I may not look like it, but I’m a tomboy at heart. I love being outside almost as I love color coordinating my closet. As a female who genuinely enjoys traveling alone, I’m always on the hunt for new (and admittedly safe) adventures. Scenic Southern Utah was just named Fodor’s Top Destination for 2016, promising exceptional scenery, unforgettable adventures, and something for everyone—hikers, skiers, families, and solo travelers (heyo!). Cedar City is located in the heart of Southern Utah’s national parks– Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are both within a 90 minute drive, and Cedar Breaks National Monument, which was name one of USA Today’s Ten Great Places to Stargaze, is just a 30 minute drive up the canyon. Cedar City offers a perfect combination of outdoor adventures, historic experiences, arts and culture, and fun. Cedar City is central to national parks, monuments, Dixie National Forest, and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands, enabling it to be a wonderful spot to set up headquarters when adventuring. Both NBC’s Today Show and USA Today rated the area as one of the “Top Eight Unique Destinations to View Fall Colors”. The chance to see fall foliage with a backdrop of red rocks is rare and a top priority for visitors, so plan your visit between mid-September and mid-October for the best viewing opportunities.
With a variety of activities, fun is guaranteed for everyone involved– or if you’re as much of a fan of traveling alone as I am, Cedar City, Utah also makes for a great spot for solo travelers to have a low-key voyage of self discovery with safe, close-to-home adventures. Since there really is tons to do and see, I’ve broken down Cedar City’s twelve most notable “must-do” attractions for y’all:
one | For the general summer adventure enthusiast, you’ll find no shortage of hiking, mountain and/or road biking, camping, fishing, golfing, art galleries, museums, and more. You can read a more complete list of activities here.
two | Nicknamed USA’s Festival City, Cedar City comes to life every summer with a variety of festivals and fairs. For example, each year, the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival presents a spectacular five month season of plays and musicals running from June – October. The Festival is one of the oldest and largest Shakespearean festivals in North America and its productions. Be sure to check out the free nightly Greenshow, as well as the many educational opportunities. Also, opening summer of 2016 is a new Beverly Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, which will house the newest additions to the Utah Shakespeare Festival, as well as the Southern Utah Museum of Art, the first museum accredited by the American Association of Museum that is operated by graduate and undergraduate students.
three | Cedar Breaks National Monument, the Bureau of Land Management and Dixie National Forest offer limitless opportunities for outdoor recreation with hiking and biking trails, camping (campground and dispersed), wildlife and nature events (i.e. Wildflower Festival) and plenty of amazing scenery.
four| Once considered the largest freestanding arch in the world, Kolob Arch is hidden deep in the backcountry of Kolob Canyons. Despite its isolated location, Kolob Arch has become a favorite backcountry destination for thousands of visitors to Zion. They discover what most arch seekers will tell you: while beauty awaits every seeker at the end of the path, the reward begins unfolding at the trailhead. Along the trail to Kolob Arch, you’ll see some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Zion.
five | Parowan Gap, a petroglyph site just north of Cedar City, is believed to house one of the most concentrated collections of petroglyphs in the West, with over 90 panels and 1,500 figures, some possibly dating back almost 5,000 years. In prehistoric times the gap was used by peoples living in the Parowan Valley as a convenient passage through the Red Hills.
six | Due to its high elevation and remote location, Cedar Breaks has one of the darkest night skies in the country, also making it a prime location for star gazing. If star gazing is of interest to you, The Southern Utah Space Foundation is educating and entertaining visitors with their monthly astronomy events that feature planets, stars, meteor showers and of course, marshmallows. Cedar Breaks National Monument also holds Star Parties every Saturday night in July and August.
seven | Frontier Homestead State Park Museum is a great hands on learning experience for all ages, from panning for gold to roping cows, the state park can easily entertain the kids for hours. The museum portion of the park features an impressive collection of pioneer artifacts and horse-drawn vehicles.
eight | Cedar City is home to Southern Utah’s only winery, the IG Winery. The IG Winery received several gold and silver medals in the Grand Harvest Wine Competition as well as the International Wine Competition Sommelier Challenge.
nine | Not into summer sports? Worry not if you’re heading to Cedar City. The giant amphitheater or Cedar Breaks National Monument becomes a unique wonderland of red rocks and sparkling white snow each winter. Cedar City has a variety of venues for winter activities such as downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snow tubing, snow shoeing, snowmobiling, and ice skating. Find a full list of winter activities here.
ten | Brian Head Ski Resort is probably Utah’s best kept secret, keeping winter sports fun and affordable, while offering the lowest lift ticket prices of any full service ski resort in Utah. Brian Head offers “The Greatest Snow on Earth®” with annual average snowfall of over 360 inches and Utah’s highest base elevation. Covering over 650 acres, Brian Head Resort has two connected mountains, Giant Steps and Navajo, offering 71 runs and 8 chair lifts. As one of only a few resorts in the United States with Terrain Based Learning™, aka a winter sport dilettante’s BFF, Brian Head teamed up with SNOW Operating and Snow Park Technologies to adopt the award-winning program for all beginner ski and snowboard lessons. Learn more about Brian Head University.
eleven | For a truly exclusive experience, check out Southern Utah’s red rock desert sprinkled in snow while skiing at Brian Head Resort. The resort is located just minutes from Cedar Breaks National Monument making the view from the chairlifts is one of a kind.
twelve | The Glacier, Cedar City’s Community Ice Skating Rink is a nonprofit organization completely run by volunteers that promotes youth participation in ice skating, figure skating, hockey, etc. Not to mention, the ice rink is located above the city, facilitating great views of the surrounding hills and is the perfect spot for watching the sunset.
Is Cedar City on anyone else’s traveling bucket list for 2016? Who wants to go on an adventurous, outdoorsy road trip with me?!
Thank you, Visit Cedar City, for sponsoring this post. All opinions are mine alone!