Former residents or university alumni who have moved away might not recognize some parts of Provo if they've been absent for the last five years.

The urban downtown culture has morphed into something unique to the city, while the rest of the town has seen development with a new recreation center, expanding medical center, completion of the Utah Valley Convention Center and growth surrounding the Brigham Young University campus.

Things to do

Despite what college students used to say about the lack of entertainment in the town, Provo is the epicenter of activities in Utah County. In recent years, the city has truly embraced more entertainment and music.

Just within the downtown area, one can find a comedy club, Comedy Sportz; multiple music venues including Velour Live Music Gallery (where musicians like Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, Joshua James and Lindsey Stirling have played) and Muse Music; seasonal markets like the Provo Farmers Market, Bijou Market and Beehive Bazaar; and undiscovered gems like Taste, the chocolate shop and its adjoining chocolate factory.

Throughout the year, the city is host to multiple festivals including the Freedom Festival, Festival Latinoamericano, Utah Pasifika Festival and the Rooftop Concert Series -- all of which are traditionally held between June and September. Haven't been to one? Look it up, and thank us later. 

Recreation

Living in or visiting Provo is not complete without exposure to the great outdoors along the Wasatch Front through various activities.

Rock Canyon offers space for hiking, climbing and even slacklining, while Sundance Mountain Resort features skiing, zip lining and mountain biking. Utah Lake borders the city to the west, allowing for fishing and summer water sports, while Provo River to the north is renowned for its fly fishing, and even offers up chilly floating trips in the summer months.  

Spots to see

Museums

Provo and its neighbor Springville have a number of museums that feature unique and major exhibits, along with other impressive collections. BYU's on-campus Museum of Art has hosted exhibitions of Carl Bloch's religious paintings, the art of Norman Rockwell and costumes from Hollywood cinema.

Of course, one would be remiss to not mention Utah's first art museum -- Springville Museum of Art -- just six miles away from downtown Provo. It is known for its Russian collection and showcases of juried, contemporary Utah art.

Other museums in the area worth visiting include a range of interests.

  • BYU's Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum is full of adventure and animals -- sometimes live ones. It's a great attraction for kids.
  • The Crandall Historical Printing Museum, located along Center Street in Provo, is where visitors can learn about the development of the printing press, see a working replica of the Gutenberg Press in action, and learn about the printing of historical American documents and LDS books.

Best-kept (and unnecessary) secret

The Provo City Library is perhaps one of Provo's best-kept secrets out in the open. The building, once the Brigham Young Academy, resembles the character and architecture of the new Provo City Center Temple and was saved by residents who voiced outcry at its possible demolition.

Today the building not only hosts an impressive collection of physical and digital media, it also hosts classes for children and adults, as well as events in its stunning upstairs ballroom.

BYU sporting events

No matter the time of year, the university seems to always be teeming with collegiate sporting events the public can attend -- basketball, football, volleyball, soccer, baseball or rugby. For the latest games, visit byucougars.com.

Other places to see in the city include the classic Provo Utah Temple, as well as places along Provo’s Historic Tour that can be taken by using an Android app that shows historic downtown places.

Places to eat

While there are plenty of popular chains and fast casual places in Provo, the city's reputation for entrepreneurship has extended into restaurants and food, providing many unique local eateries with various ethnic inspirations.

Downtown

First, while downtown attending the open house or visiting temple grounds, there are plenty of fun places to eat in the immediate area for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 

New and different flavors can be found on every block, from Black Sheep Cafe (contemporary Southwestern Native American) and El Salvador Restaurant to Indian restaurants India Palace and Bombay House. Those looking for more traditional American or comfort food will find Guru's Cafe, and Bruges Waffles and Frites, to hit the spot. Communal might also fall under this category, though it's higher priced with its commitment to locally obtained ingredients.

Citywide

Throughout the rest of the city is a continued variety of cuisine. Among our favorite places are Cubby’s Chicago Beef (Tri Tip Steak Salad and Rosemary Fries); Green Panda (Taiwanese dishes and Boba Smoothies); the popular Brazilian buffet at Tucanos; the original JDawgs; and SLABpizza.

Sweets

Keeping with tradition, a trip or outing in Provo must always include sweets (or specifically ice cream). The Provo Bakery has filled a need for baked goods for decades, while the BYU Creamery attracts alumni from around the world with scoops of Graham Canyon and LaVell's Vanilla. Other places on our go-to list include Taste, Hruska's Kolaches, Rockwell Ice Cream Co., Pop'nSweets and Sodalicious. 

Daily Herald Community & Business Editor Jordan Carroll can be reached at jcarroll@heraldextra.com or on Twitter @jordanec

Jordan Carroll is the executive editor at the Daily Herald.

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