FREE (and Cheap) Winter Activities in Utah

If your children are anything like mine, you are always looking for places to go or things to do in the winter. It’s hard to be cooped up in your house all winter long. We are always on the lookout for fun and free winter activities in Utah. Luckily, there are a lot of great options for winter adventure that are affordable for families here in Utah. We have gathered lots of ideas that are free or cheap for parents like you and me.

Check out the Gale Center for some fun hands-on activities.

We have sorted the activities into indoor and outdoor to make it easier for you to decide on a fun, free winter activity in Utah. Most of our ideas for winter are indoors. First, we want to share about a great program where your kids can earn free passes to lots of venues in Utah.

PBS Kids Utah Reading Marathon

The PBS Kids Utah Reading Marathon happens every year in November! Students from preK-6th grade read 20 minutes a day or 600 minutes total in the month of November. Then, during the first two weeks of December, enter those minutes online and each child that participated earns a Reading Passport. This Adventure passport gives them free admission to great places like Discovery Gateway, NHMU, Hogle Zoo, and more. Read more on our specific post about this amazing reading program.

Clark Planetarium

Indoor Activities

Clark Planetarium

This museum is free all year, but we spend a lot of time here in the winter because it is inside. My boys love space so this is fun for those science kids.

Hill Aerospace Museum

Hill Aerospace Museum has lots of large military vehicles. Some are outside, but many are inside, too. So even if the weather is bad, there is a lot to see. This is perfect for kids of all ages, and they often have hands-on activities going on. Free admission all year long.

Hill Aerospace Museum is indoors and outdoors

BYU Museum of Paleontology

Also free all year, but I don’t usually go unless it’s cold outside. It’s perfect for a snowy afternoon!

BYU Bean Museum

We LOVE the Bean Museum. We go here quite often throughout the year, but it’s a great winter stop. They have scavenger hunts for all ages! And if you go in the evenings, they have live animal shows every night. Check their website for times. Or you can request a live animal show if you gather a group of friends.

BYU Museum of Peoples & Cultures

This museum is VERY small. Even smaller than the BYU dinosaur museum, so you could easily pair these two together. It has some unique art and they have fun activities for kids to do as they work their way through the exhibits.

BYU Museum of Art

The BYU MOA is FREE all year and the exhibits are constantly changing. We have this on our list to visit again this winter to see what’s on display. The MOA also has lots of family friendly programs. On the first and third Saturdays, from 11-1, stop in for some free art crafts during Open Studio (these actives are online right now). They also have a toddler program once a month, but registration is required. For more info on the classes, visit their site.

BYU Museum of Art

BYU Legacy Hall

There might be a BYU theme going on in this post. BYU is stock full of FREE adventures. The Legacy Hall is a great stop in the winter because it’s indoors, and it has so many interesting trophies and memorabilia from the BYU sports eras. If you are any type of BYU sports fan, you will love this museum.

Springville Art Museum

The Springville Art Museum has lots of wonderful art displays. This is a good museum for looking, but not touching. It is free to enter, and we love to catch the fun new exhibits. It’s the perfect first exposure to an art museum for children.

Gale Center for History and Culture

Christa McAuliffe Space Center

The space center is another little planetarium. Shows cost $5/person and are super amazing and there are different shows each night. They also have space missions that older children and families can do, but they are a quite a bit pricier.

Gale Center for History & Culture

This fun little museum has a lot of great places for young kids to play. There is a school, home, store, and post office. There are a few exhibits about the area, too. And admission is free.

Fort Douglas Museum

This war museum fascinated my boys! They loved it and then played army men forever afterward. We went when there was snow on the ground, but loved seeing the large tanks and helicopters outside. This museum is an indoor and outdoor museum. It is FREE and open T-S in the afternoons.

Fort Douglas Museum
Fort Douglas Museum

Cabelas

This is a fun place to stop (and shop)! You can watch the fish swim, see all the animals on display, and you can also spend a couple dollars at the shooting range, if you want. I sometimes set my little ones up and let them pretend to shoot. It’s free and they never know the difference. There is a large Cabela’s in Lehi, and a smaller store in Farmington. Both are great to visit.

Scheels

This store is similar to Cabela’s with a shooting range and some animal displays, but there is also a giant ferris wheel inside their store. You can ride the ferris wheel for $1, but there are height restrictions.

scheels-2

LDS Church History Museum

This Museum is so amazing. They have so many wonderful interactive and hands-on activities to keep children of all ages engaged. There are also a lot of great tours available on Temple Square. We have a list of FREE things to do on Temple Square with kids! They are great all year, but lots of perfect for indoor winter adventures.

Pioneer Memorial Museum

Just around the corner from the Church History Museum is the Pioneer Memorial Museum. This museum is run by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and is full of pioneer information and artifacts. There aren’t as many hands-on activities here, but we love seeing all of the unique displays, including Brigham Young’s wagon. Admission is free.

Both the Church History Museum and the Pioneer Memorial Museum are stocked with interesting things to see.

Neighborhood Art Center

This art studio is located in the Provo Towne Center Mall. The Neighborhood Art Center offers a chance for kids to create all types of art. They have Open Studio that is only $5/kid and $3/adult and covers all the art you can create! Our boys had a great time making lots of art projects and it is such a unique activity.

Preschool Playtime at Get Air Hang Time

Hang Time in Orem has a special preschool playtime where preschoolers can play anywhere in their facility on the weekday mornings from 10-12 . The cost is $8/kid for an hour ($4 to add the second hour) and adults are FREE. Totally worth it to burn off a lot of energy.

Hang Time is a great spot to get wiggles out.

Home Depot Kids Workshops

On the first Saturday of the month between 9 am-12 pm, stop by your local Home Depot and participate in a building project designed just for kids. We love this fun adventure all year, but it’s an easy way to get out and do something in the winter.

Olympic Park Museums

There are two museums at Olympic Park in Park City and both are free all year round. The Olympic Museum focuses on the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and the memories from this time in Utah. The Ski Museum is small, but talks about the snow in Utah and why skiing is such a big deal here. There are some interactive rides for $2 and $5 if you want to splurge a little.

Mrs. Cavanaugh’s Chocolate Factory Tour

Tours are $5 (but $4 are applied as a credit for purchase in the shop at the end of the tour). So really the tour costs $1, and you get $4 worth of candy or ice cream at the end. The tours take you through the factory, teach you about the process of making chocolates, and include a few yummy samples. You need an appointment, so please call the North Salt Lake factory at (801) 677-8888 to schedule a tour.

Mall Play Areas

Sometimes we just need to get the kids out so they can burn off some energy. There are some great play areas in local malls.

  • Layton Hills Mall: Our kids love this mall’s play area. There are lots of animals, cars, and other shapes to climb on, as well as a little slide.
  • South Towne Center: dinosaur themed, and also a train ride through the mall (certain times and costs $3)
  • University Mall: has an indoor and outdoor play area
  • Provo Towne Center: a carousel upstairs that kids can ride for a few $$.

Playing with Snow Inside!

When it’s too cold to play outside, we bring the snow inside. Our boys think this is the greatest activity. We share some of our favorite things to do with the snow inside, but let us know if you have some fun ones we can try.

Favorite Family Games

We love playing games together, and winter is a great time when you want to snuggle together at home. Here is our list of our favorite family games (and we keep adding to it): family games.

Local Libraries

We highly recommend visiting your local library to check out books and to enjoy the programs they offer. Our library has story time and craft time, and both are free. My boys loved visiting them when they were young. And we always came home with a huge stack of books to enjoy!

Outdoor Adventures

Hogle Zoo

During November and December 2023 every weekday is $5 admission when tickets are purchased online. That’s Monday-Friday. If you buy tickets at the door, they will be $7. There are also two days in January and February. The last Wednesdays of those months (January 31 and February 28) that will be $5 days. Visiting Hogle Zoo in the winter is our favorite time to go because the animals are more active and the crowds are a lot smaller. Read more details about Wild Wednesdays and visiting in the winter here.

free-days-5

The Farm at Gardner Village

There is a small farm at Gardner Village that is more like a petting zoo and pony rides. On Tuesdays in November-April, entrance fee is $2/person. And pony rides are $2 as well. They will even let you buy $2 tickets to use any day, so you can stock up.

Get Air Hang Time

Red Butte Gardens

We have never visited Red Butte Gardens in the winter, but admission is half price in December, January, and February. Prices are much more affordable this way, and we are interested in seeing what the gardens look like in the snow.

This is the Place Heritage Park

During the winter season, tickets are half price to This is the Place because not everything is open. We love this state park and enjoy the pioneer activities that are here. The trains are running, but not the pony rides. There are self-guided tours of many of the buildings, but not as many volunteers to visit with. We still think this is an amazing place no matter the season.

Winter Hikes

5 years ago, we had never tried a winter hike, but once we did we found that we loved hiking in the winter. It’s so peaceful and beautiful. We have 5 super easy, family friendly hikes that we tried, and we will continue to add more as we find them.

Dripping Rock in winter

Urban Hikes

Many of these hikes see limited snow because they are located right in the city limits. These trails are flat and easy, so they are great to walk in regular snow boots and be able to get outside in the winter.

Sledding

Obviously, sledding is a fun, free winter activity. It is definitely the most popular winter activity for our boys. Please remember that sledding can be dangerous, so sled at your own risk. Here is a list of some great sledding hills in Utah.

Donut Falls Parking area is where you sled.

Ice Stacks at Utah Lake

Check out the ice piles at Utah Lake. There are multiple locations and they are amazing to see. These generally appear later in the winter.

Southern Utah

A lot of adventures in Southern Utah are great year round, but here are a few indoor adventures that we enjoy if we are passing through in the winter months.

Brigham Young Winter Home

This home is a great spot to learn about the building of the St. George Temple and Brigham Young’s later years. Open daily from 9 am to dusk. Free tours.

Jacob Hamblin Home

Jacob Hamblin’s home is located outside of St. George, but you will learn some fascinating stories about this early pioneer. Open from 10-5 in the winter. Free tours.

St. George Tabernacle

The St. George Tabernacle is a beautiful building and it is just down the street from Brigham Young’s Winter Home and the temple. You can visit all three in one day. Open 9 am to dusk. Free tours.

St. George Temple Visitor’s Center

This visitor’s center has lots of hands-on, interactive displays for the children (and adults) to learn about the temple and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

This is the temple with the taller tower. You can look at it through the Visitor's Center windows.
This is the St. George temple. You can look at it through the Visitor’s Center windows.

St. George DUP McQuarrie Memorial Museum

This pioneer museum is full of interesting pioneer artifacts. We love walking through these museums and speaking with the ladies who run them. This is a great free activity.

Get Out Pass

We love our Get Out Pass for two reasons: Lagoon, and for activities in the winter. This pass has lots of activities, and we love being able to try a bunch of different adventures with one pass. It offers such a great way to save and enjoy adventures all year long with your family. We have had one since it first started here in Utah, and since we love it so much we have a discount code “adventure.” Check our post to see what the current discount is because there are huge sales around Memorial Day and Black Friday (and other times of the year, too).SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Michelle Walters

    I love your posts! Thank you!

    1. Natalie Ockey

      Thank you so much for leaving such a kind comment!

  2. Ash

    My kids and I are good hiking during the summer time but bad in the winter. What are your 5 super easy hikes for winter? My kids are 14 and 10.

    Also, for sledding, Mountain Dell Golf Course is very very impressive for sledding! The course is really really long and not too steep~