Say what you will about Provo, but this early Mormon settlement turned college town is home to some of the best food and fun in the state. If you can set aside your Holy War loyalties, here's how to play when you venture into Cougar territory.
9 a.m. — Breakfast at Guru’s
Guru’s Cafe (45 Center St., Provo) boasts a diverse menu for any meal, but for breakfast, try its Blues Cakes (blueberry pancakes) for $9, or cinnamon mango oatmeal for $4. Other menu selections include omeletes (prices vary), a breakfast quesadilla or burrito ($9), Philly french toast ($8) and a scrambled tofu option ($8) for vegetarians. Combined with friendly staff and a warm, personable atmosphere, this is the perfect place to fuel up for a full day of Provo fun.
Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, closed Sunday.
10:30 a.m. — Hike Bridal Veil Falls
Sick of hiking the Y? Look no further than Bridal Veil Falls. Located up Provo Canyon, this stunning 607-foot, double-cascade waterfall is only a short walk down the paved Provo River Parkway Trail right off of U.S Route 189. Shady picnic tables make this a convenient spot to play games or eat lunch, and the shallow pool at the waterfall’s base is a great place for kids to splash.
For the more adventurous, walk a little past the falls to a trailhead that leads to the top of the lower cascade. Granted, it’s steep and rocky, with at least one spot that would be all too easy to go tumbling down (which has happened — be careful), but if you’re willing to brave the approximately 20-30 minute hike, the view is spectacular and the falls are even more gorgeous up close.
Noon — Lunch at Brick Oven
This pizza place is a staple among Brigham Young University students and Provo residents alike. Open since 1956, with two additional locations in South Jordan and St.George, Brick Oven (111 E 800 N, Provo) is known for its homemade root beer and signature pizza.
While it offers over 50 options at the salad bar and a litany of pastas and soups, most people go to Brick Oven for the pizza. If you’re feeling really hungry, try the heaps sampler option ($12.50 lunch, $16 dinner), where servers bring pizza after pizza to your table and allow you to sample a slice (or three or eight) from whichever flavors you’d like. At your request, the staff will transition to brownies and dessert pizzas (the cookie dough pizza is divine).
Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, closed Sunday.
1 p.m. — Explore downtown Provo
If you can move after lunch, work off those calories by taking to downtown Provo’s streets. Center Street, in particular, is bursting with a variety of quaint shops, from Cats Cradle (an antique store) to Taylor Maid (a beauty supply store that specializes in costumes and costume makeup). If you haven’t had enough dessert, cool off at Sub Zero Ice Cream, where it'll freeze your order on the spot with nitrogen, or try a number of local dessert shops like Fruta Crush (a Mexican dessert shop) or The Sweet Tooth Fairy (which won the Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" in 2012).
For some hands-on fun, check out The Soap Factory (54 Center St., Provo), where, for a base fee of $5 a person and 5 cents per ounce of soap, you can choose your own scents, exfoliants and molds to make your own soaps. With "over 400 different shapes, 150 smells, and dozens of colors and botanicals to add to your soap," according to its website, as well as the option to make handscrubs, lipbalms, lotions and more, there's something for everyone.
Open 12 p.m.-6 p.m. Monday, 12 p.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, closed Tuesday and Sunday.
If you’re needing some down time, settle in with a good book at the Pioneer Bookstore (450 Center St., Provo). This used, out-of-print and rare bookstore features every genre imaginable on its two extensive floors and is a cool, cozy place to escape the summer heat.
Open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, closed Sunday.
3 p.m. — Go museum hopping
Provo has no lack of bridal boutiques and jewelry stores, but the same could be said of museums.
Start out at BYU’s Museum of Art, often called the MOA (Campus Drive, Provo). This free museum offers a variety of ever-changing art galleries and currently features, among other things, a gallery of contemporary LDS art and over 80 photographs from J. Alfred Meyer.
Open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday and Thursday-Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and Saturday, closed Sunday.
For another art experience, swing by the Covey Center for the Arts (425 Center St., Provo) which features three free art galleries. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday, closed Saturday-Sunday.
If art isn’t your thing, check out BYU’s Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum (645 E. Phillips Lane, Provo). Open since 1978, this free museum is known for its wide variety of animal displays, from birds and bears to exotic African savannah animals.
Open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.
You could also go to BYU’s Museum of Paleontology (1683 North Canyon Road, Provo), another free museum that displays a variety of dinosaur fossils (open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, closed Saturday-Sunday) or BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures (2201 N. Canyon Road, Provo), which features a variety of cultural artifacts. However, you must schedule a tour group and prices vary by group size.
Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, closed Saturday-Sunday.
6 p.m. — Dinner at Black Sheep Cafe
Try something new for dinner at Black Sheep Cafe (19 N. University Ave., Provo). Owner Bleu Adams' operates Salt Lake and Provo branches and menus vary between the two cities, but the Provo location boasts selections like Hog Jowl Tacos ($22) and the Buffalo Nickel burger ($20). For a lighter meal, try its Black Sheep Wedge salad ($9) or Squash Bisque ($9).
Open 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 12 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.
8 p.m. — Crack the code at GetOut Games
You’ve got one hour to open the mafia boss's safe and take the money before he catches you — or find a cure before the zombie on a chain eats you or break out of the tomb before the mummy catches you you get the idea. These are some of GetOut Game’s (283 N. University Ave., Provo) escape rooms, where four to 12 people are thrown together to solve a variety of puzzles and riddles to "get out" of the room. $14 to $20 per person, open 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 1 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday. (Be aware that, if you don't book a group of at least four to six people, you may be asked to reschedule if no other group books the same time and scenario.)
If you're a GetOut Games veteran, you can also check out The Escape Key (443 North University Ave., Provo), a similar company with different scenarios. Open 2 p.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-12 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.
9 p.m. — Enjoy a scare with Pedal Provo Ghost Tours
Finish the night with Pedal Provo Ghost Tours, which brings a haunted twist to Provo. Meet your tour guide at the Provo City Cemetery (610 S. State St., Provo), where you'll also meet your group and pick up a rental bike if you didn't bring your own. For the next 2-2 ½ hours, your tour guide will take you all over Provo, and with each stop comes a local ghost story, collected by business founder Derek Jacobs.
The ghost stories are chilling in a getting-scared-for-fun way, without being graphic or disturbing. Actually, it might be far more terrifying if, say, you drop your car keys at some point on the tour — but if that were to happen, Pedal Provo Ghost Tours is the kind of company that goes above and beyond to help their patrons. Their unique spin on bike riding and their absolutely outstanding service make this activity a must-do for anyone visiting Provo.