Salt Lake City Guide

A city renowned for winter sports and activities, Salt Lake is also an attractive option for a summer city break, and is not quite as ‘Mormon’ as you think.

Salt Lake City ©Doug Pulsipher Salt Lake City, capital of Utah, can take your breath away as soon as your plane descends into the valley. The amazing Wasatch mountains that run along the east side of the city are a great backdrop and like all mountains, have an uncanny way of changing colour at different times of day.

Salt Lake is an elegant city with a reputation as being one of the safest cities in the US. Founded by Mormon leader, Brigham Young in 1847, the city is laid out in a simple grid system with Temple Square at the heart.  Whatever your religious beliefs, Temple Square is a beautiful place to visit.  Historic buildings such as The Beehive, Brigham Young’s home, The Tabernacle, home to the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the majestic six spire Temple, are all surrounded by perfectly kept gardens. Free guided tours are available; just ask at the visitors centre.

Summer is short and sharp with just approximately 3 months of high temperatures and piercing blue skies, offset by the occasional thunderstorm. After the long hard winter locals and visitors enjoy a cafe culture of outside dining, summer sports and a city that explodes with colourful flowerbeds and displays. Council Hall ©Matt Morgan If it gets a tad too hot then you can take to the mountains, where temperatures are up to 20 degrees cooler, and enjoy summer activities such as mountain biking, hiking or just a peaceful picnic. Want some peace and tranquillity – visit Red Butte Gardens situated in the University district. Stroll through a variety of different garden layouts from a medicinal garden, through the fragrant garden, and on into the kids’ zone. The roses bloom even in temperatures touching 34 degrees and the scent is unbelievable. Utah’s new Natural History Museum just next door is housed in an innovative, eco-friendly building and has exhibitions, displays and artefacts that help to explain Utah’s natural development.

Winter on the other hand can be long and bone chillingly cold, but often with clear blue skies and a glorious ‘stillness’ that offsets the sub-zero temperatures. Unlike in the UK, life goes on in America even when the snow falls and the new City Creek Shopping Mall is just the place to while away the bad weather. Anchored by Nordstrom and Macy’s, City Creek has all the big name brands and a fully retractable glass roof keeps the cold at bay. You can enjoy hourly fountain shows, waterfalls, and a sparkling creek that runs the length of the mall.

Temple Square ©Matt Morgan At Christmas the stunningly beautiful Temple Square, is transformed into a winter wonderland of twinkling lights with a beautiful Nativity scene. The world-famous Tabernacle Choir has regular recitals and performances and is well worth a visit.

With excellent conditions for winter sports, Park City is a 25-minute drive into the mountains and a very popular ski area. Non-skiers can enjoy a great day out with artisan shops to explore and a selection of restaurants and bars. The nearby Tanger Factory Outlet Village is well worth checking out for designer label bargains.

Best place to stay? Little America is a real bargain, situated on South Street with a convenient tram stop outside. Smaller courtyard rooms are the cheapest option but if you can splash out a few dollars more for a tower room you will be rewarded by views to die for. The hotel has a popular coffee shop and fine dining restaurant, plus two pools and an up to date gym.  Utah State Capitol from Memory Grove ©Matt Morgan Opposite Little America is big sister Grand America, a five-star icon built for the Olympic visitors in 2002, and with a real wow factor. If the room rates don’t match your budget try to splash out on their Sunday brunch and you won’t have to eat a thing for the rest of the day.

Restaurants are on every corner. Microbreweries are the big thing in the USA and Squatters at 147 West Broadway street buzzes with atmosphere. Despite popular belief, you can get a drink in Salt Lake City, even on a Sunday. The licensing laws are a bit different in Utah, but it is not a ‘dry’ state. 

Mexican food is popular and the Red Iguana at west North Temple is a popular choice and for the All American experience try The Cheesecake Factory at City Creek.

I have been lucky enough to experience Salt Lake in summer and winter and loved both seasons, I will be back – maybe in Spring or Autumn!

How to get there

Form May 2016 there will be a non-stop flight from London Heathrow on a Virgin/Delta codeshare, putting this enticing city on the ‘city break’ map. The 7-minute taxi ride from the airport, possibly one of the fastest city transfers in the world, means that you are soon up and running around town. Or take the bus, or new rail link, that will whisk you into the heart of the city for just $2.50 and connect with the TRAX system of trams. The TRAX is free within the downtown area and a great way to get around if you don’t want to hire a car.

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More information

Our partner, American Sky offer a number of tours including Salt Lake City.

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