Travel these days looks a whole lot different than it did a year ago. Planes, trains, and ships are basically out of the question for most Utahns, who, by this time, would have finished their summer vacations and started planning their holiday travels. That’s why stay-cations — excursions close to home — have cabin-fevered locals traveling to places that are close enough to drive to but far enough to feel like a real vacation.
About an hour’s drive north of Salt Lake City, Ogden and Ogden Valley are full of rich history, sought-after attractions, and amazing views of the Wasatch Mountains. If you’re planning a day or weekend, as a couple or a family, here’s what you’re not going to want to miss.
A visit to Ogden Union Station sits at the base of Ogden’s historic 25th Street, and is a must for Utah history buffs. Looking up the length of this eclectic street, a visitor is quick to notice the Victorian style structures with brick-constructed facades, stamped metal pediments, and Queen Anne windows. You may pass tour guides telling stories behind the facades, of the bustling and risque beginnings and recent revitalization of the street. A few blocks up is a favorite breakfast spot, Pig and a Jelly Jar, where you’ll enjoy freshly made sausages, pancakes, home-made jams and omelets while marveling at the decades-old interior, wondering what stories the walls would tell if they could talk.
Your next stop is 25 minutes east, up 12th Street, into Ogden Canyon—a 5-mile, narrow and windy stretch of road that’s sometimes mere inches from the vertical rock walls of the canyon. Along the way runs the Ogden River and remnants of a bygone trolley system that brought city folk into this expansive valley. At the top is a dam that harnesses an expansive man-made lake. Pineview Reservoir is well known for its boating and beach fun, and for ice fishing in the winter.
Continuing north on a stretch of highway that winds itself around the lake will take you to one of the oldest towns in the west—Huntsville. Maze-like roads lead to the center of this quaint town, home to two unique businesses that are equally appealing but couldn’t be more different. One is the Shooting Star Saloon, where adult travelers can grab a burger and a beer and listen to locals shoot the bull.
Kiddy corner to the saloon, is a brand new family hotel; the nationally recognized, Compass Rose Lodge. This beautifully constructed boutique hotel has so much history infused into its exquisitely and thought-out interior decor. Plan ahead and make reservations to visit the observatory at the top of the silo. Or spend a couple of hours in a tee-pee, wrapped in blankets, cozying up to a fire and enjoying the fare brought to you by the staff. The lodge is a truly unique and inspiring answer to safe distancing while keeping your loved ones close.
Centered near the biggest four-way stop in Eden is a small cluster of tiny but sought-after shops huddled around a large gazebo. These family-oriented venues include Creme De La Creme Ice Cream Shop, Ogden Valley Pizza, Simply Eden, Red Bicycle, and Pat’s Bar. The nearby New World Distillery beckons adults with world class spirit concoctions, tasting the spirits, and tours of their distillery process.
If you’re making a weekend or just a day out of your stay-cation, Ogden Valley offers outdoor recreation opportunities such as North Fork Park, which holds an International Dark Sky designation, making it an amazing stargazing spot, along with Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, and Nordic and Wolf Mountain ski resorts. Powder Mountain, on the North end of the valley, though less steep than the Basin, typically boasts better snow conditions due to its higher elevation. With both so close, and the smaller Wolf Creek and Nordic Valley night skiing in between, a skier will easily fill his or her downhill quota.
What are you waiting for? Pack a bag, load the car, and make the drive north. Ogden and its beautiful valley are just the ticket for a stay-cation this year.