To a flatlander like me, there’s nothing quite like the majesty of a city surrounded by mountains. Add in a giant salty lake (some might even call it great) and the world headquarters of one of the more interesting religions and you’ve got a real winner. Go Salt Lake City!
This was my first time in Utah, so I was determined to make touristing happen. If you’re willing to do some gist touristing, hitting the hot spots of Salt Lake City in an afternoon is a breeze. On this trip, I managed to see the big temple where they keep Moroni locked up, and the Great Salt Lake in the space of about two hours. I also managed to buy souvenirs that didn’t come from an airport!
The Mormon Temple (50 Temple Square)
Like I said, gist touristing. I didn’t take a tour, just parked near the temple and took a few photos while walking around. Having heard a lot about the secrecy of Mormon temples, I was pleasantly surprised at how open this site was to non-Mormons. Without paying (or being converted), you can walk into the square and around the main building. There are tours on offer as well as multilingual Mormons ready to answer questions or just have a chat. They were really friendly and not pushy at all. (Having encountered missionaries out in the world, I was ready to be pinned down and doused with the Mormon equivalent of holy water.) There are also some beautiful gardens in the square, with biggest, fuzziest, most docile bumblebees I’ve ever seen.
Due to time constraints, I had to keep my visit to the lake short and very local to my hotel, in Sandy. After checking Google maps, I chose to head towards Salt Lake State Park, in Magna and just off I-80. On the way there, I stopped in at an interesting looking place called Saltair. If you’re up for a little local history sprinkled into a gift shop, I totally recommend it. According to their resident historian, who was also the resident weigher of salt water taffy, Saltair was once the largest resort in the world. Then it burned down. Then it got rebuilt. Then it burned down. Then it got rebuilt. Then it got infested with hippies and, you guess it, they burned it down. Then it got rebuilt. Then it flooded. And now it’s back again. (I suspect it won’t last though, so you might want to hurry up and see it.)
Great Salt Lake (a.k.a. The Place Utah Keeps All Its Dead Sea Monkeys)
Prior to visiting the Salt Lake, I was unaware that the only being capable of living in it were brine shrimp. Obviously, this is a terrible existence for them and they beach themselves by the millions at the south end of the lake, right around Salt Lake State Park. It’s definitely still a cool site, but if you’re there on a hot day, prepare for some funk.
My coworkers to every Ute they encountered: What food is quintessentially Utah? What local treat do we just have to sample before leaving? The general response was a blank stare, a shrug, or the occasional, “Um…people here really like ice cream.” (Yes, that response was given more than once.) So, we ate what we found. This was mostly pub food and some really good soup, made of cauliflower. If you find yourself in Salt Lake City, I’d totally recommend Zupa (yes, it’s a chain, but the food was fantastic) as well as a place called Market Street Grill (amazingly good seafood, considering it’s in Utah).
Looks like business travel is dying down a bit, so this is probably the last in the Making the Most of It series for 2016. Remember, even when your destination is chosen for you, be a tourist, see the thing, and eat the food!
P.S. I’m just going to leave this riiight here…