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. Here are a few ideas that are free or don’t cost much for parents like you and me.
Make sure to log reading minutes by December 15. Don’t miss out on this free reading program that offers tickets to many of the locations listed below. It only runs through November, so act quickly.
Hogle Zoo Wild Wednesdays
Free Days are now $2 days! During the winter months (Nov-Feb) the last Wednesday of the month you can get in for $2. Make sure to bundle up before you head to the zoo, but there are often lots of nice days to visit during the winter and the animals are usually more active. The zoo puts the tickets up the first week of the month, and we will share on social media as soon as we see they are available. Grab your tickets here (scroll down to where it say Wild Wednesday tickets).
Advance tickets are currently required (they are still free). 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 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 there is a kids zone to play and explore in. Free admission all year long.
Also free all year, but I don’t usually go unless it’s cold outside. It’s perfect for a snowy afternoon!
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.
This museum is VERY small. Even smaller than the BYU dinosaur museum, so you could easily pair those two together. It has some unique art and they have fun activities for kids to do as they work their way through the exhibits.
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.
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.
The space center is another little planetarium. Right now they are only holding shows in their dome theater. Shows cost $5/person and are super amazing. They hope to open up their space missions soon.
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 FREE and open T-S in the afternoons.
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.
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. Last time we visited, the Ferris Wheel was not running, so we will have to go and check to see if it is running again.
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.
This museum is NOT usually free, but they do offer a few FREE DAYS and most of them are during the colder months so you want to be inside! It is an amazing museum and children big and small love it! There are no current free days listed. We will update when info becomes available.
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.
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.
Covid has changed this program. Now you can order the Kid Workshops kits to do at home. They cost $5, and if you ship to the store for pick-up, then shipping is free. It comes with all the supplies you’ll need to complete them except a hammer.
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.
Open, but call before to make an appointment. 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.
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.
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.
Mall Play Areas
Some of the mall play areas are still closed. 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. We are going to get some pictures this winter of these fun spots.
- 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 $$.
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.
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.
Obviously, sledding is a fun, free winter activity. It is definitely the most popular winter activity for our boys. We are hoping to collect a few favorite sledding spots and share, so let us know the best places. Our current favorite is sledding at Donut Falls.
The other popular sledding spot out of the valley is Tibble Fork up American Fork Canyon. We haven’t been here, but lots of people tell us it’s great.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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 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.