"Salt Lake City is an eclectic hodgepodge of modern and antiquated, fancy and plain, kitschy and virtuous."
“This is the place,” said pioneer-extraordinaire Brigham Young after months of exhaustive trekking across some of the country’s harshest terrain.
The “place” to which he was referring is now known as Salt Lake City. At the time though, in 1847, it was no more than a barren land where a band of fatigued Mormon immigrants found themselves after giving up all other worldly possessions for a chance to build their lives anew. One can only speculate as to the reaction of his weary followers. Surrounded by crackly sagebrush and barren soil, and in the midst of an uninhabitable lake, it must have taken a serious mind's eye to foresee the grand metropolis that would ultimately prove to become a promised land for hedonists and ascetics alike.
My relationship with Salt Lake City is quite extensive. After all, I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have found myself in this capital city of the Beehive State. And I must admit—I haven’t yet grown weary of it. Salt Lake City has been the intended destination for dozens of family road trips. It has served as a gathering place to meet up with friends and relatives. And most of my journeys elsewhere usually commence at Salt Lake City International Airport—the region’s predominant air hub.
Salt Lake City is an eclectic hodgepodge of modern and antiquated, fancy and plain, kitschy and virtuous. The city serves as the global headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and yet, only about half its residents classify themselves as such.
The city boasts wide thoroughfares crammed with shopping outlets and fine restaurants. The city center itself is quite small however, as most of the valley’s population is settled in outer suburbs. Its focal point is a grand LDS temple that serves as the landmark of the area. The rest of the city is made up of easily navigable gridded streets to the north, south, east, and west of the temple.
While only primed members of the LDS faith can enter the temple itself, the surrounding gardens and buildings are accessible to visitors. Full-time volunteer missionaries from over 40 nations are eager to share Mormon Church history, beliefs, and doctrine in 30 different languages on several customized tours around Temple Square.
"Although downtown Salt Lake City is charming enough to hold its own against the likes of other major U.S. cities, it’s the easily accessible tracts of wilderness that alluringly entice visitors to Utah. The nearby mountains of the Wasatch Front act as a glorious bastion of perennial outdoor activities."
Although downtown Salt Lake City is charming enough to hold its own against the likes of other major U.S. cities, it’s the easily accessible tracts of wilderness that alluringly entice visitors to Utah. The nearby mountains of the Wasatch Front act as a glorious bastion of perennial outdoor activities. The surrounding forests cater to all types—from penny-pitching tent dwellers to lavish five-star resort frequenters. And in the midst of it all lies Park City, Salt Lake’s frivolous little brother.
Ski resorts dot the landscape. In fact, there are four within an hour’s drive from the airport. Visitors and locals alike flock to the slopes every winter to experience what “Ski Utah!” claims to be “the greatest snow on earth.” And considering the sheer popularity of such resorts, “Ski Utah!” just might be on to something.
While the soft, powdery snow is the main enticement to Park City during the winter months, it’s not by any means the only draw. Each January the Sundance Film Festival showcases independent films from across the nation and all over the globe. During the festival, Park City transforms itself from a rustic winter village to a sensational Hollywood-esque bash. Glitz and glamour overtake rugged and wild.
After experiencing the many facets of Salt Lake City, most visitors find themselves seconding Brigham Young’s declaration. Salt Lake truly is “the place”—the place for fine dining, shopping, skiing, hiking, biking, meandering, and contemplating. So go for it. Visit Utah—and make it your place too.
Places to Stay
The Anniversary Inn
678 E South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84102
“The Anniversary Inn South Temple location sits in the historical Avenues section of Salt Lake City on South Temple and 7th East. The Victorian-style mansion was built in 1889 by Emmanuel Kahn and is on the National Historic Registry. It retains all of its charm and many of its original features.
Each of its 14 luxury suites are designed around a specific theme providing our guests with a unique experience each time they stay with us.
If you are looking for a touch of romance, you may want to stay in one of our elegant rooms, such as the Presidential Suite or the Anniversary Inn Suite. If you are looking for a hint of adventure, you may choose to sleep in the Mysteries of Egypt Suite, or the Enchanted Forest.
Join us at the Anniversary Inn - South Temple location, Utah's most romantic Bed and Breakfast.”
524 Southwest Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
“One of the best hotels in the city, the Metropolitan Inn Salt Lake CIty, Utah provides lodging in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, within 10 minutes walking distance of Historic Temple Square, the Genealogy Library, the Salt Palace Convention Center and the Delta Center (Home of the Utah Jazz).
Make yourself at home in Salt Lake City's newest boutique--The Metropolitan Inn. This enticing establishment is replete with Temperpedic beds and whimsical decor. Cosmopolitan adornment bedecks the urbane lobby, welcoming business executives and family members. The staffs' courteous and knowledgeable concierges are happy to arrange guided tours of Salt Lake City's historical sites or schedule world-class ski trips at any one of seven local resorts.”
936 E. 1700 S.
Salt Lake City, UT 84105
“Wildflowers is that absorbing combination of new and old that gladdens the heart without taxing the rest of you. A full restoration of this 1891 Victorian home provides the best of everything. Its open rooms, high ceilings, abundant light, and ready access to the gardens have a modern feel.
The hand-carved staircase, original chandeliers, beveled and stained glass windows, period furnishings, and oriental rugs add a note of elegance. Original art throughout the house gives it the warmth and distinction. Two balconies provide sweeping views of the mountains and the town.
You will be warmly welcomed by the owners and hosts, Cill Sparks and Jeri Parker. They spent many years planning Wildflowers while pursuing other careers, Cill as a nurse administrator at the University Medical Center, Jeri as an artist, writer and educator.”
Things to Do
Regardless of one’s religious viewpoints (or lack thereof), no visit to Salt Lake City is complete without spending a peaceful afternoon milling around and gazing at the meticulously manicured gardens of Temple Square. This 35 acre headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes the temple proper, as well as a historic tabernacle (of Mormon Tabernacle Choir fame), assembly hall, several monuments to past historic figures and events, and two visitors’ centers. Admission and tours are free-of-charge.
The Great Salt Lake
This massive pool of brine might not seem like an ideal destination. Yet, Utah’s capital city didn’t garner its namesake for naught. The Great Salt Lake is 20,000 square miles of unique landscapes and extensive vistas. It’s the largest lake in the United States other than the Great Lakes. Surprisingly, it even plays home to a vast expanse of wildlife. Antelope Island is a favorite haunt for visitors because of its strategic location for incredible views of the Wasatch Range reflecting crisply in the lake. As a head’s up: there is a definite and distinct smell to the place that some people find less-than-appealing.
Acting as Salt Lake’s playground is a rough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Park City generously stepped up to the plate to do just that. This resort town isn’t on its way to becoming the next Aspen or Vail—it already is. With endless slopes for skiing and snowboarding during the winter and endless greens for golfing during the summer, Park City is truly a year-round destination. Main Street is chock-full of ritzy restaurants and quaint (albeit overpriced) shops. Nightlife abounds. And don’t miss Utah Olympic Park, where several events were held during the 2002 Winter Olympics.