Downtown Salt Lake City

By Steve Cuff

I always enjoy returning to Salt Lake City, it has special memories after my first visit for the Winter Olympics in 2002. Often though I have never had enough time to actually visit the city and take the time to stroll around and see some of the sights.

One standout you do notice as you visit the downtown sights is that the city is very clean which is refreshing in this day and age. The main hub is Temple Square which is also headquarters for the Mormon faith, the Church of the Later Day Saints.

You don’t need to be religious to appreciate the grandeur of the temple, which you cannot enter if you are not a practicing Mormon, but you can visit the surrounds and other buildings and also watch the Tabernacle choir in full voice on a Sunday morning. Their performance is screened live world-wide every week.

For an elevated view you can dine at the Roof Restaurant which overlooks Temple Square where the view is spectacular and the selection of food mouth-watering. Operated by Mormons this restaurant is alcohol free so be prepared for juice or soft drinks only. With the Mormon faith being non-drinkers, this has often lead to the belief that Utah is a dry state and one where you can’t buy or be served alcohol. This is a myth and if you enjoy a cold beverage or something stronger there are numerous watering holes where you can walk straight in and order your preference.

Across the road from Temple Square is the new City Creek Center for shopping which has everything a dedicated shopper could ask for in a new modern style building. The Utah visitor center is just around the corner for any literature or directions you may need to help you in your adventures in Salt Lake or the state of Utah.

Another highlight is the Natural History Museum which is a short train ride to the foothills which also affords a splendid view of Salt Lake City, the lake and the surrounding areas. This multi-level impeccable designed museum allows for an easy walk down the ramped levels witnessing how Utah and nature has carved out this wild and adventure laden state.

No matter where you are in the city you nearly always get a glimpse of the Wasatch Mountain Range which is famous for its quality of light dry snow in the winter months. This is often credited with the fact the Great Salt Lake sits adjacent to the mountains and the evaporation of the lake allows extra moisture to be absorbed into the clouds and storms hence delivering more snow.

If you want a closer look at the Great Salt Lake one great vantage point is Antelope Island Sate Park. Here you can also witness a herd of 500 Bison roaming free on the island and enjoy the many cycling trails along the edge of the lake.

When the Mormons first arrived in Utah in 1847 after an epic migration across the “wild west” the church president Brigham Young was to have said at the foot of Emigration Canyon, “This is the right place, drive on.”

To this day you can visit the sight at This is the Place Heritage Park where there is a 450 acre replica village of the pioneers existence in those times. Historic buildings have also been relocated to the park and makes for an interesting half day or day visit. As well as an informative visitor centre you can take a mini train around the park or stroll at your own leisure. One highlight is to watch the blacksmith at work and hear him recite old tales of courting a young woman.

Park City is a popular day trip from Salt Lake which is an historic mining town and also a world class ski destination. Apart from shopping and a plethora of choices for restaurants, you can visit Utah Olympic Park and take a four man bobsleigh on the Olympic course. Not for the faint hearted it is a thrill a minute where the G forces are on par with a fighter jet pilot.

Sports fans don’t miss out here in Utah and you can watch the Utah Jazz basketball team or go to a college football game which attract huge crowds or try ice skating at Utah Olympic Oval, the fastest ice on earth after some cracking times during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Salt Lake City International Airport is a short drive to the downtown area making it conveniently located to spend a few days at either end of your Utah holiday.