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November 1, 2006 6:52 AM   Subscribe

What are we forgetting to do in our trips to Salt Lake City?

This weekend marks the third time my wife and I will be in SLC to visit her relocated family. We're starting to run out of touristy-guide book things to do. So, for the SLC locals, any ideas or recommendations for us to pursue that we can better see the city? Meaning, what can two Mississippi residents do that we won't forget?

Some criteria: the missus is pregnant, so walking long distances is out (and other adventure activities), but we will have a car at our disposal and are able to navigate any train/bus system. She's into shopping, especially for our upcoming little daughter, so any boutique baby stores for unique clothing and gifts would be double-plus good. We will be near the University of Utah, so any college-type restuarants (I know there's a pizza joint close by) would be acceptable. We'd really like to find things to do downtown, as we rarely ventured there for the last two visits. We haven't done any Mormon-related tours, and wouldn't be against it, especially if anyone here recommends the genealogy research. I'm into road cycling, so a cool local bike shop would be appreciated. Food-wise, we're quite flexible, and a previous AskMe had some good ideas.

In other words, dear SLC residents, if you had family or friends visiting, where would you take them to show the real city?
posted by fijiwriter to Travel & Transportation around Salt Lake City, UT (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not from SLC, but when I was out there, I went to Squatter's brewery. They make some fine beer. They apparently have a brewpub downtown that has excellent food (if you don't drink, or for your wife).
posted by notsnot at 7:15 AM on November 1, 2006

Check out Babinski's on Foothill Drive for some foo-foo baby gear. The Foothill Village shopping center has some other nice stores as well. Its a high-end strip mall.

I second Squatters, Redrock Brewery is another great brewpub.

If you can, check out the relatively new SLC Public Library on 400 south, you can hop on Trax for easy access. I'll try to list more things as I think of them.
posted by neilkod at 7:53 AM on November 1, 2006

Every time I go to Salt Lake City, I go on the LDS tours. No one will try and preach too terribly much (and if you're worried about being contacted, go ahead and make up names and addresses). The square is very pretty, even this time of year and the people are sweet. The genealogy search is fun as well.

Congratulations the up and coming daughter by the way.
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies at 7:56 AM on November 1, 2006

The Red Butte Arboretum above the university is nice. Walk as much or little as you feel up to.

The pioneer history museum is interesting.

I thought the new library was really nice. It's kind of v2 of the Vancouver BC downtown public library design. Make sure you get to the upper outdoor deck, and check out the children's library area.

I am really fond of the gyros (yeros) with red sauce at Greek Slouvaki #1. Their onion rings are also great, and their pork slouvaki's not bad either.
posted by Good Brain at 8:16 AM on November 1, 2006

I really like Salt Air - worth a look if you haven't already been there. Oddball little place, that.
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:19 AM on November 1, 2006

There's an earlier thread on SLC you might want to check out.

A few suggestions I didn't make there:

Many of my friends and I love Gourmandie's Bakery, which is on 3rd East between 2nd and 3rd South (OK, I mentioned this in the other thread, but I really like it). There's a Mediterranean restaurant on 15th and 15th that I quite like as well, and a cool bookshop (the King's English) nearby.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcasts are open to the public, free of charge, on Sunday mornings at 9:30 (be there by about 9, tho'), and their organists do daily recitals at noon. There are also other events around Temple Square regularly, but be aware some of these are hit and miss in terms of quality. There are also some great classical performances regularly at the Cathedral of the Madeline.

The geneological center is just off Temple Square.

And if you're coming soon, there's a chance the fall colors in the canyons will still be on display. IMHO, the scenery and outdoor recreation possibilities are really one of the best things about Utah, so weather permitting, I'd drive up Big or Little Cottonwood Canyon.
posted by weston at 8:50 AM on November 1, 2006

Eat at the Red Iguana. I'd go back to SLC just to do that. Absolutely great food.
posted by sulaine at 9:10 AM on November 1, 2006

Visit the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and eat at one of its two restaurants, The Roof or The Garden.

If you're up to going out of town a bit, I highly recommend eating at the Timbermine restaurant in Ogden. Best steaks I've ever had. Seriously. The best. From there you can go up Ogden Canyon and stop by and see the Trappist monks and buy some honey from them. A beautiful drive!!
posted by Sassyfras at 9:22 AM on November 1, 2006

If you have not already been up to Park City, put that on your to-do-list. It is an easy way to spend a day out of the smog. There are some really amazing restaurants up there along with some great shopping. Of course you can check out the Olympic relics up there.

Guthrie Bicycle (located downtown at 156 E. 200 S) is one of the oldest bike shops in the USA. It is small but the people there know their shit and love to talk about anything bike. If you are looking for some cool bike jerseys Squatters and Red Rock also sell their own. Another reason to check out those pubs.

A side note, there are plenty of out door places worth visiting like Zion’s National Park or Antelope Island on the Great Salt Lake, both of which you can do without a lot of walking.

Enjoy the city, Salt Lake is a great place!
posted by birdlips at 9:26 AM on November 1, 2006

Holy cow, I totally missed the part about you being a roadie. For a terrific high-end bike shop, check out Contender Bicycles at 9th & 9th (that's 900 S 900 E). They sell Orbea and the like. For a more down-to-earth bike shop, check out Bountiful Bicycle (my LBS) which has a terrific staff and selection. Bountiful Bicycle is about 10 minutes north of downtown SLC.

The road riding here is top-notch. We have hills, hills, and mountains! Plus lots of open roads. Bring a bike or rent one-most bike shops will be happy to rent one by the day. If interested, shoot me an email (check my profile) and we can hook up for a ride during the day. Emigration canyon is absolutely stunning this time of year, and that's just minutes from the University.
posted by neilkod at 9:39 AM on November 1, 2006

I am a former mormon, and even though I hated the church at the time, I really enjoyed the tabernacle, temple square, geneology center area. Also, if you want to avoid being preached at, pretend to already be a member. They call everyone Brother/Sister 'insert last name' (just to help you blend).
posted by nadawi at 10:25 AM on November 1, 2006

It's not downtown, but you can visit the world's largest open-pit mine right outside SLC.
posted by forrest at 12:13 PM on November 1, 2006

Seconding Park City and Ogden Canyon — for this heathen, SLC is just not very interesting (and, in fact, it's not terribly Mormon-seeming outside of Temple Square, either).

One structure which is fascinating, in a jaw-droppingly weird way, is the LDS Conference Center. Built for the Church's semiannual conferences, which had outgrown the Tabernacle, it includes a 21,000-seat auditorium with a gigantic pipe organ and no visible support beams, as well as a handsome roof garden. The guides are very proud of the fact that the Center was completely paid for by its completion (although the Church won't disclose costs). That indeed is testimony to the power of tithing — this viewer would guesstimate its cost at well over $500 million. All this for a structure that the Church requires but twice a year!
posted by rob511 at 2:06 PM on November 1, 2006

I'm a local.

Seconding Park City. It's a nice place to visit, but I really prefer going in the summer to avoid the plague of skiers (that's right, I said I'm a local). Although now shouldn't be too bad.

If you're sushi fans, my favorite place for a roll is The Happy Sumo at the Gateway Mall. They're not the average mall place, and they have a world famous (seriously) Vegas Roll. It's quite good.

Abravanel Hall is one of the most critically acclaimed concert halls in America, so whatever you see/hear there should sound great.

I like to go to Temple Square for the Christmas lights a little later in the season. They may be up by now, I'm not sure. No one is going to pester you there. They understand that a lot of people are just there to see, and it's fine with them. Likewise, if you do want to talk about religion, then you'll get that.

The Joseph Smith Building is very nice, and the restaurants on top are a nice eat. The Garden is $8-$10 a plate or so, and when I've eaten there, it's been good.

The Roof, also at the top of the Joseph Smith Building, is a fancier affair, and you may still need to make a reservation. I haven't been there in quite a while. Both restaurants give a nice top-down view of Salt Lake, and especially the Temple, if you're into that.

Oh, and the geneological library is in one of the sub-ground-levels of the Joseph Smith Building, so between the restaurants and the library, you could make a day of it.

The comment above on the Red Iguana is dead on. That's one of the top two Mexican restaurants I've ever been to. I couldn't say if it's number one or two, but it's up there. Don't forget to try all the different kinds of mole.

The Salt Lake Public Library is a great place to take kids and hang out for a bit. If you go on a weekend, you'll find the place hopping and lots of story-telling sessions going on. Last time I took my kids there, we made some paper from shredded jeans.

If you're a rare book junkie, Ken Sanders Rare Books is downtown. I can get lost in there for hours at a stretch. Sam Weller's isn't bad, too.

Salt Lake's a nice town. Have fun!
posted by SlyBevel at 2:20 PM on November 1, 2006


The church uses the Conference Center constantly, mostly for stake and ward conferences, but also for some performances.

They basically moved all of the events that used to happen in the Tabernacle to the Conference Center.

That's a good thing, because those old wooden pews in the Tabernacle are really best looked at, not sat on. I remember one particularly uncomfortable Messiah performance there.

The semiannual conferences are the most visible events at the center to be sure, but it's a pretty busy place.
posted by SlyBevel at 2:24 PM on November 1, 2006

Thanks for the correction, SB. I still can't get over the fact that it was built for what seems like occasional, ancillary purposes. It's an amazing building, however, and those seats are very comfy.
posted by rob511 at 2:53 PM on November 1, 2006

I guess I'm the last remaining Utah Mormon who hasn't sat in the seats at the Conference Center.

Thank you for the tip!
posted by SlyBevel at 3:17 PM on November 1, 2006

Third on the Red Iguana. It's by far the best Mexican restaurant I've been to outside of Mexico.
posted by Wet Spot at 5:57 PM on November 1, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for tips and links. We leave tomorrow morning with lots of good ideas.

neilkod: One day I'll take you up on that bike ride.
posted by fijiwriter at 10:04 AM on November 3, 2006

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