State #??: Utah | Salt Lake City, UT

Once you start traveling, you develop a lot of travel goals—things you want to complete in each location you visit, certain sights you want to see, and more. Like a lot of people that end up traveling to all 50 United States, I didn’t exactly set out to accomplish this goal. But when I realized that it was actually pretty doable for me, I thought “why not?

I have some pretty strict criteria for traveling all 50 states. I don’t consider a state traveled to unless I’ve spent at least one night there and done one activity—like eaten a meal or visited a museum. The All Fifty States Club is a member-based organization that celebrates people who have traveled to all 50 states. Their only requirement is that you’ve passed through and set foot in a state to consider it one you’ve traveled to. So the requirements can vary a lot depending on who you ask.

Under my own judgement, I’ve only really visited 24 out of the 50 states—just under half. Utah being my most recent.

I traveled to Utah from Colorado, through one of the most scenic road trips I’ve ever taken. Seriously, there were so many places you could pull over, take pictures, and just enjoy the view. There are a lot of mountainous twists and turns though, so you do have to be careful if you’re making the drive.

I came to Utah to visit a few national parks, but through some plan changes, I ended up having a couple days to drive north and see Salt Lake City. Other than being the Mormon capital of the world, there wasn’t much I knew about this beautiful city before setting foot in its borders. But it blew me away.

It’s true that there’s a big Mormon presence in the city. Temple Square, the global headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is arguably the central point of Salt Lake City proper. This area is several acres wide and houses many buildings, attractions, and offices related to the Mormon religion.

But Temple Square isn’t the only notable area in Salt Lake City. The University of Utah also calls Salt Lake City it’s home. This part of town boasts a lot of outdoor culture, like the Red Butte botanical gardens. The Natural History Museum of Utah is also located here.

The Great Salt Lake, which is from where Salt Lake City takes its name, is just outside the main metropolis. This lake is the largest salt water lake in the western hemisphere and is home to lots of wildlife, including several bird species. There is a marina, beaches, and hiking trails accessed through two state parks—Antelope Island State Park and Great Salt Lake State Park. I, unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to visit the lake before the sun went down, so I only have these dark and grainy photos of the attraction. Which is just to say, I’ll have to make room for it on my itinerary the next time I’m in town.

Salt Lake City is easily walkable and will certainly add several steps to your count for the day. I learned later on that the blocks and the streets in Salt Lake City are actually designed to be longer—the blocks are 760 feet and the streets are 130 feet, longer than many other major American cities, such as Chicago and Manhattan in New York City.

There are even buckets attached to posts on street corners full of orange flags. They’re meant to be used by pedestrians to signal to cars that they’re walking across the street, especially if their time to walk is winding down.

Another thing that might be worth mentioning to those of you who are curious about traveling here—the city is quite secular. This may have been hasty thought on my part, but thought the large emphasis on the Mormon religion in the town would’ve had a bigger effect on my trip. And while the presence was definitely felt, especially the closer and closer you got to Temple Square, the activities of the city weren’t dominated by the religion.

The history of the town is actually quite interesting—from the layout of the city to the presence of the Mormon religion. To me, it gives Salt Lake City even more of a diverse appeal.

I spent most of my time in Salt Lake City walking through the downtown area. And while I walked through some beautiful parks, visited a trendy coffee shop, and even made a friend, there was still so much of Salt Lake City I didn’t get to see. It was the first time in a long time that I wished I had another day or two in a place I was visiting, and it made me long for even more travel in the future. It’s definitely safe to say, I’ll be back soon!

There was so much more to see and do in Salt Lake City than I ever thought there was—and I definitely need to make a return to get it all done! I absolutely love travel because of moments like these—moments when I get to experience a different way of living, even in my own country.

Have you guys been to Salt Lake City or any part of Utah? Did you love it as much as I did? Let me know in the comments section down below! And make sure to come back next week for my Utah-centered Coffee Crawl post!

For monthly subscribers, I have a fun, little story about a friend I made on this trip, exclusively for your reading pleasure down below!

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