A Weekend in Salt Lake

Recently Yahoo posten an article about their top five reasons to visit Salt Lake. It read like it was written by somehow who has never been to Utah and the comments quickly because vicious. Now I may struggle some days to love my home for it’s difficult culture and wide open spaces, but there are certainly five excellent reasons for anyone to visit the City of Salt.

1. Temple Square juxtaposed with Gilgal Park

To understand both the religion and the culture it creates, I think anyone who comes to this city should make a morning of stopping at both places. One is the pretty much the official version of all things LDS while the other is its lesser known alternative that tells an entirely different story of the effect believe had on one man. I find it fascinating and well-worth the five minute stroll it takes to see Joseph Smith Sphinx.

2. The Salt Lake City Public Library

If there is one thing every traveler can love, it’s free attractions. The library is pretty amazing. It’s a great place to poke around and see the city. Much more diverse and people-watching friendly than Temple Square, it’s a great afternoon stop for a cup of coffee, internet time and a bit of reading. Don’t forget to walk the roof for some of the cities best views! You could even make a day of the block visiting the City County building and the Leonardo for you political/art/science fix. There are also some truly fantastic shops, cafes and restaurants within easy walking distance. If you’re really into the local history and politics, a hike up Capitol Hill may be in order for a visit to the political center of the state. It’s also just a pretty building for photography time.

3. Art and Science

There are several neat galleries around the city, but assuming you would like a quick fix and don’t mind a walk, I recommend the University of Utah’s Museum of Fine Arts and Natural History Museum. Plan to spend a couple hours in each and about $7 for admission–both buildings showcase exhibits that well-curated, informative and fun. They’re easily at the top of the list of some of Salt Lake’s treasures. If you happen to be in Downtown SLC on the third Friday of the month, definitely check out Gallery Stroll. The epicenter is usually on 300 South (Broadway) heading east from about 100 East until 400 east-ish. Shops, galleries and restaurants stay open late showcasing some of Salt Lake’s best local art work in addition to offering snacks, drinks and generally a good time. Other area businesses stay open too with special showings so it’s always a good option for biking the city, too.

4. Parks

Obviously I’m super awesome at suggesting cheap and free stuff, so you know…PARKS! Salt Lake City has some truly awesome parks. My top two are Liberty and Pioneer, they are both surrounded by fun restaurants and shops and offer a great green reprieve from tourist time. There is always something or someone interesting at Liberty Park between the pool, Tracy Aviary and the duck pond. I’ve seen drum circles, LARPers and protestors here at any given time. As for Pioneer Park, it’s pretty awesome in the summer time for $5 concerts on Thursdays and the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.

5. Main Street

Now for the nightlife, yep, it’s here. Surprising I know. First you need to know the ground rules, no alcohol is sold anywhere after 1 a.m. (Yes, it’s early and a consequence of non-drinkers writing drinking laws. Get over it.) Next you can only order two drinks at a time, this usually translates to a pitcher of beer and a round of shots in my experience. Then if you’re going to order fancy drinks you need to know all cocktails are made with a maximum of two ounces of alcohol, but usually 1.5 ounces as dictated by the “clickers” on the bottle. This is not the bartenders’ fault, it is state law, just breathe. Finally this is a beer and whiskey kind of town so embrace it. At any bar you can get a craft microbrew on draft which is delicious and amazing! On Main Street in Downtown you’ll find Cheer’s (dive), Murphy’s (dive with leprechauns), Key on Main (pianos), Bay Leaf Cafe (food) and a few other places nearby to imbibe.

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