The Road Trip Chronicles: Scenic Salt Lake City, Utah

Announcement of Winners:  To kick off today’s post I’d like to congratulate the three winners of the e-book giveaway of Timothy McKinney’s The Power of Happiness.  Thank you to all the commenters!  And congratulations to August McLaughlin, Coleen Patrick, and Renee Schuls-Jacobson!


Picking up from where we left off, after camping in Yellowstone National Park, an adventure that ended with 30° weather in a tiny tent on a deflated air mattress, I begged coerced Joe it was time for a nice hotel stay at our next stop, Salt Lake City.

I got my wish!

May I interest you in some fine vino?

Our hotel was awesome!  With food recommendations from my best friend’s sister, we ate at Bayou the first night – a pub atmosphere with cajun food.  And at night we cracked open a bottle of Red Ass Rhubarb wine from the Prairie Berry Winery in South Dakota.

Salt Lake City is definitely a city I would go back to.  It’s architecture is beautiful, mountains in the distance, and of course, the Great Salt Lake itself.  It’s roads, however, are set up in a grid form and confused the living daylights out of me!

*Turn right on East 900 South, then turn left on South 900 East…*

WHAT???  Where am I supposed to go?  My inner Anne Shirley is coming out.  Let’s call this road the Avenue of Mormons and Mountains!

A metro city for sure, Salt Lake is a great place for SHOPPING!  So all you ladies you humdrummed at camping in Yellowstone, could vacay in style at Salt Lake City!  Several malls, many of which are outdoor outlets full of fountains and garden overlooks, grace the downtown area.  High end shops for clothing as well as fun touristy shops of souvenirs that show Salt Lake’s got a sense of humor!


If you’re going to visit Salt Lake City, you should probably visit Temple Square.

Our first day we decided we needed to check out Temple Square, home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Temple.  While visitors can’t go inside the actual Temple, the grounds have many of other buildings to view including the assembly room, Tabernacle, two visitors centers, and the Brigham Young Memorial which is now a hotel.

Temple Square is full of monuments and statues commemorating the early pioneers who traveled from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah.  They arrived on July 24th, 1847, which is now recognized as Pioneers Day in Utah.

Regardless what you think of the Mormon religion, I admit their temple grounds are beautiful and their pride is strong.  Everyone we spoke to was incredibly nice and welcoming.  Parts of the visitor’s center were creepy for me, too religious if that makes sense, but overall very well put together.

The gardens on the grounds were GORGEOUS!

Behold!  The Mormon Temple!

As I said before, visitors aren’t allowed in the temple, but in the South Visitor’s Center there is a diorama that shows you what the rooms inside look like.  They do look impressive and full of craftsmanship and artful color.

Example of the Celestial Room – only the most Godly men and women are granted access to the Celestial Room

Funny story while in Temple Square.  The Mormons hold a huge percentage of the country’s genealogy records, and their visitor’s center offers computer access for researching your family history.  But look what I found!!!

So above the computers was a poster showing the Howland Family tree.  My 17th great grandfather was John Howland, an indentured servant who came to America via the Mayflower.  And apparently, his son John Jr. gave birth to the line that would be Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the Mormon religion.  Who knew?  He’s like a long lost really really really distant cousin…  Huh.

The Hand-Cart Pioneer Movement

One of the most famous historical triumphs of the Mormons was the Hand-Cart Pioneer Movement.  I feel whether or not you agree with this religion’s practices, their nomadic journey in the name of faith was quite the exodus.  Not many would be able to endure the harsh conditions these people did to make a new home.

The Lion House

If you’re looking for a place to eat, might I recommend the Lion House, converted to a cafeteria style restaurant and their french toast is amazing.  The inside is full of photos of the Young family and early Mormon settlers.

The Mormon Tabernacle Organ

Periodically throughout the day, the Mormons offer organ recitals inside the Tabernacle.  Joe and I attended and it was really something to hear.  Before the organist begins, he discusses the acoustics inside the room and demonstrates by tearing a single sheet of paper, dropping a nail, and then dropping several pins.  All I can tell you is…WOW.

The Random Best Dessert Award Goes To:

Leaving Temple Square, we had lunch at the Tin Angel Cafe’ which features mostly organic foods and an artsy atmosphere.  Their pear brulee with caramel drizzle was to die for!  Best “meal” I had all vacation!  Drool Fest!

What to do on a hot summer day?  Visit the Tracy Aviary!

That concludes our tour, folks.  Feel free to tip your guide by leaving a comment below! 

What do you think?  Have you ever been to Salt Lake City?  Do you want to go?  What city do you think Joe and I should head to next?

23 responses

  1. I love the pictures! This looks like another great vacation spot. I would be fascinated by the Mormon Tabernacle. Where should you go next? How about Houston, Texas? *wink, wink*

    1. Haha, nice recommendation, roomie! What should I do in Houston?

  2. You live in a city that got my GPS lost, and you think straight streets in a grid are confusing? Hmmmmm. . . .

    1. I don’t have a comment, only a facial expression:


  3. “Let’s call this road the Avenue of Mormons and Mountains!” LOL Jess! Yes, Salt Lake can be confusing. Love the pics of your vacation! I think you should be a tour guide. Even better, write a tour book. And the pear cream brulee? To drool over indeed! Yum! Where do you go next? I have no idea. Just have fun! 🙂

    1. I think I’d really like being a tour guide, but I’d want to travel with my position. Get to a know place, lead tours, then move to the next adventure. You know what one of my favorite tours ever was? It was the Underground Tour in Seattle, WA of their city’s original buildings, which are now below ground. So cool, very funny history, and it made me want to move to Seattle and be a tour guide!

  4. Yay! I can’t wait to read that book! I’m so grateful! Thanks Jess! I love your travel posts. You get around, lady.

    1. Well, I have to do it all in the summer when it’s quieter at work. I’m getting ready for the hellidaze now and won’t be leaving town at all. 😦

      I’m hoping Marcia does her road trip next summer and picks you up along the way and heads to Wisconsin!!!

      Congrats on winning a copy, Renee, I really hope it helps you take back some control of your happiness and find peace in the spaces where you can’t. *hugs*

  5. Yay! Super cool to win–thanks Jess.
    I haven’t been to Salt Lake City, but your pics make me want to go!

    1. It was a really cool town! There’s definitely way more to do there than I had time to or was able to showcase. I would go back for sure.

  6. Great looking blog–I loved all the photos!

    1. Hi! Thanks for following, Susie! I love traveling and sharing my adventures with readers. Don’t hesitate to give me any good travel destination recommendations! And books too!

  7. It looks like you truly had a blast in Salt Lake City. While I can’t say I understand the finer parts of Mormonism, I would love to be able to experience the history of their group and religion as you did. What an awesome experience! Thanks so much for sharing so much of your experience through these great pictures!

    1. Yah, I know, I didn’t even try to explain the religion much because there’s just SO MUCH to it. One of my good friends was raised Mormon, so I rely on her to answer my questions and have just recently started reading some books where characters were of Mormon faith. It’s an interesting one, their history is full of good and bad, like all religions, but I have to say that the people working/volunteering at Temple Square were incredibly nice and welcoming.

  8. You take great pics, ya know?

    I would have loved to have stayed over in SLC last year on my trip, but alas, it was a little bit too south on my journey, forcing me to settle for Ogden instead. Not that it mattered, as I holed up in my room that evening during a 99-degree scorcher. You definitely had the better experience! And no Mitt sightings, thankfully. 😉

    1. Ok, wink right back atcha, but that’s just between us…or um, anyone who reads this. LOL.

      Don’t feel too bad. Just make a road trip with Tara. SLC would be a great place for a couples getaway, there’s tons to do! There’s hiking in the mountains, a natural history museum, several other churches to tour, 3 big shopping outlets/malls, and a plethora of food options. Definitely worth a road trip!

      P.S. It was like 90+ degrees when we were there too. That’s why there’s very few pictures with me in them. I was a little bit of a frowny face by the end of the aviary tour – it is all outdoors. HOT!!! LOL

    2. Oh and P.P.S. Since you drink beer now, you have to take Tara to the local breweries! The Squatters Brew Pub had amazing food and pretty good beers! *Cheers!*

  9. I now feel as though I just spent some quality time in Salt Lake City. Fabulous! I just couldn’t quite get enough of the pear brulée though … *drool*

    1. LOL. I know! I think I shouted that I wanted to wake up every morning to a slice of that!

    2. LOL. I know! I think I shouted that I wanted to wake up every morning to a slice of that!

  10. If some one needs expert view on the topic of blogging and site-building then i propose him/her to pay a quick visit this
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  11. Hi Jess,
    Just by accident I visited your great site. I searched the Howlett family tree and landed in your amazing trip to Salt Lake City. I have seen the Temple from the outside many years ago and was amazed. Thanks for sharing all those photos and comments.
    I’m from Vienna (Vienna in Austria, Europe) and if you would have posted that in 2015 (I know it was 2012) I would have said Vienna is worth while visiting! A bit far away though 🙂
    All the best,

    1. I’ll add it to my list!

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