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Travelin' with the Cougs: Salt Lake City, Utah

Tucked up tightly against the base of the beautiful Wasatch Range rests Salt Lake City. It's named after a really salty, shallow body of water near by. They didn't get too creative with the naming here.

This is part two in a five part series where we take a look at the cities you'll be traveling to as you follow the Cougs on the road this season. Next up: Palo Alto, CA

When I tell people that Salt Lake City is one of my favorite places to visit, I generally get laughed out of whatever room I'm in. Most of the folks doing the laughing have never actually been to Salt Lake though and carry with them preconceived notions about why the city is "lame". Are there some rather archaic and mind numblingly dumb rules when it comes to beer and liquor?  You betcha! Will those rules get in the way of you having a good time? Heck no! Am I avoiding usage of stronger language on purpose or is it merely a coincidence that I'm doing it in a post about Salt Lake City? Well gosh, I guess that'll be up to you, friend!

Cougcentertravelin_saltlakevitals

I'll preface my love for Salt Lake with this: I can only vouch for it in the winter when some of the best snow on the planet lies 20 minutes from downtown. Even in the summer, though, there's still plenty of great places to eat and things to do to make a weekend of it after watching the Cougs deal with the MUSS.

Salt Lake City International usually has the best location of any airport you'll fly into but it's beaten out this year by the one you just went to, Reno-Tahoe. The remodel for the 2002 Winter Olympics helped big time and you'll get from the gate to your bags with ease. SLC is a hub for Delta and the world's fourth largest airline has been increasing service out of Seattle for the last few months so it'll be your best bet for getting there. Alaska will get you there without a stop a well.

Navigating in Salt Lake is a little unique but once you get it down, it actually makes a whole lot of sense. Everything starts downtown at the intersection of both Temple Streets. Head east, and the streets are labeled 300 East, 400 East, etc. Same thing to the west and then to the north and south. Sal Lake City's blocks are gigantic so if anyone tells you something is a couple blocks away, pack a mule, two Nepalese guides and provisions.

Places To Stay:

Note: Average Nightly Rate assumes a Friday and Saturday night stay

Hotel Monaco (Distance from Rice Eccles: 2.7 miles):

Put up before the Depression, the hotel certainly looks like a European style place but the rooms are certainly bigger than you'd expect across the Atlantic. The hotel is in the heart of downtown so besides the 24 hour room service they have available, there should be plenty of restaurants to stuff your gullet with. They have wi-fi for a charge (BOOOOOOO) but they also apparently have a manager's...meet-up, or something for all the guests with free wine (WOOOO) and free yoga mats in every room (/indifferent grunt).

Expedia Average Nightly Rate: $149

Homewood Suites (Distance to Rice Eccles: 3.2 miles):

Salt Lake City is chain heavy but this is certainly among the nicer of all the chain hotels. This is a business center so, as you'd expect, it comes with the various things business types need like free breakfast, free wi-fi and barbecue grills (apparently). The rooms are a fairly good size and the place is relatively new.

Expedia Average Nightly Rate: $89

Places To Eat:

Crown Burgers (377 East 200 South, Salt Lake City, UT)

Just a few blocks east (remember our earlier talk of SLC block length) of the downtown core, Crown Burgers was founded by a Greek family so alongside their huge burgers topped with pastrami are gyros and other Greek staples. Utah is also big into the fry sauce game and this place allegedly has some of the best. You can also get a rib-eye steak for $10 so if you like playing a nice game of Food Russian roulette with your stomach, a place with a $10 rib eye is probably a good place to do it.

Big Ed's (210 University Street Salt Lake City, UT)

Every college campus needs a breakfast place that has three qualities: 1) large quantities of decent to good breakfast food available 2) for said establishment to be open all day and 3) to serve alcohol. Big Ed's does all three. Their signature dish is the GAWD AWFUL which is apparently good. You people need to work on naming things.

The Pie Pizzeria (1320 E. 200 S., Salt Lake City, Utah)

We featured this place last time we highlighted Salt Lake but I'm going back to the well again. They have something called Apocalyptdough which has been made with spice from around the world and is basically spicy bread. Sounds like heaven to me. They've also got a toppings list that's a mile long including your more traditional toppings but also some weird ones like smoked oysters, Bay shrimp and gyro meat.

Things to do:

Park City

Tucked away just east of Salt Lake lies my favorite ski town in the world. Downtown Park City is usually buzzing with skiers and snowboarders from all over the world but this being the summer, it should be more subdued and relaxed. There are tons of shops and art galleries to poke your head into and it's home to a great place to grab a beer: The Wasatch Brewing Company. Be sure to try my favorite, the Polygamy Porter.