Panguitch, Utah. Editorial credit: DeltaOFF /

The Best Small Towns in Utah to Chill Out In 2024

Home to the "Mighty Five," the very western state of Utah is famous for its diverse landscape under some of the darkest night skies. From the snow-capped peaks to canyons, deserts, and mirror-like lakes, there are opportunities for winter sports and beautiful summertime adventures. Garden City is home to the "Caribbean of the Rockies"— Bear Lake with its turquoise waters and unique freshwater species like the Bonneville Cutthroat trout.

Panguitch, named after its fishing bounty, is remote and old-timey, complementing the rustic natural appeal from within the valley between the Markagunt and Paunsaugunt Plateaus. While Moab may be famous for the beautiful rock formations, Kanab, the "Little Hollywood" in the state, offers similar abstract shapes to chill out without the crowds, on top of fishing, a wild west theme, and the Dark Sky RV Campground. Find the best small towns in Utah to chill out for the most relaxing vacation in 2024.

Brigham City

Brigham City, Utah, USA. Editorial credit: Frances Johnson /
Brigham City, Utah. Editorial credit: Frances Johnson /

Surrounded by natural beauty on all sides, Brigham City, a larger small town, is a great match for the outdoorsy to chill out, like this summer along the Bear River to the west. From the Golden Spike National Historic Park and the nearby Spiral Jetty, Utah's famed Fruit Way is just south, along with Willard Peak, a great spot for hiking the ridge. Home to its own Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, this marshy bird refuge features a 12-mile auto route, fishing, and wildlife viewing, while Mantua Waterfront RV is a popular base for budget-minded travelers by a charming reservoir to the east. Brigham City celebrates its name through its agricultural bounty, the Raspberry Days, in early August, with parades, a raspberry recipe cook-off, fireworks, dancing, and a craft fair.

From Dry Lake Antimony Mine, drive up to the scenic Calls Fort Monument for a memorable selfie, and further, the Wellsville Mountains with its Box Elder Peak. After a day of kayaking the waterways, nothing tastes better than a blind pick from a menu at Peach City, an old-fashioned 1937 joint serving burgers, sandwiches, fries, shakes, and ice cream. The upcoming Peach Days is a good reason to plan a visit in September to celebrate the juicy fruit, while Maddox Ranch House is a great excuse in every season to enjoy some of the best fried chicken in the state.

Garden City

Aerial View of Garden City, Utah, on the shore of Bear Lake.
Aerial View of Garden City, Utah, on the shore of Bear Lake.

Garden City, a few miles from the Utah border with both Idaho and Wyoming, on the banks of Bear Lake, is a rewarding corner of the state. The lakeside town, with natural charms like town greens, boating ops, beachfront trails, and cabins, is home to popular locations such as Sun Outdoors and Bear Lake State Park. An RV site or a simple tent at Birch Campground to the south by Rendevous Beach or the nearby Cottonwood Campground feels just as lovely when you're enjoying the "Caribbean of the Rockies." The 250,000-year-old Bear Lake flaunts gorgeous, turquoise-colored waters akin to your favorite island escapes but with unique freshwater species like the Bonneville Cutthroat trout.

At the gateway to the vast Bear Lake National Park, this outdoor attraction just to the north offers water access and trails for warm-weather hiking, cycling, and golfing with a cooling post-dive or boating belly up under the sun. In the winter, visitors can enjoy snowshoeing, go to the lake for ice fishing, and ski and snowboard at Beaver Mountain Ski Area, minutes away from downtown. The Pickleville Playhouse is truly a special place, presenting local and regional talent with tales like the fun Thick as Thieves and holiday specials like I Believe in Christmas.


Mirror Lake Scenic Byway between Evanston, Wyoming, and Kamas, Utah.
Mirror Lake Scenic Byway between Evanston, Wyoming, and Kamas, Utah.

Nestled at the bottom of the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, this pretty town of some 2,500 offers an idyllic rural getaway. Visitors can enjoy creekside strolls along Thorn and Beaver Creeks through the heart and cozy spots to chill out in the evening, like the Notch Pub. Do not miss Bolt Ranch Store for western apparel and Fishwest Fly Shop—your best friend for the dozens of little fishable lakes around. After an easy hike around Mirror Lake, Mirror Lake Diner is the most popular place to dine with water views.

From browsing the cozy Summit County Library with large windows to a fun-filled family day in the outdoors just north of town at High Star Ranch, hit Summit Pizza Co. & Ice Cream for what you crave. Down the road, the Samak Smokehouse & Country Store is a raved spot for some fresh jerky to power your adventures—hit the road for High Uintas, a scenic picnic by the Samak Provo River Falls, or to stock up to enjoy back home.


Kanab, Utah, USA. Editorial credit: Christophe KLEBERT /
Kanab, Utah, USA. Editorial credit: Christophe KLEBERT /

It's impossible to run out of ways to chill out in Kanab, a town for every taste with views similar to Moab but without crowds. From hitting the scenic Bunting Trail to the Jackson Flat Reservoir, a fishing spot, Dark Sky RV Campground is a fantastic place to call it a night—or rather, stay up and take full advantage under the stars. Just north, Jacob Hamblin Park is a favorite place for families to chill out for days. It has amenities like a spectacular playground, a splash pad, a picnic pavilion, BBQs, and fire pits.

Having attracted filmmakers for decades, this town, which has the spirit of the Wild West, is known as "Little Hollywood." Home to the Star Party Tonight, another attraction referencing the great nightly skies, Little Hollywood Land, offers a dose of history and a delicious chuckwagon dinner. Minutes south, the Red Pueblo Museum and Heritage Park features an impressive collection of artifacts, while the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is home to every kind of farm animal for close interactions—all 1,600 of them!


Aerial view of Panguitch, Utah, Summer Hot Air Balloon Festival.
Aerial view of Panguitch, Utah, Summer Hot Air Balloon Festival.

Panguitch, remote and old-timey, complements the rustic natural appeal of the surroundings. Located within a valley around an hour from the Markagunt and Paunsaugunt Plateaus, its charming historic district features red-brick houses built by early Mormon pioneers. This centuries-old fishing destination was even named after the Native American word for paiute, meaning "big fish." From the stunning mountain landscapes to the lakes full of rainbow trout, Panguich is a summertime adventurer's paradise.

Stumbled upon by early settlers in the deep of the winter—knee-deep in the snow—their perseverance is celebrated annually during the Quilt Walk Festival when locals wrap themselves in thick quilts to honor these pioneers. Every other day, the delightful little town, with a Wild West-themed main strip, features a great selection of antique shops, galleries, and local craft stores. The active can explore the beautiful mountain scenery and lakes with a picnic, while the anglers enjoy fishing. The Panguitch Valley Balloon Rally brings out the town's colorful character under the blue skies.

Park City

Park City, Utah, USA, downtown in autumn at dusk.
Park City, Utah, downtown in autumn at dusk.

Park City, an endlessly giving destination in the mountains of central Utah, began as a modest settlement by Parley P. Pratt, a Mormon leader who mapped out the future town in 1848. And while Park City only began growing forty years later, its European roots are all over its face. Flaunting its legacy of successful mining operations of ore in the heart of the Wasatch Range, the historic architecture and successful ski resorts are just some of the main highlights.

Among countless hiking trails through the Deer Valley, where "Adventure Awaits" along the foothills and up the peaks, it is an outdoorsman's home turf, with easy access from Salt Lake City and just a few miles north of Midway. The renowned Sundance Film Festival and the Egyptian Theatre attract countless cultural vultures among them, with the festival being the largest of its kind in the US for a chance to rub shoulders with celebrities while watching independent movies in the mountains.


Springdale, Utah, USA. Editorial credit: f11photo /
Springdale, Utah. Editorial credit: f11photo /

Nestled within the world-famous Zion National Park, Springdale is an ideal base for experiencing one of the nation's most magnificent natural attractions. A treasure trove of biodiversity, Zion Canyon attracts hikers, sightseers, rock climbers, and campers, and canyoning and abseiling are the most extreme options in something resembling Jurassic Park. Perfect for a fun road trip south from Salt Lake City is the gorgeous 25-mile Zion-Mount Carmel Drive.

Springdale, not just a pitstop, is a friendly and thriving art community with a taste for good food that complements the possibilities in nature. Filled with accommodations and entertainment venues to enjoy the outdoors, or if relaxing is the pursuit of your visit, ways to chill out on a terrace with a meal or on a scenic deck with a drink are many. Among the countless cute B&Bs in town, visitors and wearied adventurers after the park can unwind at the tasteful Desert Pearl Inn, centrally located to explore the eclectic array of restaurants, galleries, and cafes along the main drag.

From the famous towns like Park City, home to the largest independent film festival in the US, to the little Kamas, an idyllic rural getaway by the Mirror Lake, Garden City celebrates Raspberry Days in early August, so start planning! Springdale, full of art, food, and lodging options, jostles against the world-famous Zion National Park, a treasure trove of biodiversity and one of the nation's most magnificent natural attractions. The first town is home to the upcoming Peach Days, which you can visit in September to celebrate the juicy fruit.

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