By Lee Benson, Deseret News -- The staggering economy has changed more than a few vacation plans this summer. Before you were thinking of maybe the Left Bank in Paris or a Serengeti safari, or at least the three-day park hopper pass at Disneyland.

Now you're thinking something a little more conservative and a wee bit closer to home.

The Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau knows this. Which is why its marketing plan for the summer of 2009 is targeting a tourist who looks very familiar:


Its summer slogan might be "It's Your Own Backyard. Why Not Get to Know It?"

Or ...

"Hey, We've Got Museums Too."

I was introduced to the SLCVB's closer-to-home game plan yesterday when I walked in the bureau's headquarters at the Salt Palace and asked Laura Barnes, the tourism communications manager, what was up.

She looked at me like I had on sandals with black socks, madras shorts, a camera around my neck and I needed directions.

"Well, we've got this Connect Pass you might be interested in," she said.

The Connect Pass, she explained, is an all-inclusive pass that will get you into 13 different attractions all located within an hour of downtown Salt Lake City.
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They include Hogle Zoo, Tracy Aviary, This Is the Place Heritage Park, Red Butte Garden, Utah Olympic Park, the Living Planet Aquarium and no less than five museums - the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point, the Natural History and Fine Arts museums at the University of Utah, and the Discovery Gateway children's museum and Clark Planetarium at The Gateway.

Plus, you get a ticket to ride the tram at Snowbird and have lunch at the Lion House (along with a tour).

In a summer of few good bits of financial news, this is an exception.

If you walked up to the entrance of these 13 places and paid the daily admission it would cost you $122.95.

The Connect Pass costs $20 for one day, $30 for two days and $40 for three days (Prices for juniors and seniors are slightly lower. See details at

By themselves, the tram ride at Snowbird ($12) and the Pioneer Lunch at the Lion House ($9.95) add up to more than $20.

"The idea is to show off all these really incredible attractions Utah has to offer that maybe a lot of people don't know about or don't think about," said Laura, who noted that some Salt Lakers have traveled the world and not seen some of this stuff. Maybe most of it.

This way you can see it all in less than a week. Depending on your museum stamina.

Or if you're a real quick study, in a day.

I asked Laura if anyone has packed all 13 attractions into the same day.
"Not that we know of," she said. "If someone's done that, we'd like to hear from them."

You could see the thought turned on a light bulb in her mind.

"I might like to do that," she said, already working on an itinerary.

"Let's see, you'd start at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, then hit the aquarium in Sandy, then go to The Gateway and see all that (children's museum and planetarium), then lunch at the Lion House, on to Tracy Aviary, the museums at the U., Red Butte Garden, This Is the Place and the zoo, Utah Olympic Park and Snowbird."

That would be some day, I suggested. A person might never have to take a tour again for the rest of his life. Or want to.

Laura agreed.

"It would take a lot of Red Bull and a full tank of gas," she said.

And when your $20 vacation was finished, you could sleep it off in your own bed.