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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Historic Temple Square is the most popular tourist attraction in Utah. The site receives millions of visitors each year, according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Whether you’re staying close to home or coming for an extended vacation, summertime travel in Utah has a variety of things to offer. Here are a few ideas to get you started when making your summer plans.

By the numbers

If you’re interested in visiting the most popular places in Utah, historic Temple Square in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City would be the first place to start.

“As the most popular tourist attraction in Utah, Temple Square receives millions of visitors each year,” says Scott Trotter, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“We recommend visitors to Temple Square take time to see the Christus statue located in the North Visitors Center and the scale model replica of the Salt Lake Temple in the South Visitors Center. The Thursday evening Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsals and the Sunday morning Music and the Spoken Word broadcast are always highlights for visitors. All of these suggested opportunities are available at no charge.”

And while visiting Temple Square, a new place for travelers to hit this summer will be the City Creek shopping center now open in downtown Salt Lake City.

Also high on the list of most visited places in the state are its national parks.

“Utah is unique in that it has five different national parks, each of them unique and different,” says Marian DeLay, executive director of the Moab Travel Council and president of the Utah Tourism Industry Coalition.

Utah’s five parks include Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Zion and Arches National Park. Arches National Park is home to one of Utah’s popular symbols, the Delicate Arch.

“I can’t even tell you how many people I know up in Salt Lake who have never been to Delicate Arch or seen it,” says DeLay. “It’s branded on their license plate and it’s right here in their own backyard.”

Family friendly

Utah is known for its younger population and larger families, and it has no shortage of fun activities for the entire family to enjoy.

One idea for seeing a variety of attractions on a budget is the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass. For one price, visitors can gain admission to 13 different attractions around the Wasatch Front, including family friendly places like Discovery Gateway, Thanksgiving Point and Utah’s Hogle Zoo. You can find information and pricing at http://www.visitsaltlake.com/visit/connectpass/.

World-class skiing attracts visitors to Utah’s slopes in the winter, but many of Utah’s resorts also offer activities during the summertime. Check out places like Snowbird or Park City Mountain Resort for things like their alpine slides, ziplines or horseback riding.

If you’re looking for an amusement park, Lagoon in Farmington is a popular place to visit. It includes rides, games, food facilities, Pioneer Village, Lagoon-a-Beach and shops. New for 2012 is a flying attraction called Air Race.

Hidden gems

While the list of places to see in Utah is endless, there are some places your family might not have considered or visited yet.

Goblin Valley (State Park) is by far one of the most popular and great places for families to visit. If you haven’t been you’ve really missed out,” says Rick Maw, president of Utah.com. “It’s really fun, kids can run around, a lot of youth groups go down and play.” Goblin Valley boasts rock formations that produce a maze-like playground ideal for family explorations.

Another must see this year is Dinosaur National Monument located near Vernal. “It opened up last year after being closed for four or five years,” says Maw. “They built a new facility there and it’s a lot of fun for children and for families.”

The Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City is also a newer attraction to consider visiting, says Maw.

With all it has to offer, summer travel in Utah has something for everybody.

“I’ve been here 33 years,” says DeLay. “And every time I get out there I always find something new to discover.”

For more ideas when planning your trip, you can check out Utah.com or visitutah.com.

What are your favorite travel destinations in Utah? What would you put on a top 10 list of places to visit in the state?

Melissa Draper lives in Payson, Utah, with her husband and their three children. Her passions include being a wife and mother, writing, running and music.