Outdoor activities and cuisine in and around Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is much more than just a ski destination. Photo: Jill K. Robinson

HALF MOON BAY, Calif., October 9, 2012 — Nearly every time I hear someone talking about going to Salt Lake City for an outdoor adventure, it’s all about skiing. While that’s certainly a reason to pack your bags and head to the mountains in Utah, there is a wealth of reasons that outdoor enthusiasts should consider Salt Lake City as a vacation destination.

I was in town in August with hundreds of like-minded people at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, where brands representing everything from tents to backpacks to clothing show off what’s coming up for next season. Most of us split our time between the convention center and the outdoors.

Great Outdoors

There’s plenty of space in the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City to get your fill of outdoor activities, but unless you desire a mountain-specific adventure, you don’t have to go far out of town.

A runner enjoys the City Creek Canyon Trail. (Photo: Jill K. Robinson)

A runner enjoys the City Creek Canyon Trail. (Photo: Jill K. Robinson)

The City Creek Canyon Trail starts from downtown Salt Lake City, which makes it convenient for hikers and runners. Bicyclists can use the trail only on odd-numbered days in summer. Just east of the State Capitol, follow the creek through a city park, and within two miles, you’re walking in a national forest. Hikers often head to City Creek Meadows, four miles from the road’s end. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the views.

Mill Creek Canyon, just outside Salt Lake City, offers ample hiking, mountain biking and picnic opportunities. If you travel with your dog, this is a great trail for your pal to enjoy. Dogs are required to be leashed on even-numbered days, and well-behaved pups can walk along leash-free on odd-numbered days. Bikers are prohibited on the Upper Mill Creek trails on days when dogs are off leash.

Snowbird’s Mineral Basin in summer. (Photo: Jill K. Robinson)

Snowbird’s Mineral Basin in summer. (Photo: Jill K. Robinson)

Not far from Salt Lake City is the Snowbird ski resort, which is open for outdoor enjoyment year-round. When I was there in August, I went hiking among the wildflowers in Mineral Basin and mountain biking down trails. Now that we’re nearing winter, it’ll soon be time for ski and snow fun.

Tasty Treats

Not a lot of people think of Salt Lake City as a foodie haunt. But while in town, I had a few memorable experiences, beginning with Zy Restaurant. Lunch and dinner menus feature crisp salads, tasty sandwiches (the pulled pork sandwich is my favorite), duck tacos, baked mac & cheese, pecan pork with wild mushrooms, steelhead trout with a fire-roasted pepper purée, and much more. Don’t leave without sampling from the cheese or whiskey tasting menus. Then, challenge yourself to not want to eat there for every meal you’re in town.

Only 20 minutes outside the city, in the Wasatch National Forest, is Log Haven restaurant. The drive is worth it for the spectacular scenery, cozy mountain cabin setting and incredible food. Tempted to try the Alpine nachos, crispy skinned Utah steelhead trout, or smoked duck and hand cut Serrano chili pasta? I did, and they were delicious.

Salt Lake City’s Farmers’ Market in Pioneer Park. (Photo: Jill K. Robinson)

Salt Lake City’s Farmers’ Market in Pioneer Park. (Photo: Jill K. Robinson)

On the weekend, I strolled through the Salt Lake City Farmers’ Market in Pioneer Park with Chef Matthew Lake from Zy Restaurant. We sampled late-summer fruit, local Snowy Mountain Cheese, and Clifford Farm Pork. According to Chef Lake, Salt Lake City is a “pork-happy town.”

Asked where he eats on his day off, Chef Lake recommended Takashi Sushi, a downtown restaurant loved by many. “It’s as good a sushi as anywhere I’ve ever been,” he said. Time to start thinking about reservations for my next visit to Salt Lake City for January’s Outdoor Retailer show.

Jill K. Robinson is an award-winning journalist and adventure seeker. Follow her adventures on dangerjillrobinson.com and Twitter @dangerjr. Jill is an avid kayaker and owner of Half Moon Bay Kayak Company.


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Jill K. Robinson

An award-winning journalist and adventure seeker, Jill K. Robinson has been a columnist with The Washington Times, Communities section since 2011.

Her work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, American Way, Every Day With Rachael Ray, Robb Report, Westways, Journey, Let's Go with Ryanair, World Hum, Gadling, Lonely Planet and more. She lives in a small California beach town near the big wave surf spot, Mavericks, and divides her time between writing about travel, running a kayak business and trying to wring awe-inspiring adventure out of every day.

Always eager to take a leap into the unknown and experience new things, Jill shares adventure sport and travel highlights—even when the adventure isn’t adrenaline pumping or bone crushing. Adventure is sometimes only a state of mind.

Find Jill on dangerjillrobinson.com and Twitter @dangerjr 

Contact Jill K. Robinson

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