Thursday, March 5, 2020

A Day In SLC

In December, Hubs and I were talking about how we actually had an anniversary this year (I let my husband choose our wedding date, he chose February 29. Leap Day because according to him "I only have to celebrate every four years." Eye roll) and he requested we go on an anniversary trip. Now, last year for birthday #35 we traveled to New Orleans for a little Mardi Gras fun. It was a blast, but I also came to the conclusion that February was a difficult time to travel for us-- school functions, school activities, a Gala that I help host for the Museum...basically, it's kind of an insane month. But, I hopped onto Kayak to check out flights, ready to deem them too expensive and put to rest the whole anniversary trip request. Oddly, I found cheap tickets from Des Moines to Salt Lake City, Utah. A place we both wanted to go.

So, in January, I bit the bullet and bought our tickets for a three day weekend in SLC. We fit a lot into the three full days, starting with the arrival of our flight Wednesday night. We hightailed it to baggage claim, flew as fast as we could through the car rental, and straight to In n Out. Hubs had never had it before and quickly declared it great (I have been telling him this for years).

While planning the trip, I decided I wanted to be in the mountains and only do one day in the city. I looked for places in and around Park City, so we could enjoy the outdoors, have an easy drive to and from SLC, and be in the middle of relaxation and action. I used Airbnb once again to snag a pretty awesome deal. For $86 a night, we reserved a private room at Zermatt Resort in Midway (about 5-10 minutes away from Park City). We didn't have resort fees since we booked it through someone who owned the room via Airbnb, but we had access to all resort amenities. Quite honestly, we could have stayed at the resort all three days and would have had an amazing time because of all of the activities the resort provides. Of course, that's not exactly our style.

Leaving Des Moines.


The lights of SLC as we landed.

On vacation without the kids and we still drove a minivan.

We got in late to our resort (however, check ins through Airbnb is simple. We had a code to the room, we bypassed the front desk, and that was it. The most difficult part of arriving was finding a parking spot) and fell into bed. We got a few hours of sleep before waking up early, checking out our resort, which quickly included us finding our favorite bakery ever, and then heading back into SLC for a day of exploring.

The view from the front of our resort.

Simply called The Bakery. We enjoyed amazing pastries two mornings during our stay, coffee runs, and great conversations with the employees. On top of all of that, the prices were decent.

We enjoyed the drive from Midway to SLC. It's gorgeous in the daytime (and only slightly unnerving at night). Our first stop in SLC was Temple Square. We had heard from everyone that it was a must stop. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of construction going on, but we still got in a good visit. We saw the tabernacle and listened to the massive organ being played (one of the biggest in the world), but our favorite was the conference center. We had a delightful conversation with two Sisters who answered numerous questions, asked us plenty of questions about ourselves, and gave us a wonderfully informative tour of the square.

The gorgeous art work in all areas of Temple Square are original pieces.

A replica of the Temple. We learned that the Temple wasn't actually used for services, but numerous ceremonies, study halls, etc. They don't allow anyone who isn't a member inside of the Temple, however, we did learn that sometime in the next few years the Temple will be everyone able to enter the Temple for a limited time when construction is finished. 

A view from the gardens on top of the building.

On our minds after Temple Square was lunch. Before we travel anywhere, I tend to look at where the locals like to eat. One place that popped up and was an instant must try for us was Red Iguana. I read a bit about the restaurant and only upon arrival at the restaurant and discovering people waiting outside for a table did I realize how popular this restaurant is...and for good reason too! Once featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, the menu was truly unique. The chips and salsa were wonderful, the margaritas lined with a chile salt, and moles (a sauce used in Mexican cuisine). I got mango enchiladas (pork enchiladas covered ina  sweet mango mole) and was blown away. Our wait wasn't even terrible--20 minutes at most. If you're in or near SLC, I highly suggest you give this restaurant a go! 

Next up for the day was Antelope Island. I wanted to see the Great Salt Lake and hike a bit. The drive from Red Iguana to the Island was around an hour (give or take). Traffic wasn't terrible, the city is simply very spread out so driving from one part to the other takes quite a bit of time. To get to Antelope Island we had to go out and around. It was worth it though. We were treated with gorgeous mountain views on our drive. The park itself was gorgeous too. Mountains surrounding the calmest lake I've ever seen, salt deposits everywhere, bison roaming, pronghorn deer, and hiking trails that weren't busy. Loved, loved, loved everything about this afternoon adventure.

The lake was so blue and so calm that the mountains reflected on the water. You could also smell the salt in the air around the lake.

I was hoping this trail would take us closer to the lake, but it was pretty far away. The trail did offer gorgeous views as we hiked. 

Deer far in the field.

Even though we had just done a hike, I told Hubs I wasn't leaving until I had touched the Lake. We went to the beach area and hiked to the Lake shore. Hubs was clearly not impressed, complaining that we had just finished just of long of a hike as we were walking to the shore. 

See where it look white in the distance? One would assume that's the shoreline....but, nope. It's not. The Lake is further beyond that. It really was quite a walking distance from the parking lot. A lot further than I initially thought, but that's not something I'm willing to admit to the husband.

Do you see how thrilled he is with me at this point? I bribed him with going to a whiskey distillery for dinner.

In case anyone wants to know or wants to make sure Wikipedia is accurate in reporting that the lake is saltier than any ocean, it's true. I tried it. The salt stuck to my hands. It also didn't taste great.

Salt deposits were all along the sandy beach.

We made a quick stop at Trader Joe's for meats, cheeses, and various snacks for the next day's adventures (this is also where I excitedly snapped a picture of the light-rail for the minis) and then went into Park City. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I bribed Hubs with a stop at High West Saloon for whiskey tasting. However, when we got there, the restaurant and distillery were booked (and they don't take reservations). I was bummed, but we took time to walk the historic district in Park City, before settling on picking up Jimmy John's so we could go relax at the resort's outdoor hot tub before it closed at 10 p.m. Super fancy dinner.

The drive from SLC to Park City was gorgeous!

I'll be honest, I wasn't a huge Park City fan. I know people absolutely love it, but I wasn't impressed with the sheeple dressed head to toe in Patagonia, trying to score a table at the trendiest restaurants in town. It was way too touristy for me (funny, coming from a tourist, I know). But regardless, we did have fun (and we even went back in the daytime one day) and it worked out that every restaurant was packed for the night because we had such a fun night at the resort with a group of traveling couples. We shared travel stories, our travel plans, and tried a few local brews thanks to our new friends (no pictures because a phone + hot tub/pool doesn't go well together).

Being in SLC just made me more excited for our someday soon (likely the next 2 or 3  years) big Utah adventure we've had planned since the minis were young (too young for the trip we have planned). We had a great time just the two of us and got more accomplished than we would have than with the minis in tow. We probably won't do an indepth tour of Temple Square as we did this time around, but we would definitely do the Great Salt Lake! That was one of my favorite parts of the trip. If we had had the minis with us, these are some of the things I'd check out in SLC:

  •  Discovery Gateway Children's Museum
  •  The Leonardo Museum
  •  Gilgal Sculpture Garden