When we invited ourselves to Utah to visit our friends, we didn’t have an itinerary in mind—we just wanted to see their new home and catch up on life. They were kind enough to not only offer us a place to stay, but to handle picking us up and dropping us off at the airport, and to put some thought into how we might spend our time in the area.
I was originally thinking we would only be in Ogden, Utah, when we originally booked our flights, given our very short stay, so I was a little surprised when Nicole text me asking if Brian or I had ever been to Salt Lake City.
We had—me for a college conference and Brian for work—but it had been more than a decade on both accounts and neither of us remembered much of what we did while we were there. We were completely open to spending some time in Salt Lake City and doing a few of the ‘touristy’ things that our friends hadn’t gotten around to exploring yet.
On Sunday we had a leisurely morning and then packed up and headed into Salt Lake City. It was actually a perfect plan because from there we were only a few minutes from the airport and could easily pop over as our flight time neared, allowing our friends to head back home at a decent time.
We began our morning at a brunch place just outside the city that someone had recommended to Nicole. The parking lot was packed when we arrived but the guys managed to find a spot while Nicole and I started perusing the little shop inside next to the restaurant. The shop had all kinds of antiques, locally made gifts, and other odd treasures, and Nicole bought some awesome earrings featuring a campfire scene on one ear and a matching camping tent on the other!
It wasn’t long before we were seated and enjoying an incredible brunch. My bread pudding french toast was amazing, although I had to ask Brian to help me put a dent in it. Afterward, we were more than ready to head downtown and walk it off!
Our first stop was the 35-acre Temple Square. We managed to find street parking about a block away so before I knew it we were entering the grounds and admiring the incredible temple dominating the square.
We started in the visitor center just inside the gates where there’s a model of the temple showing the different interior rooms. Visitors are not allowed inside the temple—only those who are part of the Church of Latter Day Saints—but the model was very detailed and gave a clear impression of both the layout and the design. It looked beautiful!
A couple of women who were completing their assigned mission trip at Temple Square answered some of our question, walking us through the rooms in the temple and explaining how a traditional service would work with people moving from one room to the other throughout their time. I really appreciated their approach—they were friendly and informative without being overbearing or making us uncomfortable. I ended up learning a lot!
Afterward we joined a tour group led by two other women who took us to two other buildings on the grounds: the Tabernacle, where the renowned Mormon Tabernacle choir performs, and a smaller church on the grounds. They didn’t seem quite as comfortable or knowledgeable as the women inside the visitor’s center, but it was still interesting to see the inside of both buildings.
Typically there is an organ concert performed inside the tabernacle on Sundays, but they had moved it to the convention center that morning. We headed north across the square and joined a handful of people in a very large room to enjoy a guest organist who performed several songs as part of her recital.
I really enjoyed the performance but it seemed like the rest of my squad was ready to head on to our next activity by the time it concluded!
Having explored Temple Square, we drove north to visit the state capitol building. The building is situated on top of a hill with a really nice surrounding green space—the building itself is impressive, as are the views of the surrounding areas from its steps.
One thing Nicole had mentioned to us and that was reiterated in the building design was the state motto around industry and the bumble bee. As we were heading up the front steps, we noticed that each stairwell was capped with a beehive and the state slogan.
The inside of the building was even more impressive that the exterior, and I was really surprised that it was open and we were able to wander around inside.
The main rotunda is 165-feet high and features a beautiful painted ceilings, 24 marble monolithic columns, and four impressive statues in each corner depicting different values important to Utah culture.
To the east and west were beautiful staircases to the various offices and meeting rooms, and to the north we could walk past a large, bronze statue of Brigham Young and head downstairs to the lower level. Downstairs there were portraits of all the former state governors, a special exhibit of adoption and foster services, and other maps and exhibits outlining the history of the state.
I couldn’t believe it was already early afternoon when we finished looking around. We needed to get to the airport but ended up taking a convoluted path there via the world’s first Kentucky Fried Chicken! The store has a mini museum inside and while I would have loved to have eaten lunch there and spent more time looking around, we really didn’t have time. Next visit!
We enjoyed learning more about the state of Utah and the Mormon faith, and we really enjoyed spending the day with our good friends. Until next time, Salt Lake City!