Two Little Pandas

St George


Updated 1/5/21

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Visiting St. George with kids, and the entire family is a great experience all Utah natives know well.  But even for those visiting from out of state, it’s well worth the trip. It’s the perfect spring break, or haven’t-had-enough-summer fall trip, and is it paradise for outdoor families.  Kids and adults of all ages will find just more to do than they can imagine.  

To get there, fly directly into the tiny St. George airport, or into Las Vegas, then drive less than 2 hours to St. George.  Or, if you plan to visit more of Utah, consider flying into Salt Lake City, but it is a bit of a drive at about 4 hours.  

We spent spring break in southern Utah this year with our extended family and had an incredible time! In fact, we left feeling like St. George just might be the PERFECT spring break destination!

We had kids ranging in age from 2.5 years old to 17 years old, and adults as old as mid-60s.  Everyone found something they were super excited to do including, golf, amazing restaurants, extreme hiking, etc. We wanted to share a few of the reasons our family had a blast in St. George, and why we think you and your family will love it as well! 

1. The Weather

Spring and fall weather are simply magnificent in St. George. St. George has a whopping 255 sunny days of sunshine per year, on average, so you can count on getting sunny days for your vacation. Coming from the Pacific Northwest, we chase the sun, and tend to get a BIT cranky if we end up having rainy days on vacation, so St. George is a great option for us!

St. George starts getting beautiful summer weather while most of the US is still finishing up winter. Our last trip to St. George was in March, and after a late winter, we left snow and ice at home.  In St. George, we had beautiful, sunny 70°F days.  For us, it was PERFECT weather.

Fall is St. George is similar.  As temperatures start to fall, and at least in the PNW, the rain begins, St. George still has sunshine and mid-70°F weather.  It’s such an awesome escape and just thoroughly enjoyable weather.  

A word of warning though- visiting St. George in the peak of summer definitely isn’t for everyone. With temperatures typically topping 100°F, July and August in St. George are too hot for ME. But, if you plan to spend your days in the water (which is easy to do with the many, many lakes and waterways), St. George can still be a fun summer destination as well!

2. Amazing, and Budget-Friendly Lodging

St. George has so many really great places to stay, including hotels, lodges, rental condos, and rental homes. Many of them are perfectly set up for families, and even budget-friendly!

Paradise Village at Zion

Paradise Village in nearby Santa Clara, Utah might just be our favorite lodging option for families. This mega-community is filled with vacation homes of all sizes and budgets for your family or even extended family.  The community has several property management companies renting units, but we recommend Utah’s Best Vacation Rentals.

The homes in this community are modern, spacious with all the amenities you need for your family, and there are options with 3 bedrooms all the way up to 9 bedrooms. 

Photo credit to Paradise Village. The amazing waterpark and lazy river.

The community has impressive pools, including a hot tub, and zero-entry pool, plus a lazy river and waterslide. My extended family and I rented a 6 bedroom and 8 bathrooms and found it to be very spacious and comfortable for everyone.  It was so nice to have enough space for everyone to have privacy, but also be able to hang out together. The kids loved the pool and the waterpark, and since we were there at the VERY beginning of spring, I was thankful we could warm up in the hot tub after swimming.  

Paradise Village is also very close to the Archie H. Gubler Playground, which was well designed for kids of all ages, and included a giant treehouse, a giant ‘rock’ to climb, and a spray park! There is a very nice Harmon’s grocery store and as well as a Cafe Rio restaurant, both less than 5 minutes away.  

The Inn at Entrada

The Inn at Entrada is a gorgeous resort, with spacious suites or even larger townhomes, and TONS of amenities. You won’t want to miss their pools, volleyball courts (or really any kind of court) and onsite gym. Parents, or grandparents will love the impressive onsite golf course as well. This place has it ALL.

Inn on the Cliff

Prefer a hotel? Inn on the Cliff delivers with sleek, updated rooms and plenty of space for families. With an outdoor pool and an onsite restaurant, you’ll find everything you need and want at this great little hotel!

3. Swimming and Watersports

The St. George area is jam-packed waterways perfect for swimming and water sports. And since the temperatures do get HOT as you get into summer in St. George, you are going to want to get in the water.

Lakes and Reservoirs

The closest/best include Sand Hollow Reservoir, Quail Lake, Ivins Reservoir, and Gunlock Reservoir. All have nice beach areas and allow paddlesports, and all but Ivins Reservoir allow motorized watercraft. We love the beautiful red beach at Sand Hollow because it is a great place for littles to play in the sand and shallow water, and bigger kids to head out on a kayak or paddleboard.

For boat-owning families, this area is a great place to make use of your boat, and make sure it’s not just collecting dust in your driveway. With tons of lakes, and perfect sunny skies, you and your family will certainly have a blast and make some amazing memories.

But, even if your family doesn’t own a boat, or even a paddleboard, don’t worry! There are several rental companies in the area that rent jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks, or even boats for the afternoon, the day, or even the week. (And even though the price for the day seems high, just think how much money you are saving by not OWNING a boat!). We like Utah Boat Rentals at Sand Hollow.

Waterfalls and Swimming Holes

One of many beautiful waterfalls to explore in the St. George area. This one is in Zion NP.

Families with not-so-tiny kids will also enjoy some great, swimming holes, such as Toquerville Falls, Little Jamaica, and the waterfall on Red Reef Trail.

To get to Toquerville, you’ll have to have an SUV or ATV, and patience. It’s a rough, rocky, and confusing at times road to get up there, but the falls are well worth the drive.

Little Jamaica is just a 1/4 mile hike in then a beautiful swimming area full of waterfalls and pools.

And the Red Reef trail is about 1.5 miles round trip, with the waterfall and swimming area at the far end.

Swimming Pool

And of course, for those who prefer their swimming a little bit LESS natural, or for days when the weather isn’t perfect, the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center is a really beautiful indoor facility. It has a super fun waterslide, a zero entry area, kids water toys and MORE!  

4. Hiking and Exploring

With bright orange rocks, sage greenery, and bright blue skies, you won’t be able to resist getting out to explore the outdoors near St. George. And there are a million unique spots you and your kids will LOVE checking out!

Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon is a great area just outside of St. George with some fun and unique hikes. You can easily spend a day or two just exploring this area, and we highly recommend that you do!

Upper Galoot hike with our 2.5-year-old twins. They had a blast!

The Upper Galoot was a favorite for everyone in my family. It’s more of a huge rock that you can climb up and around than a hike, which made is perfect for all ages, and all activity levels to get out an explore at their own pace.

At age 2.5, my twins LOVE hiking but aren’t able to take really long and challenging hikes, so this was great because it had some technical climbs that made them feel like big boys, but we didn’t really have a destination. We just wandered around until we’d had our fill.

Also, check out the Lava Tube Loop.  At 2.5+ miles, this hike may be a bit long for younger children, so plan accordingly.  We enjoyed checking out all the different sizes and type of cacti along the way, though you definitely need to watch out and make sure no one falls INTO them. The sections of black rock, along the trail, and leading into the lava tubes were very interesting as well. The tubes themselves are kind of an underground cave and are extremely dark, so don’t forget your flashlight!

Pioneer Park

Kids on the top of Dixie Sugarloaf

On our way into St. George, we drove past this cool park and decided it would be the first thing on our list the next morning.  It did not disappoint! The Dixie Sugarloaf hike overlooks the whole city and is a ton of fun! It’s listed as a hike, but it’s really just a huge sandstone rock area where you can climb rocks or on top of big overlooks, or hide in little caves. 

I am PRETTY afraid of heights, and I was very comfortable up there with my two toddlers, but the bigger kids were able to find rocks high enough to keep their interests. The view is amazing, and you don’t have to stand anywhere near the edge to see it.  You can spend as much or as little time as you want to explore this area.  

Dixie Sugarloaf with toddlers (and their fearful mother)

5. Sightseeing

Not up for hiking? There are plenty of sights to see without taking a big hike.

Red Hills Desert Garden

Located on the north end of the Pioneer Park trail, this little gem is quite a treat!  It is a perfectly manicured desert garden filled with red rocks, cacti, and agave. It is small but stunning and definitely worth seeing. 

Red Hills Desert Garden

Bloomington Petroglyph Park

This small, 1/2 acres park is a quick stop, but pretty amazing to see. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information about who drew these images or how old they are, but they are certainly interesting to check out.

Take a Drive

The entire area near St. George is beautiful, and no matter which direction you drive, you’ll see something you’ve probably never seen before. But we’d recommend a drive through Snow Canyon State Park.

6. ATV or UTV rides!

One of the things that’s truly unique about southern Utah is the sand dunes and the orange/red slick rock. And with acres and acres of this unique land to explore, an ATV or UTV is a perfect way to cover lots of ground and have some family fun in a whole NEW way.

UTV Ride at Sand Hollow

Sand Hollow State Park. Mad Moose Rentals
Mad Moose Rentals at Sand Hollow State Park

Sand Hollow is the ULTIMATE when it comes to family-friendly ATV/UTV experiences.

Riding UTVs at Sand Hollow State Park with our entire family was such an awesome experience, we wrote a whole separate post about it!  We are not a family that is particularly ‘in to’ offroading or anything like that, but it wound up becoming the highlight of our trip to Utah.  Mad Moose Rentals allowed us to bring our toddlers in car-seats, and kids and adults of all ages really found what they were looking for.  

7. Museums

St. George is packed full of great museums that really help you get to know every aspect of this unique environment. Here are just a few that we love.

St. George Children’s Museum

This children’s museum is located in the lower two floors of the historic Dixie Academy in the heart of downtown St. George.  The museum is broken into a TON of little areas with different themes. Favorites include flying the airplane, milking the cow, playing medieval dress up (including a dragon!), grocery store… so many! And the price of this place cannot be beat- only $5 per person and children under 2 are free. 

It does get crowded, so plan to go early in the morning.  Plan to spend a couple of hours here.  

Dinosaur Discovery Park

The cool thing about this dinosaur attraction is that it was built right at a dinosaur track site.  So you’ll get to see the actual, real dinosaur footprints, on the spot they were originally discovered.  

Dinosaur nuts will love seeing different types of tracks, skin impressions, etc, and learning all about the animals and what can be discovered from their prints.  Kids can do a scavenger hunt and will be able to pick up some bones and watch volunteers working in the lab on real fossils.  

Because the museum mostly showcases prints, and anything found on this site, you won’t find a lot of huge dinosaur bones.  Smaller children may struggle to understand the importance of the tracks but will enjoy the replicas and the kid’s area with puzzles and coloring.  Plus if the weather isn’t TOO hot, the outdoor area with a large climb-on dinosaur and a sandbox is a big hit. 

Note that sippy cups or straw cups are not allowed inside of the museum, so plan accordingly.  

LDS Sites

St. George is a historically significant location for the LDS church, with several interesting sites to explore, including the winter home of Brigham Young, the beautiful St. George Temple, and the St George Tabernacle. LDS families, and families who love history will enjoy checking out these interesting spots!

8. Epic Day Trips

The area around St. George has no shortage of truly epic activities, if you and your family are willing to head a little bit farther out. You definitely won’t regret spending a day exploring some of the amazing day trips the St. George area has to offer

Zion National Park

Zion less than an hour’s drive from St. George, and it is absolutely breathtaking! There are tons of great kid-friendly hikes.  Our favorites are the Riverside Walk, the Weeping Rock, and the Emerald Pools Hike. If you are traveling with older kids who are experienced hikers, the Subway and Angels Landing might just be my two favorite hikes EVER.   Note that the Subway hike requires a permit, which needs to be obtained in advance (and can be tough to come by!)

The Subway hike

From March through November, no cars are allowed with the Zion Canyon, so you’ll need to take the shuttle.  The shuttle runs frequently and hasn’t been a problem in my experience, but you will want to plan accordingly.  Pack a comfortable backpack, and plan to picnic rather than going back out to Springdale for lunch.  

Las Vegas

Just under 2 hours away, Las Vegas is surprisingly full of kid-friendly activities. Take a walk down the strip and check out all the themed hotels. Excaliber, Paris, and New York New York are favorites of ours. Play the arcades while visiting New York New York Check out the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage. Visit the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Watch the famous fountains at the Bellagio. There is certainly no shortage of Fun in Las Vegas

New York New York

Hoover Dam

At nearly 2 1/2 hours, the drive to the Hoover Dam is quite a trek for a day trip. But, if the Hoover Dam is on your bucket list, it’s a great opportunity to finally get to see it! Kids of all ages will be impressed by the size of this massive structure.

9. See a Show

St. George is an unexpectedly great place to see a show! Whether you prefer a comedy, music, or Broadway-style, there is something for you in St. George!

Tuacahn Amphitheatre

Tuacahn Amphitheatre. Photo courtesy of Tuacahn

Tuacahn is a huge outdoor amphitheater right in the middle of a beautiful red rock canyon.  The scenery is gorgeous and the shows are even better. While Tuacahn does offer a variety of shows and concerts, they primarily show kid-friendly musicals including lots of Disney Shows.  Their crew is very professional and extremely talented and the sets are just beautifully made. The experience is one you won’t be able to have anywhere else in the world that your family will LOVE.

St. George Musical Theatre

The St. George Musical Theatre is another great option for musical shows. The old building has a really special and magical feel. The company uses local talent, and has a huge number of shows each season, which have included Fiddler on the Roof, Annie, Freaky Friday and many, many more!

St. George is the perfect multigenerational family destination, and a trip my young kids are still talking about, 6 months later.  Who else has visited St. George with kids? Any other favorite activities?

10. Playground

St. George has some seriously great playgrounds. So great, in fact, that’s almost worth the trip just to visit them.

Thunder Junction All Abilities Park

This playground is the shining star of the St. George playgrounds. This park is AMAZING. It has everything. Huge, lifelike dinosaurs for climbing, a small rideable train, a splash park, big play structures and slides, and creative and fun playground equipment of all kinds. Of course there is also a nice covered picnic area, clean bathrooms, and all the regular amenities you hope for as well. It’s a beautiful, well designed playground that kids of all ages will enjoy.

Vernon Worthen Park

The Vernon Worthen Park is another fun playground that is a great change of pace from the same ‘ole play structure as every playground in America. This one has some great climbing nets, and a fun zip-line type chair (though maybe not quite exciting enough for older kids).

Archie H. Gubler Playground

The giant ‘tree’ at Archie H. Gubler Playground

Our favorite part of this playground is the big imitation-slick rock climbing structure. It also has a massive pretend tree that kids can climb through and up, and a spider-web type climbing net.

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During a recent (amazing) spring break trip to St. George Utah, we decided to take a gamble on a KINDA crazy idea- taking an ATV/UTV ride with the ENTIRE extended family. And WOW are we glad we did- the UTV ride was definitely the highlight of our already amazing trip! In fact, we were able to get the whole family, including 3 toddlers, and 3 older kids, and adults of all ages, on ATVs or UTVs.  For my nearly 3-year-old twins, I think this was the highlight of their entire lives- honestly.  

Amazing scenery in St. George

We spent our day riding UTVs and around the Sand Hollow area. The Sand Hollow Dunes area is HUGE- 15,000 acres of trails.  And it covers all types of terrain and skill levels. You can drive over some huge sand dunes, drive through rock formations, and even go check out the reservoir. Or, if you are little bit nervous out there, check out some of the tamer trails that still provide gorgeous scenery and lots of fun. It’s a great area. 

Renting UTVs from Mad Moose Rentals at Sand Hollow
Ready to head out!

Mad Moose Rentals

When it comes to ATV rentals, Mad Moose Rentals is the best. They have a huge selection of high-quality rental gear (even water sports gear), good prices, and excellent service. They are also located right at Sand Hollow, making them super convenient. They were able to help us pick which machines to rent for our larger group who are not experienced in all-terrain vehicles, and provided helmets and goggles for our use.  They were also great about letting us take toddlers and their car seats on the UTVs without any problems. They even upgraded one of our UTVs for free because the lower-end model we’d rented was out of service for the day. 

Since Mad Moose is ultra kid-friendly, we assumed we’d be sent out on a really easy trail and given an overall ‘beginners’ experience.  That was not at all the case! We certainly could take it super easy out there, or you could out onto some super technical, advanced trails.  Since we had our kids, we weren’t interested in getting TOO crazy, but we loved that we got to have a real ATV experience.  Whether you are traveling with children, or not, renting from Mad Moose at Sand Hollow is an awesome experience.

The Highlights of Sand Hollow

Many trails are not very well established just because of the nature of the area.  Washouts are always changing, and it’s not really possible to make a trail in a sand dune.  So it’s definitely possible to get lost if you aren’t paying attention. You’ll want to figure out how to use read the terrain on google earth BEFORE you get lost, and have a reasonably good plan, if you are heading out very far. It’s such a wide-open space, that it SEEMS like you can see 100 miles, but you really can’t.

Top of the World

There are a few pretty well-established sights to see out there.  One absolutely must-see is the Top of the World. The views from the top are stunning. Plus it’s a perfect little break/picnic spot. The only bathrooms in the area are also located nearby.  

Sand Hollow State Park, Top of the World. We had a ride time taking a ridinh UTVs at Sand Hollow with our kids
The view from the Top of the World

The Devils Playground

The Devil Playground/Maze area was another favorite for our group.  You can drive your UTV under and around some of the beautiful red rock formations. It’s a strange feeling to be heading into the maze of red rocks. The bright orange rocks are quite a sight with the backdrop of the deep blue desert sky. It’s definitely an experience you won’t want to miss.

The Devils Playground is another great break spot. ATVs and UTVs are pretty loud, and can be a bit overwhelming for kids, so planning to take lots of breaks will help them enjoy the experience. The Devil’s Playground is an EXTRA great break area because old kids (and adults) can make a game of getting up to the highest possible rock. My family had fun seeing who was the bravest and able to get the highest. The toddlers loved the sandstone rocks because, when you throw them, they disintegrate. If you are a toddler, breaking rocks is a pretty magnificent experience.

Sand Hollow State Park, Devil's playground. Taking a break on our UTV ride. The kids loved throwing sandstone 'rocks' that fall apart when they hit the ground
We took a break at the Devil’s Playground to climb some rocks

Sand Dunes

The sand dunes north and east of Top of the World were another really wild experience.  The surface of the dunes looks so smooth and perfect, and you can’t really tell how deep the sand is. Driving on sand dunes is DEFINITELY tricky and we saw even experienced drivers get over-confident and very well stuck.  I have no idea how you’d get un-stuck in a sand dune (can’t exactly dig out of it), so I’d definitely recommend trying to not get stuck in the first place.  But don’t let the fear of getting stuck stop you. It’s hard to describe the feeling of driving through the pristine dunes with the wild blow sand across the surface, but it’s another one-of-a-kind experience you’ll love.

The sand dunes at Sand Hollow State Park, in the sand dunes area, looking at the reservoir
This area is really beautiful

The Kids’ Impressions

My boys LOOOOVED it. My little vehicle-obsessed boy had a perma-grin and said ‘It’s SOO BUMPY and SO FAST!’.  Apparently bumpy and fast are great things in his mind? The bigger kids felt like they’d had a big adventure and couldn’t wait to tell their friends back home. The adult-kids also had a ton of fun, though a few of us got a bit scared at times, I think we still enjoyed every moment.

For the littlest kids, it was a bit tricky for them to see out, even in their car seats, so just keep that in mind when you are picking out a UTV and arranging your toddler’s seat.  They enjoyed the complex trails and watching the other UTVs drive by.

We had the UTVs for about 4 hours, and we took a few breaks to get out and look around. For toddlers, 4 hours was just about right. They thoroughly enjoyed every moment, and were only BEGINNING to be board of the ride. However, the adults and older kids could have EASILY stayed out the rest of the day. The price difference between a half-day and a full-day is so small, so if you have any doubts, go for the full day!

As you plan your trip to St. George, I’d definitely recommend a day at Sand Hollow. Of course, getting ATV rentals in St. Goerge can get a bit pricey, but well worth it for the experience for our family.  This opportunity to ride UTVs at Sand Hollow with kids is something we’ll be talking about for a long time, and I hope we’ll get the chance to try it again soon!  

Read about the rest of our trip in Salt Lake City here.

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