Weekend in St. George, Utah, one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.
Trip tips: St. George is located in southern Utah on the state border with Arizona. The town is surrounded by the natural beauty of red rock pinnacles and deep canyons, and it’s within an hour’s drive to Zion National Park; two hours to the Grand Canyon North Rim and 90 minutes to Las Vegas. The town enjoys a desert climate with mild winters and over 300 days of sunshine per year. The elevation changes from 2,860 feet in St. George to over 10,000 feet in the Pine Valley Mountains located just 20 miles north.
The 5-acre downtown Town Square hosts concerts and art and community events, and it is the finish line for Ironman St. George (May 6). Vernon Worthen Park, a few blocks east, is the finish line for 7,800 runners participating in the St. George Marathon (Oct. 7).
Main Street Downtown hosts a First Friday Street Fest each month.
The downtown landmark spire is the St. George Tabernacle, one of the first buildings constructed when the pioneers arrived in the 1860s. The small historic district includes the home of Brigham Young (open daily for tours), the colonizer of Utah and architect of the Mormon colony.
Trip planning: www.visitstgeorge.com.
Getting there: Round-trip rates to St. George are $355 with a 21-day advance purchase; valid Delta or United (one connection). One-way rates to Las Vegas are as low as $66 during sale periods; nonstop Frontier.
Stay: The Best Western Plus Abbey Inn and Suites features an indoor whirlpool spa, a heated outdoor and children's pool, exercise room, outdoor grill, and guest laundry. Accommodations from $90 a night include a full, hot breakfast buffet. 1129 S. Bluff St., St. George. 435-652-1234, www.bwabbeyinn.com.
Eat: Hungry as a bear? The Black Bear Diner offers anytime breakfast ($7.49-$12.49), lunch or dinner ($10-$16.99). Open 24 hours Friday and Saturday; 6 a.m.-11 p.m. other days. 1245 S. Main St., St. George. 435-656-2327, https://blackbeardiner.com/location/st-george.
Experience: Kayenta is an artsy desert community a few minutes northwest of downtown. Stop into Coyote Gulch Art Village to browse the galleries and shops and take an alfresco break at Xetava Gardens Cafe (daily breakfast, lunch; dinner Thursdays-Saturdays). Desert marigolds bloom in the spring at the Xetava Desert Arboretum, home to a showcase of local desert flora. Free. 811 N. Kayenta Parkway, Ivins. 435-673-6628. Kayenta is also home to the Desert Rose Labyrinth with more than 1,800 indigenous rocks patterned after the 12th-century Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth in France. Walk the labyrinth in silence. Adjacent is a sculpture garden. Open daily. Free. www.coyotegulchartvillage.com,www.kayentautah.com.
Stay: Take in the majestic southern Utah scenery or views of quaint St. George from a private balcony at Inn on the Cliff. The on-site Cliffside Restaurant is adjacent to the renovated hotel. A contemporary king plus room has a full-size trundle bed underneath the king-size bed, perfect for families traveling with small children. Rates from $134, including room delivery continental breakfast. 511 S. Airport Road, St. George. 435-216-5864, www.innonthecliff.com.
Eat: Sakura is an authentic Japanese restaurant serving sushi, hibachi and Thai dishes. Appetizers to $7.95; sushi for two, $40; dine-in dinners, $13.50-$19.50; and hibachi, $10-$21. Try a Sake Sampler, $7. 939 E. St. George Blvd., St. George. 435-275-2888, http://sakuraut.com.
Experience: Snow Canyon State Park ($5 per vehicle), between St. George and Kayenta, is a day-hiker's paradise. The park offers more than 38 miles of hiking trails, a 3-mile paved walking/biking trail and over 15 miles of equestrian trails. The predominant rock in the park is Navajo sandstone that has been shaped over time into canyons. Take a guided horseback ride through awe-inspiring landscapes (minimum age 6). One-hour rides are $45 per person; $65, two hours; $95, three hours; and $130 for a half-day ride with lunch. Operates daily year-round. Call 435-773-7630 to reserve. 1002 Snow Canyon Drive, Ivins. www.snowcanyontrailrides.com.
Stay: Red Mountain Resort is one of the most luxurious adventure and destination spa resorts in the Southwest. The Adventure Retreat package includes deluxe or villa accommodations, welcome gift of water bottle and backpack, three healthy meals daily, daily guided morning hikes, fitness classes, healthy life classes, cooking demos and use of indoor and seasonal outdoor pools, bicycles, walking trails, strength and cardio studios and more. Per-night rates average $600 for two people. 1275 E. Red Mountain Circle, Ivins. 1-877-246-4453, http://redmountainresort.com.
Eat: Many reviewers of Aragosta, a small restaurant in a strip mall, rank it as one of the best in southern Utah. The continental menu includes Hungarian specialties. Starters, $6-$11; entrees, $19-$45. 575 S. 200th E., Ivins. 435-313-0611, www.aragostaivins.com.
Experience: A three-hour Jeep tour is a thrilling way to experience the backcountry surrounding Zion National Park. This is a private tour in a custom six-passenger Jeep Rubicon that ascends to 1,500 feet atop the mesas and explores multiple off-road trails. The rate for two passengers is $300, with $50 for each additional passenger up to six. 801-616-1270, https://zionatvjeeptours.com/ziontours.
Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.