Want a community with a little of everything—arts, education, adventure, business, family-friendly and more? It may be time to check out Provo and Orem. As the heart and hub of Utah County, these two cities collectively hold plenty of surprises that are certain to delight would-be residents, even the ones who’ve never considered living in “Happy Valley” before.
Want rugged mountain terrain and inspiring views? Provo and Orem are surrounded by them. From hiking on Y Mountain to the build-your-own-adventure wonderland that is Mt. Timpanogos, residents don’t look far for outdoor fun.
Bike the entire 16 miles of the Provo River Parkway Trail, a paved pathway running from Utah Lake to Vivian Park in Provo Canyon. Stop at Bridal Veil Falls to dip your toes in the icy cold water, too.
Nordic and alpine skiing are accessible up Provo Canyon. Just turn left into Sundance Resort and stay for dinner in the Foundry Grill or the Tree Room, or grab a cocktail and live music at the Owl Bar. Rather be in the water? Fly-fishing and tubing are yours in Provo Canyon, just upstream from your next picnic in any of the five Provo Canyon parks. You can also launch your boat in Utah Lake—not a reservoir, it’s a real lake—or watch the Orem Owlz or other sports team at either of the local universities.
Where to live: For recreation just outside your door, look near Heather Lane and 8th North at the mouth of Provo Canyon, or venture further up into Sundance, Springdell or near Vivian Park.
Museums. Festivals. Concerts. Movies. Just say what you want and Provo and Orem supply the rest. Annual events include January’s Sundance Film Festival, where screenings are held daily at the screening room at Sundance Resort, and summer concerts and plays at the SCERA Center for the Arts.
UVU’s UCCU Event Center brings big-name concerts to the area throughout the year, or celebrate Independence Day (give or take a few days) at Stadium of Fire. Museums include the Museum of Art, B.F. Larsen Gallery, and Life Science Museum on the BYU campus and the Woodbury Art Museum at UVU.
Where to live: Fast-growing-but-quaint Vineyard, Utah, on the western side of Provo and Orem, offers newer homes, access to Utah Lake, and is a short drive from just about everything.
Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University provide students here world-class educational opportunities.
The side benefit? Residents here get access to world-class libraries as well as scholarly events, including literary, philosophic and scientific; community education; and extracurricular activities. Provo’s nightlife–frequently in walking distance to BYU–caters to the college crowd with institutions like Fat Cats for bowling, billiards and arcade games, 7 Peaks Resort, where water fun rules, and Velour Live Music Gallery, an all-ages venue (no smoking or alcohol allowed) that has helped launched the careers of bands including the Neon Trees and the Fictionists.
Public primary and secondary schools benefit from their proximity to the two colleges and the diversity of each. Both the Alpine and Provo School Districts serve the area as do a number of specialized charter schools. Parents can expect access to dual-immersion programs, arts education, and unique opportunities for children to experience college-sponsored events and other activities.
Where to live: When close proximity to a university is at the top of your list, look near BYU, where you’ll find plenty of condos, smaller homes, and landscaped luxury for sale. Prefer something older or more eclectic? Downtown Provo is the answer, whether you’re looking for a home that’s fully remodeled or one ready for your creativity and TLC.
Business, retail and shopping
This family-friendly community is business-friendly, too. Provo and Orem have both helped spur the growth of tech industry giants including WordPerfect, Novell, Ancestry.com and Omniture over the years. Healthcare is also booming in the area, but so are small, niche businesses including Altra (running shoes), Amano (chocolate), Xlear, and Blendtec.
All of this means retail is endlessly accessible in Provo and Orem, from the traditional malls that flank the north and south ends of the community (University Mall and Provo Towne Center, respectively), to the boutique offerings at the Shops at Riverwoods. Also check out the dining options at the latter, including sushi at the Happy Sumo, Mexican food at Bajio, European-influenced fresh foods at La Jolla Groves, or a gooey caramel apple from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Rather eat in? Swing by Harmon’s on 8th North for gourmet goodies and local grocery fare.
Where to live: If shopping is your thing, invest in a condo by the Riverwoods or University Mall, or a home off Palisades Drive. Just west of the Riverwoods, the small community perched above the canyon offers fantastic views of both town and mountains and is within walking distance of both.
Hungry? Got a sweet tooth? Dining options in Provo and Orem are far more diverse than most towns their size offer. Just be sure you save room for dessert. If cupcakes are your thing, try the Sweet Tooth Fairy where featured flavors change daily. Birthday celebrations go great with a cake from The Chocolate—pack it up for a picnic at Paul Ream Wilderness Park, or eat pizza at The Brick Oven before you stop for ice cream from the BYU creamery. You may also want to skip dinner entirely and dive right into dessert from Provo Bakery, Rockwell Ice Cream, or opt for gelato at Zaza Melodia by University Mall.
Where to live: In Provo and Orem, whether you’re hoping for a home that smells like delicious baked goods from a nearby restaurant or you want to live somewhere that’s close enough to walk to dining options—and walk off some of the food on the way back home—you’re in good company. Great dining dots the town and public transportation from UTA makes everything accessible. So look anywhere. You’ll find comfortable homes fitting all budgets in neighborhoods bordered by Center Street and University Parkway in Orem. Also check the south end of Provo.