Skip to main content

What I Did in Three Days in Salt Lake City, Utah

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.

The Mormon Temple is the most popular view to photograph in Salt Lake City, Utah

The Mormon Temple is the most popular view to photograph in Salt Lake City, Utah

Three Days in Salt Lake City, Utah

Recently I accompanied my husband to Salt Lake City for a conference he had to attend. While he was in the conference for two days, I was able to see the city on my own, and on the third day he accompanied me. I had never been there before, and most likely will never be there again, so I was looking forward to exploring the city while I had the chance.

I did accompany my husband to some of the conference events, but I won't include that information except to say that the Salt Lake City Convention Center is large, beautiful, and very convenient to either the Hilton Hotel or the Marriott Hotel. If you have a conference to go to at the Convention Center, either of these hotels is only a quick walk away.

What follows is a description of what I saw and did in three days in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Day One

On my first day in the city, I went to the Salt Lake City Information Center to get my bearings and decide what I wanted to do on my first day in the city. The citizens of SLC are very friendly and that's especially true of those at the Information Center. There, I was given an overview of what I could do without a car. They also gave me a map of the city, which was very helpful.

I visited the Salt Lake City Gift Shop, which was right next to the Information Center, both located inside the Convention Center building. This was definitely not a commercial gift shop hawking postcards and cheap souvenirs. It is small, but chock full of quality items. While it did sell the regularly stocked souvenirs such as t-shirts, postcards, it also included polished rocks you could buy by the bagful, Christmas tree ornaments, and beautiful jewelry. I bought some postcards and some polished rocks for their individual meanings and supposed healing properties.

Hop On Hop Off Bus

I then took the Hop-On Hop-Off bus for a tour of the city. I was fortunate to be there on the very last day of bus tours for the year (it stops running in the last week of October, and the day I took it was October 27th!). The Hop-On Hop-Off bus was well worth the money.

Not only did I learn a lot about the city from the audio tour, but the bus driver was extremely helpful as well, pointing out extra things and willingly answering any questions I had. He even pointed out the scene at the beginning of this article and told me that was the most popular picture to take in the city. And he pulled over so I could take the picture. This tour was the easiest way to get an overview of the city.

This Is The Place Heritage Park Visitor Center

I went to This Is The Place Heritage Park Visitor Center. This wonderful center has a very large gift shop with a small museum downstairs. I walked through the museum to get a better understanding of the pilgrimage the Mormons took out of New York—where they were persecuted for their beliefs—to Illinois, and then West to Salt Lake City.

After purchasing my very reasonably priced ticket to This is the Place, I went to the main attraction, which is a village of old homes and new buildings built as replicas of the original types of buildings that were built in the 1860s when the Mormons arrived. If you have been to living history museums in Massachusetts such as Old Sturbridge Village or Plymouth Plantation, in Virginia to Colonial Williamsburg, or in Connecticut to Mystic Seaport, you will have a better understanding of what my experience was like.

I wandered through the village, talking with people in period costume who gave me a wonderful explanation of the time period and what life in Salt Lake City was like for the early Mormon settlers. I totally enjoyed this educational experience.

I took many pictures and had a snack of homemade mini doughnuts. I went back to the gift shop and had some hot chocolate because it was getting quite cold and I hadn't brought anything more than a light sweater to wear. That hot chocolate was probably the best I have ever had because I was so chilled. It gets cold in SLC at the end of October!

Day Two

Each day, we were able to go to a spouses' breakfast and hear a speaker that had some information for us about Salt Lake City. The speaker on the second day was a representative from the Family Search Center, which houses thousands of genealogical records and was walking distance from our hotel. I had originally planned on doing some more sightseeing on this second day of my time in Salt Lake City, but the speaker was so good and gave us such inspiring information about the Family Research Center, that I decided to go spend my time there.

The Family Research Center

I arrived at 11:30 am and was greeted by a very nice and helpful volunteer at the front desk. When visitors arrive at the Family Research Center, they are matched with a volunteer who brings them to a computer and helps them get started signing in, choosing a password, and learning how to navigate the computer system in order to find their ancestry.

I have to tell you that I spent three and a half hours here, and could have stayed much longer. I was meeting my husband for a dinner at the conference and my time was limited. I actually had to use the restroom but was so enthralled and involved with the research I was doing on my family background that I didn't leave the computer for the whole time I was at the Family Research Center.

I discovered birth and death records for my grandparents, which brought tears to my eyes since they have all died. I can't say enough about the helpfulness of the people that staff this center. They are all kind and helpful and I had a wonderful time there.

Day Three

By the third day in Salt Lake City, my husband was free of obligations and was able to join me in touring around. We had heard that every Thursday at noon, the organist practices in the Temple and the public is able to sit inside and listen to the beautiful music he plays.

We were close enough to the temple to walk and when we arrived, there was a line of people already there waiting to get in for the organ practice. We joined the line but only had a short wait.

The Mormon Temple and Information Center

I had never been in the Temple before and was amazed at the size of the building and its pipe organ. We were treated to an amazing concert rehearsal. The organ sounded almost what you would imagine music in Heaven to sound like, if there is a pipe organ in Heaven. The acoustics were amazing.

After this rehearsal concert, we headed to the Information Center. Inside this center, we read about the history of the Mormons and were greeted by two young ladies who are missionaries in the Mormon faith. They happened to be here from Spain and it was quite interesting to talk to them and get a better understanding of the history of the Mormon religion.

Lunch at the Lion House

There is a wonderful restaurant underneath the Beehive House. It is called The Lion House and we had read rave reviews about it. Since we hadn't eaten lunch yet, we headed there first. It was a bit confusing because the food service is cafeteria-style. But all of the food looked absolutely delicious and it was a challenge to decide what to eat.

Menu items range from pork pot pie to beef stroganoff. It was quite busy when we arrived and it looked like a lot of businessmen eat their lunch there. The people here were very friendly, but we came across that all throughout the city.

The Beehive House

After stopping here, we headed to the Beehive House, which is a museum about Brigham Young, the main leader of the Mormon religion in Salt Lake City. The Beehive House was Brigham Young's actual residence. It was a fascinating museum about his life, family and what life was like for those who lived in this home. There is a sculpture of a Beehive on top of the house, which is how the house got its name.

At the door of the Beehive House, young girls dressed in period-style clothing greeted us and gave us a tour of the home and Brigham Young's office. Both my husband and I enjoy history, so we thoroughly enjoyed learning about the home of this man who at one point had 55 wives and 59 children. The most interesting thing to me about this visit was the fact that he adopted most of these children when he married their mothers. Many of the mothers had been widowed as they were traveling to Salt Lake City, and Brigham Young felt it was his duty to marry these widows and take care of them and their children.

Through this guided tour of the Beehive House, we got a much better understanding of the Mormon religion, and were surprised to hear that the practice of having multiple wives is not practiced in the Mormon religion today, but only by sects that have broken off from the Mormon religion and follow rules each sect has put in place. That is why you see programs on television like Sister Wives. The women giving the tour seemed embarrassed that people assume Mormons still practice polygamy. They made it a point to explain that is no longer part of the religion.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

On Thursday nights the public is allowed to sit in on the rehearsals of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. If you are a fan of choral music, this is an amazing treat and it's also free, like the organ rehearsal. If you can imagine what a chorus of angels sounds like in heaven, you can just begin to imagine what the Mormon Tabernacle choir sounds like.

We were fortunate because there was a special Mormon delegation in town and instead of just a rehearsal, we got to experience a special concert that lasted 45 minutes. I repeatedly closed my eyes and imagined that I was actually in heaven, and it was the closest I think I will ever get to feeling like I am in heaven while I'm still alive.

Salt Lake City Is a Wonderful Place to Visit

All in all, we had a wonderful visit to SLC. I highly recommend a visit if you have the opportunity to go. Since the city itself is not very large, you don't need a lot of time there. Even with just three days, I felt that I was able to see almost everything.

That said, we didn't get to go and see the actual Salt Lake, which would have been quite interesting. Nor did we have time to go to the Natural History Museum of Utah, which would have been very educational.

If you want to get away on a vacation, and you don't have a lot of time, a four- or five-day trip to Salt Lake City is enough time to see the highlights and learn a lot about the West and the Mormon religion.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Karen Hellier