Vacationing in Utah might conjure images of snowy adventures like skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. Now picture a Utah vacation with the kids paddling in the state’s largest water park, Dad shooting par on a nationally ranked golf course and everyone rollicking at a weekend festival with non-stop entertainment. All these attractions can be found in Orem, Utah.
Utah Valley and the city of Orem set the stage for leisure activities—snow sports, too—in a stunningly beautiful setting. Located on the eastern shores of Utah Lake, Orem extends eastward to Provo, less than 10 miles away, and the foothills of Mount Timpanogos beyond. Proximity to Provo and a reputation as the commercial and technological hub of central Utah give the city one of the fastest metropolitan growth rates in the U.S. There is, however, a unique archaeological and social history as well, leaving lasting effects.
The list of sights and things to do in Orem year-round make it an enticing getaway for residents of Salt Lake City, 39 miles north, and for visitors to central Utah. June’s annual Summerfest packs a Saturday and Sunday with music, food and fun. Weekend enticements include Arts in the Park, fireworks, a carnival and a pancake breakfast.
Another Orem favorite thing to do is hang out at the annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, held in late summer at Mount Timpanogos Park. More than 30,000 fans attend the three-day festival, now one of the largest and most prestigious storytelling events in the nation.
Nearby locales host popular annual activities in the warmer months as well. Springtime at Thanksgiving Point means thousands of tulips—as in 250,000—at the popular Tulip Festival. Visitors gaze at 55 acres of gorgeous gardens during the six-day event, 15 miles southwest of Orem. The largest stadium fireworks production in the U.S. happens every Fourth of July at America's Freedom Festival Stadium of Fire in Utah Valley, 25 miles south. The patriotic extravaganza has featured performers such as Carrie Underwood, the Beach Boys and the Jonas Brothers.
For more cultural and historical insights, area museums explore everything from military history to pioneers and dinosaurs. The Orem Heritage Museum has a 30,000-piece collection, including a World War II Orem POW camp display, videos of early settlers and a diorama of 1940s Orem with a working model railroad. Nearby at Thanksgiving Point, the North American Museum of Ancient Life is one of the world’s largest dinosaur museums. Even the most tentative fossil detectives will find themselves fascinated by more than 120 skeletons, hundreds of smaller fossil remains and 63 interactive exhibits.
Thanksgiving Point is home to another renowned Orem attraction, Utah’s largest golf course. Golf Digest ranked the Johnny Miller-designed course among the top 10 new courses in the nation. Utah’s largest water park is just a short drive away, too, in nearby Provo. Seven Peaks Water Park has 16 water slides, a quarter-mile lazy river, a 400,000-gallon wave pool and kiddie play areas. A visit to the Orem area is clearly not just about snow.