From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
There are few places in the U.S.A. as iconic as Moab. From the breathtaking red rocks to the epic arches and spires, it’s no wonder that millions of people travel here every year. So whether you’re a local or just visiting for the weekend, we’ve pulled together a great list of the top things to see and do in Moab, Utah.
Check out this video from our Road Ahead series that takes you through and around the town of Moab first-hand.
Moab is pretty amazing. There are several national and state parks right around the corner full of amazing scenery for you to enjoy. Just know that they tend to get super crowded on the weekends with visitors, so if you’re looking for things to do in Moab on the weekends, you might want to try some other adventures.
Arches National Park is one of the top national parks in the country and features over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Besides hiking and mountain biking to amazing vistas, you can also raft the Colorado river, ride the trails on horseback, and go canyoneering. There’s no shortage of adventure companies in Moab that will guide you on your excursion of choice
Canyonlands National Park is located outside Moab and is full of gorgeous desert landscapes and thousands of canyons. There are endless opportunities for exploration, from hiking and biking to horseback riding, stargazing, or rafting. There are also all sorts of ranger led activities and adventures to help you learn about this amazing area.
Dead Horse Point State Park may not be a national park, but it absolutely should be on your list of places to visit. This state park offers panoramic views of the Colorado River and miles of hiking and biking trails. And unlike the national parks nearby, leashed dogs are allowed on most trails (except the Intrepid Trail System for mountain biking), so feel free to bring Fido along.
It’s true that some of the best hiking trails in Moab are in the national parks, but there’s no shortage of amazing hikes outside the parks as well. And while locals know this, it’s always a good reminder that Moab gets very hot in the summer, so be sure to hike early in the morning before the weather gets too extreme and bring plenty of water.
TheCorona Arch Trail is a 3 mile trail to one of the largest arches in Moab. It’s a great short hike for kids and families with a huge payoff. It’s also dog friendly as long as they’re on a leash.
Fisher Towers Trail is just a short drive north of Moab. It’s about 5 miles long and is an out-and-back trail that leads to an overlook with an epic view of Fisher Towers. The towering spires and rock formations make this a not to miss trail.
There’s no shortage of beautiful hikes around Moab, but another favorite isGrandstaff Canyon Trail. This out-and-back trail is just over 4 miles and is a mix of dirt trail, a few rock scrambles, and some stream crossings. It’s rated moderate and you end up at Morning Glory Natural Bridge for some epic views.
We had to list a few of the best hikes inside the parks, so if you’re going to visit Arches National Park, be sure to hike Balanced Rock Loop. It’s an easy 0.3 mile loop that guides visitors to one of the most recognizable stone formations in the park.
And since you’re in Arches National Park, don’t forget about Delicate Arch. This trail is 3 miles and takes you to the park’s iconic arch – you know, the one that’s in all the photos and artwork. It’s usually very busy and there’s no shade, so come early for the best experience.
You might not expect it, but Moab has quite the restaurant scene. The restaurants here serve all types of cuisines, and there’s even a food truck park if your group can’t decide on what to eat. So when you’re done exploring Moab, stop by one of these restaurants for some grub.
Right on the corner of downtown Moab,Zax Restaurant and Watering Hole is a local favorite for both food and beer. Offering pizza, pasta, and steak entrees, Zax also sells take and bake pizza to go, if you prefer to cook at home. They also have one of the best selections of local Utah brewed beer.
TheMoab Kitchen food truck offers plant based meals and is the only 100% vegan establishment in Moab. From their staples like Sri Lankan Curry to the rotating daily specials such as tacos and quinoa bowls, you’ll find delicious and healthy vegetarian and vegan dishes.
If you’re looking for great Vietnamese food, be sure to stop by98 Center Restaurant. They offer a great selection of salads, banh mi sandwiches and pho.
Yes, you can find good sushi in the middle of the desert! Sabaku Sushi flies in their fish overnight several times a week, and offers gluten free and vegan friendly menu options. They serve Japanese sushi and rolls, along with fun Southwestern twists on the classics.
Moab has a great selection of food trucks, andQuesadilla Mobilla is no exception. This Mexican food truck serves huge quesadillas in a variety of meat and veggie flavors.
Get that classic burger joint vibe on atMoab Diner & Ice Cream Shoppe. This diner began in the 60s and still looks like an old fashioned diner and ice cream bar. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as a large selection of ice cream flavors.
Adventure lovers know there are all sorts of fun things to do in Moab. Whether you’re looking for things for couples to do, or adventures with the whole family, Moab won’t disappoint. Here are some of the best things to do in Moab.
Don’t think this town is only for grown ups, there’s plenty of things to do with kids in Moab as well. From dinosaurs to theater shows to exploring the outdoors, it’s easy to keep kids entertained here.
Great for kids of all ages, theMoab Giants Dinosaur Park teaches kids all about dinos through interactive exhibits. Explore the Dinosaur Trail, a half mile trail outside with over 100 full size replica dinosaurs and their footprints. Or check out the 5D Paleoaquarium to take a virtual adventure exploring some of the biggest creatures on earth. There’s also several outdoor Dig It Out Sites where kids can dig up bones with shovels and brushes.
If you’re looking for things to do in Moab with kids at night, check out theMoab Backyard Theater. Offering family friendly live music and magic shows 5 nights a week, this outdoor theater is a great way to relax in the evening. From bluegrass to jazz to classic western music their shows entertain both kids adults.
If you’re planning to spend the day at one of the nearby National Parks, check out theirJunior Ranger Program for kids. Free junior ranger booklets can be downloaded from the website or picked up at the visitor center and kids can complete the activities to earn badges. There are also Explorer Packs at both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks that help families learn more about the parks as they explore.
The section of the Colorado River in Moab is great for rafting and kayaking, and there are several local adventure companies that coordinate rafting trips or rentals for the whole family. Age and weight restrictions may apply for safety, so check with the specific rafting company for how old kids have to be to participate.
Now that we’ve talked about things to do in Moab during the day, let’s talk about how to enjoy those dark skies at night.
The Canyonlands by Night and Day company offers several boat tours down the Colorado River at night. The Sunset Jet Boat Tour includes a sunset cruise and a cowboy style Dutch oven BBQ dinner. Or try the Sound and Light Show, a 3 hour event that starts with dinner and then includes a slow boat ride down the river. As evening approaches, lights are projected onto the canyon walls, while music, narration, and shadows tell the story of the area’s history and early settlers.
Experience guided stargazing withMoab Red Rock Astronomy. View the incredible night sky through a telescope and your own eyes and see what stars and planets you can pick out.
Both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks haveranger led stargazing programs to teach you about the night sky. You can also stargaze in the parks on your own. Check the park websites for full details on what programs and stargazing locations are available in the park.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money to explore the town. If you’re looking for cheap things to do in Moab, read on!
Did you know there are actually two wineries right outside Moab?Spanish Valley Vineyard and Winery is located just to the south and Castle Creek Winery is situated to the north on the Colorado River. Both of these wineries have tasting rooms where you can sip the local wine, or you can buy a bottle or two to enjoy at home.
TheMoab Recreation and Aquatic Center is open to both visitors and locals, and provides a pool, fitness center and child care. It’s a great way to cool off during the heat of summer. They sell daily passes as well as several monthly and annual pass options so you can choose how often you want to go.
We’re pretty sure anyone who wants to explore Moab, locals and visitors alike, are here in some part for the National Parks. But just in case you need the reminder, go visit those gorgeous parks! The entry fee is $30 per car, and if you plan on going multiple times, grab the America the Beautiful National Park Pass for $80, which gives you unlimited entry into any National Park for a full year.
Many of the best things to do in Moab are free, so be sure to get out and explore some of them.
You can’t explore Moab, Utah without noticing the amazing local landscapes. To really appreciate them, drive one of the threeState Scenic Byways. The Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway along U-128 follows the Colorado River through the sandstone cliffs. This gorgeous byway goes past Castle and Professor Valleys where many old Western movies were filmed. The Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway is along U-279 and is a great sunset drive just north of Moab. Lastly, Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway along U-313 leads you right to Dead Horse Point State Park and is an amazing drive, even if you don’t enter the park itself.
Located at the Red Cliffs Ranch, the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage houses memorabilia from the classic Western films that were shot in the Moab area. It’s a self guided and free tour that displays fun artifacts from early ranching and Western movies such as Wagon Master, Rio Grande, Son of Cochise, and The Commancheros among many more.
Located 10 miles south of Moab, Ken’s Lake Recreation Area is a reservoir with a campground, hiking areas, horseback riding trails, and boating and fishing. It’s free to enter and a great way to spend the day outside.
All that hiking, biking, and exploring Moab can tire you out. So when you’re ready to relax, stop by one of Moab’s fantastic spas.
Spa Moab provides massages, facials, and body treatments for you to relax after spending the day outside.
Located at the Sorrel River Ranch Resort,The Sorrel River Spa offers massages, facials, and energy treatments that perfectly complement days of adventure.
While most exercising in Moab takes place outside on the trails or rivers, sometimes you need to hit a gym or take a yoga class. Luckily Moab has you covered with great options for both.
Moab Yoga Studio offers a variety of classes and events for beginners through advanced to support you in your yoga practice.
Desert Power Yoga offers classes in Hot Yoga, Barre, and Yoga Nidra among others. They have classes for beginners through advanced and offer different yoga events.
Southtown Gym is open 24 hours for members and offers workout equipment, classes, and trainers to help you meet your fitness goals.
While there are plenty of places to explore in Moab, there are also fantastic destinations all around that make for great day trips.
About 2 hours to the northeast sits Grand Junction, Colorado. Outdoor explorers will love Grand Mesa and Colorado National Monument, while those who prefer town life will enjoy the shops, art galleries, and restaurants of the downtown creative district. And did we mention it’s the heart of Colorado wine country with over 20 local wineries?
Less than a 3 hour drive south of Moab isMonument Valley, one of the most majestic (and highly photographed!) places in the nation. Take a guided tour from the Navajo tour operators and marvel at the iconic rock formations dotting the landscapes.
Located just 20 miles south of Moab, the Manti-La Sal National Forest includes the La Sal Mountains and is a complete change of scenery. There’s all sorts of hiking and biking trails through alpine mountains, pine and aspen forests, and lakes and streams. It’s a fun change from the red rock desert landscape of Moab.
Note: some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Moab that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Moab? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal
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