With only a couple weeks left in Utah before moving to Texas, I decided to make the most of it and do things I have yet to do during the last four years.
My first adventure was to visit Thanksgiving Point. I have past this place hundreds of times but have never done anything other than walk through their Emporium shop or see a show at the Megaplex or Barn. With Tuesdays in August being $2 Tuesdays, I jumped at the chance to have an adventure there for a fifth of the regular price.
My first stop was at the Thanksgiving Point Gardens. The gardens aren’t near the village where I thought everything Thanksgiving Point was, but when you exit go straight toward the golf course. There are signs that guide you there. The gardens are a small oasis in the desert and very well done. This is the closest to botanical gardens I have visited while in Utah. Make sure you get a map when you pay admission so you can see all of the different features including the hidden Secret Garden.
Some of the most famous features are the waterfalls, supposedly the highest man-made waterfalls there are. These falls are cascading down man-made cliffs and through man-made canyons. It is very peaceful and helps mask the sound of nearby construction and freeway traffic. The one downfall of the waterfalls is the smell of the water in and around them.
Throughout the gardens there are features that are very European like fountains, a rose garden and arbors. There are also other water features like the water lily pond, named for Monet, and a stream that runs from the waterfalls to the pond. In the lily pond are big koi fish that kids love to feed, and if you keep your eyes sharp, you may see frogs or snakes.
I also went to the Children’s Discovery Garden. This is the perfect place for kids to play with fountains, a shrub maze, tunnels and caves, and other hands-on activities. However, it is so small that it gets crowded fast, especially on a day with discounted admission. One of the main features of this garden is the Noah’s ark sculpture and fountain near the front gate.
Museum of Ancient Life
The Thanksgiving Point Museum of Ancient Life is considered the largest dinosaur museum in the world with the biggest collection of mounted dinosaur skeletons in the world. The exhibits were very well put together. Some of them made me feel like I was in a zoo or aquarium with dinosaurs and other ancient animals. There are many hands-on exhibits and activities like an erosion table and fossil dig.
The exhibits take the visitor through the process of finding, preparing and displaying fossils and through different ages of their earth including a cool star tunnel room that is supposed to be the beginning of the planet. If you or your kids are scared of the dark, bypass the tunnel and just go on to the next exhibit. After the dinosaur rooms displaying fossils from the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods, you go into exhibits about sea life and early mammals like a giant sea turtle and a giant bear sloth. There is also a room dedicated to sharks. Another cool exhibit shows humans or Neanderthals hunting a mammoth that is crushing one of the hunters under its rear foot.
Each of the Thanksgiving Point venues also has a café or restaurant for you when you get hungry. I didn’t eat at any but I would think twice about it after seeing the employees of the bistro in the gardens sitting on the counters when they had no customers.
One hidden gem of Thanksgiving Point is the art institute and studio of glass artist Tom Holdman. Not only is there a gallery with his and other artists’ work for sale, but you are welcome to visit the studio where they are actively working on current projects. While I was there, they were working on a stained-glass dome for the Tuscany restaurant in Salt Lake City. You can also watch glass blowers create art or even pay a small fee to make your own glass flower. It is pretty cool to see all this going on since this studio has done a lot of glass work for LDS temples including the sego lily glass in the Draper Temple. (If someone wants to get me a gift, that’s what I want, a glass etching of a sego lily, like the ones in the temple.)
That was my Thanksgiving Point adventure. If you haven’t been there, be sure to take advantage of $2 Tuesdays during the month of August. After being to the museum, I would pay full price to visit it, however, the gardens are awesome but I probably would not pay full price to go there. If you do take advantage of the $2 promotion, go to the Emporium and get a $2 ½ lb. block of fudge.
Now go have an adventure.