Founded in 1847 by a group of Mormon followers, and named after the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere, northern Utah’s Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City is a thriving faith tourism destination.
The city lies in a valley, with the Oquirrh Mountains to the west, Wasatch Mountains to the east and north, and the Great Salt Lake to the northwest. Around 30 kilometres from the edge of the city, on the eastern side of the Wasatch Mountains, sits Park City, home of the Sundance Film Festival.
Salt Lake Temple is one of the city’s most famous landmarks – a reverent and beautiful six-spired temple, home to the renowned Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra. Restaurants, art displays and the largest genealogy library of its kind in the world also make the city an exciting place to visit.
Salt Lake City signature dishes are typically home-style. American Indian, pioneering and farming influences, along with the need to feed large families, have led to a food history steeped with simple, hearty fare.
The cast-iron pot is a common utensil in the homes of pioneering Mormon family, used to cook family-gathering staple dishes like funeral potatoes stew – a type of baked casserole made from cheese, potato and canned soup with a crunchy corn flake topping.
Utah scones are another local specialty, but buyer beware, they are nothing like their English cousins. The size of a dinner plate, deep fried and served with lashings of whipped honey butter, Utah scones are more meal than elegant high tea.
The region around Salt Lake City is known for its wonderful produce, not least of which, its Green River melons. Cantaloupe (rock melon), honeydew and watermelon grow large and sweet thanks to generous sunlight and sandy soil. Roadside stalls selling melons and raspberries from Bear Lake Valley are commonplace, especially in September.
There’s a reason the beehive is the state symbol of Utah. Plain, whipped or flavoured with huckleberry, orange or raspberry, many small and large-scale operations produce and sell the sticky sweetener.
For a taste of Salt Lake’s sophisticated dining scene, the Downtown and Sugar House districts are must-visit food hubs. Dining options abound, as cuisines from all over the globe are represented. For a taste of quirky Salt Lake City, it’s hard to go past The Avenues neighbourhood, where intimate restaurants, trendy cafes and artisan producers operate out of converted retail spaces.
The Salt Lake Valley presents a plethora of shopping possibilities. Malls, shopping villages, specialty shops and dealers, factory outlets and much more, Salt Lake has it all.
City Creek is the largest of the Salt Lake malls. A creek runs through the centre and a retractable glass roof brings the sunshine in. Not to be outshone The Gateway combines 100 plus shops with entertainment for the whole family – home to a planetarium, children’s museum, 12-screen movie cinema and waterpark, as well as a variety of restaurants.
A cluster of charming speciality shops and boutiques can be found at Gardener Shopping Village. Locally-made craft and quaint eateries are housed in restored cabins, homes and buildings that were once part of Salt Lake’s pioneering heritage.