Exploring Utah

During a recent trip to Utah I had the chance to explore Big Cottonwood, Salt Lake City, Park City, and so much more! We were there on Pioneer Day for the Days of 47 Celebration. Pioneer Day is when the Mormon pioneers arrived in Salt Lake Valley on July 24th, 1847 (which I think is why they call it days of '47) after many had tried, failed, and died in the previous attempts. Its a major state holiday. 

During a recent trip to Utah I had the chance to explore Big Cottonwood, Salt Lake City, Park City, and so much more! We were there on Pioneer Day for the Days of 47 Celebration. Pioneer Day is when the Mormon pioneers arrived in Salt Lake Valley on July 24th, 1847 (which I think is why they call it days of '47) after many had tried, failed, and died in the previous attempts. Its a major state holiday. 


If you've been following along with the Wedding Wednesday series, we are going to take a short break from it for Wanderlust Wednesday's! Catch the first post in the series here.

As many of you know from my Instagram, I've spent a couple of weeks traveling across the United States! 

So for the next few weeks on the blog, I'll be doing a Wanderlusting Wednesday and share my travels and tips with you!


I had no idea what to expect from Utah, like at all

All I knew was the temperature on the weather reports I was watching kept saying 100 degrees... oof! But, coming from Florida, I have to say the heat in Utah is so different! And while it was hot, it was not unbearable like when it's 100 degrees in Florida. Florida is a humid heat, so you are always just covered in sweat with your clothes sticking to you... Utah is a dry heat. In fact, it was so hot and dry that the sweat would actually dissipate from my skin so I never really felt sweaty beyond a slight sheen (and a lot of the times that wasn't noticeable). My hair was great there and my skin was clear! I loved it! 

We were there on Pioneer Day for the Days of 47 Celebration. Pioneer Day is when the Mormon pioneers arrived in Salt Lake Valley on July 24th, 1847 (which I think is why they call it days of '47) after many had tried, failed, and died in the previous attempts. Its a major state holiday. 

I knew Utah was "Mormon country", but I didn't even know what that meant. I've never spent significant time with Mormons and had only really heard myths about them growing up, like "Mormons are polygamists" (Not true BTW). So I went in with little to no expectations and have to say the experience was fantastic!

Everyone was so friendly and even as an outsider, the family values are more evident than in any culture I've come across. From the way the Days of 47 parade focused each generation teaching and improving on the previous generation to their local news station introduction featuring students singing the names of all the cities in Utah! Everywhere I looked or turned there were families. 

Basically from my understanding Mormon's are Christians. Their goal/purpose in life is to live as pure a life as possible as outlined by The Bible and Jesus Christ, always being led by kindness, compassion, and pureness. *If you are Mormon and read this, please feel free to correct me or expand on this in the comments! 

Okay, since this isn't a post about Mormons and I don't have a great grasp on any formal religious constructs, let's dive into travel tips and things to do in Salt Lake City and some surrounding areas!

Just outside of Salt Lake City:

Big Cottonwood


We went up to Big Cottonwood to see Donut Falls. The hike itself is pretty easy, from the parking lot its only 2.5 mi round trip. But when you get to the falls there is a steep rock climb up if you want to go to the top, and my friend Shambray (more about her later!) who lives there said people have died from trying to go behind the fall. Needless to say I did not go up the actual waterfall!

Getting there: We took an Uber to the hike, not really thinking about the fact we were in the middle of a mountain and may not have reception (or another Uber) to get home... Needless to say I started panicking while walking around trying to find reception for the internet. Finally I got Uber to load and it said a one hour wait. I requested the ride but no one would accept it! I was PANICKING! The hike down was 9 miles alongside the windy road without a sidewalk! Plus we had just done 15 miles the previous day and 5 already that day... I was not about to hike another 9 miles with traffic coming at me!

We ended up calling a few cab companies and finally got one to agree, but he said it would be an hour wait and $100! (The uber only cost $30!)... We told him to come because, HELLO STRANDED ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN?!?) - 5 minutes after telling him to come and me on the verge of tears about to hitch hike, my fiancee tried Uber one more time, and IT WORKED! A driver was dropping some woman off from the airport and got to us in 15 minutes! SO if you do this, make sure to have both ways planned!  



Bingham Canyon Open Pit Copper Mine, a.k.a. Kennett Copper Mine

This was such a treat! My fiancee's boss drove us up hear after they finished work one day and holy moly what a site to see!

It's an open-pit mine, which the workers extract copper deposits in the Oquirrh Mountains. This is a magical site to see! It's the largest man-made excavation in the world! The mine has been in production since 1906 and today is a pit over .6 miles deep, 2.5 miles wide, and cover 1,900 acres!


Park City, UT

We were only here for about two hours for dinner after the Copper mine excursion so I didn't get to explore as much as I would've liked, but hopefully going back in December and will have more to update you guys with! We had dinner in the downtown area which is small! It's unbelievable to think about how many people pack into this little downtown area for Sundance each year!


Herriman, UT - The UP House!

Calling all Disney lovers! This is a must see! So not sure what the full story here is but basically someone (maybe Disney?) commissioned builders to replicate the UP house from the movie! Supposedly the inside is an exact replica. After it was built it had balloons and everything and the public could go in and explore, however now a family lives there so beyond a quick drive by and selfie you can't do anything super cool... but still beautiful nonetheless if you're in the area!


Okay now on to where I spent most of my time...

Salt Lake City, UT

City Creek Center is a gorgeous indoor/outdoor shopping mall. Even if you aren't in the mood for shopping, it's such a pleasant experience to walk around and see how they bring in all the outside elements inside like little creeks, koi ponds, and foliage. There is a glass roof the contracts and opens depending on the weather too!


I met up with a fellow blogger, Shambray here for lunch with her adorable daughters! It was so cool getting to spend time with someone I met through Instagram and constantly see pictures of, but have never even spoken to on the phone! Her daughters are even cuter than they look on her Instagram account! It was such a joy to see how patient and caring of a mother she is. Make sure you check out her blog too!


Temple Square. Its beautiful and massive (like 35 acres massive)! I didn't realize how big it was and actually missed a ton of it and didn't realize until I was talking with some of my fiance's co-workers and we were already in Park City and flying out for the next leg of our trip.  

The square itself beautiful with both flowers and architecture.

Apparently in the church office building (below) there is an observation deck on the 26th floor where you can get a great view of the Capitol, but I missed it!


Other things I missed (there are plenty more than this list) which I recommend checking out: The tabernacle, the north and south visitor centers,  and actually seeing the the Capitol. I never ended up walking all the way up to it (it was too hot and I looked at this as the calm part of my trip) and I could see it from the distance, but it does look amazing!  There are so many historic buildings that I didn't go into (I didn't realize I could!) but have pictured below. So I would definitely recommend check out Temple Square's website for the in's and out's on exploring every nook and cranny it has to offer!

Gallivan Center

This is actually an open air event center that I just fell in love with, especially this random water walkway below! There were little tables so you could sit under it in the shade with the sound of water splashing and I just loved cutting through this part of town to and from my hotel.

Where to eat:

Red Iguana: Delicious Mexican food! We went here after the mountain debacle our first night. It was Sunday at 8 pm when we arrived and a 45 minute wait! We ended up getting the food to-go because we didn't want to wait. IT was so good and well worth the trip! We asked for extra pico de gallo and sour cream which added $4 to our bill, but it's because they give you a massive container, like the kind you buy in the store. Turns out I really didn't need any of it. They actually give a really good serving of it on their food. 

Pulp: I stumbled upon this place for breakfast and ended up getting a juice too. It was SO GOOD! Seriously the Skinny Jeans was the perfect blend of sweet, tangy, and savory. I was full for hours! The juice I had was --- and it was delicious! Just minty enough and . Plus it's so cute! If I lived here I think I'd be here every week.

Bruges & Frites. Disappointment. It had PHENOMENAL reviews on Yelp, and the waffle was definitely AMAZING... but the food leaves something to be desired. I would only come here for the waffle in the future, skip the burger or sausages.

Straw Market. $1.00 Cinnamon bun. Need I say more? Nope. But I will, DELICIOUS! I almost ate 3 it was so good! This photo was actually after I already took a bite/ripped off a piece. I didn't think I would post it but once it hit my tastebuds... I had to!


Cooper Onion: OH DANG! This place IS SO GOOD! My only regret is I went by myself, rather than for dinner with my fiancee, and only tried one thing! EVERYTHING LOOKED SO GOOD! I had the BBQ Brisket sandwich which was perfection. The bread was the perfect mix of crispy and super soft, the bbq flavor was smokey and tangy and perfect. and i am literally looking forward to when I get to go again!!

Where we stayed:

The Courtyard Marriott in Downtown Salt Lake City, UT. 

It was a little out of the way, most things were at 15 minute walk or more. But it's new and clean! I also love that the rooms have a microwave and fridge. When traveling a lot, spending loads of money on meals out all day erryday can get super expensive fast, so I like this little cost saving perk. And the staff there is super helpful! Our flight wasn't leaving until midnight and checkout was supposed to be at 11 AM but they let me stay until the late afternoon when I was leaving to meet up with Eric after work. 

Struck with the wanderlust bug? Check out TCM's tips for saving on a tight budget and finally have the $$$ to make your travel goals a reality!


Rachel Ritlop

Rachel Ritlop is a millennial career and business coach. Rachel passionately empowers her clients to make more money and build their dream careers. Rachel is also the founder of TheConfusedMillennial.com, a Gen Y lifestyle blog sharing experiences, struggles, insight, and educating readers to navigate their twenties and thirties.