Cedar City

“The Festival City”

Cedar City is a special place for me, it’s where I graduated from college and began my career in tourism. It’s been 32 years since I left Cedar to pursue my career but it always feels like home to me when I visit as I did recently on our annual trip to the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Festival City USA

Every summer Cedar City comes alive with the sounds of Shakespeare. The Tony Award winning Utah Shakespeare Festival has grown in to one of the oldest and largest Shakespeare festivals in North America now celebrating its 58th season. Eight plays are presented in repertory each season in three theaters. These theaters along with the Southern Utah Museum of Art are part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, located at Southern Utah University.

Prior to each evening’s main stage performance there is a free nightly Greenshow of music, dance, storytelling, juggling, snacks and food reminiscent of Merry Ol’ England held in the courtyard surrounding the outdoor Engelstad Theatre. As a married college student I would often take my young family to the Greenshow, it was great entertainment and for a poor college student, the price was right!

In 2002 the Neil Simon Festival moved its home to Cedar City. Housed in the beautiful Heritage Center Theatre in Cedar City’s Historic Downtown. Founder and Executive Director, Richard Bugg, explains how his brainchild came to pass: “I noticed one day that Mr. Simon had written more successful plays than Shakespeare, and was still writing.  The Cedar City festival is the world’s first and only professional theater company dedicated to honoring the works of America’s comic playwright Neil Simon. The production season is held annually mid-July through mid-August.

University of the Parks

How can I write about Cedar City without including Southern Utah University? This is my alma mater and where I was inspired to pursue a career in tourism. My original career ambition was to become a forest ranger, but that’s another story. Nicknamed the University of the Parks because of it’s location and outdoor recreation and hospitality industry programs. SUU has a humble start as a teacher training school for the region’s emerging pioneer settlement communities in 1897.  Today SUU is a Division 1 university with 10,000 plus students from more than 40 countries and every state in the U.S. [TIP] Take a stroll on the campus grounds to see the beautiful old buildings mixed with the ultra modern in a park-like setting. Visit the Adams Memorial Theatre where the Shakespeare plays were formerly held, and Old Main built in 1897.

Gateway to the parks

One of the things that wears on me as a tour guide is the daily packing and unpacking, traveling from one place to the next. I much prefer unpacking and settling in for a few days at places I call hubs that are central to the areas I want to visit. My wife calls this nesting. Cedar City is a hub. It’s within a few minutes to a few hours drive of several amazing places to visit including Bryce Canyon (80 miles), Zion National Park (60 miles), north rim of the Grand Canyon (160 miles), and Cedar Breaks National Monument (30 miles). It’s also close to the increasingly popular Kanarra Falls hike (13 miles), and Zion National Park Kolob Canyons (19 miles) where some of my favorite hikes are located. The Union Pacific saw this as an opportunity in the 1920’s and built a passenger rail that brought visitors to the parks until 1960. It was the Union Pacific that inspired the construction of the grand lodges that we see in the parks today. The Frontier Homestead State Park and Southern Utah Museum of Art have nice displays describing Cedar City’s history and connection with the parks.

The Highlands

Perched high on the Markagunt Plateau 30 miles east of Cedar City are the southern Utah gems of Brian Head and Cedar Breaks National Monument. Brian Head at a base elevation of 9,700 ft is Utah’s highest ski town. Summertime temps rarely reach 80 making this a favorite retreat for escaping the valley heat below. Summer activities include zip-line, mountain bike park & trails, chairlift rides, disc golf, bungee trampoline, climbing wall and, alpine tubing. Winter is the season that put Brian Head on the map! Frequently mentioned as one of the best family resorts in the country, Brian Head offers some of the best snow conditions in a state famous for its feather light powder snow. Winter activities include alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling with sensational views of nearby Cedar Breaks.

Situated about two miles south of the town of Brian Head, Cedar Breaks National Monument sits high on the western edge of the Markagunt Plateau at over 10,000 ft. with an amphitheater that drops a half-mile below the rim. (highest point of 10,662 feet to the lowest at 8,100 feet) The Paiutes called Cedar Breaks the “Circle of Painted Cliffs” referring to the multicolored amphitheater that stretches three miles across. Visitors have described Cedar Breaks as a higher and more eroded down version of Bryce Canyon with its crimson and coral pink pinnacles, hoodoos, and buttresses.  Cedar Breaks is home to ancient bristlecone pines, lush meadows of wildflowers, Engleman spruce, and aspen trees that become a kaleidoscope of color in Fall. A six-mile scenic drive along hwy 148 leads past four overlooks, each offering a different perspective of the amphitheater. (closed in winter) For those who want to get off the beaten path, two hiking trails near the rim provide an added appreciation of the geology and flora and fauna of Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Where to eat Here is a list of my favorite places to eat in Cedar City. The Brick House, this is a local’s favorite, it must be because it keeps getting the local’s award for being such. My tour groups give this restaurant very high grades for their sandwiches and salad bar. Pastry Pub, this is my wife’s favorite and where you’ll often find cast members of the Utah Shakespeare Festival dining. Sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes. Milt’s Stage Stop, I’ve been coming to Milts since my college days. Located six miles up Highway 14 in Cedar Canyon, my favorite place for steaks and sea food. [Reservations recommended]

Use the BLUE BUTTONS below for things to do, where to sleep, and where to eat.

A map is provided below with additional suggestions for places to visit.

POINTS OF INTEREST

Type the name of what you’re looking for in the search field below the map or scroll through the list.

TitleCategoryAddressDescription
Cedar Ridge Golf Course 37.69221402666256,-113.0583093404133
Newcastle Resevoir 37.6507010921338,-113.52889513624996
Yankee Meadow Reservoir 37.75249076806387,-112.77473851566606
Grand Canyon North Rim 36.19847646922473,-112.05249626389809
Zion National Park 37.20202117316141,-112.98833160165088
Bryce Canyon National Park 37.64046018255599,-112.16962752674385
Cedar City Utah Temple 37.67178713274342,-113.09620821126356
Cedar City 37.677478698400876,-113.06206868600015
Kanarra Falls 37.535955599242165,-113.16384634285117
Old Iron Town 37.600539792870904,-113.4560287236713
Three Peaks Recreation Area 37.765610326684836,-113.169411042224
Southern Utah University 37.67648825971545,-113.07138051204197
Southern Utah Museum of Art 37.677086060688346,-113.06629466033735
Utah Shakespeare Festival 37.6766848100423,-113.06515311121757
Cedar Canyon Overlook 37.567391421895024,-112.84910316182282
Frontier Homestead State Park 37.68862365979848,-113.0625143961646
Panguitch Lake 37.7075477490379, -112.64260577108917
Parowan Gap Petroglyphs 37.90939044075365,-112.984265744818
Navajo Lake 37.52164681704623,-112.78162517918605
Kolob Canyons 37.454028249884736,-113.22463684588683
Cedar Breaks National Monument 37.6124402817043,-112.8372098381783
Brian Head Ski Resort 37.70211333370828,-112.8499165764369