Hello, UCF fans!
For those of you traveling to Provo, welcome! You are about to experience one of the best kept secret vacation spots in the country, and I hope you have a GREAT time.
As is tradition every year, I post some tips for opposing fans to help them maximize their fun while visiting Provo. I try to keep these tips updated, but I can't guarantee all information is current. I hope it helps, though.
You'll likely fly into Salt Lake City, but if I were you I would stay in Provo where there is far less gangs and violence, and where there are some great places to eat and shop. Trust me - you'll feel much safer in Provo and there's plenty to do without getting "high" or "drunk" or "buzzed" on beer or the crack or whatever. Provo can be a pretty fun and crazy place, and the locals will kill you with kindness.
- Plenty to choose from, but I would seriously consider the Knights Inn on University. It's REALLY inexpensive ($29 - $39), and close to great eateries and shopping. There aren't a lot of frills, but the sheets are washed every day and it's mostly non-smoking. There's a pool that has a "No Swimming" sign, but they've never kicked me out, so bring your swim suit!
- There's a Hampton Inn close by but it's ridiculously expensive (over $90).
- If money is no object of concern, there's a Marriott in down-town Provo. This is where Mitt Romney and his like stay while visiting, so yeah....posh.
- There's a Comfort Inn on University Pkwy in Orem that I would recommend. Pool, exercise room, nice lobby. It's a bit pricey, but it comes with a pretty good continental breakfast (with waffle iron). So, for me and my family (8), it makes more economic sense to pay a few more dollars at the hotel and get a free breakfast rather than skimp on the hotel and end up dropping a 20 spot for my family's breakfast.
- Just an FYI, Orem and Provo have the 2 biggest malls in the entire county.
- University Mall is a little further out (10 minute drive), but it has an awesome treehouse and department stores like Macy's and JC Penney. There's also a Mr. Mac (famous in Utah for men's clothing...you can get a quality wool/poly 2-pant suit for $99 AND get free alterations).
- Provo Towne Centre is not far from campus and it's a bit more up-scale (you can tell by the spelling, huh?). This has more posh stores like Dillards and Mervyns, as well as a high-priced movie theater. Also, try the Orange Julius in the food court - amazing frozen fruit dessert-type drinks.
- Thirty minutes north of Provo is a mega-store called IKEA (furniture and accessories). HUGE!
- There are 2 Cosco's in the valley (Orem and American Fork). You are supposed to be a member to shop there, but if you wait for a big crowd and just walk through briskly, they usually don't stop you. I enjoy window shopping there, and on Saturdays there are food samples galore. I've been known to walk out the doors having spent $0 yet absolutely stuffed and content. Thay also have massage chairs on demonstration in the furniture aisle, which makes for a very nice, relaxing 30-minute power nap.
- Provo Riverwoods is pretty much the "Rodeo Drive" of Utah County. This is high-roller shopping and dining, but it can be fun to window shop and there's a decent chance of spotting celebrities like Steve Young, Donny or Marie Osmond, Robbie Bosco, Lindsey Lohan (depending on her sobriety), and Shawn Southwick (ex-wife of Larry King).
- Orem has a Super Target.
- Best value in town - hands down - is "Chuck-A-Rama". This is the nicer, classier brother of Golden Corral. I would especially recommend this if you're coming a few days early, as Thursday is "seafood night". Think...All-you-can-eat fried shrimp, fries, tuna patties, seafood salad, etc. and like 100 soda-pop options to pick from. Not to mention the ice cream dessert-bar. They charge your kid according to age, and we've never been ID'd.
- You may have heard about a local favorite - "The Training Table" - which is a great suggestion. It's super fun to place your order via telephone.
- There's a GREAT burger place 20 miles north in American Fork called In-N-Out. Gourmet burgers and fries joint that is from California and therefore way cool. (Plan to arrive 60 minutes prior to eating - it gets really busy. Also, try parking at the Target parking lot 1/2 mile to the north.)
- We have a restaurant called Chili's, which is also a community favorite.
- I would also recommend Cafe Rio, which is quality fresh fast-food Mexican like you've NEVER tasted.
- There's a furniture store called RC WIlley that often provides FREE hot dogs and drinks on Saturdays. Soda is usually a bit flat, but the dogs are as good as any place, and again - FREE!
- There's a local favorite Mexican place on Center and University in Provo called "Los Hermanos". Amazing salsa (better than Pace) and dang good chimichangas.
- Besides these suggestions, there are several fast-food options - Wendy's, McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc.
- Orem has the best miniature golf in the valley (Trafalga), with a front 9 (indoor) and a back 9 (outdoor). Also has a preety big arcade.
- Trafalga also recently added an AMAZING fun center in Lehi. Lazer tag, carny rides, bumper boats, slick track - you name it. And they've gone to great lengths to give it a "Disneyland ambiance" by adding things like the Statue of Liberty and Mt. Rushmore. Five GIANT stars.
- Fat Cats in Provo is about the nicest bowling facility I've ever seen. Fridays they have "Galactic Bowling" - with black lights, rocking music, and all that. I've never been, but I heard it's pretty crazy. I don't think there are raves there or anything.
- Springville has a fantastic art museum with a Kincaid original.
- Many tourists like to "hike the Y", which offers a great view of gorgeous Utah Lake and the valley.
- There's the Monte L. Bean natural science museum on campus, with hundreds of stuffed animals.
- If you ask around campus you can probably catch the infamous "tunnel singers" as they put on a free show of vocal awesomeness.
- Sundance is always a beautiful drive (about 30 minute drive), but VERY expensive.
- There's a dollar theater (Movies 8) that is both economical and fun (though it infuriates me to no end that movies are $1.50, yet they still refer to is as a "dollar theater").
- If the weather is good, many locals like to "float the Provo". You can rent an innertube and jump in the river up around Heber City and then float downstream. Water temps are around their peak at the end of August - 44-48 degrees.
- Temple Square in SLC is a "must see". It's 45-60 minute drive from campus, but well worth the drive. (Try the Lion House rolls...mmmmmmmm)
- If you are going to be in town for a while, I would HIGHLY recommend you drive south to St. George (or as the locals call it, "Dixie"). Dixie has hot weather and a lot of rocks.
What to pack:
- Weather is usually nice this time of year, but you'll probably want to bring a light jacket, as it cools down in the evenings. You shouldn't need anything heavier...just plan to dress casual (t-shirt, jeans, and a braided belt) and you'll fit right in.
- You might want to bring a poncho - as September weather sometimes brings some unexpected rain.
- Get there early. Traffic is at the peak mid-way through the first quarter, so don't be late!
- There is construction on every road in Utah County, so make sure you know where you're going, and make sure you're following the right detour signs.
- There's free parking just west of the stadium on the grass fields. DO NOT park in any of the apartments near campus - they will boot your car.
- BYU is famous for our "Cougar Dogs". It's sort of like a really long hot dog, but just a little different. Give it a try and you'll thank me.
- There's awesome tailgating all around LES. Mostly potluck, so plan to bring a jello or casserol to share, and plan to mooch off others also.
- There is no alcohol or caffeine allowed anywhere on campus...don't even try to smuggle it in. This isn't the University of Utah!!
- For some ridiculous reason, BYU admin. does not allow you to bring outside food/drink into the stadium. If you have a cooler, you can't bring it in - sorry. They will check your bag/purse as you enter the stadium, but I've stuffed food and drink in my pants and under my shirt and security has never confronted me.
That's all I can think of. If you have questions hit me up on cougarboard or feel free to email me at email@example.com. Hope you have a GREAT time.