Situated at the base of the magnificent Wasatch Mountains, Salt Lake City is booming economically and evolving at a rapid rate. While most business travelers limit their activities to the city center, many tourists come for the outstanding outdoor recreation found throughout the Salt Lake Basin. In winter, skiing is the main reason for a visit to this vast area, but when the snow melts, it becomes prime mountain biking and hiking country.
The City Center
The downtown area is a mixture of contrasts with old and new buildings side by side. The stately Temple Square is flanked by high-rise office buildings. Brigham Young's Beehive House creates a 19th-century oasis across the street from office towers of the 21st century. Arranged on a logical grid pattern with Temple Square at its center, all addresses in the city can conveniently be found with little effort.
Business and tourism are the lifeblood of the city, but between the office buildings lay the cultural and entertainment centers that present numerous diversions at the end of the business or ski day. The Capitol Theatre , home of Ballet West , is both an architectural and cultural gem. One of downtown's classic older buildings, the theatre has been renovated into a modern venue for Broadway productions and intimate concerts. It is only a pleasant stroll from any of the downtown hotels and is close to some of the city's finest restaurants. Equally accessible from anywhere in downtown is Abravanel Hall (home of the Utah Opera Company ) and the Energy Solutions Arena . The volunteer hosts at the Salt Lake City Convention and Visitors' Bureau in the Salt Palace Convention Center can always recommend a variety of activities, favorite restaurants or sites to visit.
Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City is truly a hill! A walk from downtown up State Street to the Utah State Capitol Building offers a sampling of the grandeur of the homes of mining and financial barons. Several of these old residences, notably Wolfe Krest Bed & Breakfast and The Inn on Capitol Hill, provide a good sense of Salt Lake City as it was at the turn of the 19th century. The private homes on the hill also offer an eclectic blend of Victorian, Italianate and "wealthy pioneer" architectural styles. Just to the west of the Utah State Capitol is the Pioneer Memorial Museum , which also provides a sense of life in the "Beehive State" in its early days.
Once the home of the trolleys that were the transportation mainstay of Salt Lake City, the trolley barns of Trolley Square now enclose some of the best restaurants and shopping in the city. From the well-known Hard Rock Cafe to the local favorite Desert Edge Brewery at the Pub , the numerous dining establishments are each a pleasure. Shopping ranges from the eclectic to the stylish and from the mainstream to the uncommon. Trolley Square is an ideal setting for an afternoon of shopping or an evening of dinner, drinks and a movie.
The University of Utah
The university district and the university itself offer a number of delights. On the campus of the University of Utah are the Utah Museum of Natural History and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts . Kingsbury Hall is a concert and performance venue that is a special pleasure for jazz performances, dance productions and theatre. The University's Huntsman Center hosts the sporting exhibitions of the University of Utah Utes, while the nearby Red Butte Gardens is a four-season experience that, once again, integrates the city with Utah's diverse natural environment.
Outside the City Center
Like many metropolitan areas, Salt Lake City has sprawled past its designated boundaries into numerous suburbs and outlying areas. North of the city center lie Farmington, Hill Air Force Base and Ogden, home to the Hill Aerospace Museum , Eccles Dinosaur Park and Lagoon Amusement Park. West of the city center is home to Salt Lake International Airport and much of the area's rapidly expanding industry. To the east of the city lies the magnificent Wasatch Front. These craggy peaks and bucolic valleys shelter Park City and world-renowned ski resorts such as Deer Valley Resort , Park City Mountain Resort and Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort .
The Salt Lake Valley is bursting with exciting eateries in every neighborhood to please all palates and pocketbooks.
City Center & Downtown
The downtown and city center area is certainly the food center of the Salt Lake Valley. Restaurants for every taste and occasion serve the lunch crowds of shoppers, Temple Square sightseers and professionals from local businesses. Dinner options abound to round out an evening of theatre or music, with the New Yorker leading the way as one of Salt Lake's most prestigious dining addresses. The Metropolitan is also an excellent choice for a refined and graceful dining experience. Market Street Grill is a seafood restaurant that offers the absolute freshest fish flown in daily from both coasts.
International food choices are also available. The Blue Iguana is known for its tasty and unusual Mexican fare and P.F. Chang's China Bistro is one of Salt Lake's most popular Chinese restaurants. Deli choices include Tony Caputo's Market & Deli and Granato's . For a family-friendly Italian restaurant check out Romano's Macaroni Grill .
University of Utah
The University of Utah area the place to go to for cheaper eats. For fresh Mexican food head to Barbacoa Mexican Grill . The casual ambiance and great pizza at the Pie Pizzaria can't be beat. Cucina is deli known for its homemade soup. If you are willing to spend a little more the Market Street Broiler has the freshest fish around.
Outside the City
If you head out of the city there are several great moderately priced restaurants. Amici's della Cucina offers Italian cuisine in a romantic atmoshpere. Another romantic location is Grapevine Restaurant where the dishes are seasonal. If you want a unique experience, the Tree Room At Sundance is built around a tree and is decorated with Native American Art. For authentic Vietnamese food the Ly Ly Vietnamese Restaurant has delicious spring rolls.
The best restaurants tend to be close to ski resorts. Although you'll end up paying more, the convenience of a hot meal after a day on the slopes will make it worth your while. Little Cottonwood Canyon, further south in the Salt Lake Valley, leads to two more popular ski resorts, Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort try The Aerie, The Lodge Bistro or The Steak Pit to name a few. Alta Ski Area offers Shallow Shaft Restaurant for a casual but hearty meal and Alta Lodge for formal dining with fantastic views.
Salt Lake City offers something for every traveler, from skiing in the mountains to exploring the shops and restaurants of downtown.
Temple Square Temple Square was once the middle of Salt Lake City. Tabernacle is the home of the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir . Excellent historical displays comprise the Museum of Church History and Art next door. Also in this area is the Gothic Cathedral of the Madeline . Once you're finished having a look, dine at the Fresco Italian Cafe .
Joseph Smith Memorial Building Walk through Temple Square to the Beehive House . Once home to Brigham Young, this luxurious abode is now open to visitors. If you are hungry, the Lion House Pantry next door serves traditional pioneer cuisine that never fails to please. Head to the nearby Joseph Smith Memorial Building . Here, you can view a film depicting the immigration of the Mormon pioneers or use the FamilySearch Center computers to track your ancestors, if you're from the Salt Lake City area.
Pioneer Memorial Museum The Pioneer Memorial Museum contains many treasures of the first settlers in Utah. Memory Grove Park is right next door. Nearby are the ZCMI Center , America's first department store, and the Gateway Center mall. Browse the many shops and grab a bite at Granato's , famous for its sandwiches.
University of Utah The area around the University of Utah is filled with cultural attractions like the Utah Museum of Natural History , the Fort Douglas Military Museum and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts . The Hogle Zoo , also located in this area, is the state's largest. Take a stroll through Red Butte Gardens and dine at nearby Cucina .
Liberty Park Liberty Park is the city's most popular. Explore the grounds and the exhibits at Tracy Aviary and the Chase Home Museum of Folk Art . When you're through, enjoy a meal at P.F. Chang's China Bistro , then catch a show at the Repertory Dance Theatre .
Contacting a professional tour company is a good idea if you're visiting Salt Lake City. See the city's main attractions on foot, go on an adventure down the Colorado River or fly on a helicopter.
Walking Tours Salt Lake Historical Tours Inc ( +1 801 582 6269 ) Salt Lake City Tours ( +1 801 534 1001/ http://www.slctravel.com/tours.htm/ ) Western Leisure Inc ( +1 800 532 2113 )
Air Tours Brice Canyon Helicopter Tours ( +1 435 834 8060/ http://www.rubysinn.com/bryce-canyon-airlines.html/ )
Bus Tours Utah Trailways ( +1 800 876 5825/ http://www.utahtrailways.com/ )
Boat Tours Salt Island Adventures ( +1 801 252 9336/ http://www.gslcruises.com/cruises.html/ )
Rafting Tours Dinosaur River Expeditions ( +1 800 345 RAFT ) High Country Rafting ( +1 801 224 2500 )
Horsedrawn Carriage Tours Carriage For Hire ( +1 803 363 8687/ http://www.carriageforhire.net/ )
Adventure Tours Ski Utah Interconnect Adventure Tour ( +1 801 534 1907/ http://www.skiutah.com/resorts/interconnect/ ) Interconnect Adventure Tour ( +1 801 534 1907 ) Colorado River and Trail Expeditions ( +1 800 253 7328/ http://www.crateinc.com/ ) Adrift Adventures ( +1 800 824 0150 )