10 Perfect Summer Days in Utah | Summer Guide | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

10 Perfect Summer Days in Utah 

Where to eat, drink and play

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Water, Water Everywhere
By Rachel Hanson

For the year and a half that my fiance and I dated, I was in school and had two jobs. In 2009, we lived outside of Utah. So, our first summer as an engaged/married couple is also our first summer together in Utah—and we’re making the most of it, before we get old and bored of being around each other.

We drag ourselves out of the house at 7 a.m. on a Saturday, stopping at Cucina Deli (1026 2nd Ave., 801-322-3055, CucinaDeli.com) to grab to-go sandwiches. Before heading north out of town, we detour into Rose Park and stop at the West Side Grind coffee stand in the parking lot of the Fresh Market (140 N. 900 West), where I order one of their unique, delicious coffees—maybe the banana-infused Crazy Monkey—and my fiance, the coffee-hater, indulges in a green tea latte.

The caffeine and the relative coolness of the early morning help us enjoy the 40-minute drive to Ogden, where we’ll hike Waterfall Canyon (trailhead at 29th Street), a short but steep hike with a great payoff. The cool mist of the waterfall at the end of the trail rejuvenates us while we enjoy our Cucina sandwiches. Made with the freshest vegetables and best bread in town, they’re still delicious after being lugged up the mountain in our backpack. Once we feel refreshed—maybe even a little chilly under the dense trees—we trek downward and hit the road again.

On our way south, we stop at Wisebird Bookery (4850 Harrison Blvd., Ogden, 801-479-8880) and pick out a couple of paperbacks—an Agatha Christie mystery or teen book for me, a fantasy for my husband. Next, we return to Highway 89 and hit up Cherry Hill Water Park (1325 South Main, Kaysville, 801-451-5379, Cherry-Hill.com) for an afternoon on the water slides and lazy river. If we’re feeling up to it, we might visit the batting cages or mini-golf course, but a second attractive option is drying off between rides by reading/catching a quick snooze on blankets under the sun on the park’s grassy hill. After about four hours, we’re sufficiently wrinkly from the water and pink from the sun, so we head back into Salt Lake City.


We stop home at around 5:30 to make ourselves presentable before taking TRAX downtown to Gallivan Plaza. We walk to Sicilia Pizza (111 E. 300 South, 801-961-7077, SiciliaPizza.net) for some tasty, custom, personal pizzas, made fresh by owner/chef Amro Herrera. Once our bellies are full, we walk to O’Shucks (22 E. 100 South, 801-596-8600) where we unwind at the bar with schooners of Pabst Blue Ribbon. The beer is the warmest in town, but it goes down quicker that way. Longtime patrons of O’Shucks, we see familiar faces behind and lining the bar, making it the perfect place to relax after a long day.

Freebies & Fresh Air
By Scott Renshaw

Summer days in the Utah valleys can be brutally hot—and especially brutal for parents dealing with bored, sweaty, vacationing kids. But I have a vision of a summer day that keeps the whole family cool without burning a hole in the budget.

Start the day by driving up to Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort (Highway 210, Little Cottonwood Canyon, 801-933-2222, Snowbird.com) in the morning. Temperatures at the mountain resort can be 10-15 degrees lower than on the valley floors, and its lovely trails—including a one-mile, kid-friendly, wheelchair-accessible walk—can provide a great opportunity for exercise and nature watching. For a little extra expense, you can add some thrills to the morning on the Alpine Slide ($8 per adult or older child riding alone, $3 for a 6-years-or-under “lap rider”) or the ZipRider ($12 per ride). The Forklift for lunch offers gorgeous views and a reasonably priced kids’ menu, but a picnic could lower costs even more.

Of course the kids will want to get wet eventually, but that doesn’t mean pricey tickets for water parks or even rec-center pools. Head downtown after lunch, where the Seven Canyons and splash-play areas at Liberty Park (900 South 700 East) are a wonderful spot to get soaked on a summer day—though, not surprisingly, generally a crowded and popular one. And when it’s time for a break and a snack, there are plenty of big shade trees for relaxing.

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Bring along a change of clothes, because you’ll want everyone dry enough to walk inside eventually. Several downtown-area museums and exhibits offer either free admission or special pricing on selected days. At the Gateway, the exhibits at Clark Planetarium (110 S. 400 West, 801-456-7827, ClarkPlanetarium.org) are always free during operating hours; only tickets for the planetarium’s movies will cost you anything. The Utah Museum of Natural History (1390 E. Presidents Circle, University of Utah, 801-581-6927, UMNH.Utah.edu) offers its “Free Family Monday” the first Monday of every month, with access to all exhibits, and a family of four can visit Tracy Aviary (589 E. 1300 South, 801-596-8500, TracyAviary.org) for only $16 (less if one of the little ones is 3 or under). Wheeler Farm (6351 S. 900 East, 801-264-2241, WheelerFarm.com) is also a freebie, though individual activities like the wagon rides and farm chores have a nominal charge. 

If your itinerary has taken you away from The Gateway (ShopTheGateway.com), head back for your dinner at any of the outside patio locations. If you’re visiting on a Thursday in June or July, you could enjoy some free music at the Jazz on the Plaza concerts. But maybe the kids would rather just get another dose of water at the Olympic Legacy Fountain (6 N. Rio Grande St.). They’ll dry off—and after this day, your bank account won’t be dried up. 

Downtown’s Metaphysical Spiral
By Jerre Wroble

When I have pals in town, I know they’re expecting a taste of traditional Utah combined with sightseeing and pampering. So, I wake them up early on Sunday morning (yes, they love me for this) and drag them out to see a free performance by a world-class choir: the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (50 W. North Temple, 801-240-4872, LDS.org). Once I convince them that no one will pounce on them at the gate and hypnotize them into Mormonism, they relax and enjoy the 360 voices belting out choral masterpieces each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, they’re quite impressed. Usually, while they’re still in a stupor after the performance, I drag them into the North Visitor’s Center to see the 11-foot-tall marble replica of Thorvaldsen’s Christus with the universe swirling around in the background. It’s quite a metaphysical way to start to the day.

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Keeping with the metaphysical theme, next stop is a morning of brunch and mimosas on the patio, followed by tarot cards and book shopping at The Oasis Cafe/Golden Braid (151 S. 500 East, 801-322-0404, OasisCafeSLC.com). We then visit Healing Mountain Massage School (455 S. 300 East, 801-355-6300, HealingMountain.org), open 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, for $35 hot stone Swedish massages.

After food, champagne and massage, a strolling siesta is required: we walk to the magnificent (and air-conditioned) Main Library (210 E. 400 South, 801-524-8200, www.SLCPL.lib.ut.us) where we order strong iced coffees from the Salt Lake Roasting Company located in the library’s atrium. We find a seat in the atrium’s upper floors to take in the dazzling view of downtown Salt Lake City.

After we sufficiently revive ourselves, we make our way to Whole Foods (645 E. 400 South, 801-355-7401, WholeFoodsMarket.com) to buy containers of fresh organic salads, dips and sandwiches, and then make a quick trip to my home fridge to pick up chilled wine that I remembered to buy on Saturday (since liquor stores here are closed on Sundays) at the Utah Wine Store (255 S. 300 East, 801-533-6444). Then, it’s off to enjoy a delectable indoor picnic at an evening performance of Salt Lake Acting Company’s Saturday’s Voyeur (168 W. 500 North, 801-363-7522, SaltLakeActingCompany.com). I wish we could have squeezed in a tram ride at Snowbird, an afternoon drive around Antelope Island, and a Red Butte Garden outdoor concert, but there are only so many hours in a perfect day.

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