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Traveling With The Cougs: Provo, Utah

LaVell Edward Stadium in Provo, Utah, home to 64,000 fans every Saturday.
LaVell Edward Stadium in Provo, Utah, home to 64,000 fans every Saturday.

This is Part One of a Six part series where we take a look at the cities you’ll be traveling to as you follow the Cougs on the road this season. Next in the series: Las Vegas, Nevada

Brigham Young University and Washington State University lock horns on the gridiron for just the fourth time and it goes without saying this is the most anticipated match up in the series. The game was moved from its originally scheduled date of September 1, a Saturday full of football, to prime time on ESPN on August 30, a Thursday when WSU and BYU will be the only game on the tube. Want more intriguing story lines? I can help you out there. Mike Leach will be making a return to his alma mater in his first game at the helm of a rebuilding WSU team while facing a big first test in a tough environment.

I can’t guarantee much but I can promise you two things: 1) The Cougars will win the game and 2) You’ll have a better time after reading everything you’ll ever need to know about Provo, Utah below the jump.

Provo, Utah Vital Stats:

Population: 112,488

LaVell Edwards Stadium Capacity: 64,045

Nearest Airport: Salt Lake City International (50 miles)

Random Fact: Provo was recently rated the most optimistic city in the United States.

BYU is the largest employer in Provo so the city, much like Pullman but to a larger degree numbers wise, revolves around the school. Although Salt Lake City International is a bit of a drive from Provo, it’s an easy one up Interstate 15. As for the airport itself, easy access off of Interstate 80 makes it simple to get to. The airport itself is of moderate size, meaning you won’t need a descendant of Tenzing Norgay to get to baggage claim. Salt Lake is a hub for Delta Airlines so that’s likely your best bet from Seattle, Portland or Spokane (or their partner airline SkyWest).

Places to Stay:

(Note: Average Nightly Rates assume Wednesday and Thursday night stay)

Marriott Provo Hotel and Conference Center (Distance to Stadium: 2 miles)

Provo is chain hotel heavy so this is likely your best bet if you’re looking for something "luxurious". The rooms are well appointed and perhaps most importantly (because you’ll likely be missing work since this game is on a Thursday) the wireless Internet is free. If you don’t feel like going out to eat, you can order room service and then head down to the fitness center to work the pounds off. The bar downstairs provides a good place to celebrate/drown your sorrows after the game.

Expedia Average Nightly Rate: $119/night

La Quinta Inn Provo Town Center (Distance to Stadium: 3.4 miles)

Like I said, Provo is chain heavy. The rooms here are of standard chain hotel quality with decent furniture. Although it isn’t as easy on the eyes or quite as comfortable as the Marriott, the hotel does have free wireless Internet in the rooms and offers a complimentary breakfast. There is a restaurant on site but if you want to stay in your room and be fed, forget it.

Expedia Average Nightly Rate: $86.50/night

Fairfield Inn Provo (Distance to Stadium: 3.4 miles)

Better furniture and room quality make this a better bet than the La Quinta but if you value anything beyond room quality and being comfortable at night, this might not be the place for you. Although they have free wireless Internet, there’s no restaurant on site and you’re on your own for breakfast.

Expedia Average Nightly Rate: $104/night

Places to Eat:

Slab Pizza

Right across the street from the south end of the BYU campus, they’ve got some pizzas I’ve never heard of and am incredibly intrigued by. The Chicken Enchilada pizza is just that: an enchilada on a pizza. The Chili Verde pizza features slow roasted pork shoulder and anything that features the terms "slow roasted" and "pork shoulder" is a favorite of mine. Perhaps the most intriguing and causing me to drool all over this perfectly good shirt is the Breakfast Pizza topped with bacon, sausage, potatoes, green chile, red pepper and an egg. That’s right: the pizza you’ve been eating for breakfast for so many years is now actually breakfast.

J Dawgs

It shouldn’t be any surprise though a cheap hot dog joint close to a college campus is a popular hangout. But these aren’t just your standard Costco hot dogs (not that Costco doesn’t make a fantastic dog). These bad boys are 100% beef, topped with a special family recipe sauce and tons of delicious condiments like jalapenos, pickles, onions and banana peppers. In other words, everyone but Mark, Rancourt and their deplorable National Lobby For Ketchup On Hot Dogs will love this place.

Station 22

A little closer to downtown is where you’ll find a great sandwich shop. My research shows about 95.8% of all the sandwiches here have pork on them, which makes this one fantastic place to get a bite to eat. They also have hush puppies, which I had for the first time in Charlotte this last spring and they might be the most delicious things on this earth.

Places To Go:

Bridal Veil Falls State Park (10 miles from Provo)

Utah is full of beautiful scenery and many national parks. Unfortunately, getting to them from Provo can be a chore and you probably won't have time anyhow. So it's a good thing Bridal Veil Falls provides a beautiful view just a short drive from town. The falls have two levels which I’m told by the experts at Wikipedia is called a double cataract waterfall. It’s a popular spot for a quick hike during the summer and ice climbers frequent the park in the winter when the falls freeze over.

Reed O. Smoot House (Downtown Provo)

On the National Register of Historic Places, the house was home to Utah Senator Reed Smoot. Smoot was best known for the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act which, at the time, raised tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels. It also was the subject of a line delivered by Ben Stein in the 1986 film "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off". If you’re wondering whether the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act did any good, why don’t I let Mr. Stein explain:

There you have it, Provo, Utah. The move to Thursday didn’t make it a terribly attractive travel option for many but hopefully this makes it easier on you and fingers crossed your trip is better than a Ben Stein history class.