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Gateway To Utah's National Parks: The Ultimate Travel Guide To Cedar City & Things To Do

TheTravel logo TheTravel 5 days ago Barry Juma
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  • When To Visit Cedar City
  • Best Ways To Get Around Cedar City
  • Where To Eat In Cedar City: Top-Rated Restaurants
  • Things To Do In Cedar City
  • National Parks Near Cedar City, Utah
  • Where To Stay In Cedar City, Utah
  • Tips To Know When Visiting Cedar City
  • Spending The Perfect Day In Cedar City

Cedar City may be a small city in Utah, but it has a lot to offer visitors. For starters, it is within a few hours' drive of several natural parks in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and even California. In fact, the famous Grand Canyon National Park can be a day trip from Cedar City and Zion National Park is just an hour's drive away. This is not to mention Utah's 5 other National Parks, which are accessible from Cedar City. This is why this destination is regarded as a gateway to the area's national parks.

However, Cedar City doesn't just send visitors away to the natural sights, it also offers a wealth of things to do that keep them busy throughout their stay. Granted, this is an outdoorsy destination, so a lot of the activities here involve hiking, mountain biking, and snow sports in winter. Still, this destination offers a lot to lovers of festivals as it hosts dozens of these in the warmer months, earning it the moniker Festival City. For those who want to visit, this ultimate travel guide to Cedar City has helpful information that a traveler would need when planning a trip to this Southern Utah city.

When To Visit Cedar City

Since Cedar City is a destination for lovers of the outdoors, the best time to visit is when the weather supports outdoor activities. April to September have the best weather, making these months good times to visit Cedar City.

It gets really hot in summer (June to August) with temperatures peaking at around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).

Temperatures in April and May are milder, averaging 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).

Related: Utah To Colorado: The Most Scenic Road Trip Route

However, late spring and summer are peak travel times in Cedar City, so there are more crowds at the attractions.

Fall (September to November) is also an excellent time to travel since the heat of summer has started dissipating, but the weather remains pleasant. Granted, it might feel cold as winter approaches.

Temperatures at this time have an average range of 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius).

Lovers of winter sports can visit Cedar City between December and February. Temperatures can drop to as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius). Still, there is a lot to do in winter in Utah.

Tip: Fall is a good time to visit Cedar City for those who want fewer crowds and lower hotel and flight rates.

Best Ways To Get Around Cedar City

Bus

Cedar City has a public bus system run by the Cedar Area Transportation Department. The buses only operate on weekdays from 7 am to 6 pm.

  • Fares start at $1.50 for a single ride, but riders can buy multi-ride passes that cost $5 for a single-day unlimited-ride pass, and $40 for a 30-ride pass.

Car

There are many sights to visit in and around Cedar City, so having a car makes it easier to explore all these attractions.

Car rental services like Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Avis, and Budget Car Rental are found in the city.

Taxi

Traditional taxi companies like Iron County Taxi and Soul Taxi are found in Cedar City. Visitors can also use cab-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

Where To Eat In Cedar City: Top-Rated Restaurants

Breakfast: The Grind Coffeehouse

The Grind is a modest coffee shop in the heart of Cedar City. Their specialty is coffee, from mocha to café au lait, and many more. However, their breakfast sandwiches are also beloved among locals and visitors.

Options include a Dr. Seuss-inspired Green Eggs and Ham Sandwich, Rise and Shine Sandwich (eggs, chilies, onions, and tomatoes), and the All Day Breakfast Sandwich.

Their breakfast menu also includes waffles, bagels, and oatmeal.

  • Address: 19 N Main St, Cedar City, UT 84720, United States
  • Hours: Mon - Sat: 7 am - 7 pm; Sun: 9 am - 3 pm

Lunch: Centro Woodfired Pizzeria

How about some Pizza for lunch? Centro Woodfired Pizzeria is the place to go when the pizza cravings strike while in Cedar City. This charming little restaurant has a variety of starters, salads, and desserts, but the main draw is its pizzas.

Options include Fennel Sausage, Centro Italiano, Pollo Rustico, and Pollo Bianco. Centro is recognized as the best pizza restaurant in Cedar City with accolades from past customers.

  • Address: 50 W Center St, Cedar City, UT 84720, United States
  • Hours: Mon & Thu - Sat: 11 am - 10 pm; Sun: 11 am - 9 pm (closed on Tue & Wed)

Dinner: Rusty's Ranch House

This restaurant’s rustic theme harkens back to Utah’s Wild West history with a ranch-style design. This adds to the charm of Rusty’s Ranch House that’s then complemented by the good food.

Rusty’s serves different steak options as well as BBQ treats like Baby Back Ribs. They also have seafood, with fresh salmon and coconut shrimp as the main choices.

Customers can also order pasta, burgers, and desserts like apple cobbler.

  • Address: 2275 UT-14, Cedar City, UT 84720, United States
  • Hours: Mon - Sat: 5 pm - 9 pm (closed on Sun)

Drinks: Warehouse Bar + Kitchen

One of the best places to enjoy a drink until late in Cedar City is Warehouse Bar. This establishment has a cheerful vibe that gives its patrons a memorable nightlife experience. Food is served here, with options like Deviled Eggs, Beef Sliders, Fish + Chips, and Pulled Pork Sliders.

Plus, the drinks make Warehouse Bar popular; they sell both draft and bottled beer and a variety of cocktails.

  • Address: 432 N 100 W, Cedar City, UT 84721, United States
  • Hours: 11 am - 2 am (daily)

Things To Do In Cedar City

Attend a Festival

Cedar City is known as the Festival City because it hosts festivals almost throughout the year. Visitors who drop by in the warmer months can attend festivals like the Utah Midsummer Renaissance Fair, the Wildflower Festival, or the famous Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Other festivals include the Utah UFO Festival, Red Rock Film Festival, and Cedar Livestock & Heritage Festival.

Visit Dixie National Forest

Dixie National Forest is about 50 miles from Cedar City, a drive that lasts about an hour. This site is home to diverse natural features like canyon gorges, mountain forests, and alpine lakes. All these make for breathtaking scenery that’s a testament to Utah’s beauty.

Visitors can hike the miles upon miles of trails that go past juniper forests, wildflower meadows, and red rock canyons.

There are also campsites for tents and RV camping, as well as cabins rentals. Dixie is also a popular skiing and snowboarding site in winter.

Learn About Local History at Frontier Homestead State Park

Frontier Homestead State Park is an 11-acre park and museum, which showcases the history of the county from its iron-mining past to the present day.

The museum section has exhibits from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, including horse-drawn carriages and Native American artifacts. The park has hiking and biking trails and picnic spots.

  • Address: 635 N Main St, Cedar City, UT 84721, United States
  • Hours: Mon - Sat: 9 am - 5 pm; Sun: 10 am - 4 pm
  • Fees: $4

Hike To The Cedar Breaks National Monument

This US National Monument is found about 23 miles from Cedar City. The site is a 3-mile natural amphitheater that rises to 10,000 feet above sea level. Visitors who hike to the top are rewarded with spectacular views of the multicolored canyon. There are trails that stretch for about 2 miles, two of which can be accessed from the road.

Cedar Breaks also hosts skiing and snowmobiling enthusiasts in the winter.

  • Address: UT-143, Brian Head, UT 84719, United States
  • Hours: 24 hours (daily)
  • Fees: $10 (16 yrs and older)

Go Kayaking or Boating In Lake At The Hills

Lake at the Hills is an artificial lake in Cedar City that has its own beach. Visitors can rent kayaks here for a thrill in the water. There’s also a boat ramp for launching non-motorized boats.

The lake is also home to fish like catfish, bass, rainbow trout, and albino trout.

Fishing is allowed, but there’s a limit of just two per person, per day.

National Parks Near Cedar City, Utah

Cedar City is at least an hour's drive to Utah's national parks and one in Arizona. Here's a look at the national parks within four hours of Cedar City.

Zion National Park

This national park is about 60 miles south of Cedar City, a journey that takes just an hour. The park is home to the Virgin River, Timber Creek, Kolob Canyons, and Zion Canyon. Visitors can take one of the 16 trails to get a view of the park's natural sights.

  • Location: Utah
  • Distance from Cedar City: 60 miles
  • Time from Cedar City: 1 hour
  • Fees: Private car: $35, Motorcycle: $30, Individual without a car: $20
  • Activities: Hiking, camping, picnics

Related: Zion National Park: When To Visit, And Why It's Definitely Worth The Awe-Inspiring Hype

Bryce Canyon National Park

Located about 70 miles from Cedar City, Bryce Canyon National Park is another nearby national park that is reachable within a 1.5-hour drive. It’s famous for the eponymous Bryce Canyon, which is the national park’s main attraction.

This park boasts mesmerizing red rocks and pink cliffs that make up its spectacular hoodoos. Hikers love the several trails that lead to strategic viewpoints that offer an up-close look at Bryce Canyon’s wonders.

  • Location: Bryce, Utah
  • Distance from Cedar City: 70 miles
  • Time from Cedar City: 1.5 hours
  • Fees: Individuals: $20 per person, Private car: $35, Motorcycle: $30
  • Activities: Hiking, nature viewing, mountain biking, camping, horseback riding

Related: What To Expect When Visiting Stunning Bryce Canyon National Park In Utah

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is found about 160 miles from Cedar City, a 2hr 45min drive. Visitors get to see the breathtaking red rocks that characterize this part of Utah. There are canyons and cliffs as well as the stunning Cathedral Valley.

Hiking is the main activity here, but tourists can also go horseback riding, mountain biking, rock climbing, and camping.

  • Location: Utah
  • Distance from Cedar City: 160 miles
  • Time from Cedar City: 2 hrs 45 minutes
  • Fees: Individuals: $10, Private car: $20, Motorcycle: $15
  • Activities: Camping, rock climbing, mountain biking, canyoneering, wildlife viewing, horseback riding

Grand Canyon National Park

One of the world’s wonders, the Grand Canyon, is found 269 miles from Cedar City. This is a drive that will take about 4.5 hours. The park doesn’t just boast the massive canyon, it’s also home to a section of the Colorado River.

Visitors from Cedar City will access the Grand Canyon via the North Rim, but this side is usually closed in winter.

  • Location: Arizona
  • Distance from Cedar City: 269 miles
  • Time from Cedar City: 4.5 hours
  • Fees: Individual: $20 per person, Private car: $35, Motorcycle: $30
  • Activities: Camping, hiking, nature viewing

Where To Stay In Cedar City, Utah

Cedar City is small; it’s only 36 square miles (93 square kilometers). So, there aren’t different neighborhoods as you’d find in bigger cities. Most of the accommodations are within the city center - here’s a list of some of the top-rated ones.

Abbey Inn Cedar City

  • Address: 940 West 200 North, Cedar City, UT 84720, United States
  • Price: From $95
  • Amenities: Heated pool, fitness center, WiFi, hot tub, business center

The Cottages at Shakespeare Lane - Cedar City

  • Address: 151 W Shakespeare Lane, Cedar City, UT 84720, United States
  • Price: From $99
  • Amenities: WiFi, private kitchen, picnic area, en-suite bathroom, washing machine

La Quinta by Wyndham Cedar City

  • Address: 1377 South Main Street, Cedar City, UT 84720, United States
  • Price: From $93
  • Amenities: Hot tub, fitness center, spa, WiFi, indoor pool, private bathrooms

Cozy Camper in the Heart of Town

  • Address: Cedar City, Utah
  • Price: From $86
  • Amenities: King bed, double bunk beds, TV, full kitchen, fireplace, picnic table

Modern A-Frame Tiny House Experience

  • Address: Cedar City, Utah
  • Price: From $121
  • Amenities: Kitchenette, queen bed, outdoor fire pit, WiFi, air-conditioning, free parking

Downtown Condo

  • Address: Cedar City, Utah
  • Price: From $99
  • Amenities: 2 bedrooms, double beds, full kitchen, laundry room, WiFi, 60-inch TV

Tips To Know When Visiting Cedar City

  • Chances of rain are higher in summer and fall, so visitors should carry an umbrella and/or raincoat in anticipation of some wet days.
  • Cedar City also gets a lot of snow in winter, making it a great destination for winter sports lovers.
  • The best way to experience Cedar City and the natural sights nearby is by car. Visitors should consider renting a car or using their own vehicles to take a road trip from Cedar City to the rest of Utah.
  • Delta Air Lines connects from Salt Lake City International Airport to Cedar Lake Regional Airport. Those flying to this destination should plan for a connecting flight or rent a car at Salt Lake City Airport and drive to Cedar City.

Spending The Perfect Day In Cedar City

Cedar City is a haven for outdoorsy folks. So, the perfect day involves activities like hiking, biking, and kayaking.

The day would start with an all-American breakfast at one of the cafés in the downtown area. After the filling meal, head to Cedar Canyon Trail for an after-breakfast hike and a chance to get snippets of Utah’s scenery. This easy route takes about an hour to complete.

Related: 10 Least Populated Utah Towns & Their Best Attractions

Afterward, visit Frontier Homestead State Park to learn about local history and explore the grounds. Then, have a picnic lunch at the park’s picnic spots.

Later cool off at the Cedar City Aquatic Center and enjoy a boating excursion at Lake at the Hills. Afterward, have dinner then catch a performance at the Beverley Taylor Sorensen Center for the Arts before ending the day with drinks at a local bar.

FAQ

Q: Is Cedar City Utah worth visiting?

Yes, Cedar City is worth visiting for those who love outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, camping, and so much more. The city's proximity to Utah's national parks and other natural sights makes it a haven for nature lovers.

Q: Why is Cedar City called Festival City?

Cedar City is called Festival City because it hosts a number of Festivals throughout the year, including the popular annual Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Q: Is Cedar City close to Zion?

Yes, Cedar City is just 60 miles from Zion National Park, which is about an hour's drive.

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