You may not know it, but Salt Lake City, Utah, pulls tourists from around the world. With its majestic mountains, historical buildings, and abundance of family activities, many find a reason to stop by the beehive state. What’s more, SLC is a relatively affordable vacation destination if you are smart about it. Need some pointers? Here is a complete Cheapskate City Guide on how to vacation SLC!
First things first…where are you going to rest that pretty little head of yours while in the SLC? I’ve got ya covered. All these hotels and motels have one fabulous money-saving thing in common: they are walking distance from historical sights, shopping, and hundreds of local restaurants. Can’t say “no” to free transportation! So here we go…4 places to stay for under $100 bucks/night and one tiny splurge:
1. Peery Hotel | $72/night
Bonus: Pets allowed (Fido is welcome!)
The Peery Hotel is a truly historic place to stay. Built in 1910 all of its rooms boast a European-influenced elegance (for what it’s worth ;) ). For under $100 bucks you can sleep in style and feel like you are partaking in a bit of Salt Lake City history. The Perry Hotel keeps it classy.
2. Crystal Inn Hotel & Suites | $81/night
Bonus: Airport shuttle!
Crystal Inn and Hotel & Suites is a neato place to stay if you are all about the convenience. The rooms may not be over-the-top glamorous, but their free breakfast buffet is the stuff of legends. This giant hot complementary breakfast will cut your food costs, which is a big plus in my book.
3. Residence Inn Salt Lake City-City center Marriott | $59/night
Bonus: Laundry facilities (so I never knew a hotel might offer laundry services, but this seems like s big bonus if you are planning on staying a while…or if you forgot to pack underwear)
The Residence Inn resembles an apartment complex with a landscaped courtyard and an outdoor pool. It’s the perfect place to stay during the hot SLC summer because this is the high desert people, and it does get toasty. Also free breakfast is offered, woot woot!
5. Metropolitan Inn | $65/night
Bonus: Complimentary lobby computer (for all those people who don’t believe in traveling with a laptop, you rebels you!)
The Metropolitan is a three-story Highway Motel with lots of character, but I mean character in a good (not scary) way. It’s a one-of-a-kind colorful stucco building that sports unique art prints from the Wizard of Oz. Annnnd a year-round outdoor hot tub!
3. [Splurge Alert!] Little America Hotel | $108/night
Bonus: Luxuriousness (insert fireworks)
The Little America Hotel is an elegant European-style Downtown Hotel & Tower. As the little sister to SLC’s premier hotel The Grand America, the Little America offers the same sense of luxury for a fraction of the cost. If you are going to splurge on a hotel, pick the Little America. It will not disappoint. On a personal side note, The Little America was where my husband and I downgraded from The Grand America and stayed the first night of our honeymoon before we caught a flight to Mexico (look at us channeling our inner And Then We Saved self). It’s suuuuper fancy and totally worth the $108.
Cheapskate City Guide to Salt Lake City continues after the jump!…
The great thing about Salt Lake City shopping is that there are affordable stores pretty much anywhere you go. All three of these shopping centers have places to shop that are expensive and lots of places that are affordable!
1. City Creek
City Creek shopping center sits right in the middle of downtown Salt Lake City, which makes it surprising that it is an outdoor mall surrounding a small creek. The creek used to be underground, but when plans were made to build an updated mall they directed the water above ground for a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Even if you are not interested in shopping, a walk through City Creek is an enjoyable and free activity. As a bonus, City Creek also has a retractable glass ceiling that they close during those cold winter days. It’s a personal fave!
Trolley Square is a historic shopping center with a historic look. The famous Trolley Square used to house trolleys but now is the home to lots of neat shops and festival marketplaces.
The Gateway outdoor mall is truly more than a mall. It’s like a mall meets a family fun center. There is a Clark Planetarium where families can enjoy movies about outer space and interactive exhibits. Just around the corner is a movie theater and Discovery Gateway, a children’s museum for hands-on fun. Plus there is plenty of inexpensive places to shop around!
I’m a big, well huge, fan of eating out and food in general so I take restaurant recommendations very seriously :). I wanted to fill you in on a list of local food unique to the Salt Lake area that was affordable (around $10.00/person) and delicious. This list is a mix of different types of food with at least one thing on the list for everyone. Also, there is some AMAZING food in downtown SLC that is expensive and worth every penny (if your into spending cash on fine dining). But this isn’t the Rich Person’s Guide to SLC so I digress. 8 places to eat for less than $10:
1. Hires Big H | $6.00/person | This classic burger joint is famous for their in-house root beer and fry sauce (a Utah staple), and rightfully so!
2. Bruges Waffles and Frites | $3.00-$9.00/person | Okay any place that serves waffles and fries as main dishes with a dozen toppings is my kind of place. These Belgium-style waffles, fries, and sandwiches are almost as delicious as sitting in Belgium itself.
3. Siegfried’s Deli | $4.00-$7.00/person | Siegfried’s is quaint German deli with delicious sandwiches and traditional German dishes. I hear the food is authentic and I am telling you it is delish!
4. Pie Hole | $2.50/person | Shut your pie hole! But first fill it with pizza. One thing I love about Pie Hole is that they serve pizza by the slice, which is a huge money saver…When you’re on vacation you have nowhere to store leftovers so one slice solves that problem!
5. Ekamai Thai Curry | $5.50-$8.00/person | I love me some curry! And I have to say, the best Thai places are the small one-of-a-kind ones where there is a fish tank in the entry way and framed oil paintings of Venice hung on the wall, because nothing says Thailand like Caribbean fish and northern Italy. This is one of those kind of gems!
6. The Robins Nest | $5.00-$7.00/person | Robins Nest is all about the gourmet sandwich and it is really a great sandwich for only $5. Also, I am pretty sure this is where all the cool kids hang out.
7. [Splurge Alert!] Atlantic Cafe and Market | $10.00-$15.00/person | This Mediterranean inspired cafe is a bit of a splurge, but worth it. It’s really a unique dining experience for the adventurous type! And hey, you’re on vacation so you’ve got an adventurous streak in ya!
8. [Splurge Alert!] Settebello | $15.00/person | Now I couldn’t make a list of restaurant recommendation and not put Settebello on the list. This certified authentic Italian pizza place is my favorite place to eat in Utah, and probably the world (minus eating Italian pizza in Italy…some day!). Everything on the menu is good. We eat there 1-2 times a month and I still lick the plate before we leave (not really, but I would if it was socially appropriate). You can’t stop by Salt Lake and not eat at Settebello. Okay I think you got the point :).
Utah is full of outdoor adventure and historical sight-seeing. But some of that stuff does cost you. So I wanted to give you a list of non-free activities (with tips on how to make them more affordable) and free activities so you can pick and choose. This is a democracy after all! ‘Merica!
1. The Hogle Zoo | $9.75-$12.75 for adults | $7.75-$9.75 for children and seniors
Utah’s Hogle Zoo is truly a fantastic family activity. They have hundreds of animals and if you go next summer they will have completed a new Safari section!
2. Lagoon | $45.95/person at park | $38.99/person at Costco
Lagoon, in my opinion, is the most fun amusement park ever! Well, it’s well worth your money if you love big rides and rollercoasters. Tickets at the gate cost $45.95, but if you go to Costco and buy tickets beforehand they are only $38.99! Firghtmares during September and October is not to be missed!
3. Skiing | around $99.00/person at resort | $150 for 2 people at Costco (or $75.00/person)
Utah has a dozen resorts where you can experience world renowned skiing. Seriously though…every time I go skiing in Utah I meet someone from another country who is visiting Utah just for the snow. Lift tickets at most resorts are around $90.00 a person, but Costco does it again…at Costco tickets are 2 for $150 so you save $15.00 a ticket!
Park City is a quaint lodge town just up Emigration Canyon and is only a 20-30 minute drive away from SLC. There you can walk around Main Street for free, eat at some spectacular local eats, and enjoy family activities like the Alpine Slide and zip lines. Park City Mountain Resort is really an adventure every time of year. The best part is you can catch a bus to Park City for only $4.50 (one way ticket).
1. Remember how I told you Gateway was more than a mall? In the summer they have a huge fountain area where kids (and adults) can run through the water and jetting fountains for free!
2. Historic Tour Temple Square is probably the most iconic block in Salt Lake City. During the spring, summer, and fall the grounds are covered in thousands of flowers and through the winter Temple Square is lit up with millions of Christmas lights! You can tour almost every building on temple square, enjoy food at half-a-dozen restaurants, learn about LDS ancestors, and check out several museums. If genealogy interests you there’s also a family history center.
3. It’s also fun to tour the capitol building. The capitol is totally a show off, with breath-taking architecture and ceiling murals. I’m planning my second trip there in for this fall.
4. Utah is also home to some world-renowned hiking. There are thousands of hikes that you could do in Utah, so if you are really interested in exploring I would suggest doing more research on neat hikes that may be a little bit more difficult or that fit your wants. There isn’t really room to talk about all the potential places to hike, after all, people have written books about all the Utah hikes! But here are a few hikes that are beginner-lever, close to Salt Lake, and breathtaking:
Cascade Springs | This hike is a series of boardwalks that surrounds springs and small waterfalls. It is stunning! There is a fee of $6.00 per vehicle to enter American Fork Canyon where Cascade Springs is.
Cecret Lake | On this 1.2 hike you climb 450 feet in elevation, and enjoy its famous wildflowers in the summer.
Brighton Lakes | Starting in the Brighton ski resort, this mild to moderate hike takes you up to lakes Mary, Martha and Catherine. to reach the first lake is an easy short hike. The trail to reach all three lakes is about 4 miles long and climbs around 1100 feet.
5. Visit and tour the University of Utah campus. As Utah’s oldest University, the U of U is a fun place to check out with the family.
Final note…Transportation! I’ve heard that Utah’s public transportation system is one of the most reliable ones out there. I personally used UTA to get to school for two years. You can get a 5 day, all day pass for $31.25 that gives you access to buses and trax! You don’t have to rent a car and you don’t have to pay for parking!
Whew! That’s it for now. Salt Lake and Utah have so much to offer so I know I missed some great spots. Don’t hesitate you comment on your favorite Utah vacation spots and ask me any questions you may have!
So, Fancy Pants…why not vaca to SLC??!
*Image of Salt Lake City from here.** All pricing noted in this post are accurate at the time of posting. This post is by Alix Adams. Alix is a glitter user and ice cream enthusiast. She blogs at A Ruffled Life when she’s not kissing her baby’s fat rolls or covering antlers in glitter.
P.S. I LOVE Airbnb because it lets me feel like a local while also helping me save money on food costs (since I can use the kitchen!) CLICK HERE to get $55 for you to use on your 1st trip!