Salt Lake City offers some of the most diverse recreation options in the nation. Most famous for its world-class skiing, the area has also become a hotbed for mountain biking, hiking, fishing, rafting and all manner of outdoor pursuits.
Springtime is certainly one of the best times to visit Utah’s capital. Winters can be mild, but the famed ‘inversion,’ where warm air settles atop colder air in the valley, can negatively affect air quality. Summers are typically dry, but can be scorching. However March and April afford the unique and delightful proposition of skiing-and-golf in the same day. The secret: Park City and the Cottonwood Canyons, while both within easy access of downtown (perhaps thirty or forty minutes after picking up your National Rental Car) are several thousand feet higher than the city itself. So skiers and snowboarders can revel in beautiful springtime temperatures that will often crest fifty degrees, while down in the valley midday temperatures will be in the seventies.
It’s easy to pull off this ‘daily double.’ The ski hills typically soften up by ten, sometimes earlier depending on how the sun hits the slopes, and snow conditions retain their quality until noon or one, before deteriorating into slush, sherbet, or what’s commonly referred to as ‘mashed potatoes.’ Avid golfers will change their ski boots for soft spikes by lunchtime, head down valley, and be ambling to the first tee just as the daytime highs are reaching their apex. With daylight savings time in effect, and sunset well past seven, it’s no time crunch at all to enjoy a full eighteen after an exhilarating morning sliding on snow. Here are three worthwhile public-access courses to visit while in town:
Start at Glendale Golf Course, a city-owned facility that, to use a skier’s parlance, would be somewhere between a green circle and a blue square on the difficulty scale. (IE—beginner-to-intermediate.) Fairways are wide open, the greens are smooth and fast, and visitors might become so entranced with the long range mountain views they might not take note of the absence of peripheral trouble. There are occasional pockets of waving fescue grass that will wreak havoc with wayward drives, but most players will navigate the grounds with a single ball, two at most. Look for the Salt Lake City skyline and the state capitol building, both visible from the ninth green.The par-5 holes are within reach of big hitters, even those with modest length will be left with short pitches and chips after two sturdy blows. The tenth is a potentially drivable par-4, little more than 300 yards, but the finisher is stout. The 18th is 430 yards from the penultimate markers (460 from the tips) with a large pond encroaching right of the fairway.
If Glendale is the relative ‘bunny slope,’ nearby Stonebridge is more of a black diamond. This 27-hole, links-style layout features whipping winds, and trouble of some kind (water, wetlands, weeds, you name it) on virtually every hole on property. Despite the spot-on views of the Oquirrh Mountains west of the city, this Johnny Miller design isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as Glendale, primarily because it winds its way through a series of office parks. However the challenge of long par-4s, and devilishly sloping greens will ratchet up the intimidation factor considerably. Cynics have long opined about Miller, the outspoken NBC golf analyst and two-time Major champion, that because he suffered late-career putting woes, he doesn’t want anybody else to be able to putt either!
Lastly, Bonneville Golf Course is distinguished because of its proximity to downtown, hilly terrain, and beautiful specimen trees. Because of its prime location close to the city and the University of Utah, this is one of the most popular courses in the area. Rounds can exceed four-and-a-half hours on a busy day. But this petite (6,700 yards from the tips) venue offers some lovely vistas. The par-4 eighth looks up at the face of Mt. Olympus, particularly beguiling as day turns to dusk, bathed in the evening glow. The par-3 fifteenth has a picture-worthy view of the Salt Lake Valley. There are some parallel fairways on property, so big slices or hard-running hooks might bound into an adjacent fairway. Golfers beware.
Salt Lake City has a surprisingly eclectic and diverse dining scene. We’ll limit dozens of possible suggestions to just a pair, one for lunch and one for dinner. However be sure to visit on different days; Feldman’s is ultra-filling for lunch, and Sea Salt is so special it should be visited on an empty stomach.
Feldman’s Deli is more than two thousand miles from Manhattan, and their sandwiches, while filling and delicious, aren’t conversation pieces like the ‘big enough for two people’ sandwiches made famous at places like the Second Avenue Deli, Katz’s or Carnegie Deli in New York. That said, Feldman’s offers fantastic potato pancakes, blintzes, superb sandwiches, pickles, and most every bell-and-whistle you’ll find in ‘The City,’ minus surly waiters and with the bonus of beautiful mountain views as a backdrop.
Sea Salt is airy and elegant, featuring nouveau Italian cuisine with a lively dining room and leafy outdoor space perfect for al fresco dining. Living up to its name, Sea Salt only uses pure unadulterated sea salt and Extra Virgin Olive Oil to season its dishes. The believe in the concept of Slow Food, which is to cultivate appreciation for ecologically, sustainably, and locally grown heirloom seasonal food and wine, artisanal food production, and the preservation of cultural food heritage. Their philosophy is great, the food even better. Be sure to try their pizza (roasted artichoke is wonderful) pasta (puttanesca) or signature entrees. (Grilled Shetland Island salmon, braised lamb shank.)