Product Review: I received complimentary services in exchange for my (as always) honest review.
I’ve lived in Salt Lake City for a total of 16 years of my life, but there are so many things I never knew about it until this weekend – like, for example, the fact that Utah was the birthplace of the very first artificial heart, or that one of our museums has the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in the world. I learned where the Governor’s Mansion is, that our local zoo has a new baby zebra, and that the Great Salt Lake has up to a 12% salt concentration. And all of this because I took a bus tour around the city with US Bus Utah!
All day on Saturday, my friend Melissa and I got to journey around the city on the tour’s three buses (including an old fashioned trolley and a double decker), learning new facts about SLC. The guide on the tour is a recording, and each track is from a different person associated with each new spot, so you know you’re hearing from someone passionate about their city. US Bus Utah really pays attention to the little details like this – their double decker bus is an authentic one from Britain, that they picked up in Maryland and drove all the way to Utah!
The best part of the tour, though, is that you can hop off to explore more whenever something looks interesting, and that’s exactly what we did. These are some of my favorite must-visit spots in Salt Lake, and if you do it by bus, even better!
Of course, you can’t have a post about Salt Lake City without mentioning Temple Square. There is so much to do in the heart of downtown, from museums to photo ops to good food. We decided to hop off the bus for 45 minutes to explore something new here that we had never done before: a tour of the Beehive House.
The Beehive House was the first office building of the LDS Church back in the 1800s, as well as Brigham Young’s home. There are tons of original pieces in each room, including furniture, books, and even clothing worn by him and his family. It was so interesting to see things like the bathroom (where they heated up water on the stove to wash once a week) and the office, where the original drawing of the plan for the temple is hung on the wall.
After the Beehive House, we wandered the temple grounds for a few minutes to check out the temple itself and the Assembly Hall, one of my favorite buildings downtown. The pews inside this church are original and are so close together, I don’t know how anyone sits on them comfortably.
We still had some time to kill and we remembered that the tour guide on the bus mentioned that the fried pickles at The Garden, one of the restaurants on Temple Square, were to die for, so we hurried to the tenth floor to try them out. They were to die for and I can’t wait to go back for more (plus another Lime Rickey)!
I’ve been to the Capitol many times, so we didn’t get out on this stop, but it’s one of my favorite places to spend an evening and watch the sunset over the Great Salt Lake. The visitor’s center across the street is an awesome place to stop to learn about Utah history and grab some souvenirs.
Cathedral of the Madeleine
We didn’t get off here either, but this is another one of the most beautiful buildings in SLC. Mass is open to the public – I would love to go see the inside sometime!
Red Butte Garden
I love visiting the gardens here no matter what time of year it is, but summer here is so beautiful and there’s so much to do! Their concert series is one of the best in Utah – can’t wait to see HAIM there later this summer myself!
Salt Lake City’s zoo might be smaller than some, but it’s such a fun place to visit. Our tour guide informed us they currently have several new babies including a zebra and a giraffe, and they’re getting a 1.5 year old polar bear later this year. Swoon! They just had lion cubs not too long ago (they grow so fast!) and a baby gorilla. I love the zoo so much but we weren’t feeling it on a 90 degree Saturday. You know I’ll be there later this summer though!
Salt Lake City Library
If there were awards for the coolest libraries, this one would win for sure. The Salt Lake Library is made almost completely of glass, including glass elevators and floor to ceiling windows. When you walk in, you’ll find yourself in a huge, vaulted corridor flooded with natural light, with cute coffee shops to your left and five stories of books to your right.
We wandered the library for a while, looking at all the art installations and gazing down at the plaza, where the Utah Pride Fest was happening around the fountains. Later this month the Utah Arts Festival will be held there, and it’s one of my favorite events of the year in the city!
The Pie Hole
Okay, so technically this wasn’t a stop on the tour, but it’s right across from the library and we headed over for lunch. They have some of the yummiest by-the-slice pizza in Utah, complete with classic arcade games and bottled soda. We were tempted to spend the rest of the day there, but we still had one stop left to hit!
The Leonardo Museum
The Leo is by far my favorite museum in SLC. It’s all hands-on and it’s described as a museum of science, technology, and creativity. Right now their main exhibit is all about flight, and includes a real C-131 aircraft you can climb into, flight simulators, and a movie showing all the failed flight attempts when no one knew how to fly yet.
My favorite exhibit there was the Woman / Women one, all about human rights and the history of the women’s movement. It was so empowering and amazing to see all the strong women who have made a difference to lead us to where we are now, and to see photos of the women’s march I personally attended earlier this year at the Capitol.
The other one we loved was called Perception: The Illusion of Reality, and included tons of optical illusions as well as explorations of sound and touch. We participated in a “virtual haircut” and also tried to make a speech while hearing our own voices repeated back slightly slower (it’s harder than it sounds).
By now it was almost dinner and we were getting tired, so we decided to call it a day and hopped on the open-air bus back to the start with the wind whipping our hair. I couldn’t believe how much we had seen and learned in just one day from the back of a bus – it was seriously so fun and I can’t wait to do it again since there were so many stops we didn’t have a chance to check out. If you want to come with (or do your own bus tour), head to the US Bus Utah website to see all the stops and grab a ticket!
What’s your favorite spot in Salt Lake City? Have you ever done a bus tour before?