Picture this: You’re standing in the middle of a vast, beautiful space, having hiked for some time to get here. The kids are giggling and chatting next to you as you appreciate the scenery. You feel a new sense of calm because you’ve finally managed to get away from it all with the whole family. Then, you smile because you know the burgers the kids have been planning and the hotel with a pool they love is just 20 minutes away from the trailhead. This serene moment waits for you in Davis County, Utah.
This story was created in partnership with Discover Davis, Utah. All photos courtesy of Discover Davis.
Traveling with family requires checking a lot of boxes. You want to get outside and see the enormous spaces of the Rocky Mountain West. Your partner is eager to check out Americana art and culture and to learn about Utah’s history. The kids want to be amused, and you want them to learn. Known as the amusement capital of Utah, Davis stretches from just north of Salt Lake Airport to the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island State Park to the west, to Thurston Peak to the northeast, and all the urban offerings in between. Get the family together for some vacation planning and pick and choose to build the perfect getaway.
The hook: Antelope Island State Park
The big-name destination that also occupies approximately a quarter of Davis is Antelope Island State Park. This large park juts into the Great Salt Lake, which is a fascinating landmark on its own. You can access it via a 7.2-mile causeway, then find fun all day long.
Start by doing some early-morning bird watching, particularly shorebirds and owls. Then hop on your bike—mountain bike, road bike, or e-bike—to see more of the island. There are sections of the park that are non-motorized, so you can enjoy a peaceful ride. If you prefer, hit the trails on foot, all the while keeping an eye out for wildlife like the 600 bison that reside in the park.
Wrap up the day with a sunset picnic at Bison Point, then stick around for a while to watch the stars from this International Dark Sky Park.
Once a year, you’ll have the chance to watch Wild West culture live and in action at the annual Bison Roundup. Each autumn, the island’s herd is gathered up by cowboys and cowgirls on horseback for health screenings and vaccines. The event is open to the public to spectate and feels like a wild step into Western culture.
The Great Salt Lake
The shores of the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere host innumerable birds and birding locations, impressive trails, and, of course, lots of salt. Jump in the lake to cool off from the afternoon heat and enjoy the strange experience of added buoyancy. Or, enjoy the water via a kayak or paddle board.
Hiking, Hiking, and more Hiking
Whether you hike a section of the more than 100-mile-long Bonneville Shoreline Trail or the paved route around Lagoon Amusement Park, you’ll certainly be able to find the trail that suits you and your family.
Over 500 miles of trails stretch across Davis, and you can browse them in advance on the Discover Davis website and the Davis Trails website, or you can pick up a printed trail map when you arrive in town! But, one of our favorites is the relatively undiscovered North Canyon Trail. This 7.5-mile (12 km) trail climbs through a variety of terrain and offers incredible views along the way.
If you or any of your travel party are too tired for a long hike, you can still appreciate the view by driving up Francis Peak with a 4-wheel-drive vehicle or ATV to reach incredible views of the Salt Lake Valley.
Amusement Parks, Galore
Roller coasters, water slides, an aquarium, and more lie between the Great Salt Lake and the mountains. The whole family will be more than a little amused by the rides and activities at Lagoon, Boondocks, The Rush, and others. Get some interactive and entertaining education at the SeaQuest Aquarium, or make it all about the water fun at the Cherry Hill Waterpark. Plan your rides using the information here.
Arts & Culture
Once you’ve had your fill of wild rides and carnival foods, slow the pace and increase the beauty by exploring the cities of Davis County and the arts and culture they have to offer. Take in a musical at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre or a performance at the Davis Arts Council. Stroll through the gallery of Bountiful Davis Art Center and connect with the area by absorbing works by local artists. The whole family will love the variety of aircraft on display at the Hill Aerospace Museum, as well as the outdoor air park—all with free admission. The communities of Davis will welcome you and invigorate you as you learn more about them. Before long, you’ll be planning your return visit!