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Exploring Salt Lake City like a local

While free time at #GA226 might be limited, don't miss out on these Salt Lake City classics. Utah native Natalily Kyremes-Parks shares her top recommendations.

Photo by Brent Pace on Unsplash

The General Assembly (GA), which has allowed members of the PC(USA) to visit and explore some amazing places, returns to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the first time in 30 years this summer, and although free time can be limited, GA attendees still might find time to slip away and explore the city. Natalily Kyremes-Parks, a fourth-generation Latine Presbyterian from Utah, writes here about ways to enjoy Salt Lake City like a local, and she guides us through the natural beauty, the eateries and the best places to find “dirty soda.” Trust her: it’s good.


Photo from City Library.

While many will be hard at work during GA, it is hard not to be reminded of the beauty in the times when you just need a breather there are ways to do just that. The Salt Lake Valley is surrounded by wildlife and mountains, and even when you’re downtown, you can get out into nature. By using the Utah Transit Authority system (UTA) you can make your way to Red Butte Gardens, which is open daily from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Part of the University of Utah, this garden has been acknowledged as the traditional and ancestral homeland of the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute and Ute Tribes, and it has 21 acres of developed gardens and hiking trails.

While many enjoy the outdoors, some might appreciate the views without the heat (and with books and lots of quiet space). The six-story City Library has tons of natural light, and it could be the perfect place to unwind.

Want to do it all but you’re unsure what to pick? The Utah State Capitol can help you out. Either by UTA or a walk through the hills of the city, you can visit and enjoy a view of the valley and the cherry blossoms, as well as a beautiful interior with lots of history and art. You can also take yourself on a quiet self-guided tour.

LDS Church History (Mormon) / Culture

Photo from

As you make your way down West Temple Street, you will find five blocks of historical Latter Day Saints buildings called Temple Square. You do not have to be a member of the church to enjoy and see the history. Some favorites: the Mormon Tabernacle, the Christus statue, and the Beehive House. All of these tours can be self-guided, but LDS Sister Missionaries, who staff the church’s Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission, are happy to answer questions. You can also see the Salt Lake City Temple, which is undergoing renovations.

Dirty sodas

Utahns love their sugar, so a sweet treat is easy. But there’s nothing like a dirty soda. Because drinks like coffee and alcohol are against the LDS’ Word of Wisdom, soda has become very popular. Soda shops like Thrist and SWIG offer combos such as the Dr. McCreamy featuring Dr. Pepper, raspberry puree, and coconut cream. Trust me: it is very good.

Need a food and drink pick-me-up?

Extra, extra!

  • Grocery Stores are harder to spot here, and most are locally Harmons is conveniently located and has basic grocery and pharmacy needs plus local knickknacks.
  • Sports enthusiasts can visit the Delta Center, home of the Utah Jazz and the newest NHL team, currently named the Utah Hockey Club.