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Salt Lake City - Utah

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The history and much of the present ambience of Utah's capital are the result of the arrival in the Great Salt Lake Valley -- in July 1847 -- of 148 Mormon pioneers who had escaped religious oppression in the eastern states and were looking for an area to settle in peace.

Within a year, many more Mormons made the arduous trek over the Rocky Mountains to the valley and Great Salt Lake City was a reality (the "Great" was dropped in 1868). The transcontinental railroad arrived in the valley in 1869 and Utah became the 45th state in 1896. By then, the Mormons had ended their practice of polygamy, and with statehood, the modern city took shape.

The Church of Latter Day Saints has put its stamp on Salt Lake City. Temple Square is the major attraction in the center of the city, with its Temple -- open only to Mormons -- and the Tabernacle, open to all and where the weekly concert by the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir is given. Over the years, the Mormon Church has invested in the city's infrastructure, including the building of the $ 40 million downtown shopping mall.

What to See & Do

The While summer months bring tourists to the area to visit Temple Square and other city attractions (including the Wasatch Mountains which provide the dramatic backdrop for the city), winter is when the tourist industry really booms. There are eleven ski hills within an hour's drive of the city. They range from the small and cozy Sundance Resort (Robert Redford's place, north of Provo), to the three big hills at Park City just across the Wasatch Range from Salt Lake City. These and other ski operations, such as Alta, Snowbird, Powder Mountain and Snowbasin, provide all the action that any dedicated downhill skier could handle in a month of vacations.

The best place to begin a stay in Salt Lake City is the Visitor Information Center at 180 South West Temple. It's open daily except Sunday and is in the center of everything in the downtown area. Temple Square is at 50 North West Temple and includes the spired Temple, the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall which are connected by a series of walkways and gardens. The famous choir gives its weekly performance on Sundays at 9:30 am with an open rehearsal on Thursday evenings at 8:00 PM. Beehive House, Mormon founder Brigham Young's first official residence, is a national historic site, open to the public at 67 South East Temple.

Other historical highlights include the Pioneer Memorial Museum at 300 North Main, featuring 37 rooms of exhibits focusing on Utah pioneer history, historic vehicles and farm machinery. The Hansen Planetarium is one of the best in the nation, with two floors of astronomical exhibits and the star theater. The Salt Lake Art Center at 20 South West Temple has a two level gallery concentrating on contemporary art. Symphony Hall, the home of the Utah Symphony, is renowned for its near perfect acoustics.

For railroad buffs, there are two old stations which deserve attention. The Union Pacific Railroad Depot on South Temple is a grand old station. The Rio Grande Depot (300 South Rio Grande) is now occupied by the Utah State Historical Society.

There are many places to visit outside of the city including Great Salt Lake State Park, located on the southern edge of the lake, offering boat tours, paddle boats and a close up look at the salt lake. For a reminder of early Mormon history, visit Pioneer Trail State Park, on East Sunnyside Avenue. The Old Desert Village, a re created pioneer village, and the "This is the Place" monument, are located here. This is the location of the end of the 1,300 mile trail used by Mormon travelers and others on their route west. Big Cottonwood Canyon is a scenic resort area north of the city which contains two ski hills -- Alta and Snowbird

Day Trips

More historical highlights are included on a the Oquirrh Loop Tour, which provides an excellent day trip from the Salt Lake City. The tour begins just off Interstate 80, 16 miles west of downtown Salt Lake. From this lakeside point, the tour leads to the Old Benson Grist Mill (1860) near Stansbury Park. Continuing on 1 80, the loop leads west to Exit 99. The mill is 2.5 miles from the exit on Road 1378. Then take Highway 36 to Tooele where the Utah Pioneers Museum is located on Vine Street. The Tooele County Museum contains a mine simulation and railroad displays. It's housed in the former Tooele Valley Railroad depot, built in 1909.

Leaving Tooele on Highways 36 and then Hwy. 73, the loop leads you to the almost ghost town of Ophir (a common name for mining camps in the West), located off the highway 20 miles southeast of Tooele. The town is located in a beautiful canyon and still has a small population. East of Ophir is Mercur, a silver and gold camp which burned to the ground in 1885, was rebuilt and burned again in 1902. There is still a mining operation which provides a display and video program. It's not possible to see the old town. The loop returns to Salt Lake City by taking Highway 73 south and then west through Cedar Fort and north via Highway 68.

Aside from skiing, there are other outdoor attractions in the area. There are 17 public golf courses (11 with 18 holes) in or close to the city, as well as others in Park City and Provo which is a short drive south of town.

The Wasatch region around Salt Lake City is especially beautiful during the fall period when colors blaze on the mountains in shades of gold, red, purple, brown and green. The fall foliage is best seen by driving through Cottonwood Canyons (Big & Little) and Emigrant Canyon.

A loop drive around the eastern slope of the Wasatch also provides views of brilliant fall colors. This side of the range includes Wasatch Mountain State Park, the largest in the state with 22,000 acres of wooded mountainside on the east side of the range, near Midway (a half hour drive from downtown). The park has a 27 hole golf course and campground. During the winter a network of cross-country ski trails is groomed.

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Salt Lake City

Wyndham Hotel
215 West South Temple, Sale Lake City, UT 84101-1333
(801) 531-7500 or (800) WYNDHAM
Staying in the Wyndham means you're right next door to the Salt Palace Convention Center and the Delta Center, and a short walk of Temple Square and prime shopping. This full-service hotel has 381 rooms, with fine mountain views, plus coffee-makers, iron and ironing boards, and hair dryers. You may choose to dine in The City Creek Bar and Grill, serving American cuisine. The City Creek Bar has Utah's best microbrewed beers and ales. The seven major ski areas are 30 minutes from the hotel. ($$ to $$$+)

Courtyard by Marriott - Downtown
130 West 400 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
(801) 531-6000
Located in the central part of the city, close to business and shopping, the Courtyard offers a choice of rooms with in-room coffee, irons and ironing boards, and access to dataports, fax, photocopy services, and laundry. There's an exercise facility and heated indoor pool. Four king rooms and six suites offer in-room Jacuzzis. The Courtyard Cafe Restaurant is on-site. ($$ to $$$)

Diamond Inn
1009 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84111-4419
(801) 355-4537 or (800) 500-9192
Ten minutes from the airport and three minutes from Temple Square, the Diamond Inn is a newly built (1995) hotel designed for budget travelers. Facilities include a swimming pool, whirlpool, guest laundry, kitchenettes, and ski packages are available. ($ to $$)

Red Brick Inn - B&B
1030 East 100 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84102-1505
(801) 322-4917
This restored Victorian inn was built around 1900, and ists located in the downtown area, close to Temple Square and shopping, the Delta Center, and the university. The air conditioned rooms offer a choice of double bed, double bed with sitting room, queen bed, and king bed with sleeper couch and cable TV. Common areas include a living room with fireplace, TV room, dining room, and breakfast room. ($ to $$)

Salt Lake Hilton
150 West 500 South, Sale Lake City, UT 84101
(801) 532-3344
Many of the 351 guest rooms in the Hilton offer fine views of the Wasatch Mountains and the city. You have a choice of standard rooms and suites -- some of which have oversize sunken tubs. The Concierge Level has on-floor check-in and check-out, a private lounge, and other amenities. Hotel facilities include a landscaped courtyard, large outdoor pool with sun deck, hot tub, saunas, and fitness center, plus shops and a video game room. The Towne Hall Restaurant offers a luncheon buffet. Anabelle's -- the hotel's coffee shop --features breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the hotel has room service. ($$ to $$$)

Saltair Bed and Breakfast
164 South 900 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84102
(801) 533-9300 or (800) 733-8184
Located 15 minutes from the airport, the Saltair is set in a quiet residential area, between downtown and the University of Utah. Listed in the National Historic Register, the inn is the oldest continuously operating B&B in Utah, and the rates here are reasonable. Full breakfast, and evening snacks are served. All beds have goosedown comforters. The inn has a hot tub, and provides cable TV. Most rooms have brass queen beds. Some rooms have shared bath. Alpine Cottages are located next door. ($ to $$)

Travelodge - Temple Square
144 West North Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84103
(801) 533-8200
Right in the middle of downtown, only 1/2 block west of Temple Square, this Travelodge is also close to the Delta Center, two shopping malls, and the Convention Center. With 55 rooms, the hotel offers units with king, queen, and double beds, and in-room movies. Several restaurants and lounges are nearby. ($ to $$)

El Rancho Motel and RV Park
145 North Carbondale Rd., (801) 637-2424.
Open year round this motel ($) has a campground with 34 RV sites (with full hookups) but no tent sites.

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