By Carla Marie Rupp, Never Stop Traveling -- In 2002 Salt Lake City brought people from all walks of life from all over the world to this beautiful capital city of Utah on the western edge of the Rocky Mountains.
While I didn’t make it to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, this year I finally did have my own wonderful experience there over a long weekend with a group of friends in the “Crossroads of the West.”
Salt Lake was the last stop on our fun Western adventure. Our little group had started our journey in Las Vegas, from which we flew to Reno and then boarded Amtrak for a ride to Elko, Nevada, where we boarded a bus for Salt Lake City. As we passed the Great Salt Lake as we neared the capital I found myself getting nostalgic.
One of my most vivid vacation memories over 50 years ago as a child was when we parked our car and quickly tumbled out to float on our backs on the saltwater lake we had heard about. Being from Kansas, my father and mother, brother Larry and I were so excited. Looking out the window passing by the lake brought Mom and Dad alive again and they were in my heart the remainder of the trip.
Another great memory was that of our family watching the spectacular Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing at Temple Square. While I didn’t get to swim flat on my back recently or see the choir, I thoroughly enjoyed the heart-warming organ concert on the Mormon Church’s historic, impressive grounds in the Tabernacle. I later took a pleasant and informative guided tour of this remarkable, architecturally-interesting site and strolled through the gardens with other visitors from all over the world.
The Natural History Museum of Utah is another site that visitors from around the world love to discover in Salt Lake City, which was founded in 1847. The museum has a visually striking exterior, thanks in part to the 42,000 square feet of local copper used to create its exterior facade. The museum features ten galleries, each of which acts as the trailhead for major attractions throughout the state of Utah, including galleries highlighting dinosaurs, geology and Native-American culture.
Not only is history something special in Salt Lake City, it’s also key to understanding the city, as well. This is the Place Heritage Park on the east side of the city is a quaint, 450-acre, replica pioneer village in the foothills. It has reproductions, along with some originals, of many of Utah’s first buildings, such as the first hospital and the first general mercantile store. Many of the staff and volunteers dress in period costumes to reenact domestic skills and interact with park guests. We smiled when we saw the barns filled with animals and were thrilled riding the train throughout the village.
When we got back into the downtown area again, some of us wanted to do some shopping and browsing so we headed to City Creek Center, a unique shopping environment. The Center features a retractable glass roof, a creek running through the property, a pedestrian sky-bridge and more. After so much history, it was fun to see something so modern and creative in design, and there sure wasn’t time to go into but a few of its 90+ stores, which included such brands as Nordstrom, Macy’s, Tiffany & Co., Michael Kors and Coach, as well as many restaurants (our favorite restaurant turned out to be Squatters, which had a lively atmosphere).
The next day was our planned Sunday brunch at the Little America Hotel, a Vegas-style buffet with many stations and selections. Sharing the highlights of our adventures along which where we’d each go next, I told our little group I’d be taking Amtrak to Denver so I could enjoy more of the scenery and the good meals offered aboard.
Luckily, the staff at the Plaza Hotel, where I was staying right across from Temple Square, helped me arrange my train trip. I was also able to spend the afternoon (before my middle-of-the-night train ride) making another visit to Temple Square to see films and videos and get a better understanding of why Salt Lake City is so renowned.
On my train ride to Denver I reminisced about my experience in the previous few days and made up my mind to return some day to Salt Lake City, the gateway to the rest of the West, and explore more of the plethora of natural wonders in and around it.
During the warmer months, the downtown area provides a wide variety of cultural and arts festivals, as well as farmers’ markets and much more. But the other seasons have their charms, too. Actually, anytime is good for Salt Lake City.
If you go:
Visit Salt Lake
90 South West Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
Tel: (801) 534-4900 /(800) 541-4955
Utah Office of Tourism
Council Hall/Capitol Hill
300 N. State Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Tel:(801) 538-1900
Natural History Museum of Utah
301 Wakara Way
Salt Lake City, UT 83108
Tel: (801) 581-4303
This is the Place Heritage Park
2601 East Sunnyside Avenue
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Tel: (801) 582-1847
City Creek Center
50 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Tel: (801) 521-2012
The Plaza Hotel
122 West South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Tel: (801) 521-0130
Little America Hotel
500 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Tel: (801) 596-5700
Squatters Pub Brewery
147 West Broadway
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Tel: (801) 363-2739
Temple Square
58 W. South Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150
Tel: (801) 240-4872