I am happy to share some of the highlights of our recent trip to Utah. We actually went for a gymnastics competition, but we were able to fit in other activities as well. We stayed in Sandy because that was where the competition was held. I have a Highlight on Instagram with all of our activities. We had a great time and here are some of our recommendations.
When we got to Salt Lake City, Utah my kids were completely impressed with the mountains. I hadn’t really thought about it, but they informed me that they had never seen a mountain. They have lived in Plano, Texas where there is a very rare hill and we have spent our summers traveling to a favorite beach spot in South Carolina. We haven’t traveled west. So, the mountains were something we had to explore immediately.
Our first night in town, we took a drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon. The drive was beautiful and there were spots to pull over and enjoy the scenery. We ate dinner at the only restaurant in the area, Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant. The food was delicious, but I see on their website they are closed for dinner on Monday and Tuesdays due to current labor shortages, so I would make sure they are open before I headed up the mountain hungry.
We timed our drive and dinner perfectly because we were able to catch a glimpse of the sunset from the top of the mountain. I highly recommend this drive in the evening. There are also tons of hiking and biking trails off this route if you are more adventurous. We did encounter some giant mosquitos at the top of the mountain, so if you plan to get out and walk around or hike, bug spray might come in handy.
A few days later, we took another drive into the mountains. This time we went up Little Cottonwood Canyon. We also did this drive in the evening and it was beautiful as well. When we there, however, Utah was experiencing an atypical heat wave and I think this is why we experienced some “foggy” views. It probably wasn’t actual fog, but pollution being trapped by the heat which created a haze and made the mountains looks “foggy” at different times. We saw a little haze on this drive. Haze or no haze, definitely take a drive or two into the mountains so you can enjoy the scenery.
Other than Silver Fork Lodge, we found a few other restaurants that I would recommend as well. The first restaurant we tried was for lunch and it was called SlapFish. This was purely seafood and my kids wouldn’t touch anything but the fries. I enjoyed this, but I had fried shrimp. Who wouldn’t love that? Okay, well, not my kids, but anyone else would.
My son is into Greek food lately, so he insisted we find a Greek style restaurant. I am glad he did; because, we wound up at Olympus Burgers and it was one of my favorite meals. As the name implies, they also had burgers which was great for my daughter who is not necessarily into Greek food. Both of the kids tried Baklava for the first time. Surprise, it’s delicious and they loved it!
One evening we ate Chinese food at Joy Luck. This was also delicious, but it was a ton of food! We definitely over ordered. We heard a table near us ask the waitress to choose their entrees for them. My husband thought that was a great idea, but I am pretty picky and wasn’t willing to take a chance on my dinner. I do think that would be fun another time, though.
The last place we ate was probably the best; and, as my husband pointed out, it was the least expensive. After our long and hot day at the Olympic Park, we ate at SlackWater Pizzeria. We had attempted to get in at this restaurant a few nights earlier and it was packed. This was on Sunday, however, and the whole area seemed to have cleared out that day.
Overall, there were a ton of restaurants in Sandy. You can pretty much find anything you want. We also found a Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream shop which was the perfect way to top off a day of competition.
Downtown Salt Lake City, Utah
We had three days of competition and we obviously had to schedule our activities around our competition times. One day our competition time was 4:00 in the afternoon. Since we didn’t want to do much to wear out my daughter before she competed, we decided to drive to downtown Salt Lake. The drive wasn’t really scenic, mostly highways and the mountains were hazy.
We made it downtown and drove around a bit thinking we might get a glimpse of the Mormon Tabernacle; but, it was under construction and there was a big wall around it. We didn’t see much. We made it to the capital building and found a bathroom and a gift shop in the old capital building across the street. I guess it was worth the drive for the gift shop, but shortly after that my son sprained his ankle crossing the street. So, that made the rest of the day super fun! If you are limited on time, I’d say skip downtown.
We didn’t have time to go, but I really wanted to check out the Natural History Museum of Utah or the Dinosaur Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point. There are a ton of dinosaur museums in Utah and my son would have loved to go to any of them. The Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point boasts that it has one of the world’s largest displays of mounted dinosaurs. These museums were requiring advanced booking at certain time slots. We aren’t great at advanced planning and these museums were sold out long before we ever decided we’d like to go there. It turns out we didn’t have the time to do these anyways. So, lesson learned. Museums require some advanced planning on your part if you want to get in. So, plan a day and get your tickets in advance if you can.
There was also an aquarium in Sandy that I would have liked to check out as well. I looked at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium and thought that might be a good indoor activity for us. Again, the timing didn’t work out for us. But, if you are looking for an indoor activity near Sandy, Utah, I would check it out.
We have museums and aquariums in Dallas, Texas, so I wasn’t too disappointed that we didn’t make it to these. Especially, because what we did instead was something we will probably never have the chance to do again and you certainly can’t do it in Dallas. In fact, Park City, Utah is the only place in the country you can do this.
Utah Olympic Park
On our last full day in Utah, we drove to Park City and went to the Utah Olympic Park. This might not have been something we would have planned to do if it hadn’t been for the US Ski and Snowboarding Team recruiting trampoline kids at the competition for a day of aerial skiing. Even though my daughter had never skied before, she was dying to try it. There was a group of about twenty gymnasts that got the opportunity to try their hand at aerial skiing that day. We signed up because we knew we would never have this opportunity again.
Also, at the park they have tons of activities like zip lining, riding a ski lift up and down the mountain, a ropes course, bob sledding, and other rides and activities. These fun things are separate from the ski team and they sell out. So, before you drive out to Park City, check on line for tickets to these activities.
They have a gold pass which gets you to most of the park activities, but the bobsled and the zip line tour are separate. We were able to get my son passes for a few of the activities that morning, but it turns out he couldn’t do a lot of it. A lot of the rides/activities required you to be a certain height and weigh at least 100 pounds. My son is almost 10 years old and met the height requirements, but he only weighs 76 pounds. This was a little sad and frustrating for him.
We had some friends do the zip lining tour and they said it was super long. It is a tour of the mountain and there are a lot of zip lines. These tours leave at a certain time, so I think it’s better to buy these tickets in advance. The bobsled also has weight and height requirements. It looked like fun, but we didn’t get to try it. They were announcing the speeds; though, and it was regularly traveling over 70 miles per hour. I’m not sure I could have done it anyway.
So, back to aerial skiing. What is aerial skiing, you say? This is a video of the practice that was happening when we got there.
This is how you practice aerial skiing in the summer. Apparently they have to qualify a skill by completing it 200 times into the pool before they can do it on snow.
My daughter was in a class from about 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Since she had never skied before, she got to learn on the practice slopes. She was outfitted with a wet suit, helmet, life jacket, ski boots and skis. Next, she learned to swim with skis on and then learned to position herself on the side of the slope. Then, she learned the hop jump, but struggled with that on the big slope. She said the slope was covered with stiff toothbrush carpet and that is what helped hold you. She tried so hard, but she didn’t make it over the end. I think if she had any experience skiing on snow that would have helped her tremendously. It was a lot to absorb in 3 hours.
She still loved it an wants to go back and try it again. I would like to take her skiing on snow first. This is something you can sign up to do if you want to give it a try. I would recommend having some snow skiing experience before you try to ski on toothbrush carpet, though. I’m not going to post her videos here, but if you want to see her, check out my highlight called Utah on Instagram.
https://www.instagram.com/momcandoanything/ While you are there, be sure to follow me.
To look into aerial skiing for yourself, check out this website – Park City Ski & Snowboard. They also put on aerial skiing and high diving shows at the park. Having seen their practice, I imagine the show is extremely impressive. If I am ever back in Utah, I’ll go back to see the show. I’ll also get my daughter back on the toothbrush carpet so she can accomplish her goal of going off the end of the slope into the bubbly water.
I highly recommend Utah Olympic Park if you weigh at least 100 pounds or you want to try aerial skiing. Be sure you take your closed toed shoes and be ready to walk up a mountain to get to most of the activities. Bring water and sunscreen! I would also mention there is also a weight limit on some of the activities such as ziplining. So be sure you fit within the weight requirements before you go.
All in all, we loved Utah! We would definitely go back and would love to go back in the winter. We’ve got to teach our kids to snow ski! Have you been to Utah in the winter? Where is the best place to teach a kid to snow ski?