Salt Lake City on a budget

Following the breakout success of Vancouver on a budget, I thought it only proper to make it a thing and divulge details on how we survive/enjoy every major city we pass through on this trip.

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Image credit: Finbar Charleson

So here is a quick rundown on how to see Utah’s capital, the weird and wonderful Salt Lake City, without burning a hole in your lint-filled road pockets.

  • Accommodation: Free overnight roadside parking on 2100 S, opposite Glendale Golf Course. Works best if you have a car to sleep in (admittedly a trope of these ‘city on a budget’ posts), but provides hassle-free access to downtown Salt Lake City, and unobstructed views of Gobblers Knob (mountain peak in the Wasatch range).
  • Travel: Unhappily, SLC’s sprawling geography and conglomeration of appealing neighbourhoods best suits car travel (though there is a bike share system – ideal for more concentrated spot-hopping). Choosing from innumerable downtown carpark options can harm otherwise amicable relationships, but we chose this one – well-situated and only $5 for 10 hours.
  • Coffee/snacks: Three Pines. Small coffee shop close to the above carpark with friendly staff and $2 daily brew. A row of window seats and free refills allow you to stay a while and gaze at people who are outside doing more important things.
  • Culture: Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA). A must-visit, preferably immediately after a tour of Temple Square (see below), UMOCA is a self-described ‘cultural powerhouse since 1931’. Currently showing a wonderfully tactile exhibition by couple Rona Pondick and Robert Feintuch, this quiet, charming space is free to enter (with suggested $5 donation).

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  • Educational: Head to Temple Square for all things Mormon. Join a free tour led by the Church’s very own disciples for an eye-opening 45 mins of American history and manicured gardens. Prepare to be overwhelmed by an unsettling projection of oasitic perfection.
  • Food: Chunga’s. Located somewhere between Polar Grove & Fairpark neighbourhoods, Chunga’s is a little way out from downtown SLC but worth the journey. $7.50 taco combo is a steal, and the service will make you feel that you’ve accomplished something magnificent by ordering it.
  • Entertainment: Manny’s. Dive bar offering conversation starters and $3 pints. Lack of windows makes for a timeless vacuum in which atmosphere and cheap lager can be imbibed in equal measure, while friendly bartender, Van, exchanges tall tales with fellow patrons. Bring ID if under 35 because Utah alcohol laws are among the strictest in the US.
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Image credit: Finbar Charleson

And just like that, you will have whiled away an entire day in Salt Lake City without putting your hand in your pocket apart from in absolute necessity and to look cool. To reiterate, this list is fuelled by audacity and only 48 hours in Salt Lake City; if anyone should have any further suggestions, I would really like to hear ’em.

#vanlife #underthetarp

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