“It’s Friday night!” Who doesn’t love to hear this exclamation?! With the work week behind you and the weekend ahead, Friday may be the best day of the week. So, why not celebrate Friday night in classic style with a football game and a drive in? Take you and your sweetheart back in time to your old college days when you were the “big man on campus” and the world was your oyster. Fortunately, whether or not you were actually that “big man on campus”, Logan’s main feature – Utah State University – allows you to still enjoy all that university life has to offer.
As August winds down and the temperature starts to cool, I always ask myself, “Where did the summer go?” The months seem to fly by. One way to treat the blues that inevitably accompany the last few weeks of August, is to making “saying goodbye” to summer a momentous occasion, giving yourself something to look forward to. May I make a suggestion? Plan a staycation! It’s an easy, cost-effective way to enjoy one last weekend before school starts and the leaves begin to fall. Not to mention, a staycation requires very little planning and can be booked at the last minute. Below, I have an itinerary that will make for a perfect way to squeeze the most out of these last weeks of summer. See what you think!
Salt Lake City has a vibrant culture of music and boasts numerous picturesque venues where artists can perform. Every summer, bands come in from all over to play at the Summer Twilight Concert Series held at Pioneer Park. Concerts are held every Thursday night and tickets are only $5. It’s a large open venue that attracts thousands of people every week. For musicphiles, it’s a real experience. Too crowded for your tastes? Grab authentic Thai food from Ekamai or an indulgent Belgian waffle from Bruges Waffles and Frites and sit across the street (tables on the street and above the restaurants) – you’ll still hear the music while being able to avoid (some of) the crowd.
Red Butte Garden also hosts a summer concert series, bringing in bands that have more of a following (such as Earth, Wind, and Fire – performing this Friday, August 29th). Though tickets are more expensive, the ambiance is more organized and spacious. The best part? The backdrop. Red Butte Garden is stunning to say the least, and the soaring mountains behind it aren’t too shabby either.
If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, check out the array of options here. VisitSaltLake.com is a great resource in planning any Salt Lake City-based staycation. The Bluegrass and BBQ night at the Utah Museum of Natural History sounds especially summer-esque.
And the staycation doesn’t have to end there. Take a short jaunt over to South Temple and check in to stay a night at the Anniversary Inn. Request the Savannah Nights Suite and continue on basking in the warmth of summer. The suite includes a king-size bed, a jetted tub, television, cozy robes, and – as always – complimentary cheesecake, apple cider, and breakfast in the morning. What this suite offers that most don’t is a Turret with a table and chairs surrounded by windows where you can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors from inside the suite. I can’t think of a better place to spend either a lazy summer evening or bright summer morning – both allow you to enjoy the warmth that August brings before it makes way for cool breezes of Autumn.
A staycation is defined as: “a vacation (…) spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.” Ultimately, a staycation is an affordable way to vacation as it allows you to experience the sensations of being on vacation – relaxing, adventuring, etc. – without requiring the bill that usually comes along with it. Added bonus? Staycations encourage you to explore the city you live in, to see it with new eyes. So what’s stopping you? After reading the itinerary below, you will have no reason to hesitate.
Hike Bridal Veil Falls:
Start out the morning early (don’t worry, you’ll have time to relax later) and head down to Provo, Utah. Get off on the 800 North Exit (Exit 272) in Orem and head west. Drive for about 4 miles and you will see signs indicating the direction for Provo Canyon. Bridal Veils Park is located about 3.5 miles up the canyon with plenty of parking. Take a short walk down the Provo River Parkway from the park to find the base of the trail to Bridal Veil Falls. Take the short but steep hike to the base of the falls and be rewarded with a beautiful view of the cascading falls accompanied by a refreshing mist to cool you off after the climb. If you are an experienced hiker, continue on to the top of the falls. Beware, the climb is very steep and should only be attempted if you are an advanced hiker. My most important piece of advice is to arrive early. This hike is very popular and tends to get crowded throughout the day. If you want to explore the surrounding area, go for it! You can find more details and the history of Bridal Veils here. Planning your staycation during wintertime? No problem, the veils create a beautiful ice sculpture that is worth seeing (or climbing if you are experienced in ice climbing).
Dine at Pizzeria 712:
After your hike, you are bound to be famished! Bringing a picnic is always an option, but remember, you’re on STAYCATION! This means you should spend time out, enjoying the local area. I recommend checking out Pizzeria 712. Pizzeria 712 is a local gem to say the least. The chefs use only locally grown, seasonal ingredients to make their pizza creations which are placed in a classic, wood-burning stove, cooked to perfection. The crust will change your life.
The atmosphere at Pizzeria 712 is casual – you can even observe your pizza being made while chatting with the chefs! They are open for lunch from 11:30-2:30 (a perfect window for your post-hike lunch) and dinner from 5:00-11:00. Check out their lunch and dinner menus. Their pizzas are reasonably priced, so order a few and share them amongst your group so everyone gets to try a taste of something original. If it’s just the two of you, order a salad and two pizzas and you will leave happy. Pizzeria 712 has received numerous accolades throughout Utah and the country (see more reviews here), so come see what all the buzz is about!
Relax the afternoon away:
This is an important part of the staycation – relax! You woke up early to hike, ate a hefty, well-deserved lunch, and now you’re ready for a nap. So indulge already! You would if you were on vacation, so this weekend should be no different. After a relaxing afternoon spent napping, or reading, or watching your favorite TV show, get spruced up for a night on the town. Pick your favorite Salt Lake City Restaurant (think Em’s Restaurant for a romantic evening or the Rio Grande Cafe for a family outing) and head out on the town.
Now, this is the point where you send the kids home (if you haven’t done so already) and spend a romantic evening together at the Anniversary Inn. What better place to spend the remaining hours of your staycation than at the Bridal Veil Falls Suite at our 5th South location?
Enjoy a movie together or take a tub in our jetted jacuzzi to soothe your sore hiking muscles. Or, better yet, just lay in bed enjoying the painted murals of Bridal Veil Falls and reminisce about the day over a piece of complimentary cheesecake accompanied by sparkling apple cider. Most of all, enjoy the evening, you’ve earned it!
The best part about this particular staycation is that it can be catered to a family or couple. If you and your sweetheart want to bring the kiddos along for the hike and pizzeria, then pair off for a romantic evening, it is totally feasible. If you want the entire day to yourselves, the itinerary is equally enjoyable if planned for a duo. So get out! Go explore the local gems like Bridal Veil Falls and Pizzeria 712! And, don’t forget, Anniversary Inn has locations on South Temple and 5th South in Salt Lake as well as locations in Logan and Boise. Book today!
Many of the posts on this blog describe ways to celebrate your anniversary or plan a staycation in a grand and creative manner, taking advantages of all the local events that Utah and Idaho have to offer. Though a creatively planned anniversary is fun and exciting, sometimes the most enjoyable evening is one that involves a romantic dinner and a relaxing get-away. Fortunately for you, Salt Lake offers superb options for such a night.
One of Salt Lake City’s most valuable gems is Em’s Restaurant. Em’s is located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake on Center Street, just below the Capitol Building. It rests in a small, cozy space that is endlessly romantic: dimmed lighting, candles, beautiful art, small tables – you’ll never want to leave. And the food, oh the food! Head Chef – Emily – is brilliant. Starting out in a much smaller space serving lunch and catering on the side, she soon found more space would be necessary as the reputation of her delicious and creative cuisine grew. She relocated to Center Street where the restaurant expanded once more into the neighboring space which provided more seating for the ever growing group of patrons. Em’s cuisine is gourmet using seasonal and local produce which means the menu changes throughout the year.
Start your meal with her famous potato pancakes served with creme fraiche and fresh herbs. They are delicate and savory with complex flavors that pair perfectly with creamy creme fraiche. Her flatbread with seasonal toppings is also a great choice. Follow up the appetizer with a salad. Whether you prefer something light (mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette, croutons, and shaved parmesan) or something more hearty (roasted potatoes and caramelized onions with Italian sausage on seasonal greens, tossed with a bacon, sherry vinaigrette), she has something for you.
The list of entrees is substantial, each includes a perfectly prepared meat (lamb, short ribs, salmon, etc.) that is paired with sauces and vegetables that are prepared to accompany the meat perfectly. For vegetarians, she has an excellent potato lasagna and nightly pasta special. Let’s just say, if she’s serving her famous house-made ravioli…you can’t go wrong. What is dinner without dessert? Em’s list of desserts presents a comforting, classic selection. Sorbets, bread pudding with caramel sauce, raspberry creme brulee, homemade ice cream served with a warm chocolate chunk brownie….is your mouth watering yet? Read more reviews here where Em’s earns 4/5 stars on Yelp!
The best part about Em’s is the AMBIANCE. My husband and I have been there a number of times and every time we visit I feel the need to hold his hand across the table and lean over the table to engage in intimate conversation. It feels like a place where we can share secrets and exchange romantic glances – the perfect restaurant to host your anniversary celebration.
***Important Note: due to it’s popularity, Em’s recommends that you make reservations a few days in advance. Having been disappointed once when arriving at a full-to-capacity restaurant, I strongly encourage following this policy.
***Em’s also serves Sunday brunch and lunch throughout the week. I highly recommend both.
After a romantic evening spent on Center Street in Salt Lake, take a short drive to the Anniversary Inn on South Temple, just minutes away. There, book the Anniversary Inn Suite. This suite stands in contrast to the others in its classic interior. It is elegance at its finest. No frills, no distractions – just comfort. relax with your sweetheart in the jacuzzi tub for two before crawling into our king sized bed and watching a movie while a fire burns in the fireplace. Complimentary apple cider and cheesecake come with every suite. Indulge! There’s nothing wrong with enjoying “second dessert.” Let the morning greet you with a complimentary full breakfast.
Craving a classic, romantic, and intimate anniversary celebration. Reserve a night at Em’s and the Anniversary Inn on South Temple and you won’t be disappointed.
Summer is the perfect time of year to enjoy the great outdoors. In the west, we oftentimes take for granted the accessibility we have to beautiful trails that wander along peaceful streams or climb impressive mountains. Especially in Idaho, where the summer heat is less intense than other locations, locals should take the time to experience the natural beauty their state has to offer before the winter snow sets in and masks it all in white. Instead of booking an expensive flight or traveling to a foreign destination, look around! With a little collaboration between mother nature and the Anniversary Inn in Boise, this weekend could easily turn into an affordable, enjoyable staycation.
There are dozens of hiking trails that surround Boise and most all are worth the time and effort. However, if you’re looking for the most “bang for your buck,” I would choose Hull’s Gulch. Why? Well, I have three reasons.
Reason #1: Accessibility:
The Hull’s Gulch trail is located less than 10 minutes from downtown Boise within the Hulls Gulch/Camels Back reservoir. Just take 8th street north towards the foothills until the pavement ends. Park in the first parking lot on your right. More details on location here.
Reason #2: Versatility
There are numerous ways to enjoy the gulch, which makes this area an ideal place to spend a Saturday with your sweetheart (and kids if they’re lucky enough to come along). Whatever your hiking experience or time frame, the gulch has an option for you. Take a look at this map to see the various trails to choose from within the gulch trail system. If you want to spend just an hour or two, pick a loop that is shorter or hike in until you are ready to start heading back to the parking lot. For the full experience, pack a lunch and hike the entire 7 mile loop. Stunning views of the city and beautiful nature scenes can be seen all along the trail.
Reason #3: Safety
The Hulls Gulch Nature Trail is reserved for hikers (restricted from bikers and equestrians though they may use other parts of the gulch) and the climb is gentle which means it can be enjoyed by everyone! Still, be sure to bring enough water as there is little shade along the trail. See other reviews of the hike here.
After a long hike, reward yourself with a night of relaxation at the Anniversary Inn in Boise. To continue the nature theme, book the Enchanted Forest Suite. There, you will be surrounded by painted murals depicting a forested area that you may recognize from your day spent in the Boise foothills. Make no mistake, you will find no wildlife or dirt trails here. Only a comfortable queen bed, TV, and luxurious jetted tub for two. We’ll even throw in a bottle of sparkling cider and a delicious cheesecake – no trail maps required. After a weekend like this, you may never want to leave Boise again.
People flock from all over the country and world to enjoy the American west – and it’s right outside your door. So, get your hiking shoes on! This weather won’t last forever.
Salt Lake City has always had a reputation of featuring real talent in the realm of the arts. Between the Utah Symphony, Ballet West, Pioneer Theater, and the Utah Opera, theater goers have their pick of truly excellent, local performances on stage throughout the year. If tourists from around the country are coming to Salt Lake to see these shows, shouldn’t we be taking advantage of the prolific artistic culture in Utah as locals?
As the 2014-2015 theater season begins this summer and fall, consider planning an “opera-style” staycation right here in Salt Lake. This year, the Utah Opera has a fabulous line up, starting with Puccini’s Madame Butterfly that begins on October 11, 2014 at Capitol Theater. As one of Puccini’s most famous works, Madame Butterfly is the tragic tale of the boundaries race and status place around love. The story begins in Nagasaki, Japan when a U.S. Naval Officer and a common Japanese woman – Butterfly – fall in love and are married. Soon after the marriage, the naval officer leaves for the United States and does not return for years. When he does return, he brings with him his American wife in hopes to adopt the son he shares with Butterfly. The encounter yields devastating consequences. Written in 1900, the opera has influenced many other works including Schonberg and Boublil’s Miss Saigon. With elaborate sets and opulent costumes, this masterpiece is not to be missed.
To cap off your enjoyable staycation, book a night at the Anniversary Inn on South Temple, just blocks away from the Capitol Theater. You and your sweetheart could forgo the stress of finding a parking space and take a romantic walk down South Temple admiring the sites along the way. To carry on the opera theme, reserve the Phantom of the Opera Suite. With painted murals from the musical combined with ornate decor reminiscent of an opera house, you will find yourselves the star of the show as you and your honey spend the evening relaxing in grandeur. And you didn’t even need to leave your home town!
Tickets to Madame Butterfly go on sale July 20th – check the Utah Opera site for further updates. The opera runs October 11, 13, 15, and 17 at 7:30 pm and on October 19 at 2 pm. The opera is sung in Italian with English subtitles projected above the stage. Under 30 years of age? Check out these amazing discounts from Utah Opera! For the full season preview, see this video. Subscriptions to the Opera can be bought here.