Thursday, March 23, 2017

Inexpensive Spring Break Stay-Cation Ideas in Utah's Salt Lake County

Are you planning a stay-cation for Spring Break, but need ideas for where to go and what to do?  Well here is a list of places you can visit in Utah's Salt Lake County (Salt Lake City Area).  Each of these things is open in the spring and costs less than $10 per person.  In fact, many of these places are free.

Utah State Capitol Building
350 North State Street
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: Free
Hours: The Capitol is always open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm on Weekdays and from 8:00 am to 6:00 on Weekends and Holidays. Guided tours are offered every hour from 9:00 to 4:00 Monday through Friday except holidays.
Phone Number: 801-538-1800
Visiting the state capitol building is a great way to learn about Utah’s government as well as see some amazing architecture. Inside the building you can see marble architecture details as well as murals depicting scenes from Utah’s history. Outside the building you can walk around a beautiful courtyard with a reflecting pool. As an added bonus the capitols hill top location allows you to have a stunning view of the Salt Lake Valley. If you time it right you might arrive in time to see the cherry trees blossom on the capitol grounds. Free tours of the building are offered on weekdays. Tours start every hour from 9 to 4. They meet at the desk just inside the east doors of the capitol.

Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum
300 N. Main St
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: Free
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 9:00  am to 5:00 pm.  On Wednesday's the museum is open until 8:00 pm
Phone Number: 801-532-6479

This museum has the largest collection of pioneer artifacts in the state, and it actually the world’s largest collection of artifacts on one subject.

Ensign Peak
166 Ensign Vista Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: Free
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Depending on spring trail conditions you may want to plan a hike up to Ensign Peak. This domed outcropping is a signature landmark of the Salt Lake Valley. The trailhead is located in the residential neighborhood several blocks behind the capital building. The Ensign Peak trail is steep. The first .10 of a mile is paved, but after that the trail is unpaved and can be rough and muddy. Still it is a relatively short hike that even young children can do. (I hiked it for the first time when I was 4 years old.) You’ll be able to see amazing views of the Salt Lake Valley and Great Salt Lake when you are standing at the top of the peak.
Temple Square
50 North Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: Free
Hours: 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
Phone Number: (801) 531-1000

There is so much free stuff to do on the 35 acres of Temple Square. Where do we even begin? Even if you aren’t a member of the LDS church you can’t deny that it’s members have played a key roll in Utah’s history. So a visit to Temple Square doesn’t have to be for religious reasons it can also be a history lesson. Tours of Temple Square are offered every hour from 9 am to 8 pm. They start at the flag pole east of the Tabernacle.

In the future, I will create a detailed list of things to see and do on Temple Square. So check back for that.

City Creek Center
50 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: Free to visit, stores and restaurants cost money of course
Hours: Generally 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Phone Number: (801) 521-2012
Even if you aren’t interested in shopping you can still visit this mall to appreciate the amazing architecture. The mall spans both sides of Main Street and a raised glass walkway connects the two sides. It's fun to sit on the sides of the walkway and watch cars and TRAX trains go underneath.  This mall is named after the creek that actually runs through the main concourse of the mall. Real trout fish live in the stream. Staff Members feed the fish every day.

Another fun feature that you can’t miss is the dancing fountain on the Western side of the mall. The fountain preform to music every hour,  At night fire is added to the show.

Clark Planetarium
110 South 400 West
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: Lobby is free, theater shows cost
Hours: From 10:30 until generally 7:00 Monday to Wednesday, 10:00 pm on Thursday, and 11:00 on Friday and Saturday.
Phone Number: (385) 468-7827
This planetarium has many free exhibits in addition to the theater shows which require payment. The free exhibits are very entertaining. There are interactive displays about the solar system and rockets. My personal favorite is “Newton’s Daydream.” A giant maze for balls to roll down and around. It’s always changing and I could stare at it forever.

This is totally random, but if you are like me and you are wondering what happened to the Old Hansen Planetarium you might find this interesting. The building was purchased and is now the headquarters for OC Tanner. The dome of the planetarium was dismantled and donated to the Zion’s Gateway to the stars Planetarium in Orderville, Utah.

Discovery Gateway
444 West 100 South
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: $9.50 general admission. $6 for Sunday admission. There is a group rate of $7.50 for pre-registered groups
Hours: Monday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, and Sunday from Noon – 6 pm
Phone Number: 801-456-5437

This is a fun hands on museum full of interactive exhibits for children to play with. There is something for children of all ages from little babies to older tweens.

Salt Lake City and County Building
451 South State Street
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: Tours of the building cost $10 per person from September to May. Tours are FREE during the months of June, July, and August
Hours: Tours are available on Mondays at noon and 1:00 pm during the months of June July and August.
Phone Number: (801) 533-0858
Tours of this building will start with the earthquake safety features in the basement and end in the clock tower at the top of the building. However, be aware, this one is not very cost effective during the school year. Tours of this building are $10 a person from September to April. But during the summer the tours are FREE! Tours are offered every Monday during June, July, and August at noon and 1:00 pm.

Salt Lake City Library
210 East 400 South
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: Free
Hours: Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 pm
Phone Number: 801-524-8200
This building is another example of amazing architecture that you must visit. This building is full of unique features. From the large curved staircase that leads to the roof, to the 4 story high ceiling in the atrium area, to the glass elevators that rise 5 stories. Classes, movies, concerts and other events are held at the library on a regular basis.

Ride Trax
Various stops throughout downtown
Cost: Free in the "free fare zone" in downtown
Hours: Vary depending on the day, but generally there is a train about every 20 minutes during daytime hours.
Phone Number:801-RIDE-UTA

While you are downtown you should hop on one of the Trax trains.  They are free in the downtown areas. Riding the train can make it easy to visit places like the Planetarium and the Library in one day.

Liberty Park
600 East 900 South
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: The park is free, however certain activities have a cost
Hours: Dawn to dusk
Phone Number: (801) 521-0962 (for rides concessions and paddle boats)

Liberty Park is a fun park to visit any time of year. Some of the bigger attactions like the carnival rides, swimming pool, and the Seven Canyon’s Fountain wont be open until the summer months. But other fun things such as the play grounds and the walking trail are open all year.

Tracy Aviary
589 East 1300 South
Salt Lake City Utah
Cost: $7.95 per adult and $4.95 for children
Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day
Phone Number: (801)596-8500

This aviary has many different birds in many different enclosures.  There are walkways that lead throughout the area.  Shows are held throughout the day.

International Peace Gardens
1000 South 900 West
Salt Lake City, Utah.
Cost: Free
Hours: Dawn to Dusk - May 1 through September 30
Phone Number: 801-972-7800

This place is super cute. There are little gardens representing different countries. Most notable is the scale replica of the Matterhorn and a replica of the famous Little Mermaid stature.

Wheeler Farm
6351 South 900 East
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: Admission is Free, there are costs associated with ome activities
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Phone Number: (385) 468-1755
Wheeler Farm is listed on the National Historic Register. Nine of the structures are original to the farm. It is operated by Salt Lake County Parks and is a working farm that is free to visit. A few activities like milking a cow, touring the historic home, and wagon rides cost money, but there are plenty of free things to keep your kids occupied. Animals include horses, pigs, cows, goats, and chickens. (And mark your calendars. On Saturday May 21 2017 the farm will host Farm Fest which will feature many demonstrations and free tours of the historic farm house.) There is also a really great playground near the entrance to the farm.

Humanitarian Center
1665 S Bennett Road (2030 West)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Cost: Free
Hours: Tours are available on weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m
Phone Number: 801-240-5954

The LDS church manages a world-wide humanitarian effort.  You can learn about different programs that the church administers by taking a free 45 minute tour of the Humanitarian Center.

County Ice Center
5201 South Murray Park Lane
Murray Utah
Cost: $4 for anyone six and older and $1 for children 3-5 Skate Rental costs $2
Hours: Vary depending on the day. Generally open from 1:15 to 3:00 with longer hours on weekends.
Phone Number: 385 468-1650

I know that we are all kind of sick of winter at this point.  But ice skating does sound fun.  This would be a fun way to say goodbye to winter.

Great Salt Lake State Park
13312 West 1075 South
Magna, Utah
Cost: $3 per vehicle for day use. Campsites are $20
Hours: 7:00 am to 5:00 pm
Phone Number: (801) 250-1898

Here’s something odd, nobody in Utah really cares to visit the Great Salt Lake. Even though the capital city is named after the lake we all just kind of ignore it during our day to day lives. Tourists to the state ask about visiting the lake all the time, but the people who live here hardly give the lake a second thought. That’s a shame because the lake is very beautiful. You can visit the lake at Great Salt Lake State Park. This is primarily a marina, but you can also picnic, walk along the shore, or camp right next to the lake. Swimming is not recommended. The best place to swim on the lake is the beach on Antelope Island State Park.

* * *

I hope this list helps you find something fun to do. If you want more ideas for things to do in Northern Utah during Spring Break check out the full list here.

And as always, I'd love to know if there are more fun and inexpensive places to visit in this area. If you know of any feel free to tell me about them in the comments.

Have a great stay-cation!

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