With its relatively warm winters, St. George has long attracted snowbirds. Today, visitors come for the dramatic red rocks, an expansive public garden, and a sensationally placed eatery.
1. At the five-acre Red Hills Desert Garden, opened in 2015, rock-lined paths meander past barrel cacti, prickly pears, and more than 160 other plant varieties. An artificial slot canyon leads to a constructed stream with a special fish-viewing chamber. Dinosaur tracks recall the days when the 1,000-pound dilophosaurus roamed these parts.
2. Set against a backdrop of sandstone cliffs, Kayenta Art Village in the town of Ivins, some 10 miles northwest of St. George, is a strollable cluster of galleries selling Navajo pottery, recycled silver jewelry, and fused-glass art. The nearby Desert Rose Labyrinth invites quiet contemplation.
3. In the abandoned mining boomtown of Silver Reef, one of the oldest Wells Fargo stations in the west houses a museum stuffed with relics of frontier life; don’t miss the original vault used to store silver bullion. Take a guided tour to hear stories of the town’s rowdy past along and secret connection with the Hole in the Wall gang.
4. It hardly seems like a fair fight when your cooking competes with a view of the moon over distant Zion Canyon, the crown jewel of southwest Utah. But chef Eric Gburski of Cliffside Restaurant rises to the challenge with delicious contemporary American dishes such as chile-glazed salmon with fresh mango salsa.
5. Ancient lava flows, solidified sand dunes, cinder cone volcanoes, and striped monoliths that soar as high as 600 feet make Snow Canyon State Park, next to Ivins, a worthy day trip and a popular movie backdrop. Despite its name, snow is rare.