SALT LAKE CITY Utahs internationally acclaimed ski resorts are the main reason people visit Salt Lake City in the winter, but there are plenty of fun, free and interesting things to do while in the area and other times of year. Heres a sampling:
Utahs most-visited landmark, the 35-acre square is the worldwide headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and features the churchs sacred temple, one of the worlds largest genealogy libraries and spectacular gardens. The square is open every day of the year from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and free tours are available in 30 languages. Female church missionaries are happy to answer any questions.
The temple built over 40 years from 1853 to 1893 is considered sacred by the church and only worthy LDS members are allowed inside. At the Family History Library, genealogists will help you track down your family roots free of charge. The gardens within the square feature 250 flower beds with more than 700 types of plants. They are redesigned every six months.
If you visit on a Thursday evening, you can catch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsing at 8 p.m. in the historic Tabernacle.
CITY CREEK CENTER
Built for a reported $1.6 billion in cash by the Mormon church to revitalize downtown Salt Lake City, its the countrys most modern outdoor shopping plaza. It has a trout stream meandering through the center and retractable roofs that keep the place warm during winter. Just dont call it a mall, a sacrilege to the architects.
The shopping complex spans two city blocks and has outdoor walkways, plazas, fireplaces and metal sculptures. Waterfalls and fountains dot the village-like development, which includes condominiums and is joined by a pedestrian bridge over Main Street. There are more than 100 stores and restaurants, but all of the 100 or so shops and restaurants are closed on Sundays with the exception of two restaurants: Cheesecake Factory and Texas de Brazil.
DOWNTOWN LIGHT RAIL
Built with the 2002 Winter Olympics in mind, Salt Lake Citys light-rail network is free for passengers as it weaves through downtown. Riders can get to and from major attractions such as Temple Square, City Creek Center, Salt Lake City Library, EnergySolutions Arena and the Gateway for free. An extension leading to the airport is expected to open this spring, but trips on that section will cost riders.
SALT LAKE CITY LIBRARY
Making this library more than a place to read was the goal of renowned architect Moshe Safdie.
My ambition was for it to be the best library in the world, he said.
Safdie designed a six-story crescent of concrete and glass with vaulted ceilings, a place that invites people to linger. It has a cafe, shops, high-speed Internet connections, art exhibits that turn over every six weeks, film lectures and occasional live music.
UTAH MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
It was recently ranked Utahs best museum.
The second Saturday of each month the museum hosts a family arts event in which children and parents are led through creative art projects by trained artists. The museum has a gallery devoted to local artists and an artist-in-residency program that allows artists to hone their craft while gaining inspiration from the art around them. A new exhibit called Analogital opened on Jan. 18. The collection looks at art forms that have emerged during the cultures conversion from film grain to computer pixel. It features artists such as Eva and Marco Mattes and Christian Jankowski.
Visitors can see most of the works in 30 minutes, but museum spokeswoman Sarina Ehrgott recommends an hour so that people can take the time to spend time and understand each piece.