Travel Tips Tuesday: Family Fun at Utah’s Thanksgiving Point
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Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah was created to “foster learning, bring families closer together and provide beautiful gathering places for groups of all kinds.” Located 25 miles south of downtown Salt Lake City, and just off of Interstate-15, Thanksgiving Point’s gardens, Museum of Ancient Life, and Farm Country are outstanding family attractions that are fun for both children and adults. In short, it’s my kind of place.
Everything about Thanksgiving Point strives to be the biggest and the best, and the 55-acre gardens are no exception. Envision 16 different garden “rooms”, 70 varieties of roses, a quarter-million tulips during the annual Tulip Festival, and the largest man-made waterfall in the Western Hemisphere.
My husband and I recently visited the Thanksgiving Point Gardens without our children as part of an anniversary celebration. It was an excellent setting for a romantic date, though I couldn’t help but notice the features that would appeal to our kids. When we return with them, I’m sure that we’ll spend extra time on the big grassy hills, the koi pond and the waterfall.
- Admission to the Thanksgiving Point Gardens is $10 per adult and $6 per child ages 3-12. This price includes admission to both the main gardens and the Children’s Discovery Garden.
Children’s Discovery Garden
The Children’s Discovery Garden is smaller than the main garden, and features more interactive play areas. Families can cool off in the pools and fountains that surround Noah’s Ark, find their way through a hedgerow maze or discover a Bear Cave. Beautiful flowers and landscaping abound that will appeal to grown-up senses and provide many great photo ops.
On our first trip to Thanksgiving Point, we ran out of time to visit both gardens after seeing the museum, so plan plenty of time if you want to see it all.
- If you want to save the main garden for another time, admission for the Children’s Discovery Garden alone is $6 per adult and $4 per child ages 3-12. The gardens adjoin, but have separate entrances and a fence in between.
Museum of Ancient Life
Utah has several good dinosaur museums, so when the Museum of Ancient Life claims that it has more original fossils than any other museum in the state, that’s saying something. This museum has sixty complete skeletal displays, making it the world’s biggest dinosaur museum.
- Admission to the Museum of Ancient Life is $10 per adult and $8 per child ages 3-12. Add $4-5 to that price if you’d like to view an IMAX-style movie at the Mammoth 3-D theater next door.
According to Thanksgiving Point’s website, “Old MacDonald’s got nothing on this place.” Farm Country is a working farm where families can see, pet and feed farm animals such as geese, goats, cows, pigs, horses, and even ostriches. There is also a dairy where families can learn how milk is bottled and processed.
My daughter’s favorite hands-on activity was the scale that compared her weight with a farm animal’s. She and her cousin and grandma stood on it and learned that their combined weight was equal to that of a pig. I wasn’t there to witness it, but I’m sure there was much giggling.
- Admission to Farm Country is $5 per person over the age of 2 and includes a pony ride for children between ages 3-12 and a wagon ride for everyone.
For our family, the gardens, museum and farm country are the best reasons to visit Thanksgiving Point, but others may not want to miss the golf course, restaurants, shops, or movie theater.
The championship caliber golf course is the largest in the state of Utah. Five on-site restaurants and cafes will keep everyone’s energy up and taste buds happy. Seven shops offer a variety of merchandise including art, plants, home decor, gifts and souvenirs. In addition to its eight screens with stadium seating and up-to-date technology, the movie theater also features a Mammoth Screen 3-D Theater which was recently named Utah’s first National Geographic Experience Theater.
- We have saved money at Thanksgiving Point by using the Salt Lake City Connect Pass and Groupon. It is impossible to appreciate all that Thanksgiving Point has to offer in a single day. There are hotels nearby if you just can’t leave without experiencing it all.
Allison Laypath is a family travel writer at tipsforfamilytrips.com, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She and her husband took their first child on a two-week road trip at four-weeks-old and they have been traveling as a family ever since. Allison loves all types of travel, but especially road trips, national parks, cruises and travel within her home state of Utah.