Salt Lake City Winter Travel Guide

4 Mar

For those looking for a fun winter getaway, Salt Lake City, Utah, is home to a variety of worthwhile experiences. Along with having some of the country’s best powder, the city showcases a rich arts scene, cultural sites, world-class spas and numerous snow adventures. To help you make the most of your trip, here are some suggestions.

1.  Explore the nearest snow offerings

Snowbird, Salt Lake City

Snowbird, Salt Lake City. Photo credit: vxla via Flickr.

The nearest ski resorts to Salt Lake City are Alta and Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon and Solitude and Brighton in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Less than a half hour away from the Salt Lake International Airport, both roads are scenic byways with the drives immersing you in the natural beauty of the Wasatch Mountains.

Each ski resort has its own distinct personality. Alta has some of the best powder in the country, as it’s one of only three ski resorts in the United States that are ski only/no snowboarding, leading to softer snow. Although Alta is thought to be for experts only, about 20% of their trails are for beginners. Due to their geography, Alta and Snowbird receive more snow than any other resort in Utah. And while Alta has more of a rustic country vibe, Snowbird features a hip and trendy ambiance. Note: While Snowbird has about 27% green (beginner) runs, they are what many other resorts around the country would consider blues (intermediate), making it an intimidating mountain for those who aren’t experienced skiers.

Solitude is another option, with 1,200 acres of skiable terrain, providing a good mix of trails for all levels as well as the Solitude Nordic Center. Like the name says, Solitude is a place without many crowds and an overall atmosphere of peace and tranquility. And after hitting the slopes, you can explore their European-inspired mountain village with restaurants, ice skating, spas and accommodation. Additionally, Brighton is a laid-back, local favorite with 1,050 acres to explore. It’s an excellent option for families, with children seven and under skiing free, childcare services and lifts that groups can take to the top together before skiing off onto different trails — beginner, intermediate or expert — and then meeting at the bottom.

To make it easier to choose, there is a Ski Salt Lake Super Pass that allows visitors to ski on all four resorts, gives them free transportation to and from the resorts and discounts ski rentals by 20%. And if you’ve never skied, each resort offers the opportunity to take lessons no matter what your age is.

2. Grab a beer

Three different Salt Lake City beers

Salt Lake City beers. Photo credit: Don LaVange via Flickr.

Salt Lake City is home to numerous breweries and brew pubs worth checking out. Squatters Pubs & Beers is a unique choice, as their menu is a mix of standard pub-fare as well as ethnic dishes, all made with local, healthy and organic ingredients. Their food isn’t the only menu item made with care, as the artisanal year-round, seasonal and reserve beers offer a high-quality flavor not found in just any restaurant. While their blonde English-style “Nitro Cream Ale” is silky and smooth with a delicate hop aroma, the “Outer Darkness” is an intensely flavored Russian Imperial Stout featuring notes of raisins, dark chocolate and coffee. A few other worthwhile breweries to check out include Epic Brewing Company, Red Rock Brewery and Uinta Brewing.

3. Explore the arts

“No chance to move backwards and see” by Megan Geckler at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.

“No chance to move backwards and see” by Megan Geckler at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo credit: PunkToad via Flickr.

Salt Lake City is a hub of art and culture, from handicrafts to paintings to music to performance. Start at the free-to-enter Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA), which showcases cutting-edge exhibitions from local, national and international artists throughout four gallery spaces. There’s also the Capitol Theatre, which hosts productions put on by Ballet West, Utah Opera, Children’s Dance Theatre, and Broadway Across America -Utah. A downtown landmark since 1913, visitors also appreciate the building’s Italian Renaissance architecture. Lovers of modern dance and “social conscious theatre” will appreciate the performances put on by the Plan-B Theatre Company. The company puts on shows mainly by Utah playwrights, and

If you’re around on the third Friday of the month you can take part in the monthly Salt Lake Gallery Stroll, where visitors can meet local artists and check out cutting-edge exhibitions while enjoying a glass of wine.

4.  Apres ski

An important part of ski culture is what happens after hitting the slopes. Apres ski refers to going out for food, drinks and fun after hitting the slopes. Ski-in/ski-out venues offer a convenient way to get to your apres ski destination, such as at Snowbird’s Cliff Lodge. Here you’ll find the upscale restaurant The Aerie, which offers aerial mountain views, modern-American food made with local ingredients, 50% off appetizers from 5pm-6pm daily and a list featuring over 1,000 wines. In their lounge, skiers can enjoy live jazz, fresh sushi, innovative tapas and handcrafted cocktails. Another popular apres ski spot is the more easy-going Porcupine Pub, conveniently located near the fork of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. The venue features a warm, rustic atmosphere, with hearty homemade food, local brews and friendly people.

5.  Attend a festival

Paul Rudd and Zoe Deschanel at Sundance Film Festival

Celeb-spotting at Sundance Film Festival. Photo credit: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas via Flickr.

During the winter, Salt Lake City and its surrounding areas host a number of annual festivals. The most famous annual event takes place in January and is the Sundance Film Festival, when stars, celebrity-gawkers and film-enthusiasts head to Salt Lake and Park City for 10 days of movies, music and partying. Note that while accommodation prices skyrocket, this is a good time to enjoy the slopes at they’re virtually bare. Coinciding with Sundance is also the X-Dance Film Festival, which showcases the year’s top action sport films, as well as parties, panels and post-screening Q&A’s.

If you’re visiting during the holidays, the end of November starts of the festive fare with Downtown Lights On! with live music, Santa Claus and the illumination of downtown Salt Lake with holiday lights. Festival of Trees keeps people in the spirit on the last weekend in November with over 800 decorated trees, a gingerbread village and musical performances.

At the end of December, downtown Salt Lake City completely transform with “Eve,” an indoor/outdoor celebration with over 1,000 events from comedy, film, music, drink specials, stargazing, art, rituals and more. Right before Christmas there is also the Winter Solstice Festival at Red Butte Garden, which commemorates one of the season’s lesser-known holidays.

6.  Get a massage

Grand America Hotel, Salt Lake City

Grand America Hotel. Photo credit: the chef74 via Flickr.

While fun, skiing can lead to sore muscles. Luckily, Salt Lake City is home to some world-class spas that can soothe the body, mind and soul. The Grand Spa at the Grand America Hotel is one of the city’s best, with a full salon, fitness center, personal training, spa shopping, poolside spa treatments and extensive treatment menu for men, women and couples. Combat sun damage and toxic pollutants with a “Honey Moisture Infusing Body Wrap,” which uses a Honey and Sea Salt Body Scrub to exfoliate the skin before massing in moisturizing shea butter. They also offer customized massages that are created based on your individual needs.

For something budget-friendly, head to the Cliff Spa at Snowbird where you can access their spa facilities — including gym, eucalyptus steam room, fitness classes, solarium relaxation area, rooftop sun deck, heated swimming pool, hot tub, dry sauna, plush robe and grooming amenities — for $25 per day.

7.  Go snowshoeing

Along with skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in the snow while wearing snowshoes, is a popular winter sport in Salt Lake City. And with 21 National Parks and Monuments within a few hours drive, there are many opportunities for the sport. The nearby ski resorts of Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude offer scenic winter hikes in the Wasatch Mountains. Less than an hour away there is also Park City, which features hundreds of miles of trekking trails. It’s also home to Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and Utah’s largest ski resort, Canyons Resort.

8. Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling in Utah

Snowmobiling. Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr.

An adventurous snow day offering in Salt Lake City is snowmobiling. This involves driving a vehicle designed for snowy terrain, frozen ponds and waterways. Wasatch Mountain State Park is one of the most popular places to snowmobile, with 70 miles of well-groomed trails. For a short ride, take the 4.8-mile Midway Reservoir Trail which traverses up the scenic Pine Creek Canyon to Midway Reservoir. If you want something longer and a bit challenging, the 15.7-mile Mill Flat-Tibble Fork Trail awards views of the Lone Peak and Mount Timpanogos. Other worthwhile snowmobiling spots in Salt Lake City include Mirror Lake, Skyline Drive and Mount Nebo.

9. Explore Temple Square

Temple Square in winter

Temple Square. Photo credit: Curtis Fry via Flickr.

Temple Square is Salt Lake City’s most visited attraction. Taking up an entire city block, this is where you’ll find The Mormon Temple, Mormon Tabernacle and Assembly Hall. Although only members of the LDS are allowed in the temple, the building, which is the world’s largest temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is worth a view. Take in its white quartzite facade, towering spires and many symbolic adornments.

Additionally, the Mormon Tabernacle is home to the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which you can listen to rehearsing on Thursday nights from 8pm to 930pm. Additionally, organ recitals are put on by at the Mormon Tabernacle on weekdays and Saturdays at 12pm and Sundays at 2pm. Performances also take place in the Gothic-style Assembly Hall — specifically on Friday and Saturday nights. Don’t leave without taking a peak at their marvelous 3,500 pipe organ.

If you’re interested in taking a tour of the grounds, they depart every 10 minutes starting at the flagpole between 9am and 9pm.

10. Snow tubing

Less than 30 minutes from Salt Lake City you’ll find Gorgoza Park, home to seven lift-serving tubing lanes. Locals and visitors alike wait patiently all year to enjoy a day of family fun at the park through tubing and children’s offerings like kid’s ski lessons, mini snowmobiles and a tubing carousel that spins children around in circles while riding their tubes. Warm up with a steaming hot cocoa in one of their yurts.

Salt Lake City Winter Travel Guide featured , salt lake city , USA , Winter Travel

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