Just 20 minutes south of Park City lies the Heber Valley— a treasure trove of hidden gems, tucked away in the Wasatch Back. Beyond the stellar outdoor activities you might expect from this scenic region, locals and destination travelers flock to the towns of Heber and Midway for experiences both quaint and urbane: a dialed up dining scene, world-class fly fishing, a throwback rail journey, and even scuba diving in a crater. We’ve compiled 20 standout reasons to plan your visit; go forth and discover your own favorites!
1. It’s close to everything but feels worlds away.
A stone’s throw from Park City, Salt Lake City, and Salt Lake City International Airport, the Heber Valley is readily accessible but decidedly distinct.
2. Utah’s very own “Swiss Alps”
In the 1850s, Swiss settlers referred to Midway as Utah’s Swiss Alps, as its snowcapped Wasatch Mountains and vibrant green valleys reminded them of their home country. The town itself attracts locals and visitors alike for its architecture, its European vibe, and the celebrated Zermatt Utah Spa & Resort, an 18-acre Alpine village escape for golf, a spa day, and utter relaxation. Z’s Steak & Chop Haus will put you in the right kind of food coma with local, prime-aged steaks and a noteworthy Continental menu.
3. European bakeries
Swiss influence can only mean one thing: a concentration of European-inspired bakeries. Spend an afternoon on a progressive bakery tour, sampling sweet and savory-filled kolaches (Czech pastries) at Dottie’s Kolaches; pain au chocolat and a coffee at the Bakery at Zermatt; cookies at Süss Cookie Co.—the name means “cute” in Swiss German; artisanal breads and scones at Midway Bakery on Main (435.557.0518); and both made-from-scratch dinner and dessert pies at June Pie.
4. The coolest coffee shop
A renovated 1930s gas station is the place to fuel up in Midway. Fill’er Up Coffee Station, decked out in oddities and antiques, features an extensive coffee menu; claim a spot in the expansive outdoor seating area for breakfast or lunch—or just a midday espresso—and catch a few rays. And don’t forget: they serve Bee’s Knees Ice Cream, too.
Where to stay
700 N Homestead Dr, Midway, 435.654.1102
Zermatt Resort & Spa
784 Resort Dr, Midway, 866.937.6288
The Blue Boar Inn
1235 Warm Springs Rd, Midway, 435.654.1400
Black Rock Mountain Resort
909 W Peace Tree Trail, Heber City, 888.412.9929
5. Farm-to-table comfort food
Housed in an 80-year-old ranch home, Back 40 is hyper-focused on highlighting local ingredients that both showcase Utah’s bounty and help reduce the restaurant’s carbon footprint. A laid-back vibe paired with expertly executed yet familiar fare keeps people coming back again and again. Start with charred onion dip before tucking into the Back 40 burger, green enchiladas, Mario’s meat loaf, or a seasonal vegetable plate.
6. A cheese lover’s paradise
The valley’s picturesque Alpine meadows make it easy to see why more than 130 dairy farms used to exist in these parts: happy cows equal excellent cheese. Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, a fourth-generation dairy farm, is one of the last of its kind remaining in production. Owners Grant and Russ Kohler are focused on technology and ensuring that their legacy carries on; book a dairy tour to see the farm’s cows and advanced robotic milking system, or take part in a cheese-making class. Don’t leave without some honey-lavender cheddar from the farmstead store.
7. Local shopping until you drop
Heber and Midway may be small compared to surrounding cities, but there is a plethora of local boutiques that will keep you occupied for hours: Fernweh, a lifestyle wanderlust shop; Boutique 1921 (435.503.7174) for women’s clothing; Timber Knives, featuring knives and outdoor gear; Mountain Refined, an interior design showroom; Design Dairy, an eclectic, modern gift boutique; Wigglish, a playful toy store; and Beljar Home (435.255.6511), a curated lifestyle and home shop.
8. Scuba dive in a crater
Scuba diving? In a mountain town? At a resort in Utah? Yes, you can at the Homestead Resort—the only place to scuba dive in warm water in the continental U.S. A geothermal spring bubbles up on the hotel property, hidden under a 55-foot limestone dome. Scuba diving is the most popular activity here, but you can also just take a dip or Zen out with a little yoga. While you don’t have to stay at the Homestead to access the crater, it’s a great place to bunk down and disconnect from the world.
9. The longest zipline over water in the world
Zipline at Deer Creek via the Screaming Falcon with ZipLine Utah, the longest zipline in the U.S., to really get the lay of the land. Soar through the air for 3,900 feet over Rainbow Bay, which is the longest zipline journey over water in the entire world.
10. A slice of NYC in the heart of Heber
A bagel is a bagel, but not all bagels are created equal. The Bagel Den ships its dough direct from New York City, in its quest to tap the mythical magic purported to derive from flour mixed with Big Apple water. Bagels here are made fresh daily; it’s hard to beat the Mexicana breakfast sandwich, with egg, sausage, pepper jack, and jalapeño cream cheese.
11. Destination dining
Finish off an adventurous day with an unforgettable dinner at recently opened The Lakehouse at Deer Creek. Enjoy the views, live music, and locally sourced cuisine of chef Tamara Stanger.
12. An old-school railroad
It wouldn’t be a proper visit without riding the Heber Valley Historic Railroad. Pick your journey, and hop aboard an authentic 1900s steam locomotive to absorb views of Provo Canyon, Deer Creek, and more.
13. A taste of nostalgia
Keeping with the railroad theme, pop over to Dairy Keen, a Heber staple since 1946, for made-from-scratch burgers, crispy fries, extra-thick shakes, and train-themed tables perched outside.
14. A noteworthy restaurant scene
Afterword, a concept from Chef Matt Harris and the former Tupelo Park City team, brings Main Street Park City dining vibes to downtown Heber—plus an expansive outdoor dining space. Focusing on food terroir and seasonal ingredients, Afterword sources from artisanal farms and purveyors across the country to inform its version of refined American cuisine.
15. Heber brews
For a cold, refreshing beer post-hike or exploring, try the taps at Heber Valley Brewing Company. There’s a beer to satisfy everyone’s palate, including Coconut Girl, a Belgian blonde with actual shaved coconut.
16. Local libations
If cocktails are more your speed, grab a table at Midway Mercantile Restaurant and embark on their craft cocktail program, featuring beverages made with local spirits brands like Beehive Gin and Five Wives Vodka.
17. Brunch in a chateau
Don your Sunday best and book a table for brunch at Blue Boar Inn, a romantic, European-style chateau nestled in the foothills of Midway. The Sunday brunch menu features Belgian waffles, smoked salmon omelettes, traditional eggs Benedict, cinnamon brioche French toast, warm crepes Suzzette, and java from Park City Roasters.
18. Float down the Provo River
Book a guided stand-up paddleboarding tour down a stretch of the scenic Provo River with High Country Adventure. The two-hour excursion takes you through mild whitewater and is moderately strenuous, so it’s not exactly suited for SUP newbies. If you’d rather sit than stand, Provo River tubing and rafting tours are also available.
19. Camping at Deer Creek
Reserve a spot at Deer Creek State Park for a weekend of camping, boating, sunbathing, and swimming. The east shore of the reservoir features a sandy beach that’s prime for reading a good book while soaking up some sun.
20. World-class fly fishing
For record-breaking brown and rainbow trout, head to the Provo River and an unforgettable day of fly-fishing. Book a guided tour with Jeremy Rogers, proprietor of Provo River Guide Service, or stop by Fish Heads Fly Shop, located minutes from the river, for gear, supplies, and maybe even a few insider tips.