Recently, I’ve been very backlogged when it comes to editing photos and blogging. I’ve had several sessions, a few small adventures, and some schedule changes that have contributed to me being so far behind. So here it goes… Wannee’s visit to Utah (which happened a month ago… Oops)!
Day 1: Hike the Wasatch
It’s rare when I get visits from my friends and family back on the East coast, but when someone comes to Utah, I want them to see how much I love Utah— but at their own speed. Wannee is one of my oldest and best friends. We’ve been friends for over 11 years, how crazy is that?! She just moved to Dallas recently for a job, so she’s going through some of the “just moved and need to make friends and a home for myself” woes that I experienced when I moved to Utah. When she told me back in the late spring that she wanted to visit, I was super excited! She’s a more laid back type of traveler, so we meandered through her visit instead of sprinted.
The first day she flew in, we were both hungry so we hit up one of Salt Lake’s most popular brunch spots— Pig in a Jelly Jar. I haven’t been there prior to that visit, but I’ve always heard good things and what a perfect time to try it! Wannee’s chicken and waffles were so good— particularly the chicken. It was crunchy and crisp on the outside, but juicy on the inside. I’ve got to figure out how to perfect that technique in the kitchen!
After brunch, we went back to the house and got ready for a hike. I love that in Utah the terrain is very diverse and even within the Salt Lake area, there are different types of hikes— rocky, shaded, desert, forest, etc. My favorite is getting up in the high elevation forests and meadows. I took her out the Brighton Lakes loop (Lakes Mary, Catherine, and Martha). It’s rated as “Easy” on the Alltrails.com app, but personally I would rate it moderate based on the immediate climbing for the first half mile or so. Wannee was not used to the elevation, so we took it slowly, enjoying the wildflowers that were still hanging on for dear life.
For other hikes on the Brighton Lakes trail, click here!
After the hike, we went to dinner with Brighton at my favorite Middle Eastern/Greek place — Mazza. Yumm! I usually get the schwarma sandwich (over rice) or the Lamb & Rice Dolaa. Their hot tea is also a favorite of mine. Much better than soda for me, and so comforting!
For more of my favorite Salt Lake restaurants, click here.
Day 2: Salt Lake City Exploration
The next morning, I woke up early to do an early morning photoshoot with some of my previous clients while Wannee slept in. After I returned, we got ready for the day and went to Downtown Salt Lake.
Wannee had requested a “sculpture garden”, so I took her to the only one I know off the top of my head the Gilgal Sculpture Garden. It’s a tiny little park that’s near downtown in a neighborhood, off the beaten path. According to their website, Gilgal Sculpture Garden contains 12 original sculptures and over 70 stones engraved with scriptures, poems, and literary texts. We discovered the park when we did Oktoberquestival last year. It’s a strange little park, but it’s quirky just like Salt Lake.
Gilgal Sculpture Garden
749 E 500 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84102
After that, we continued to visit the Salt Lake City library. It’s my favorite building in Salt Lake. When I worked at the hotel, and people would ask what they should see, I usually recommended the library. It was designed by internationally-acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie in conjunction with VCBO Architecture and it opened in February 2003 and remains one of the most architecturally unique structures in Utah. It’s an awesome building that’s worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Pro Tip: What most people don’t realize is that you can go up to the top of the building and get panoramic views of Salt Lake! I took my parents up there when they visited, and now it’s one of my favorite stops along my SLC tour!
Salt Lake City Library
210 E 400 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Since it was lunchtime, we picked up Kelli and went to one of my favorite restaurants downtown, Red Rock Brewery. I have tried a variety of things on their menu, and my pick of the moment is the Red Rock Burger. It’s in a pita, and for some reason, that makes me like it more.
After dropping Kelli off, we moved on to The Leonardo. It’s Salt Lake’s museum for arts and science. They have a flight themed exhibit right now, which was interesting, though my favorite was the optical illusion area in the upstairs.
209 E 500 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Continuing exploring downtown SLC, we hit a few more places before heading home:
–Fisher Brewery (320 W 800 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101) – Local brewery in an industrial area recommended by Kelli
–Ruby Snap (770 300 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84101) – My favorite home made cookie place. You can also buy them at Harmon’s (grocery store) and bake them at home. The Virgina is the best!
–The Chocolate Conspiracy (774 300 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84101) – Try the Wild Spice chocolate bar. It’s a real kicker!
–Avenues Proper (376 8th Ave, Salt Lake City, UT 84103)- Great for tapas, drinks, and a gathering place. We found it while living in the Avenues last year.
Once we were home, it was the evening and we headed out to St. George for our visit to Zion the next day.
Day 3: Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks
The next day, we woke up in St. George, ready for a day in the beautiful Utah national parks! We headed to Zion, and did one of my favorite easy hikes— Observation Point. I had done this hike for Memorial Day earlier this year while we were visiting for the Narrows Hike. I love the overview at the end of this short 1 mile hike, and it’s great for my visitors who are often coming from Florida and low elevation areas.
Canyon Overlook Hike
Distance: 1 Mile, RT
Elevation Gain: 163 feet, mostly flat after the initial climb
Trailhead: Immediately east of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel by the ranger booth. Shuttle access is not provided/not necessary. Parking is limited
Restrooms: Yes, on the west side of the road, across street from trailhead. (Pit toilet)
This hike starts out by climbing up steps to hug the side of the canyon wall. There are some exposed cliffs, but there’s no immediate danger if you take caution. Most of the trail is in full sun, so be sure to bring sun protection. The desert can be brutal! There are some potions of shade.
One of my favorite parts is a little bridge that closes the gap between the trail and a cool, shady spot shortly after the initial climb. You’ll know it when you see it.
(Photo below of the bridge is from Memorial Day weekend!)
You’ll continue to follow the trail until it ends in a breath-taking overlook into the Zion Canyon.
We enjoyed taking some photos before heading back to the car.
For more adventures in Zion National Park, click here.
Bryce Canyon National Park
We hadn’t originally planned on visiting Bryce, but we decided to make the extra trip to see it. It’s not everyday that Wannee is in Utah! We entered the park using my annual park pass, and went to the Bryce Point viewpoint. There were a surprising amount of people given the fact it wasn’t a holiday weekend.
Always plan for crowds at the national parks!
After Bryce, we returned home to Salt Lake and finished our trip with a dinner with Courtney and Brighton at Tsunami (aka my kryptonite). I love their Vegas roll and tombo sashimi special.
It was a great trip with one of my oldest and best friends. We talked about life, memories, and our futures. Wannee and I have a lot in common, and always have as we evolved in different seasons of our life. Even more so now, since now she’s moved to a new city that she knew no one in and has settled down to make a life. She even met a man who she loves… sound familiar? 😉
I love it when I have visitors because I can show them why I love Utah so much! I tend to customize the trip for the person who is visiting because some of my friends are like me in that they want to see as much as possible with such limited time, others want a healthy mix of relaxation and destinations, and others just want to take it easy and see what they can, even if it’s not too much.
What do you like to do when visitors come?