Known as the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and named after the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, Salt Lake City is home to several world-class ski and summer resorts, state parks, and one killer Mexican restaurant. If you find yourself in SLC for a couple of days, we’ve got just the itinerary for you!
Get yourself an affordable Airbnb (many are well under $100/night) by the hip Sugar House neighborhood or near Emigration Canyon for a beautiful view.
Rent a vehicle with four-wheel drive. There is public transportation (buses, trains, and light-rail lines, called TRAX, provide access to Downtown from across the valley) and rideshare is popular, but you might as well get some wheels because this trip is gonna get adventurous.
Heads up booze hounds, you’re in Mormon country now, where “session” beer (read: 3.2 ABW/4.0 ABV) is king and the liquor stores are run by the state. Utah has some of the most strict liquor laws in the country. If you usually drink Miller Lite, you’ll be sadly surprised when you crack open a cold one and it tastes more like near-beer. Stick to liquor or wine...or better yet, try some Utah-brewed beer. Brewers have to be creative when keeping the hop count low, but they’ve come up with some pretty good stuff. Try the Blackberry Cream Ale by Rooster's Brewing Company—it’s divine.
If you are at a restaurant, the bartender has to hide to make your drink. State law. Seriously, there is a partition separating the bartender making the drink from the person who ordered it as well as innocent bystanders. The partition is called a “Zion curtain”. The smart people of Salt Lake City subscribe to the “out of sight, out of mind” mantra in hopes of combating excessive drinking.
A lot of the museums and parks in SLC are dedicated to the city’s Mormon founders. Snooze. Skip the history lesson and hit the slopes! Salt Lake City is surrounded by snowy mountains, and they are calling. There are a ton of ski resorts, but the top three are Alta, Brighton, and Deer Valley. Alta is for folks who already know how to shred. First-time skiers are better off taking a lesson at Brighton. Deer Valley is the most luxurious of the three resorts.
Take to the Sugar House neighborhood for an afternoon of shopping. They have both a Patagonia and Sundance Catalog outlet, so you can stock up on fleece at a discount. Speaking of discounts, you might as well get thrifty at Uptown Cheapskate. The resale chain has a few locations and one is conveniently located right by the aforementioned outlets.
Photo courtesy of Uptown Cheapskate
The Great Salt Lake gets all the attention, but Utah has lots of bodies of water, especially for a desert. There’s also a ton of state parks. Take a drive down to Deer Creek Reservoir in Deer Creek State Park for spectacular views of nearby Mount Timpanogos. Bring some cash to get in ($7-$15 day use) and your good camera, because you’ll be taking pics the whole time.
If you so happen to be driving to or from Denver, or maybe have more than 48 hours in the area, do not miss out on the arches Utah is famous for. The Arches National Park is near Moab—less than four hours away from Salt Lake by car—and the 2,000 natural stone arches make it worth the drive. The main attractions are Balanced Rock and Delicate Arch. We recommend taking the 2-3 hour hike to get a good view of the world's most famous natural stone arch.
Photo courtesy of NPS/Jacob W. Frank
Between skiing, hiking, and shopping, we haven’t left much time to eat! For brunch, get your booty to Sweet Lake Biscuits and Limeade and try the two things the restaurant is named after. One simply does not leave Salt Lake City without getting Mexican from Red Iguana, so that’s where dinner will be. Check out Eva's Bakery for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. They serve fresh artisan bread made with organic local flour, French pastries, sandwiches, and more. For coffee, hit up the hip Rose Establishment. The coffeehouse has exotic beans and loose-leaf tea, plus an in-house bakery and sandwich menu. Vegetarians and vegans should head to Mazza, with two locations serving Middle Eastern cuisine like shawarma and kebabs, plus an extensive Lebanese wine list. For dinner, try George or Copper Onion. Formerly known as Finca, George serves up classic bistro fare made from local ingredients and has an extensive wine list, craft beer, and cider selections, plus handcrafted cocktails. The buzz-worthy Copper Onion features locally sourced New American fare, cocktails, and brunch.