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Sunday, September 02, 2012

Choose Your Adventure: Day Trippin' from Ogden Valley

Guest Post By John Egan

Choose Your Adventure: Day Trippin' from Ogden Valley
Whether it's lack of funding, trouble taking time off or difficulty deciding where to go, planning a vacation can be tricky business. Luckily, there are plenty of places to play not far from Ogden Valley, making a day trip the perfect vehicle for getting away -- if only for a small while. Whether you want to explore the great outdoors, unleash your inner chef, exercise your artistic side, or just stop to smell the roses, these unique destinations promise to be worth much more than the tank of gas they take to reach.

For the Adventurer: Antelope Island State Park
The largest of the Great Salt Lake's nine islands provides beautiful backcountry trails for hiking or biking and plenty of opportunities for spotting wildlife. Keep watch for pronghorn and bighorn sheep, deer, bobcats, coyotes, waterfowl, and the island's namesake residents, as well as the 600 some bison that make their home here. Just over an hour's drive southwest from Ogden Valley, Antelope Island State Park is accessed from Layton via a narrow seven-mile causeway (there's an entrance fee of $9 per vehicle). Get little explorers into the fun with a geocaching treasure hunt, take in an historical program at the Fielding Garr Ranch, or attend an outdoor concert at the visitor's center amphitheater. White sand beaches also line the island -- and the salty water gives swimmers extra buoyancy that's sure to make a splash with the younger set. Be sure to grab a bison burger at the island's sole restaurant, the Buffalo Point Café and Bistro. Enjoying your visit too much to leave? Turn a day trip into an overnight stay by reserving one of the park's two-dozen tent sites.

For the Naturalist: Red Butte Gardens
While Salt Lake City may be better known for its sports and arts scenes, the city boasts some serious flower power with Red Butte Gardens. This preeminent 150-acre arboretum on the University of Utah campus has blossomed into a stunning destination since opening to the public in 1985. Discover award-winning display and natural gardens, walking paths and hiking trails, a sweet gift shop, and fabulous outdoor concerts. Wind through the courtyard; peruse fragrance, medicinal, and herb gardens; stroll the Richard K. Hemingway orangerie; and then fall in love with the McCarthy Family Rose Garden. Interested in growing your green thumb? This botanical paradise, the largest of its kind within 400 miles, also offers prize educational programs.

For the Artist: Logan, Utah
Journey an hour up US-91 to the city of Logan, and arrive a world away. With its metropolitan character and Utah State University influence, this funky town offers endless paths for the creative mind to wander. If you're interested in performance art and music, the Cache Valley Center for the Arts; USU's Caine Lyric Theatre, Morgan Theatre, and Kent Concert Hall; and the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre are just the ticket. Try the ornate Ellen Eccles Theatre for shows from premiere artists, performances by the Cache Valley Civic Ballet and Valley Dance Ensemble, touring Broadway productions, and world-famous operas in the summer. Visual arts enthusiasts can color their visit with Friday night gallery walks around downtown Logan, presented by the Cache Valley Center for the Arts.

For the Foodie: Viking Cooking School
While its eclectic dining culture makes nearby Salt Lake City a delicious day-trip destination in its own right, there's a round of courses for which dedicated Ogden Valley foodies should certainly make the drive. At the high-performance Kimball Distributing showroom, executive chef Jim Light serves up a scrumptious menu of culinary classes perfect for those who want to tackle a special skill or simply taste some treats. From basic techniques and backyard grilling to ethnic cuisine and cocktail party creations, the hands-on and demonstration classes offer a variety of options to suit any palate and skill-level. Best of all, students receive printed recipes to-go -- a tasty sort of souvenir.
Where are your favorite day trip destinations from Ogden Valley?

John Egan is managing editor of Car Insurance Quotes, a popular auto insurance website that provides online services to consumers seeking to save on their car insurance policies.