After a year of stress (and more stress), the delights of a winter wonderland and a heaping dose of holiday cheer have never been more needed. According to Matt Killingsworth writing for the New York Times, people are exceptionally happier on Christmas Day and the holidays in this last season of the year. He says the extra time spent with family is a major contributor to the higher levels of happiness.
If you and your loved ones need some time away from the house and stress of homeschool, work and current events, it's time to head outdoors. There are dozens of ways to escape the reality of life and enjoy the holiday season in Heber Valley. Here are just a few fun ideas.
Take advantage of Utah's coveted snow and head out with some tubes for a run afternoon of sledding. Soldier Hollow is a great place for a day of fun. The hill has 1,200-foot sliding lanes with a lift service—arguably the best part.
For more of an offroading experience in the snow, you can't miss the thrill of snowmobiling through the hills of Heber Valley.
Whether you have your own snowmobiles or you'd rather rent them, there are options. For rentals, check out Wasatch Excursions or Daniels Summit Lodge. There are also several resorts nestled into the sides of the mountains, making snowmobiling access even easier.
If you're looking for a bit less activity but still want to be dazzled by nature, wander through the winter playground of Ice Castles. According to Go Heber Valley, a Midway man came up with the idea when he started building an ice cave for his kids to play in. Several years later, he has created a winter tradition Utahns can't miss.
Go Heber Valley recommends reserving a sleigh ride from Rocky Mountain Outfitters to take you on a scenic ride to the entrance of the Ice Castles.
A warm retreat
For an unexpected and stunning natural infusion of warmth in the great outdoors, visit Homestead Crater, a dome containing crystal-clear mineral water that stays at a toasty 90- to 96-degree temperature. Visitors can swim, soak, snorkel or scuba dive any time of year. You can also take the self-guided crater tour, investigating the history, geology, and archaeology of this unique natural phenomenon.
Fuel up with local dishes
To fuel your energy for all these fun activities, dozens of mouth-watering eateries serve up just about any cuisine you can imagine. Get a quick bite in a casual spot or sit down for a feast in a fine-dining setting.
Heber Valley features a varied dining scene with nostalgic eateries such as the Dairy Keen and Chicks Café; modern restaurants like Afterword by Tupelo, Midway Mercantile, Back 40 and Lola's; tried-and-true local favorites like Café Galleria, OG Café, Spin Cafe, Hideout Steakhouse, Fanny's Grill, Wildfire Smokehaus, Tarahumara and Tony's Tacos.
Stay a while
Spending one day in Heber Valley is a great way to get a quick break from all that's going on in the world right now, but it's clear there are too many options to fit into one or two days. So make time to fully unwind by taking a longer staycation in this beautiful locale with a restful stay at a branded hotel, a full-service resort, an Airbnb or a rustic log cabin.
The Homestead Resort is an iconic Utah resort with a tradition of providing warm hospitality since 1886. The charming accommodations consist of cottages dotted throughout the grounds. Its layout of ample open space, private outdoor entrances, fresh air and acres of grounds lends well to current health precautions.
Beyond the typical Utah resort experience, Daniels Summit Lodge bridges luxury and comfort with onsite amenities and adventure. Lodging options vary from standard rooms in the main lodge to family rooms that sleep up to six people, king rooms in a separate cabin building, and a two-room suite complete with oversize jetted tub and full-length private balcony. You also can't beat the view of the Uintas from these luxurious suites.
The Zermatt Utah Resort and Spa is an affordable European-influenced luxury mountain resort in Midway, nestled in the heart of the Wasatch Mountains. It offers almost 300 guest rooms, suites and condominium-style villas, with two restaurants, a European bakery, a day spa and wellness center, an indoor/outdoor pool, and a hot tub with a cascading waterfall.
These hotels, restaurants and activities are just examples of the many ways you can enjoy the beauty and fun available in Heber Valley this winter, even with the pandemic ongoing. Take a look at the event calendar or use the Go Heber Valley trip planner to put together a short or longer getaway that will do wonders to renew your soul.