This is the time of year when many families take their summer vacation. If you are a fan of arts, culture and the great outdoors consider checking out Cedar City, Utah for your next family trip. With a convenient location to Southern Utah’s national parks, Cedar City offers cultural attractions, beautiful scenery and numerous events throughout the year. In fact, the city hosts so many events that it is known as “Festival City, USA”.
Weekend Itinerary for Cedar City, Utah with Kids
Whether basing yourself in Cedar City to explore Southern Utah, or adding it as a fun side trip when visiting one or more of Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks, here is my suggested itinerary for exploring Cedar City and the surrounding area on a long weekend:
Day 1 – Travel to Cedar City, Utah
Are you a road trip kind of family? Cedar City, Utah is 2.5 hours north of Las Vegas and 3.5 hours south of Salt Lake City. Cedar City is driving distance from Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks – the closest being Zion National Park (1 hour) and Bryce Canyon National Park (1.5 hours).
Are you looking to minimize driving time? A small airport near Cedar City – Cedar City Regional Airport (CDC) offers passenger service on Delta Airlines to Salt Lake City.
With many affordable hotel options in Cedar City, families have no shortage of accommodation choices. My top recommendation is the Best Western Plus Cedar City. With a downtown Cedar City location and several family-friendly amenities (microwave, in room fridge, complimentary breakfast and light dinner, outdoor pool, free parking), this is a convenient place to call home for a few days.
Day 2 – Explore Cedar City
Cedar City, Utah has several cultural attractions that can be seen in one day.
• Frontier Homestead State Park Museum
Credit: Alex Santiago
Children will love spending a few hours at the Frontier Homestead State Park Museum. This fun museum includes interactive and educational exhibits on the early history of the southern Utah area. In addition to pioneer artifacts, a collection of horse-drawn vehicles and farm equipment, kids can climb into a 250,000 pound steam shovel used in the early days of the iron mines.
In the summer, the museum offers hands-on activities including panning for gold, washing clothes, making rope, loading a wagon and log cabin building.
• Stop for some classic all American food at the aptly named All American Diner. The diner serves generous portions, including an all-day breakfast, at low family-friendly prices.
• Southern Utah Museum of Art
Families with older children might want to check out The Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), a new museum with free admission. SUMA hosts rotating national and regional art exhibits, including the permanent national park paintings collection of Utah artist Jimmie Jones.
• If you want to grab a quick bite before continuing your day, try the nearby Centro Woodfired Pizzeria. This pizzeria serves artisanal wood-fired pizzas, including gluten free and vegan options, so everyone in the family can enjoy a slice.
• Catch a Performance at the Utah Shakespeare Festival
Summer and fall visitors to Cedar City should not miss the Utah Shakespeare Festival, one of the oldest and largest Shakespeare festivals in North America.
The theatrical festival takes place annually from late June through mid October. It features matinee and evening performances of Shakespeare plays, other classic plays, contemporary plays and musicals.
During the summer season, the free nightly show, The Greenshow, is held outside before the evening main stage theater performances. The Greenshow show is great for kids of all ages and includes music, dance, storytelling, comedic skits, sword fighting, juggling, snacks and food.
Day 3 – Visit Brian Head and Cedar Breaks National Monument
After spending a day enjoying the cultural attractions of Cedar City, head to Brian Head Resort and Cedar Breaks National Monument for outdoor activities and adventures, making a quick stop at the Parowan Gap Petroglyphs. If you have time or an extra day, you can also visit Bryce Canyon National Park which is less than 1.5 hours drive away.
• Parowan Gap Petroglyphs
Credit: Alex Santiago
On the way to Brian Head, stop by the Parowan Gap Petroglyphs to view the natural gap in the mountains covered with hundreds of ancient Native American petroglyphs. Near these thousand year old petroglyphs are also several dinosaur footprints preserved in stone.
• Brian Head Resort
Brian Head Resort, a ski resort located 29 miles northeast of Cedar City, offers excellent mountain bike and hiking trails with beautiful views and scenery.
Activities during winter include skiing, snowboarding, snow-tubing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
Credit: Mike Saemisch
Credit: Mike Saemisch
In summer and fall, visitors can enjoy scenic chairlift rides, mountain biking, archery, disc golf, summer tubing, bungee trampoline, a climbing wall and a zip line.
Credit: Alex Santiago
• To refuel for more outdoor fun, stop off at Cedar Breaks Cafe inside Cedar Breaks Lodge & Spa. With a variety of menu options at good prices and a cabin-like atmosphere, this is good spot for lunch before heading back out. With rooms that have a full kitchen and an indoor pool, Cedar Breaks Lodge & Spa is a good option for families who choose to stay in Brian Head rather than driving back to Cedar City.
• Cedar Breaks National Monument
Credit: Mike Saemisch
Go on a nature walk with a ranger, take a hike, set up camp, or just enjoy the scenery at Cedar Breaks National Monument. Active families will love that Cedar Breaks offers trails for all skill levels – whether looking for a stroll, a good hike or a strenuous trail for experienced hikers.
Cedar Breaks has something fun every season. Late September to early October is the perfect time to experience fall colors. Winter brings several feet of snow and becomes a paradise for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Highway 148 is closed during the winter, and the park is only accessible by ski and snowshoe. The summer months are excellent for viewing over 150 species of wildflowers and celebrating during the Wildflower festival in July. Visiting between Memorial Day and Labor Day? Don’t miss the “Star Parties” held each Saturday. Guided by a ranger, the parties include a laser tour of the constellations and telescope viewing.
Day 4 – Day Trip to Nearby Natural Attractions
If you ran out of time on Day 3, visit Cedar Breaks National Monument or Parowan Gap Petroglyphs in the morning. Otherwise, drive to Kolob Canyons, the part of Zion National Park closest to Cedar City. If you have an extra day, the main part of Zion National Park is less than 2 hours drive.
• Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park
Located 19 miles south of Cedar City, Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park is the lesser known but just as spectacular portion of Zion National Park.
Kolob Canyons is a beautiful place to tour throughout the year- think red navajo sandstone cliffs and deep pocket canyons. A short scenic drive (just 12 miles round trip) with various pullouts is a great way to enjoy the scenery.
Get some exercise with a hike on Taylor’s Creek Trail (5 miles round-trip) or Timber Creek Trail (1 mile roundtrip) before sitting down for a picnic at one of the tables at the Kolob Canyons Overlook.
After a fun day, take family photos at the Canyon Overlook – the panoramic view of the finger canyons from here make it the ideal spot, especially near twilight.
So, for families interested in family friendly cultural and outdoor activities, check out Cedar City, Utah. With a long list of year round festivals and cultural and outdoor activities, Cedar City is an ideal destination for families no matter what you’re looking for.
This post was sponsored by Visit Cedar City but all opinions are my own.
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My favorite from your post is the Cedar Break National Monument, it is so beautiful!
I haven’t been to Utah yet, but I now I know where to go. It’s not too far from Vegas, I like that.
So many things to do and see in Cedar City, I’m totally fascinated by those Petroglyphs!
I’ve never been to Utah before but I’ve definitely got to check it out! Thanks for the awesome itinerary, very helpful for a future visit. The Brian Head resort definitely looks pretty awesome