Friday, October 3, 2014

Salt Lake City with Toddlers

We were in Salt Lake City for a long weekend but boy did we have a great time. This place is jam packed with things to do with toddlers. The picture on the left is the kids in the rental car shuttle at the end of the trip - I would say it was successful.

Important things to know about our trip. We were meeting up with Grandma who was speaking at a conference so our timeline was oriented around her schedule.

We flew into SLC and took the light rail into the city. Our 2 year old LOVED riding the light rail. He loved it so much and we were staying inside the free ride zone so we employed it as a quick thing to do with him again during the trip. It was easy to use even with all our stuff. There are handicap ramps that pull out on the train so rolling everyone on and off were easy.

We stayed at the Little America Hotel. The rooms were quite spacious and we got a great rate at the hotel. We were quite comfortable. Grandma was across the street at the Grand. If you are in the area the Grand is worth stopping by. The sweet shop in the lobby was giving away free Gelato samples, there is high tea in the lobby and the toy shop (to the left when you enter) is amazing. These two hotels are walking distance from just about everything you would need, although we did rent a car so we could get around a bit easier and do some hiking.

We walked to The Leonardo, which is billed as an "art, science and technology" museum and were underwhelmed. Granted, we did not buy tickets for their traveling exhibit (which at the time was the animal version of Bodies.) The exhibits seem scattered and there was hardly any explanation. The staff (or perhaps volunteers) seemed confused on everything from the coupon the concierge had given us to how things worked in the exhibits. There was plenty for the little one to touch but it was a miss in our book, so I wouldn't recommend it.


We has some amazing breakfasts during our trip. I can't really comment on crowds since we tend to eat earlier then the weekend brunch crowds. Our little ones have us up nice and early. The Coffee Shop at Little America was a convenient option for our first morning. The food was yummy. I had the french toast. Little two year old H got a cinnamon roll and was over the moon.  The only strange part is your inability to get an expresso drink here. It wouldn't normally bother me  but I was able to walk to the lobby and get one from the coffee bar, operated by the coffee shop.

Morning number two we hit up Les Medeleines, across the street from The Leonardo. It is a little French bakery. We all had breakfast sandwiches on homemade English muffins.  The two year old also chose a chocolate croissant. We grabbed a little box of their cookies as well to snack on later in the day. If you are walking by you should pop in for some cookies at the very least.

We also tried the Pig & A Jelly Jar. My one regret is that I didn't order the bignets! Breakfast is available all day but there are lunch and dinner options as well.

What we did find was some amazing hiking. The weather was just beautiful the whole time we were there. Our original plan was to head out to Antelope Island State Park in the Great Salt Lake.  Local friends told us the lake was low and everything was quite muddy and redirected us to Brighton.

We headed into Big Cottonwood Canyon to hike to Solitude Lake. The first part of the hike is all boardwalk and level gravel around Silver Lake. Our two year old was easily able to walk this part himself, although he insisted on "helping" Grandma and me over roots and then going entirely boneless. I mentioned he was 2 right?

Once the trail turns up toward Solitude Lake we loaded him into the hiking backpack and he rode the rest of the way. We had a quick snack at the top and were treated to a spectacular view of a bull Moose, who also seemed to be enjoying the solitude of the lake.

Just down the road we hit the Stone Haus Pizzeria in Brighton for lunch. It was fine, but since it is off season for them they didn't have much of their menu items and we settled for mediocre salads. I am sure there are more options when it is open for the ski season... so I'm not ready to write it off.

Park Fun 

Meeting a Pooch at the Liberty Park Dog Festival
We are suckers for a good park. It keeps the boys busy and usually guarantees a nice nap, plus we all enjoy being outside. Liberty Park had lots to offer - walking paths, playgrounds, ducks. There was a dog festival going on while we were there so we had to check that out. The two year old loves dogs and we don't have one so this was a good way for him to get to meet some friendly pooches. There were food trucks available as well. I would check the park schedule for festivals and if there is one while your visiting then go check it out! We came home with tennis balls and some treats for our furry friends at home.

Home Depot had one of their workstations set up and H got to make a car. He was so excited to get an apron and use a hammer. Then we sent that wooden car down every slide we could find.

The park has a really fun  playground with swings, slides and noise making fun. There is literally something for everyone, including a tunnel that goes through a raised walkway.
Bird Show at Tracy Aviary 

The park is also home to Tracy Aviary. This place is great! There are tons of birds in a variety of habitats. The whole place is easily walk-able with lots of green space to run around in. We were able to feed a few of the birds!

The shows are the highlight of the visit. Bring a hat because shade is hard to find in the amphitheater. All the shows provide the opportunity for audience participation. My sometimes sky kid went up with his dad to test the strength of an Egg and couldn't stop talking about it.

Playground at Wheeler Farm 
Wheeler Farm was another big hit. This part park - part farm is a great time for kids of all ages. Do to a complete two year old  meltdown (about a goat making a noise he didn't like) we did not do the hay ride or the cow milking, but we did see the animals and play on their amazing tiered playground.

We walked through their gardens full of sunflowers and vegetables and looked at all the plants. The animals are out and around even before farm activities start so you can go any time of day.

The farm is free and we saw lots of mom and tot groups there with lunch. Cow milking and Hay Ride have a small fee.

We had such beautiful weather that we tried to be outside as much as possible. We love our zoo here and are pretty biased on how awesome it is. But the Hogle Zoo had a wide range of animals that we do not have here. We opted to not ride the train, since it was closing early due to some animal training, but we did ride the carousel. We were not aware of the small splash park, so I did not have a change of clothing with us. It was a bit cold to be getting wet anyway. We walked the whole place and saw all the animals some of them twice. The little ones favorite though were the sea lions and seals.

Children's Museum 

We went to the Discovery Children Museum and could have spent all day there. When we arrived the place was packed with a school group, but we waited them out in some less crowded exhibits and basically had the place to ourselves in the afternoon. The museum is inside an outdoor mall so it was easy to leave to get some lunch.

Play Market at Discovery Children's Museum 
Seriously every exhibit in this place was fantastic. There is a whole mock town in the back of the downstairs that our two year old loved. There was a construction site, a market, a house, a farm, a post office and a gas station. My kid could have played here all day. Upstairs there are some exhibits that were over his head - a news station with a green screen, a children's hospital complete with a helicopter you can climb around in.

The beehvie ball play section was also a big hit. He ran around and around putting balls in tubes and seeing where they went. He fell asleep in the car as soon as we left, which is a win in my book.


We tried to eat within walking distance of our hotel. We typically search out places that are kid tolerant, not necessarily kid friendly. Our kids eat off our plates usually and we have our own travel high chair for the littlest, so no need to find a place that has these. That being said we had some nice dinners and usually tend to be at places early enough that we don't hit big crowds.

I tend to use Four Square to find restaurant reviews and for the most part it serves us well. When I check in to a place using their app it (a) keeps a record of where we were for me when I get home to update the blog and (b) it recommends places based on where I was and what I liked.

Our favorite dinner place of the trip was Settlebello Pizzeria. Great pizzas and they had some really good dinner specials that included a salad, pizza and a beer. Next door to this place is Capo Gelateria. You can save yourself a few bucks by walking through the wall opening to get your gelato after dinner instead of ordering it to your table.

Here are a few more pictures to enjoy of our amazing trip.

Huge Sunflowers at Historic Wheeler Farm 

Geese at Wheeler Farm 

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