Mormons, Donny and Marie Osmond, confusing liquor laws, polygamy…welcome to Salt Lake City, also known as the City of Saints and the Crossroads of the West.
One rarely reads good things about Salt Lake but having spent the better part of a week here, I most assuredly can tell you that this town is one of the best kept secrets in America…shhh, don’t tell anyone!
Before getting to the good stuff, let’s dispel the misconceptions I started this post with.
1) There’s too many Mormons. Fact: While Salt Lake City is where the Church of Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ is headquartered, it is not the most highly concentrated Mormon city in America. With just over 50% of the population claiming to be LDS, the honour of being the most Mormon city belongs to Franklin, Idaho where a whopping 90% of the community declares itself so.
2) Donny and Marie Osmond are Salt Lake City’s most famous residents. Fact: The toothy duo are not from Salt Lake. Technically they were born a short distance away in Ogden, Utah. They may hail from the Beehive state but there are many other famous people, including Robert Redford, Katherine Heigl, Ty Burrell of Modern Family, Roseanne Barr, Julianna Hough, Steven Covey, David Archuleta, and Jewel, to name but a few, who call or have called Salt Lake City and the surrounding area home.
3. Utah has the weirdest alcoholic beverage laws. Fact: It’s true, Utah liquor laws are famously strict but they are relaxing. The three things visitors coming to Utah should know are 1) there is no longer a private club system and membership requirement; 2) at the discretion of the establishment, patrons may bring their own bottle of wine into a licensed restaurant or private club for on-site private consumption if they pay a corkage fee; and 3) patrons may carry out unfinished wine from a restaurant or private club provided that the bottle has been re-corked.
4. Polygamy is rampant everywhere in Utah. Fact: While it may be fun to debate the pros and cons of having a legal second spouse or two or three, polygamy is illegal in all of Utah. Popular television shows like Sister Wives and Big Love have stoked the public’s interest in plural marriage but the only polygamy I’ve seen in Salt Lake City has been served up in a tall bottle with a half-naked man on it surrounded by women with a slogan that reads, “Why just have one!”.
Now, having dispelled the biggest myths, let’s delve into the truth about Salt Lake City…there is literally something for everyone to do. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week…
For the foodie there are many terrific restaurants to try like Frida’s, Cafe Niche, Trios, Copper Onion, Finca, Vinto, Pago, Forage, Bambara, Les Madeleine’s and Red Iguana. Be sure to check out Salt Lake magazines 2013 Best Dining award winners for a more complete list of restaurants and cafes.
For the shopaholic there’s plenty to purchase in boutiques like Hip and Humble, The Children’s Hour, The Sundance Store, Apt. 202, Whimsy, Bella Forte, Babinski’s, Bloomingsales, The King’s English, Four and Twenty Sailors, Haroons, The Tutoring Toy, and Solissa. And, if you’re in the mood for a mall check-out The Gateway, City Creek, and Fashion Place.
For the lover of culture you can while away the hours in the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Ballet West, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Gilgal Garden, the Capitol Theatre, Abravanel Hall, the Natural History Museum, and the Leonardo.
For the garden enthusiast hours can be spent walking around Red Butte Gardens and Thanksgiving Square. One tip, bring comfortable shoes…both gardens are big.
For the young at heart killing time feels more like play time at This is the Place, Lagoon, Discovery Gateway, Hogle Zoo, Clark Planetarium, the Tracy Aviary, and Wheeler Historic Farm
For the historian there is lots to learn at Temple Square, the Cathedral of the Madeleine, the State Capitol, the University of Utah, and the Great Salt Lake.
For the genealogist there is only one place to visit…the Salt Lake City Family History Library…end of story and in the words of Brigham Young, “This is the Place”.
For the wanderer there are terrific neighbourhoods and villages to visit including the Avenues, Rose Park, Capitol Hill, Marmalade, Glendale, Foothill, and Sugar House. And, within the villages, there are neighbourhoods like 9th & 9th, 15th & 15th, and 21st & 21st where one can stroll around and enjoy a bite to eat and a bit of shopping.
And, finally, for anyone willing to drive an hour or so away there’s beauty and adventure in Park City with its three world-class ski resorts, Robert Redford’s Sundance, Snow Basin, Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, Solitude, Provo, and Ogden.
This week we’ve learned a lot about Salt Lake City and we think it’s a pretty cool place for
families everyone to visit. Next stop – home! We’ll continue heading east, unpack and clean out the car at our little home on the edge of the Rockies, and then fly through New York on our final journey across the pond.
At long last, we’ll be back to Ireland. It was fun, interesting, educational, and enlightening taking this epic road trip across North-West America. We’ve discovered a lot about ourselves, each other, and parts of America that are not often visited. I hope you’ve learned a little too about traveling this section of America. Perhaps you’ll consider making it a road trip route for one of your upcoming vacations. If so, please do write me for advice or to share your stories.
My parting advice for this holiday is this: don’t do as we did and “wing it”…take time to really investigate possible site-seeing stops and dining options. Whether you stop or not is up to you on each individual day. Overall, I feel our biggest mistake was not knowing where our next good meal would be…otherwise, it was
nearly all good!