Last year, my sister, brother in law and their children moved to the United States! Unfortunately, they didn’t move anywhere glamorous; not Florida, New York or California, no, no, no. They moved to Salt Lake City, in the state of Utah. It’s not exactly tourist central to say the least; most people don’t even know what part of the country it’s in. This and the fact that I was to travel with my parents for the first time in years, made me a little anxious.
Of course, I had no need to worry. Surprisingly Salt Lake City and the surrounding area are actually bursting with things to see and do for the whole family. I was travelling with 4 other adults and 4 children aged 7 and under so the trip was quite full on, but there was always something to keep all of us entertained. It’s also exceptionally beautiful; the city itself is encircled by the stunning snow-capped Wasatch Mountain Range, and Utah is home to 5 national parks so believe me when I say that natural beauty definitely defines the state!
With four kids in tow, much of the 2 and a half week trip was family focused but this wasn’t a problem as there is so much to see and do for families, not just in Salt Lake City itself, but in the surrounding cities, like Roy, Ogden and Layton. At home, we would probably describe these areas as suburbs but over here, they are identified as individual cities, and it can be quite hard to distinguish between them as they tend to blend into one another! I also couldn’t get over quite how many places there are to eat; every other building is a take away or restaurant so you definitely don’t need to worry about going hungry when you’re here.
In terms of attractions, we definitely packed a lot in. One of the first places we visited was Antelope Island State Park, which is actually the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. Its home to a herd of 500 wild bison which roam around the island and you can get excellent up close views of them! We also saw wild porcupines, coyotes and deer while we were there plus plenty of bird life. Views of the mountains and the lake itself are excellent and despite the road that travels around the island, plus its proximity to the city, you feel like you’re a million miles from civilisation.
We travelled south one day, headed for the city of Moab and Arches National Park. It was a tough decision choosing between Arches, Zion, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Bryce National Parks but as Arches was closest, it won this time around! Located around 4 hours’ drive away (but more like 5 hours with stops for the kids), it was probably a bit too much to tackle in one day but it was still most definitely worth it! Arches was amazing; deep red rocks, huge cliff faces and free standing sandstone arches, pinnacles and balanced boulders are seen at every turn in this bizarrely beautiful, red environment. It was unlike anywhere I’ve been before and I wish we had had longer there. Unfortunately rocks aren’t very interesting to children so I didn’t get to explore quite as fully as I would have liked, but you win some, you lose some! Moab was also really interesting and reminded me of Australia a bit with its small town, relaxed approach to the tourism it welcomed.
Closer to home we packed in plenty more sightseeing and attractions including Ogden Dinosaur Park and the Natural History Museum of Utah, both of which showcased hundreds of fascinating dinosaur fossils. My 3 year old nephew absolutely loves dinosaurs so these were by far his favourite days out! We also visited Ogden Nature Centre and enjoyed a great day of walking and nature spotting; we saw snakes, birds, deer and even a tortoise! The Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy just south of Salt Lake City is the only one in the State; the kids loved the touch pool and the River Otters were fun to watch while they fought like teenagers in their enclosure, as were the penguins! The only down side was that it is quite small so we were only there a few hours. We also visited the American West Heritage Centre during ‘Baby Animals Week’, which included a group of incredibly cute baby black bears as well as other baby animals from rabbits through to goats!
The surrounding mountains are home to a great number of ski resorts which at the time were still open, albeit only for another week or so before the end of the ski season. Unfortunately I didn’t get to hit any slopes during my trip but we did visit Park City, located around 45 minutes away in the mountains. The Utah Winter Olympics Park is located here so we took a look and had a wander around the cute town centre, flanked by historical buildings (at least by USA standards!) and quirky boutiques.
Overall, I would definitely recommend travelling here on holiday. It might not be a “top destination” in America, but it has so much to offer and personally the fact that it isn’t overly touristy makes it even more appealing. Beauty and brilliant attractions are packaged up in this south west State and I can’t wait to travel back here!