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Provo Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in ProvoWhere to Stay
Provo—which, in reality, is an amalgamation of Provo and Orem—could be likened to Salt Lake City 40 or 50 years ago; it’s quaint, low-key and devoutly Mormon. In keeping with the city’s casual vibe, the overwhelming majority of Provo’s best hotels are of the national chain variety; if visiting Provo, be prepared to catch your zzz’s in a mid-level or budget hotel. If you have the time to commute about 15 scenic miles, consider booking a room at the gorgeous Sundance Resort at any time of the year.
Hot Tips: Most lodging establishments stand clustered near Brigham Young University (on the northern end of University Avenue), around the intersection of University Avenue and Center Street, or near I-15.
What to Eat
Though you wouldn’t guess it on first glance, Provo is actually home to an impressively diverse selection of cultures and cuisines. Owing to the presence of BYU, the Missionary Training Center, and the city’s integral role in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ global operations, Provo has quite an impressive immigrant population—and luckily for Provo’s residents and visitors, many of these folks have established fantastic restaurants in the tradition of their home countries. The best part is most of these restaurants are extremely affordable and casual.
Caution: You might get funny looks if you order alcohol in some of Provo's restaurants. If you'd like an adult beverage with your meal, you'd best call ahead to make sure your restaurant of choice serves alcohol.
Be Sure to Sample: Provo's residents can't get enough of the ice cream at BYU Creamery.
Things to See
Provo contains a thriving academic scene, bustling religious headquarters and a whole lot of history. As such, the attractions around Provo are largely linked to these community staples; BYU and Utah State University both hold a vast student body and appropriately generous selection of venues and galleries. Mormons (and non-Mormons, too) will appreciate the city’s well-preserved religious history, concentrated around the LDS Temple, BYU and the Missionary Training Center. History buffs can explore the area’s many museums and historic sites.
Take It or Leave It: Provo stands just east of Utah Lake, and immediately beneath the towering peaks of the Southern Wasatch; if you have the means, be sure to explore these gorgeous natural wonders.
Places to Party
Nightlife in Provo—now that’s a tough one! In the entire history of mankind, there has probably never been a person who has traveled to Provo for its nightlife. Still, the city doesn’t entirely shut down after dark. Provo has a few alternative (i.e. “dry”) night clubs and comedy venues. Indeed, it even has a few lonely, alcohol-brandishing outposts: check out A. Beuford Gifford’s Libation Emporium for a cold one at the end of a long day.
Caution: Though the serving of alcohol in Provo is not prohibited by law, it certainly is forbidden in the eyes of the Mormon Church.
Where to Shop
For mall and box store shoppers, Provo is tops. The Provo Towne Centre, located very near I-15 and University Avenue, holds the area’s largest collection of shops, restaurants and entertainment options. Farther north is the University Mall with yet more stores, eateries and movie theaters. If you’re looking for locally-owned shops, take a stroll down the length of University Avenue and Center Street.
Caution: The overwhelming majority of Provo's stores close on Sunday. Plan ahead!
Best Local Souvenir: Get your own BYU memorabilia at the Wilkinson Student Center, located in the heart of campus.
Ute Indians originally populated this picturesque site, nestled in a protected area between Utah Lake and the rugged Wasatch Mountains. In the early 1800s, fur traders worked and explored in the area, as they did throughout the West. One of them, Etienne Provost, established a trading post and gave his name to the river and the subsequent town. In the mid-19th century, Mormon settlers established themselves in the area and helped the city grow into Utah's second largest. They also founded the Brigham Young Academy, which later become BYU, the largest church-affiliated university in the country. Even today, the Mormon influence on Provo remains substantial, and a conservative yet friendly demeanor characterizes the town. As a result, many businesses aren't open on Sundays, and alcohol is sometimes hard to come by. Still, the town is welcoming and prosperous, home to cosmetics company Nu Skin Enterprises and an array of technology businesses.