch Front. Your family will be sure to have a wet and wild time, while learning all about Utah’s unique geography.
With Utah’s mountainous geography also comes rivers and streams that are great for floating and rafting. Below are two experiences you should consider for your next family visit to the Salt Lake City area.
If you’re in for some river-floating adventures, look no further! The Provo River is a slow-paced option that is great for the entire family. No need to bring your own equipment, either. The Provo River High Country Adventure has you covered, with rental tubes, lifejackets, and a shuttle ride upstream, so all you have to cover is payment and parking.
For a faster, more intense river-floating/rafting experience, the Weber River is worth a try. Be wary that it has more obstacles and rapids, so this is something for slightly older and more experienced adventurers if you decide to do it on your own. For less-experienced rafters (ages 5 and up), Weber River Rafting offers guided tours down the river and includes the rafting equipment, a licensed guide, and a shuttle service.
Anywhere you travel, you’re bound to find some fun swimming pools suited for the entire family. Utah is no exception. Here are a few worth checking out.
Fairmont Aquatic Center
For birthday parties, hangouts, and just swimming, Fairmont Aquatic Center in Sugarhouse is a great place to take the family. This indoor center features a 25-yard lap pool and an 86-degree leisure pool, with a two-story water slide, a beach entry, a whirlpool, and interactive play features. And, if you’ll be in Utah for a while, Fairmont is also a great spot to sign your kids up for swimming lessons!
Lehi Legacy Center
Lehi Legacy Center is another option with water slides, palm trees, lazy rivers, and fountains. One of the best parts about this center is its retractable walls and ceiling, making it possible to swim in rain or shine. This is the perfect option for families with young children, and those under the age of three get in for free!
Scera Park Pool
If you’re looking for an exciting outdoor pool experience, Scera Park in Orem has what you need. With a few separate pools, multiple slides, a splash pad, a water playground, a beach entry, and plenty of shade structures and concessions, this facility is perfect for a family day in the sun. And, if you’re in town on a Monday, be sure to go from 4 to 6 p.m. for Family Night—priced at only $25 per family.
Lakes and Ponds
There are many lakes and ponds within an hour of driving from Salt Lake City. These local lakes are a great place to take the family fishing, paddleboarding, and relaxing.
For parents and kids interested in fishing, Utah Lake offers a wide spread of fish that can be reeled in, such as walleye, catfish, and various panfish. Along with fishing, Utah Lake is a great place to go boating or to rent equipment. The Lindon Marina provides paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, and more right on the beach.
Highland Glen Park
Highland Glen Park is a smaller pond located about 40 minutes south of Salt Lake City. While it’s slightly further away, it is well worth the drive. This park features paddle board and kayak rentals, BBQ stations, a beach, and a scenic path surrounding the pond. You can also bring your own floatation devices if you have them.
Those looking to catch trout and perch can give Deer Creek a try. It’s a very scenic reservoir that is perfect for camping or picnicking. These campgrounds have hookups, and there are various amenities nearby such as restrooms, showers, and boat rentals.
For families looking for a unique fishing experience, Strawberry Reservoir is perfect for catching crawfish in August, when they are in season. It is also common for many visitors to ride mountain bikes or ATV’s around Strawberry reservoir. If you’re ever hungry, you should stop by the Strawberry Wobbler’s Cafe and try their signature Wobbler Burger or their Famous Homemade Chili.
For those interested in water activities apart from fishing, Jordanelle Reservoir is perfect for relaxing, paddleboarding, or hanging out. There are sometimes random events hosted at this reservoir, such as eating contests or sailboat races.
Finally, Utah’s water parks are something your family won’t want to miss. Here are a few options within 60 minutes of Salt Lake City.
Splash Summit is one of Utah’s premier waterparks, featuring 17 acres of water slides, interactive play areas, a wave pool, a lazy river, and plenty of eateries. There are also plenty of shaded seating options available, as well as cabana rentals—perfect for families and larger groups.
Lagoon A Beach
Take a trip to the beach! The waterpark at Lagoon offers a surf-and-slide experience for the whole family and features six acres of slides, hydro tubes, waterfalls, fountains, and pools. The park is also attached to Lagoon Amusement Park for those looking for a thrilling theme park adventure. Either way, you can’t go wrong with a day at Lagoon!
If you’re looking for a smaller waterpark that is better-suited for younger children, Cowabunga Bay might be the place for you. Located just 15 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, this park has several different pools, a few larger attractions, and a kids cove with a heated pool and smaller slides.