December Weekend at Salt Lake City, UT

The Grand America Hotel decorates their windows for Christmas. 
My husband had a meeting in Salt Lake so Omar and I tagged along to see what wonderful holiday magic we could find in the city.  Salt Lake has the feel of a small city compared to Milwaukee.  The down side is the traffic.  The central downtown is small with way too many traffic lights.  We had a rental car and it was frigid, so we tried to drive around town.  In nicer weather, it would have been easier walking.
We had a room at the Grand America Hotel, which is known for luxury.  The rooms and hotel are indeed luxurious, but that also means you miss the coffee makers, clothesline, and do it yourself kinds of services that come with a cheaper hotel.  Since we hadn't made previous reservations, we couldn't partake of the Tea with Santa event, even though we saw the Santa and Mrs. Claus as we checked in.  That was a disappointment, but the concierge said it books up almost immediately every year.  Something to think about if you plan to go there during December.  There were free chocolate chip cookies in the lobby that almost made up for that loss.  There was also a harpist playing Christmas carols that anyone was welcome to enjoy.  The hotel looked incredibly festive.
The lobby floor is amazing- much more than a hotel.  There's a toy store, decorated windows for the holidays, gelato and pastry store, life size gingerbread house made of edible goods (I wanted to bite this in a bad way), and a spa with access to a higher floor swimming pool that has views of the courtyard and mountains.  Ahhhh..... what fun to explore!
Can you believe every piece is edible?

This sign says how many days it took and who baked it

Inside the toy store are interactive picture frames of monsters

And what a cool piano that plays music while you step...and candy dispensers too.  Pure Magic!
 We enjoyed the pool more than once, but then we had to actually leave the hotel to see some of the kid friendly highlights.  We had breakfast at the Park Cafe, which is across from Liberty Park.  The park was completely frosted in fresh snow and looked beautiful!  We went to Tracy Aviary, which is just across the street from the cafe.  Even though it was cold and snowy, the aviary was open.  I was very surprised to see tropical birds in outdoor cages there.  We didn't stay long as the birds didn't look happy to be there, and with the cold, neither were we.  In nicer weather it is probably much better.
A pair of owls were keeping eyes on me

The tropical birds were huddled together to stay warm, I suppose

Are those really pelicans?!!!
From the aviary, we headed to the spectacular Natural History Museum of Utah.  It's situated on a hill that overlooks the city and has mountain views from its huge windows and patios.  Inside there is truly something for everyone.  I lost count of the number of dinosaur skeletons.  There are fossils, interactive displays, native American garb and gadgets of all types, and a great cafe/gift shop too.  We were there for 3 hours and only briefly saw everything.  There are 5 floors that interconnect with ramps.  It has a canyon feel to the architecture and the building itself is quite a piece of artwork.  It is a relatively new location for the museum.  This should be a premier destination for anyone interested in dinosaurs, for sure.

One of the finest fossil shells with rock crystals inside

Omar loved digging in the fossil pit

I had never seen a skeleton of such a large bear-like creature

rock art from generations long gone
We had hoped to see the holiday lights at Temple Square because I'd heard they were the highlight for anyone visiting Utah at Christmas.  Unfortunately, there was a concert that night and due to traffic, we were unable to see them.  We probably should have planned that better.  I had to suffice with this flickr page of photos, which was the next best thing to being there.  The zoo also had a light show.  There were simply too many options for such a short trip.  We hope to come back again, although it may not be in snowy weather.


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