Off The Slopes
Skating among Skyscrapers
The Ice Rink at the Gallivan Center is a favorite among Salt Lakers. Channel your inner figure skater as you race and twirl around this cozy rink.The Gallivan Center falls within the free-fare zone of Salt Lake's public transportation. This means on chilly nights families can opt for a short ride on the TRAX light rail from this popular rink to Salt Lake City's top tourist attractions: Temple Square, Vivint Smart Home Arena (home of the Utah Jazz), and the Gateway Mall, which houses the Discovery Gateway children's museum, the Clark Planetarium/IMAX, and Megaplex Theater.
You know Utah is home to The Greatest Snow on Earth®, but you may not have realized Utah is also home to "The Fastest Ice on Earth" thanks to the Utah Olympic Oval. More than 100 world records in speed skating have been claimed at the Olympic Oval. While you may not set out to beat those records, your family will love spreading out across its massive ice rink during public skating hours, available most evenings and Saturdays.
If you are staying south of the Salt Lake Valley, Provo's Peaks Ice Arena is a great choice. They hosted hockey teams during the Olympics, and the arena is only 30 minutes from the spectacular Sundance Mountain Resort.
Near the Ogden-area resorts (Powder Mountain, Snowbasin and Nordic Valley), The Ice Sheet at Ogden (also known as the Weber County Ice Sheet) typically has open skate hours midday and evenings most days of the week (closed Sundays). On a historic note, The Ice Sheet is known for hosting curling events during the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Are these built by the mysterious power of an ice princess or sculpted by hand from icicles, the raw material of winter? Explore this frozen architecture for yourself on your next trip to Utah's mountains. Located about 30 minutes from the Park City area and 45 minutes from Salt Lake City, the Heber Valley is one of Utah's premier winter playgrounds. Not only does this valley offer wide-open space for snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and great proximity to Park City-area ski resorts and Sundance Mountain Resort, but now it boasts Ice Castles as well. Watch for news of future Ice Castle construction and events
Utah Olympic Park
The 2002 Winter Olympics helped put Utah on the map, and the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, proved that Utah is a hub for Winter Olympic glory with Utahns collecting 11 medals. At the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, you can learn all about our Olympic heritage, watch future Olympians train for competition and reach nearly over 60 mph on the Comet Bobsled Ride. Learn more about Utah's Olympic legacy and best spots to relive the games
Sleigh Rides and Hot Springs
Snuggle up on a horse-drawn buggy or sleigh ride around one of Utah's most established resorts, the Homestead Resort. The teams of horses will pull you through gorgeous views of the Heber Valley and Wasatch Mountains. Afterward, soak in the resort’s natural hot spring, hidden within a 55-foot limestone dome.
Utah’s most visited attraction, Temple Square hosts fantastic restaurants, beautifully landscaped gardens and historic sites that will give you a window into the traditions, history and founding of Utah. Each winter, the grounds are lit up with more than a million Christmas lights, making it one of Utah’s most adored spectacles. One of the best views of the show is from The Roof Restaurant. Though they don't serve alcohol at The Roof, they do serve the city's best gourmet dining buffet. Don't worry — there will be plenty of time to walk, bike-taxi or Lyft to a downtown bar for a digestif, probably necessary following one of the finest buffets you'll ever stroll.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir also dishes up world-class performances on Temple Square. Guided tours and presentations are available in 40 languages throughout the day.
Ski City Hot Chocolate
Here are two fairly universal truths. Utahns love hot chocolate. Kids love hot chocolate. There is nothing like a frothy cup to warm the family up after a day in the snow. Almost anywhere you go in Utah, you'll find hot chocolate prominently featured on the menu. Even the widely distributed Stephen's Gourmet brand calls Utah home.
Great local coffee shops are safe-havens for awesome hot chocolate. Check out La Barba, The Rose Establishment, Three Pines Coffee, Salt Lake Roasting Company, Cafe d'Bolla and 3 Cups in Salt Lake City; Mason Jar Coffee Roasters in Ogden or Caffe Ibis in Logan.
If you're ready to elevate your drinking chocolate experience, here are four Capital City cups that raise the bar:
- Hatch Family Chocolates — Thanks to national exposure on TLC's Little Chocolatiers, the secret is out. Located in Salt Lake's historic Avenues, solid milk or dark chocolates form the base of their decadent drink, which can be prepared vegan or with dairy, or with espresso.
- Les Madeleines — Their buttery kouing aman (or kouign amann) made Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate." Pair that with the cafe's Valrhona Hot Chocolate and you're in for a special treat.
- Chocolate Conspiracy's Chocolate House — Their location next to RubySnap will make for a one-two punch in your search for a Salt Lake City vacation treat. You can expect an education in raw chocolate's nutritional value and exceptional delicacies, including a thick, not-too-sweet mug of hot chocolate. The Chocolate Conspiracy's products are sweetened with raw honey and enlivened with other raw ingredients to preserve their peak nutritional value. Additionally, make a point to savor the premium, natural ingredients in the recipes of RubySnap's beautifully frosted cookies whose flavors and quality are as unforgettable as their branding.
- Make your own — Drawing on Mayan culinary traditions and chocolate's own heritage, Mezzo is single-origin drinking chocolate with pure ingredients and unique Mayan-influenced flavors. Bags of Mezzo can be found at local grocery stores like Harmons and Tony Caputo's Market and Deli, or by the cup at Frida Bistro.
Behind Utah's love for hot chocolate you'll find a passion for the raw material of hot chocolate: cacao. As the Deseret News reported last year, Utah chocolate makers have not only put Utah on the map, they're establishing the state as the nation's epicenter for artisan chocolate production. In addition to the companies mentioned above, Solstice and Millcreek Cacao Roasters and the highly decorated Amano Chocolates are just a few of the Utah entrepreneurs leading the way. Each has a unique product worth exploring. You can even "try before you buy" at Tony Caputo's Gourmet Food Market. (Read: "Craft Chocolate Capital of America: Utah's Culture of Cacao")
Sundance Film Festival
For 30 years, filmmakers and audiences have been traveling to Utah to see some of the most innovative storytelling in cinema at the Sundance Film Festival. Park City is the epicenter, but Sundance venues can also be found in Salt Lake City, Ogden and at Robert Redford's own Sundance Mountain Resort. A Sundance ski vacation is the perfect blend of Utah ski bliss and the year's most promising films.
World-class Art and Culture
When the sun goes down and the ski slopes empty out, head downtown and soak up the metropolitan culture and nightlife of this world-class city. Arts lovers will enjoy catching a performance at the Utah Symphony or watching an opera singer belt out the tunes at the Utah Opera. For a theatrical show, catch a family-friendly performance at the Hale Center Theatre or the Pioneer Theatre Company, the professional theatre in residence at University of Utah. Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC) is another local favorite for their irreverence and parody.
Dance aficionados can watch ballerinas perform at Ballet West or take in a contemporary dance performance by the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. The Utah Repertory Theater Company is a nonprofit semiprofessional dance group that captivate crowds. Art lovers will also enjoy taking in the variety of galleries in the city as well as its many museums.