Our family usually spends Thanksgiving at my sister’s in New Hampshire with multitudes of relatives and friends. But not this year. My youngest son and his girlfriend had just moved to Utah and were still settling in. When we volunteered to spend the holiday with them, they accepted. I immediately started planning for four days in Salt Lake City, a place we hadn’t visited in 35 years! Some things about the area have changed a lot, others not so much. Here’s what we did that made our mini-vacation so enjoyable.

Checked into our Hotel

Since I knew most of our activities would be either low-budget or free and that the kids would be working for part of our visit, I decided to splurge on the hotel. I could easily write a whole blog entry on the Grand America. Suffice to say, it was no chain motel right off a highway exit!

The highlights in the room itself were the view out the window of the snow-covered mountain peaks, the oversized, elegant bathtub to soak in, and the whimsical miniature chocolate “grand” piano (get it?) that was placed on the coffee table to welcome us. Believe me when I say it was much too adorable to eat!

When you are ready to leave your room, there’s a lounge and piano bar, a spa, pool, and hot tub ($10/day/room fee), and several shops and restaurants within the hotel. As a holiday bonus, the Grand America goes all out with their seasonal decorations.

Went shopping for proper footwear

As soon as I arrived in SLC, I realized that I would need better shoes if I was going to attempt a hike. Salt Lake Running looked promising, so we stopped in. It turned out to be a winning combination of old-school (the salesman actually measures your feet, offers you a shoehorn, and knows everything about the shoes) and contemporary styles.

Hiking Tunnel Springs (free)

The trail Calvin took us on was easy to moderate and the view of the city from the top was spectacular. We were fine with the elevation change, but it is something to be aware of.

Attended the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsal (free)

This was one of the highlights of the SLC trip for me as I love this choir’s Christmas CD’s. And, as you may know, the area I live in has a strong connection to the LDS (Mormon) Church and I’ve published several articles about the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant.

The working rehearsals are held each week, last around two hours, and spectators can come and go as they please. The choir and orchestra got through about five songs, including “Joy to the World”, “In the Bleak Midwinter”, and “The Holy and the Ivy”. The venue is phenomenal and the experience will always be a favorite holiday memory.

Walked through the holiday-themed City Creek Center (free)

Though it seemed nothing could possibly top the music we’d just heard, walking through the rest of the illuminated LDS complex and then through the upscale City Creek Center came close. This flame and flume fountain, with Bing’s “It’s a Marshmallow World” booming through speakers and a giant wreath suspended overhead, was one of our favorites.

By the way, our Thanksgiving was fabulous! Once we’d discovered Harmons Grocery, the Western version of our East Coast Wegmans, we had everything we needed to create the perfect meal. Now for the December holidays!

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