What to do with a long layover in Salt Lake City – visiting Temple Square

Mormon Temple, SLC

We recently returned from a two week trip to Italy.  We had a painfully long layover in Salt Lake City – 9 hours!!  We had flown through SLC at Christmastime and knew it was a very nice airport, but 9 hrs was too long to be stuck inside.   I decided it made sense to rent a car and explore a bit of SLC.  There is apparently a free shuttle that will take you to Temple Square from the airport, but we always do carryon only and we felt renting a car was the easiest and safest way to have our luggage.  We left Medford, Oregon about 6:15am and arrived in SLC at 9am.   I had read about Park Cafe for breakfast – it got excellent reviews, so we headed there first.  It was Saturday morning about 9:30/10am when we arrived and was very crowded.  We had to wait almost an hour and a half to be seated it was so crowded, but have to admit it was worth the wait.  The menu is typical American breakfast fare but they really did do everything very well and the service was excellent.  The original plan was to do Temple Square and then drive up to Park City.  The breakfast took longer than expected so I did not think we could do both Temple Square and Park City.  Stephen and Michael dropped us off at Temple Square and they drove up to Park City to just drive around and see everything.

We headed into the Temple Square complex and asked to have a tour.  They called two “sisters” to come greet us and guide us.  First we stopped at the original church that was built by the first Pioneers.  Then to a visitor center which had a scale model of the temple with a cut cross-section so you could see what it looked like inside.  Very interesting as it was not a big cathedral but actually many smaller rooms – Garden Room, World Room, Sealing Room.  Non-members are not allowed to go in the temple so this was the only view we got of it.  Also, even from the exterior it was much smaller than I was expecting.

Mormon Temple, SLC

From there we went to the Tabernacle where the choir performs and they demonstrated the amazing acoustics!  Next we walked over to another visitor center which also had an upstairs with a large sculpture of Jesus and a celestial sky.  The tour was interesting and the young ladies very sweet.  One was from Latvia and the other Tonga.  We said goodbye to these two young gals and walked across the street to the conference center.  We had been told to enter door #15 if we wanted a tour of the conference center.  We were greeted by a very nice middle-aged woman, who gave us an interesting and face paced tour (which we appreciated).  The rooftop of the conference center has the most  spectacular views of the city and mountains.

View from rooftop of Mormon Temple

Just want to mention that we are not Mormon, but we found the tours interesting from a historical and cultural perspective and never felt any pressure.

We did have time to explore the nice outdoor shopping mall, City Creek Center, just a few blocks from Temple Square, however the weather was a bit cold and we really did not feel like buying anything before the trip so we all decided to head back to the airport insteaed.  On our return home two weeks later, we had another long layover in SLC.  We went to PF Chang’s for lunch (craving Asian food after two weeks in Italy) and thought this time we would walk around the nice outdoor mall, but it was Sunday and all the stores were closed.  So, be aware if your layover is on a Sunday.

One note – there are no gas stations near the airport.  If you need to fill up a rental car before returning it just do in the city which is only 5 minutes from the airport.

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3 responses to “What to do with a long layover in Salt Lake City – visiting Temple Square”

  1. The historical and cultural experience of Salt Lake City sounds interesting, as well as the landscape (from your photo) which look just lovely. I think I’d like to visit it for a day at least sometime.

  2. Kathy says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed our wonderful city. You would have loved Park City – it reminds me of a small French town! Just wanted to make a small correction – the building across the street from Temple Square is called the Conference Center, not the Convention Center 🙂

    • Judy Gambee says:

      Kathy – Will definitely need to go to Park City next time!! Thanks for the correction. I have corrected on the blog as well, just in case people do not read the comments.

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