Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesdays Travels: Salt Lake City

Ah...home...

In case you did not know, I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah (well most of the time, I did live in other places, but mostly I grew up on SLC). I went through school there from Kindergarten through 4th grade, then from 9th grade through College Graduation. I graduated from the University of Utah in 2001, student taught at East High school (where High School Musical was filmed) during the 2001-2002 school year, and a taught at Skyline high school for a year before we moved away from SLC.

It was a GREAT place to grow up and live! I love, LOVE it there, and not just because it is home!

Since I have not lived in SLC since 2003, I have had a lot of time to visit there, and I can tell you, it is a GREAT place to visit and vacation. Beautiful mountains that provide the perfect setting for winter sports and summer activities. I will try to tell you about as much as I can in SLC, but know that with my extensive SLC experience and the info sent to me by my sister, if I included it all this post would never end!

So, as with all Tuesday Travels, I will try to talk about SLC using the following categories:
  • General Information
  • Getting there
  • Accommodations
  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Attractions and activities
  • Shopping
General Information

Salt Lake City is the Capitol of Utah. The Salt Lake City metropolitan area spans Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties, but Salt Lake City is part of a larger urban area known as the Wasatch Front. There is essentially continuous houses from Provo, Utah to Ogden Utah (and further).

The city was founded in 1847 as Great Salt Lake City by a group of Mormon pioneers led by Brigham Young. Today, Salt Lake City is still home to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Salt Lake City is probably most recently famous for hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics (I got a whole month off school and work for that-I went to Greece, but that is another story for another post).

Getting There

I have both flown and driven into SLC. Most often driving, and boy could I tell you stories! Getting to SLC is ALWAYS the worst for me. We have never, EVER driven through Wyoming without getting stopped on I-80 somewhere for hours or days. It really makes the drive suck, so if it is at all affordable to fly, I would recommend it! Someday I will tell some of my terrible Wyoming travel tales (Like when we were stuck on an exit with NO services with 4 kids that needed to pee and they would not let up go back or forward on the freeway, and we just sat there in seemingly perfect weather for 5 hours, or when as a kid our car spun off the road on to a ledge and we had to carefully balance to get out-and I had no shoes in the middle of the snow! Just to mention a couple of the hundreds...)

I am sure you are wondering why we drive there over and over when I hate it so much, and it all comes down to money! If we were to fly, we would have to buy 5 airplane tickets and since none of our family members have a car big enough to drive around our family of 6, we would then have to rent a van when we got there. So, for us, it is worth the extra time (and stress of Wyoming) to drive and save a lot of money.

If you live close enough that driving is a reasonable option, consider it, otherwise start looking early for the best possible flights and keep an eye out for the best deals. SLC is a hub airport for Delta and has the following major airlines as well: Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Jet Blue Airways.

Accommodations

I am going to sound useless here, but I have only stayed in a hotel in SLC twice in my life-my wedding night and my first anniversary, and we were not looking for deals for either of those occasions. We always stay with family when we go. When you are looking for a hotel, I recommend the following:

1-Decide where you will be spending most of your time and look there. Are you going to be skiing the whole time? Will you be mostly downtown? Are you planning to be between SLC and Provo, or between SLC and Ogden? Will you be going to Park City for the Sundance Film Festival? Figure out what you want to do and where you will spend your time, then look near there. As a note, having grown up in SLC, there are some areas where I would not stay. If you want specifics of where that might be, email me and I will tell you.

2-Budget what you think you can afford for hotel, and start checking out the travel sites that will compare hotels for you and look for the best deal.

Transportation

Salt Lake Valley is a commuter area-there ARE buses, but most people drive. The major attractions are spread all over, and I would recommend renting a car for a vaca in SLC. You are going to want to be mobile and be able to go all over the place.

There is a few exceptions to this of course. If, for example, you are going to the Salt Lake area for a ski trip at say Snowbird

Or if you plan to go to Park City for say, the Sundance Film Festival, you can stay in a downtown hotel and just walk or take the Sundance shuttles everywhere. (If you are going to Sundance-book that hotel early though-like months or a year..., and expect Park City to me more expensive than SLC).

Food

Seriously, how can I possibly tell you all my favorite places and best deals?! I cannot! Let me say, if you are trying to be super frugal, Walmart is the cheapest grocery store in SLC. I also like Dans foods (but I worked there for years) and Harmon's and Smith's is my in-laws favorite.

Now that being said, I have some super favorite places to eat that I never miss when I go home (because I like them-not because they are a deal-they are not, but I watch for coupons and deals all the time for these places so I can go there when I visit). Here are some of Beckee's favorite places to eat in SLC:
  • Granatos: My family is Greek and we started shopping at Granatos for their ingredients, but in the process of shopping there, we discovered their yummy deli! SO good-I HIGHLY recommend the Tomato and Feta sandwich or the Meatball sub! YUMMY-I am salivating with just the thought!!
  • Yanni's Greek Express: Another Greek place-get the Yanni's special and it will feed 2-4 people-seriously! And it is awesome!
  • Crown Burger: This is a place that will ruin any diet-but you will love every second of it! Try the massive calorie-full crown burger and thank me later. Their Gyros are also good.
  • Cafe Rio: SOO yummy. Mexican/Baja style-by far the best of the baja burrito/taco places around-I love the pork burrito with black beans served enchilada style. Great food.
  • So Cupcakes: If you are looking for an awesome sweet treat-look no further!
  • Nielsen's Frozen Custard: right across the street from So Cupcakes, and will also fill your sweet tooth craving.
  • Benihaha: Not an only SLC place, but my FAVORITE place ti eat in the world and we don't have on in Omaha (they often have great specials and if you sign up for their emails, they will send you birthday/anniversary deals as well as their regular specials)
  • The Mayan: If you want a fun experience, this is the place for you!!
  • CK Cummings Chocolates on 33rd South: I have never found chocolates I like as much as the ones here anywhere-not even Europe. The truffles are great, and the chocolate covered fruits are HEAVEN-especially the chocolate covered cherries & raspberries (I hesitated to tell you this because I want some to still be there when I visit)
  • Training Table: Eat the Cheese Fries! That is all...
  • B & D Burger: This takes me back to the college days-located right near the U of U and I love it!
  • The Pie: Again-right by the U, and it is a must do for any U of U student! Greatest pizza ever-you will not regret eating this (though your diet will hate me for telling you about it).
  • The Market Street Grill: This is pretty pricey, but is a Utah staple-very VERY good seafood and great bread and salads-a great splurge!
  • Siegfried's: This is one that comes as a suggestion from my mom. She said it is a great local sandwich place that is a must try!
  • Great Harvest Bread: LOVE this place-Honey Wheat bread is my favorite but all is good!
  • House of Bread: Another one from my mom that I have not tried yet. She said it is great baked goods like Great Harvest , but everything is done non dairy, which is great for my lactose intolerant baby!
  • Rodizio Grill: pricey but so, SO good-Brazilian BBQ. I love it!
Frugal-ish places (Recommendations from my mom, sister and me)
  • The Other Place: Great food, fair prices.
  • The Jade Cafe: Seems like kind of a dive, but GREAT food for very low prices. My grandparents love this place.
  • In & Out Burger: It is fairly new to Utah, and people love it. My mom said it is pretty inexpensive as well.
  • New Dragon Diner: A favorite Chinese place to eat with my in-laws. Inexpensive and really, really good-I love the Garlic chicken there! A must try!
  • Chinese Gourmet: Mongolian BBQ & All you can eat Chinese food. Really great food for a good deal.
  • Sharon's Cafe: My mom says this is great food for little prices.
  • Meyer's Chicken: Very Utah place-they make the best "funeral potatoes" ever! Not too pricey either.
I guess that my point is that there are a lot of yummy options for food! I have just hit the tip of the iceberg with this list.

Attractions and Activities

There are literally thousands to choose from. Since I have no clue what you will be interested in, can I recommend that you take a travel guide, go through it and pick the things you really want to do. Or check out some of the things listed below! Pick your favorites, then start looking for discounts online, in the travel books, or from CityDeals.com. Ask at the hotel for discounted deals-they often have discounts available if you ask.

Here are a few lists from me:

Choose from these "Must see/do" for first timers (I am NOT including FREE things in this list):
How to get discounts on some on the attractions that cost:
  • Deseret book has discounted Lagoon Tickets, as do many credit unions. You can also find some Lagoon deals on Coke product cans. My mom also noted that if you plan to go to Lagoon more than a couple times, the season pass is a great deal.
  • The first Wednesday of each month, some of the local museums offer free admission
  • There are a number of ways to get discounted ski passes, but I will write a separate blog about that nearer to ski season
  • The Salt Lake City Connect Pass-here's info about it from their website: The Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass allows you to be your own personal tour guide of 13 of Salt Lake's best attractions. Available as a 1-, 2-, 3-, or 365-day consecutive pass.
    The Connect Pass is activated the first time you use it and remains active for the number of consecutive days purchased.
    The Connect Pass can be used any day during the calendar year it was purchased but it will expire after that time.
    You may visit as many attractions as you like while the Connect Pass is active, but you are limited to only one (1) visitation at each participating attraction. Save up to $100 on combined admission prices.
    The 13 attractions are Clark Planetarium, Discovery Gateway, Lion House Pantry Restaurant, the Living Planet Aquarium, Red Butte Garden, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Thanksgiving Point, This is the Place Heritage Park, Tracy Aviary, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Utah Museum of Natural History, Utah Olympic Park, and Hogle Zoo. Read all about it here.

Free Attractions (My FAVORITE!!)
  • Visiting our families (OK I know this is useless to you, but I could not help but throw it in there as it is my favorite thing to do in SLC...forgive my personal moment!)
  • Temple Square: Located in the center of Downtown this beautiful 10 acre is Utah's most popular tourist destination. It contains nearly 20 attractions related to Mormon pioneer history and genealogy, including the Salt Lake Temple, the Tabernacle, and the Family History Library
  • The Great Salt Lake
  • The museums at BYU.
  • Parks: Sugarhouse, Murray park
  • Canyons/Hiking
  • Gateway fountain
  • Rosecrest Splash Pad at 14070 S Rose Crest Rd (5600 W)
  • Gardner Village admission free-but they charge for "extras"
  • Wheeler Farm admission free-but they charge for "extras".
  • LDS Church's Welfare Square-the tours there are awesome, especially the dairy-good samples of cheese and milk/chocolate milk at the end too.

Other Utah Destinations to consider (outside the Wasatch Front/Southern Utah)
  • Utah has 5 National Parks:
    •Arches National Park
    •Bryce Canyon National Park
    •Canyonlands National Park
    •Capitol Reef National Park
    •Zion National Park
    •Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
    ***See info on all those parks here.
  • Utah has a number of State Parks as well. Check them out here.
  • Tuacahn theatre in St George
  • The Tony Award winning Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City
Shopping

Some malls/shopping centers:
Some Utah specific Book Stores
Conclusion

These are just the things I have learned from living in SLC. They are also ideas a from my mom, sister, aunt Sue and others. Thank you to all that contributed their ideas to this! I hope you all find something fun to do in Salt Lake!

Please feel free to add your own SLC tips and tricks to this and feel free to ask me any questions you might have.

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2 comments:

Andrea said...

Awesome! I've never even been to some of these places, we'll have to plan a "staycation" for next year and try some of them out. Your eating out section made me HUNGRY!! I want Yanni's!!

Adrian said...

Wow!
I´ve never been to those places but now that I know all these, I really want to go.
I love travelling and that´s how I know Hotel burrito in Jujuy, Argentina!