Salt Lake City, Utah
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- When the Mormons arrived in Salt Lake Valley (1847), it was part of Mexico.
- The Great Salt Lake is two to seven times saltier than the oceans.
- Based on best estimates, Brigham Young had 55 wives, but didn’t live with all of them.
- The Family History Library holds more than 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records.
- Eight of 10 world speed skating records were broken at the Olympic Oval in 2002.
The Mormon factor
Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah, a state well suited to travelers looking for outdoor adventures to fill their vacation days. Active tourists seek out the capital’s nearby natural attractions — the Great Salt Lake to the west and the Wasatch Mountains to the east — as well as in-town activities and Olympic sites built for the 2002 Winter Games.
The city also is the capital, as it were, of Mormonism. Brigham Young founded the city in 1847 after leading many of the Mormon faithful into territory that had seen few Europeans — a safe haven after the church’s adherents were forced from earlier settlements in the Midwest.
Visitors with an interest in that aspect of the Salt Lake story come to see historically important buildings, the museums that tell of earlier ways of life (Mormon and pre-Mormon) and perhaps to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and spend time at the Family History Library researching their family histories.
The Mormon factor is what most distinguishes Salt Lake from other American cities. This draws so many visitors downtown to Temple Square that it is the state’s most popular tourist attraction.
Tourists, unless they are Mormons, cannot enter the temple itself, but other buildings in the area welcome the general public and often provide guided tours. Key sites on or near the square include the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the Museum of Church History and Art, the Family History Library, the Brigham Young Monument, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, plus the Beehive and Lion houses, built by Young to accommodate his very large family.
All visitors, regardless of the initial motivation, find a relatively small metropolis (not even 200,000) with a full menu of urban choices: ballet, museums, opera, restaurants, sports teams, symphony, theater and a variety of annual festive events.
In addition, as of mid-2009, visitors age 21 or older can order an alcoholic drink in any bar or restaurant with as much ease as in other cosmopolitan cities. Previously, the state’s private club system required patrons wishing to enter a drinking establishment to become “members” and pay a membership fee.
Things to do for Venturers
- Take classes in figure skating or speed skating — or in curling, at the Olympic Oval in nearby Kearns where Olympic and world records were set in 2002. Or, just skate on the “fastest ice on Earth.”
- Choose your vehicle — an off-highway motorcycle or all-terrain vehicle — and try out the tracks at the Jordan River Off-Highway Vehicle Park and Modelport. (State-required education for off-highway vehicles is available on site.)
- Come to town for the SLC International Jazz Festival, held each summer.
- Head to the Alta Ski Area or the Brighton Ski Resort — the closest such facilities to the airport — for skiing or hiking, depending on the season. Or, for more activity choices, head to Ogden, called a high-adventure capital, for things like biking, kayaking and waterskiing. Right in Ogden, kayak at Kayak Park, or try indoor rock climbing, skydiving or surfing at the Salomon Center.
- Sample the finished product at one or more of the Salt Lake City’s microbreweries. A large brewpub, Red Rock Brewing Company, offers lunch, dinner and tavern hours.
- If between flights at SLC airport (with at least 90 minutes between those flights), board a courtesy van to Temple Square for a guided tour.
Things to do for Centrics
- Attend a concert or a rodeo at the Energy Solutions Arena, which was the venue for figure skating and other Olympic events in 2002.
- Or, plan a night at the theater which could take you to Poison Ivy Mysteries, a murder mystery dinner theater, or the more traditional Pioneer Theatre Company.
- Sign on for specialized research classes at the Family History Library.
- Attend any one of the following, the free weekly Sunday TV and radio broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir inside the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the choir’s rehearsal on Thursday evening or an organ recital any day of the week.
- Take up binoculars and add to your bird sightings at Big Cottonwood Canyon or at the Great Salt Lake.
- Tour the Bingham Copper Mine outside of Salt Lake City. It is the world’s largest open-pit copper mine. The visitor center is open April to October.
Things to do for Authentics
- Take the kids to the Hogle Zoo, the city’s top paid attraction. Add a visit — for the kids or yourself — to the Utah Museum of Natural History, noted for its dinosaur exhibits and the chance to watch experts at work inside a glass-enclosed fossil prep lab.
- Reserve seats to a performance by the city’s Ballet West. Or spend an evening at the Utah Symphony.
- Make yourself acquainted with the historic buildings that abut the city’s central Temple Square. Tours are available to many, but not the temple.
Include on your itinerary the Beehive House and Lion House, east of Temple Square and built to accommodate many of Brigham Young’s wives, then have lunch or dinner at the Lion House.
- Get your ticket to a Utah Jazz NBA basketball game if the team is playing on its home court during your visit.
- For museum lovers, Salt Lake has a unique collection with ties to Mormon history or traditions. Consider putting Museum of Church History and Art on the agenda. Other choices include the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum and the Utah State Historical Society Museum.
- Visit the 450-acre This Is the Place Heritage Park at the eastern edge of the Salt Lake Valley. See original and replica buildings with reenactors demonstrating crafts and trades of 19th century Utah. Try your hand at carding wool.
For more information, consult Visit Salt Lake at www.visitsaltlake.com