For those following along, we are doing a Utah Travel Series: 50 Reasons to Visit Utah in the Summertime. Last month we covered Park City, this month we covered Salt Lake City, and this fall we will be covering our National Parks, as well as the St. George and Utah County area. If you are looking for a getaway for summer of 2015, I highly recommend looking into what Utah has to offer.
One thing I highly recommend when visiting Salt Lake City is the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass. Our family had SO MUCH FUN with ours this summer. There were some of those places we would have never gone to (due to price or lack of interest), but because it was a part of our pass we made the effort to go. If you get the 3-day pass, it’s not likely that you can fit it all in, but you can definitely hit quite a few of them. We had 3 days in SLC, and due to a visit to the Urgent Care that took up the majority of one of our days, we were only able to visit the Hogle Zoo, Discovery Gateway, Thanksgiving Point, The Leonardo, and This is the Place Heritage Park. I DEFINITELY recommend the 365-day connect pass if you are local (or if you visit frequently).
Her are some of the highlights from our trip:
I’m starting with the Discovery Gateway because this was our daughter’s FAVORITE place. We had only allotted an hour and half for this, but our daughters could have easily spent the entire afternoon here (we came back the next week). This place is incredible. There is so much hands-on fun for the kids that even I was having a hard time restraining my inner child. Our favorite was the big town area that had the house, and the kitchen area, and the marketplace to go shopping (grocery carts and all), as well as the farm where they could ride the (fake) horse or pull vegetables. I loved the open layout, because I could easily sit on a bench and see my kids from almost all angles. We were having so much fun that we didn’t have time to venture upstairs until our second visit (and it was another whole world of exploration).
The Leonardo “Animals Inside Out” exhibit was cool, but you might want to learn from our experience. If you have ever been to the “BODIES” exhibit, it is very similar in that you get to see the skeletal and muscle structures of different animals and all their “insides.” Our kids were young enough that they were not bothered at all by the fact that the animals were..*Dead*…my toddler even pointed to a couple of them and said “CUTE!” Um…cute wasn’t exactly the word that came to my mind. Cool, maybe. Cute? No. Ok, but here’s the takeaway lesson. This place is exact opposite of the Gateway. This is NOT hands-on and there are signs everywhere about not letting your child touch ANYTHING. So please…please…please..if you have a child that might be tempted, BRING A STROLLER. Our daughter went running straight for the intricate vein/blood vessel structures of one of the animals and I about had a heart-attack. We left almost immediately (I was not about to be responsible for the demise of a million-dollar piece of science). Keep in mind, your SLC connect pass if for the museum, but if you want to see any of the traveling exhibits (like the Bodies Inside Out), there is an additional fee.
This is the Place Heritage Park is another place that I didn’t allot enough time for. I had read that there were pony rides, train rides, and a splash pad, so I figured 1-2 hours would be perfect. We were so sad when the park closed and there was still so much more to do! They have all kinds of different activities and crafts and other fun things going on that I had no idea about. I would plan on spending at least 3 hours there. We plan on going back.
Thanksgiving Point is always a good time. The Pass includes admission to the gardens, but we also chose to go to the Children’s Museum of Natural Curiosity. Similar to the Gateway Discovery, there was TONS to do (over 400 interactive experiences)! Everything was hands-on and there were different rooms with different themes (waterworks, rainforest, etc.) The only thing I would advise, is that if you are going with multiple children be very careful not to lose them when you are in the big room with all of the climbing ropes, tunnels and slides. The room is set up in such a way that it is really hard to keep track of children (but super fun). I can understand now why some of my friends have stopped getting Pass of All Passes and opted for an annual pass to Thanksgiving Point instead. There is so much to do there and there passes are a really great price for all that you get. They also have craft and story telling workshops, so there is always something new going on.
Unlike other places, this was not our first time at Hogle Zoo. And I don’t know why, but I always make the same mistake and go during the hottest time of the day! The zoo doesn’t have a ton of shade (they do have a few misting fans), so if you can, try to go in the morning or afternoon when it isn’t as hot. Or use the hottest time of the day to see the indoor exhibits (like the reptiles).
As we have done our travel series, we try to stray away from National-chains for our lodging. I love finding places that are fun & unique to stay and aren’t your typical “Holiday Inn.”
For our SLC travel series, we chose to stay at the Grand America and the Anniversary Inn. We have stayed at the Anniversary Inn before (for our honeymoon), but the Grand America has been on my bucket list for quite some time. I love driving past it when we are in Salt Lake City, and one time I even entered an essay contest to try to get a free stay when my husband and I were first married (sadly, I did not win).
The Grand America
We loved our stay at both places! The Grand America was so beautiful and clean and …. Grand. The view from the balcony was amazing. We told them we were bringing our baby and they set our room up with a crib, a baby bath, a diaper genie, a bottle warmer and a package of baby toiletries. So above and beyond what we expected!
Overall we had a magical experience at the Grand, and we plan on visiting again…but next time without the kids 🙂
For the Anniversary Inn, there a few locations in SLC, but we actually stayed at the one in Logan, UT because we wanted to go see a show that everyone has been raving about near Bear Lake.
As always, the Anniversary Inn was the perfect Getaway (yes, we got sitters for the kids). We enjoy the Logan location the best and love the beautiful small town feel of Logan. Our particular room was called “Rich’s Drive Inn” and had the bed in the back of a pickup truck with a huge movie screen on the wall (yes, it was liking being at your own private Drive-Inn). Our room came with popcorn, and sodas for the movie, as well as cheesecake and sparkling cider. The breakfast crescents are amazing! If you go, get the ham and cheese! If you are going to stay at the Anniversary Inn, I highly recommend taking one of their tours! Not only is it super fun to look at each of the themed rooms, but some of them look different in person than they do in pictures.
Goodbye Anniversary Inn, we hope to visit you again soon!
Okay, I’m about to tell you about one of the highlights of our entire summer. Part of our “Getaway” was driving to see the show “Who Shot Juanito Bandito” at the Pickleville playhouse. It’s located near Bear Lake (about 45-1hour North of Logan). I had heard so many people rave about how great it was, that I tried not to go with too high of expectations. OH MAN. You guys. This show was SO FUNNY. There wasn’t a point during the whole show that we WEREN’T laughing. I don’t even know how someone can be THAT funny for so long. It was fantastic. We decided that we want this to be a yearly tradition for us. I hear they also do a yearly show in SLC, which I am getting more info for SOON!
We make it a point to also try new places to eat when we are doing our Utah Travel Series. Some of the places we didn’t enjoy as much, so we left them out of this post, but here were two fun ones we enjoyed:
We found Hires Big H via Trip Advisor and we thought it was really good food as well as a fun environment. My husband was a sucker for the root beer. So good. We went during lunch time and the place was PACKED! My only regret was filling myself so full I didn’t get to try an ice cream shake…
Our favorite breakfast place BY FAR was Bruges Waffles and Frites. You guys! These waffles are wicked good! When we went, they were #1 on Trip Advisor, and there is reason for that! They aren’t too pricey either, which is always a nice bonus. If you are in SLC, be sure to stop in for a waffle. We went two mornings in a row so we could try a few different things. My fave was the vanilla waffle with strawberries and cream! YUM!
If you are in Salt Lake City, you need to stop by the City Creek Shopping Center. It is fairly brand new and it is remarkable. It has a retractable roof for different weather conditions, so it’s always an enjoyable shopping experience. A couple of days before we went there, it was a record hot day so they closed the roof and kicked out some cool air. The entire landscape of the place is remarkable with the water fountains (and a fountain show), and the real trout that swim around in the creek were really fun for the kids. City Creek also has some unique stores that you can’t find anywhere else in the state. One of my favorites is Albion Fit. I had a hard time choosing between a swim suit or some running capris, but since the summer was halfway over when we went, I chose the running capris (I still LOVE them by the way)!
That’s all for now, make sure and bookmark (or pin) this page to get read about future posts in the Utah Travel Series.
What are YOUR favorite things to do in Salt Lake City, Utah?
*Free services or admissions were accepted for this Travel Series. All opinions are my own.