November 21, 2019

Chasing waterfalls to Salt Lake City

Our drive through Southern Idaho followed by three and half days in Salt Lake City.

Chasing waterfalls to Salt Lake City

My favorite thing about Idaho was the Thousand Springs Scenic byway. We took this route on our way from Boise to Salt Lake City and it was absolutely spectacular.  The highway begins at Interstate 84 near Bliss and follows U.S. 30 southeast through Twin Falls.  The route gets its name from the thousands of springs which run through Snake River Canyon. Many springs and waterfalls are visible from the byway and there are plenty of turn-offs where you can snap great shots of some waterfalls.  On the side of the road in Bliss, where the highway begins, there is a map of the stops along the way.  The view from here isn't so bad either.

If you find yourself on this route, I highly suggest taking a small detour to check out the Perrine Bridge and the Twin Falls Visitor Center which sits just off to the side of the bridge.  This center is a nice stop with unique Idaho treats, souvenirs, and coffee.  The Perrine Bridge stretches across the Snake River and stands at 486 ft. tall.  Because of it's height it is popular with base jumpers.  If you get lucky you will catch a few of these insane humans diving off the ledge of the bridge.  There were several jumpers the day we were there and we stood there and watched them for about 30 minutes. I was having small heart attacks as we watched each one plunge to their near death.  It was difficult enough for me to stand close to the edge of the look-out point to take a decent picture with my fear of heights.  Jumping off this bridge is inconceivable to me, but loads of fun to watch others do!

From there, we headed back to highway 30 toward Shoshone Falls.  Shoshone Falls has been called the Niagara Falls of the west.  I was skeptical about this grandiose title as I have not seen any gorge greater than Niagara Falls.  But WOW, did these falls impress!  The water levels were low in mid-September when we were there but it was still magnificent.  The view of Snake River from this look-out is also incredible.  We decided that we will definitely come back here on another family vacation, rent kayaks and paddle down the Snake River.  This drive is a must if you are vacationing through southern Idaho.

Shoshone Falls
View of Snake River from Shoshone Falls. See those little kayakers...that's going to be us in the future! 

"Welcome to Utah", the state line sign we never saw as we crossed over the Idaho/Utah border.  We did however see a large pick up truck carrying a GIANT buck head (yes, just the head).  Shortly followed by another large pick up with "Go Hunt" on their Utah license plate.  These clues along with the fact that Joe Rogan's podcast taught me that Utah is a great place to hunt, helped me conclude that we must be in Utah! Until we regained service and confirmed this through nav of course.

There's not much to dislike about Salt Lake City.  It's extremely clean, easy to navigate and they have a really great foodie scene.  There are some inconveniences around the consumption/buying of alcohol, but it's not like we came here looking for an all-nighter.  We also stayed in one of our most favorite Airbnb's in Salt Lake City. Check out this place if you are ever visiting and want a large, extremely clean, super hip spot to rest your head. It's also walking distance to a really great street of food and shops.

Here's how we spent a Sunday in Salt Lake City:

Ate breakfast at Pig and a Jelly Jar.  Holy pig was this place amazing.  It's southern style scratch cooking at it's finest.  It's everything you want and need in a brunch.  So good in fact that we found ourselves back here for dinner the same evening.

Ham Hash
Fried Chicken and Biscuits 

Toured the State Capitol Building.  You really have to go and visit this building.  We have been to several capitol buildings, before and after this visit and this one is a real charmer.    

Took a hike up Ensign Peak Trail.  This is perfect to go do right after visiting the Capitol building because it is literally right behind it.  It's less than a mile to hike all the way to the top and provides some dynamic city views.  It's a great way to get a birds eye view of the city as well as a peak at the Great Salt Lake and it's definitely easy enough for the kids to hike.

Walked around Temple Square.  After our hike we headed over to visit Temple Square.  This is a 35 acre area where the Mormon Temple, tabernacle, assembly hall and visitor center is located.  The temple is not open to the public, but it's definitely worth taking a walk through the square to snap some photos of this magnificent granite structure from the outside.  There's also a very cool pond named the reflection pond located outside of the temple.  This is an infinite pond with no edges.  No matter which way you take a photo, if there is someone standing on the other-side of the pond, it looks like they are wading in the water.  I had several people comment on this when I posted the below photo on social media.

After Temple Square we headed to the downtown area for some shopping.  One thing to note about Salt Lake is that virtually all businesses are closed on Sundays.  After walking a few blocks we discovered this fact. That being said, we did find a little pizza spot which was open.  Quinn ordered some pizza and Jamie and I just wanted to grab a beer since it was about 80 degrees out that day.  WARNING: It is strictly forbidden to order alcohol in Salt Lake City unless you are also ordering food! How considerate of Utah to make sure one is properly fed enough to consume alcohol responsibly.  The cashier was kind enough to allow us to order two beers after I ordered a salad along with Quinn's pizza.  

Cotopaxi is Jamie's favorite bag company, headquartered in SLC. They are also closed on Sundays.

We ended the Sunday the same way we had started, by eating at the good ol' Pig and Jelly Jar.  Partly because it was so good for breakfast, but mostly because it was one of the only places open for dinner on a Sunday and it was close to our place.  

Quinn and I spent the week working on school stuff and taking some field trips.  

Here are a few great outings to do with kids in Salt Lake City:

Natural History Museum of Utah:  This place is has an incredible dinosaur exhibit. Kids can dig for fossils and put together puzzles of dinosaur bones.  There is a lot to see in the museum but plenty to do with kids which is why we liked it so much.  

Salt Lake City Public Library:  Homeschooling while on the road means that we don't have the luxury of traveling with a lot of supplies especially books.  We check out a library or two in every city we visit.  The main branch in Salt Lake City was spectacular!  We actually ended up here on accident looking for a free art class for kids and shortly after arriving discovered we were at the wrong brach.  If your'e into libraries this one in Salt Lake is great!  The children's area is amazing and there are shops and a cafe on the bottom floor.

SLC Main Branch Library
Kids Art Afternoon - Glendale Branch Library 

Discovery Gateway Children's Museum:  We came here for a class they were having on fossils.  Since exploring dinosaurs and fossils the day before at the Natural History Museum I thought this would be a great follow up lesson on fossils.  This place had so much more to offer.  Our favorite being the "Saving Lives" exhibit, featuring a real helicopter where kids can practice life flight rescue missions.  There is also a mock emergency room where kids can dress up like doctors and nurses, take x-ray's and follow computer instructions on performing a surgery.  We spent over 4 hours in this museum.  

Dino Dig Fossil Study

I cannot end this post without mentioning Chip Cookies.  This was the best cookie I have ever tried IN MY LIFE!  My dad is notorious for using this phrase very liberally, but I mean it whole-heartedly when I say, this was THE BEST DAMN COOKIE EVER!

We were only in Salt Lake City for 4 nights and 3 full days and I feel like we explored some of the best of it.  This was just a "stop-off" city for us on our way to Mount Rushmore, so we really were not expecting a whole lot. But Salt Lake, you were a pleasant surprise!