Frequent world travelers have seen how wild and beautiful the world can be, but often forget the serenity of their own surroundings. There are plenty of hidden stay-cations right in your backyard, and Utah has no shortage of options. Taking a look around with new eyes can reveal places just minutes or hours from home, worth a little local lingering.
A local weekend outing may not have the culture shock of an African Safari, but it’s all about how you approach your time creatively to break from your daily routine. Here are a few suggestions to shake off the mundane.
Dark Skies Utah
Canyonlands National Park is a truly awe-inspiring maze of stars and canyons, that’s been granted top tier status as one of the planet’s darkest skies. You can be one of the half a million annual visitors who seek out protected night skies in the canyon, says International Dark Skies Association Director Scott Feierabend. Seeing the Southern Utah stretch of the Milky Way, undisturbed by city lights is unforgettable. It attracts outdoor pros, families, astrophotographers, explorers, and canyon neophytes. The Dark Sky programs partner with the local parks, rangers, Utah.com, and the National Park Service, where you can find which canyons participate in the Dark Skies Program. Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks are also part of dark skies itinerary, with ranger stories, and telescope outings.
Canyonlands is just 4 hours from Utah’s capital city of Salt Lake, 5 hours from St. George, and 30 minutes from Moab. All accessible by car, and international or domestic airlines. To create the complete experience, check out moderately priced accommodations at Red Cliffs Lodge with a great reputation and amenities. For a bit more in price, the intimate Sorrel River Ranch and Spa, creates a full retreat style stay-cation and a taste of local wines.
When you can’t make it to a Vietnamese cooking class on the Mekong Delta, there are still local staycation options to wet your educational appetite. Educational travel has been a growing trend for years and has picked up speed in 2015. The desire to connect with new experiences and training runs the multi-generational gamut, and does not look like it will slow down anytime soon. Connect to a local host to share dinner experiences, with Utah Chef’s at spots like EatInOurKitchen.com for International cooking classes, learning supper clubs while socializing. Kitchen surfing has never been so good. Next on our local list is bespoke cocktail groups such as HeartBeat Nosh Cocktail Club to learn the art of mixology, and Under Current’s food and drink pairings by local experts. Cinch up the night by satisfying you dancing legs with Salsa and Tango classes at DF Dance. Looking to grasp more of Utah’s varied history? Try educational tours from Utah.com and Utah Heritage Foundation or break out into competitive teams with Urban Adventure Quest to hit Utah’s memorable monuments. Leave the armchair travel behind, and get out to your local events.
Treating Your Taste Buds
It’s hard to go wrong with local menu attractions.Food is a passion that brings people together, so book some personal time on a secluded patio to catch the end of season sun. It’s a perfect way to explore local menu’s at Waldorf Astoria’s Powder Restaurant – with a seasonal menu that pulls from it’s own backyard, ranging from $10- $25 for lunch or dinner options. The Mediterranean inspired menu includes wine and garlic drenched mussels, smoked pork Cuban sandwiches and ocean trout.
Uplevel your evening with a signature cocktail at Current Fish & Oyster, which highlights imported and craft beers, a full list of wines, and undeniably delicious cocktails from local distilleries. Priced from $8 – $18. A local favorite is the Grand America for a stay-cation getaway for any season. Take a night out with the Bed & Breakfast stay starting at $224, or take time for an extra long brunch in their Garden Cafe with an opulent spread. Looking for a different budget? Stop at the Grand for afternoon tea from 1 – 3 p.m., or take a complimentary tour of their famous art and antiques.
Utah Photo Safaris and Luxury Camping
Ever get an itch to do some remote exploring? If you’re an outdoor guide to be, a nature lover, or looking for a change of scenery, photo safaris and glamping basecamps provide unique, experiential travel. Find one day or multi day outings with Dreamland Tours to photograph Southern Utah’s surreal canyons, or nearby desert tours with Bay Area Expeditions photo safaris that include skill based techniques. Don’t be intimidated, they will teach you. Take away photos that will be eye candy you will love to show off.
Even if camping skills aren’t in your arsenal, glamorous camping (glamping) is a trend that pairs outdoor comfort with the amenities of home, smack dab in nature. Find pop up luxury basecamps with adventure companies like Latitude Thirty Eight for a couples, corporate or incentive getaway in Utah’s famous canyons. Some offer partnered tours through private Navajo land in off road vehicles, hiking, biking, bootcamps, and more, all paired with safari style tents, basecamp butlers, massage, and haute cuisine. Glamping creates a comfortable home away from home. Other tour options include Conestoga Ranch, and Terravelo Tours, all based in Utah’s backyard.
Sometimes the skies over our own cities can produce a feeling of peace and euphoria just as much as a far away land. Creating your hidden staycation can remind you of the joys of sharing the journey, not just the location. So, when passport delays happen, partners can’t get time off, and foreign visa fees pile on top extra baggage fees, opt for a stay-cation.