The hills are alive with Swiss heritage and year-round adventures in Midway, Utah. Located on the east bench of Heber Valley, the town of Midway is known as “Little Switzerland,” both for its dramatic mountain location along the Wasatch Back mountain range and for its Germanic heritage. Whether you’re a local or traveling from outside the area, Midway makes the perfect getaway for those wishing to breathe the clean, crisp air and enjoy scenic tranquility.
Midway is home to Utah’s Swiss Alps, dubbed by the original Swiss settlers in the 1850s who were reminded of the green grassy valleys and snowcapped rocky slopes of their home country. Midway continues to have a strong Swiss influence, as you can see through the architecture throughout town and local traditions like the annual Swiss Days Festival held every year over Labor Day weekend or the annual Midway Volksmarch that takes place each September. It maintains the old-world charm that’s straight out of a fairy tale and creates memorable and magical moments for visitors who spend a little time exploring this special town.
Midway has also been nicknamed the “paradise land.” Originating from a summer morning in 1857, workers at a sawmill in Big Cottonwood Canyon hiked to the summit of the Wasatch mountains and viewed a high mountain valley, describing it in awe and wonder as “paradise land.” After hearing promising reports from these workers, cattlemen in 1858 drove their herds up Provo Canyon and began to establish ranches in the south end of the valley with plans of settling Heber Valley. To this day, Midway is still described as a paradise by residents and travelers alike for its haven of outdoor recreation, incredibly easy access to mountain ranges on all sides, and unmistakable European-influenced charm.
World-Class Winter Activities
Heber Valley provides some of the world’s greatest access to winter sports and recreation — all set amid the inimitable and awe-inspiring snowy peaks that Utah is famous for. In winter, abundant snowfall makes this a mecca for winter recreation, with its mountains boasting the “Greatest Snow on Earth.” And Midway is located almost equal-distance from two renowned resorts — Sundance Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort. Guests staying in Midway can be on the slopes within 20 minutes or less. Aside from downhill skiing, which Utah is known for, winter seasons bring opportunities to snowmobile, snowshoe, cross-country ski, snow tubing and sledding, horseback riding, fly fishing the Blue-Ribbon streams, and lots of other fun activities in Heber Valley. Read on to get some suggestions on how to spend a free day in Midway.
A Guide To Exploring “Little Switzerland”
Midway in the winter is a magical time full of curiosity and wonder. Here’s an itinerary that showcases the best this quaint village town has to offer.
First stop! Warm up with a hot chocolate at Zermatt Utah Resort & Spa — accompanied by flaky éclairs from the resort’s traditional European bakery. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the Swiss Alps into a breathtaking small village, as beautiful pastries tempt you behind the sparkling glass displays and the aroma of fresh coffee wafts through the air.
When you think of skiing in the Alps, Alpine skiing probably comes to mind. However, Nordic skiing is the original and oldest form of the sport that originated in Europe hundreds of years ago. This activity is a fantastic way to be outside, explore the majestic natural spaces, and get a great overall workout. And there’s no better place to enjoy Nordic or cross-country skiing than at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center. Primarily known as an Olympic venue that hosted three events during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Soldier Hollow offers world-class Nordic skiing, including individual and group lessons and equipment rentals, along with snow tubing down the longest lanes in Utah and an Olympic Biathlon course. Enjoy the morning here, appreciating the breathtaking outdoors while participating in all the activities you can do based on your interests and skill level. And plan a return visit to witness the annual events like the U.S. Cross-Country Skiing Championships (winter season) or the Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championships (also held annually on Labor Day weekend).
The Alps are known for its combination of German, Italian, and French cuisine and culture and so is Midway! Grab a bite to eat at Café Galleria and make an advance reservation to dine inside one of the magical Alpenglobes. Sit inside the warm snow globe style dining structure and enjoy wood-fired pizzas which are done the traditional Italian way, the bruschetta appetizer, and a sweet crêpe with hot cocoa and all the fixins. If you’re dining at the top of the hour, watch for the wood-carved Glockenspiel that pops out and spins to the sound of lively music across the street at Midway Town Hall. In the summer months, the Alpenglobes are removed and the open patio lends itself to cool summer breezes and a lively alfresco dining scene.
For a unique activity in the afternoon, visit the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese dairy farm. Russel Kohler, whose family has run the farm since 1929 shared with us, “When my great-great-grandfather and the other Swiss immigrants arrived, they brought their traditions of dairy farming and cheese making with them.” The farm has daily tours at 11 am Monday through Saturday. More than a typical farm tour, the local dairy farm went fully robotic with its milking system – the first to do so in the U.S. The tour allows visitors to meet the calves up close and see the behind-the-scenes operations to learn what it takes to run a successful dairy farm today. These daily tours are hugely popular for families and little kids, so be sure to book in advance. In addition, the creamery also offers monthly cheese making classes that always sell out.
You can also book a completely unique experience inside The Utah Crater, where you can swim, soak, snorkel, or even scuba dive in a 10,000-year-old geothermal hot spring. The mineral-rich water stays around 95 degrees year-round and provides a restorative soak for sore muscles or tired bodies. It is the only warm-water scuba destination in the lower 48 states! For those seeking something a bit more experiential, book the morning SUP yoga class or take a scuba lesson inside the Crater.
When dinner time rolls around, the variety of local eateries will give you plenty of options for each night of your stay. Some of our favorites include the Schnitzel at Z’s Steak & Chop Haus at Zermatt Resort. Or head to Midway Mercantile for its warm ambience, excellent service, and wonderful menu. The raclette is a fun way to start, and we also suggest trying the local Trout or Hunter’s Delight for your main entrées. The Corner Restaurant has a bright interior with a lively bar and local Deep-Fried Cheese Curds appetizer that is a “must try” along with a local favorite, the Beef Stroganoff If you’re looking for a more kid-friendly menu, then Lola’s Street Kitchen offers hearty portions and great prices. Try the Gyro or Fried Chicken Sando — both are favorites for the owner. And if you’re looking for something a bit more upscale and unique, you can’t miss The Lakehouse at Deer Creek. The lakeside location is perfect for a nice dinner out. The interiors are stunning, and the local heritage cuisine is thoughtfully and intentionally crafted to bring you a menu unlike anywhere else in the state. We highly recommend the rabbit lasagna, bison meatloaf, local cheese board, and do save room for the pie! The chef makes all pies from scratch and they change daily.
Imagine ending the day as you ice skate in a beautiful outdoor rink — Utah’s largest outdoor ice rink, in fact. Admire the snow-capped mountains and breathe in the fresh mountain air. The Midway Ice Rink is a quintessential winter experience all visitors should enjoy. There’s also a heated hut so you can warm up and take a quick rest between all those twists and twirls skating across the ice. And the manager has added some tasty gourmet treats available for purchase at the rink.
Although similar in many ways to Switzerland, Midway is distinct and holds its own. It’s found itself in the world’s spotlight many times, and for good reason. There are countless things to do in Midway and we hope you explore Utah’s “Little Switzerland” this winter season – whether that be for the holidays, for a winter ski trip, or for a fun spring break destination. And this stunning alpine town is equally delightful in the summer and fall seasons. We recommend at least a 4-day stay to make the most of your vacation time and experience all there is here in the winter. For help with planning an upcoming trip, please visit our website, explore our Trip Planner tool, or give us a call. We’re here to help! 435-654-3666
Previous Blog Posts:
Icy Fun in Heber Valley
Spas, Health & Wellness in Heber Valley
Explore a True Winter Wonderland