In this special guest feature, Robert Murphy writes about the many things that make Salt Lake City a great destination for more than just attending SC12.
In the northeast corner of the Salt Lake valley, at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains, you will find the capital of Utah: Salt Lake City. The city was originally known as Great Salt Lake City, because of its location in the vicinity of the Great Salt Lake. Not long after its founding, the name was shortened to Salt Lake City and is now often referred to simply as Salt Lake. Over the course of the one hundred and sixty five year history of Salt Lake, the city has grown and developed at an impressive rate. What began in 1847 at its founding as a simple autonomous religious community is now a thriving city offering a panoply of culture. Salt Lake was put in the international spotlight in 2002 when it hosted the Winter Olympic Games. Today, the Salt Lake City and County Building features an exhibit honoring the 2002 Olympics on the third floor of the building.
For those of you interested in the performing arts, you will find that Salt Lake has quite a lot to offer, including the Utah Opera Company, the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Ballet West, and the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
One place in particular that you will want to check out when you visit Salt Lake is Temple Square. Open to the public every day of the year, with guided tours available in over thirty different languages, visitors can experience firsthand the fascinating history and rich culture of the city. The thirty five acres of Temple Square is indeed the heart of the city and is Salt Lake’s most famous tourist spot.
Forbes Traveler ranks Temple Square the 16th most popular tourist destination in the country. Although one could easily spend an entire day there, it is also an ideal place to go if you only have a couple of hours to spare. The Historic Tabernacle is located in Temple Square on North Temple Street. Typically on Thursday nights, beginning at 8:00pm in the Tabernacle, you can enjoy a live rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, an experience you will never forget. While you are in the area, you can also go see the Beehive House. Built in the 1850’s, this was the home of Salt Lake City founder Brigham Young, who at the time was the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Governor of the Utah territory. The house is located on the northwest corner of South Temple and State streets. It is open every day from 9:30am until 8:30pm with the last tour beginning at 8:15pm. Tours of Temple Square are free and there is no need for small groups or individuals to make reservations as there is no shortage of friendly and helpful volunteers every day between 9:00am and 9:00pm.
Guided tours are a great way to experience all that Temple Square has to offer. If you are visiting Temple Square as a couple and are looking for something romantic to do together, every night of the year, after 6pm, you can take an old fashioned horse-drawn carriage tour of the Square.
Another favorite tourist spot in Salt Lake City is Hogle Zoo. Spanning 42 acres, this zoo is quite impressive and a must see for animal lovers. It is one of only 10% of the licensed wildlife exhibitors in the US that has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is considered to be one of the best zoos in the world. The Hogle Zoo features over 800 animals including the very popular Asian Highlands exhibit which is a realistic re-creation of a Himalayan village that houses five different species of Asian cats.
Another fun place to visit when in Salt Lake is the Family History Library, which is much more interesting than it probably sounds. Located in Downtown Salt Lake City, this is the largest genealogical research facility in the entire world. It contains records for over 110 countries, territories and possessions and boasts over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed records. Professional genealogists are onsite to assist you in your family history search. For international visitors, assistance is offered in about thirty languages. The Family History Library even offers public classes on genealogical research topics. The best part about the Library is that all of these wonderful services are offered to the public completely free of charge!
So there you go. Keep in mind these are only a few suggestions. There is much more to be seen and experienced. Personally, at the top of my list would be catching a live performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and as an animal enthusiast, I would not pass up an opportunity to spend some time at one of the world’s best zoos. I assure you, The Hogle Zoo will not disappoint
Oh, weather permitting, if you are into skiing, check out this site for information on more than a dozen of the best ski resorts in the U.S.
Whatever you decide to do during your stay, I have no doubt you will enjoy your time in this beautiful, one of a kind city along with the incredibly warm and welcoming hospitality of the fine people of Salt Lake. An intriguing and unique place, you will soon discover why Salt Lake’s tourism slogan is “Different by Nature.”