Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesdays Travels: Salt Lake City


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.


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.


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).


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

Some malls/shopping centers:
Some Utah specific Book Stores

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.


Wow-there is a lot to do in Salt Lake City!

WOW! Have you ever tried to write about the place you grew up? I have a lot more to say than I thought, so Tuesdays Travels may be coming late tonight or early tomorrow! Just know I am working hard ont his post and it will have lost of fun ideas for your next trip to Salt Lake City-in fact, after reading this post, you may want to plan a special trip to the Beehive State! Seriously, I am really missing home as I write this and cannot wait for my next Utah trip!

Activate Omaha!! Fun upcoming activities

I saw this posted on the Facebook page for 365 Things to do in Omaha, NE and wanted to share it with you:

The Ultimate Adventure Race is THIS SATURDAY, June 5th. It starts and ends at Midtown Crossing. If you have a bike, a sense of adventure, and a sense of humor, this amazing race is for you!!! Click the 'Urban Omaha' link on the page below to register or for more information!

I also saw that there is a link on that page to go check out Activate Omaha (they are the ones doing the Ultimate Adventure). They usually have some fun, active things goign on and their website is a great resource, so go check them out here.

And one more active fun thing coming up I wanted to mention is the Scavenger Dash. GO check that out here. It will be in late June!


Dad's Rock Event!

I discovered this awesome Facebook page/group  the other day and wanted to tell you about it.  It is the Dads Rock Event, and according to their page this is what it is:

Dads Rock Giveaway Bash 14 Blogs, 1 Day, Hourly Prizes...because Dads rock!

On June 10, a group of 15 highly influential bloggers will be celebrating Dad in a big way. With giveaways happening every hour on each blog, this event is sure to be one of the highlights of the summer. Companies that are looking to get their ...brands in front of millions can become partners with the Dads Rock Giveaway Extravaganza!

So mark your calendars for June 10 and check out their facebook group here.


FREE download of Sarah McLachlan song

This is awesome! You can download a free Mp3 of Sarah McLachlan's song Forgiveness from Amazon here.

Thanks Combat Clippers.


Tonight is the Omaha Library summer reading program kick off-see you there!! :)

I told you the other day about the Barnes and Noble Summer reading program for grades 1-6 that we love to participate in each summer. Well, the other summer reading program we love to participate in each summer is for kids of any age and is run through the Omaha Public Library. The kick off party for this summer will be TONIGHT, Tuesday, June 1. Here are the details from the Omaha Public Library website:

Event Type: Summer Reading Program Event
Date: 6/1/2010
Start Time: 6:00 PM
End Time: 8:00 PM
Description: Make waves at Elmwood Park! Splish splash with animals and have oceans of fun at the dunk tank, among other high-sea adventures. Join Scamper and your friends as we turn on the waterworks to welcome the Summer Reading Program!

Tuesdays Travels and more coming later today...

As an FYI, the Tuesdays Travels blog for today is coming together, but I will not have the chance to finish working on it until later this afternoon because I have to go to my son's Kindergarten picnic today followed by the talent show that my kids are singing in. Wow! busy day-end of the school year is killer as far as busyness goes!

If you are reading this on the daily email, please check back later this evening on the blog for the Tuesdays Travels post!

Thanks for your patience and understanding!

SLC: 61% off AntiGraviy Yoga

Today's Salt Lake City Groupon is $25 for a Four-Class Pass to AntiGravity Yoga at Imagination Place.

As with all the deals, make sure you check out the fine print before purchasing. To sign up for Groupons, click on my referral link here (this does NOT commit you to buying any deal-you choose what you buy) and to see the Salt Lake City page, including today's deal, click here.

Not sure what Groupons is? Then click here to read all about it!


Omaha & KC: FREE Famous Dave's BBQ dinner at NFM tonight!!

Tonight, Tuesday June 1, Nebraska Furniture Mart, is having a FREE BBQ. Best part, the FREE food is coming from Famous Dave's. YUMMY!! This is at the KC and the Omaha locations. In Omaha, it is outside the Appliance and Electronics Building from 5-7:30 PM or while supplies last. You get a famous BBQ Pork Sandwich, chips and a drink! (limit 1 per person)

I think I know where we will be eating dinner...

Omaha: Up to 55% off Laser Tag

Today's Omaha Groupon is $10 for Four Games of Laser Tag at Family Fun Center.

As with all the deals, make sure you check out the fine print before purchasing. To sign up for Groupons, click on my referral link here (this does NOT commit you to buying any deal-you choose what you buy) and to see the Omaha page, including today's deal, click here.

Not sure what Groupons is? Then click here to read all about it!

I can get you a FULL MONTH of Netflix (offer only good until June 15th)

We have 4 kids, the oldest of which is 7. We do not have the money to pay babysitters often, so we watch a lot of movies at home after bed time for our "dates." We have done every cheap way to get movies-Redbox, Blockbuster Express, Netflix, for a while we had free movie channels through our Cable provider.

Redbox is great if you are going to return it the next day but I sometimes forget to go back and usually those are the times we have 3 movies and I end up paying for a couple days extra. So, I don't go to Redbox as often (it is a total lifesaver though on long drives...get a movie at one stop then return it at the next-the kids are totally excited to watch a "new" movie each stop.)

Blockbuster Express was good when we went to Blockbuster more and could trade in the mailed movies for in store movies, but the rules got more and more and it was less and less convenient.

Our Free movie channels through cable only lasted a few months.

Netflix is a program we are now re-trying, and I am completely loving it! When we had Netflix before, it was a simple 3 movies at a time plan where we got 3 movies in the mail at any given time. It was great, but we thought back then that it was a bit pricey.

Well, I was able to get a 2 week free trial in January, and I fell in love with it. Now we have a 2-DVD's out at a time + unlimited instant viewing. It costs up $13.99 a month and we have already watched way, way too many movies. I signed up for a streaming disc for my Wii, so we can now watch Netflix on out laptop, our TV through the Wii, and in our DVD player (for the actual discs in the mail). Not all movies are available instantly, but I have watched almost all of the "Lost" series, and MANY TV series' are available (which I love).

I am basically addicted to this now, and wanted to tell you all about it. I was only able to get a 2 week free trial, but if any of you want to try out Netflix, I can email my friends an email where you can get a full month trial free, but only until June 15. (FYI-I do not get anything out of this, I just want to get you the longest free trial available). So, if anyone want to try out Netflix, send me your email address before June 15, and I will email you a link for a free month trial. Send your email to me at beckeesdeals@gmail.com with the subject "Netflix trial" and I will send the email back to you so you can try out this great program! I really love it!


National Safety Month Events in Omaha

June is National Safety month and the good people over at http://www.safenebraska.org/ have a lot of Free community events planned. Following are a few of the upcoming events, but please check out their website, http://www.safenebraska.org/, to see all that is going on:
  • June 6: Kick-Off Celebration at Midtown Crossing
  • June 6 Walk for Safety at MidTown Crossing
  • June 8, 15, 22: T'ai Chi Introductory Classes at the National Safety Council, Greater Omaha Chapter
  • June 25: Summer Safety events at all Omaha Pools (sponsored by the City of Omaha and the American Red Cross/Heartland Chapter