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Blue Lady in the Red Land

Do's and Don't's in Utah

USA | Thursday, 18 August 2011 | Views [1506]

Contrary to some people's opinion, Utah IS a part of the United States, so most of any do's and don't I might write would be the same ones as anyone would write about travel in the US. There are a few things that I thought about which perhaps might make your stay in Salt Lake or Utah a bit happier, so here are some suggestions.

DO stop in Salt Lake City at least for a few hours while you are on your ski vacation. We do have a thing or two or interest in the city; it's not just something you drive through on your way from the airport to the resort.

DO plan your ski vacation in late January during the Sundance Film Festival. This may seem counterintuitive, because the first weekend of the festival is also the time of the big Outdoor Retailers' convention. The area will be filled with out of towners. But nobody except you will be skiing. The film people will be doing film, and the retailers will be doing their thing too. You'll have the slopes to yourselves, and the snow will be really good. Plus you can attend Sundance films and walk around and see Sundance people if you feel like it. It's not difficult to get individual tickets to films on the day of the showing, although there is a way you have to go about it. Check the Sundance website or just ask your concierge or other locals.


DO know that Utah alcohol laws have changed within recent memory. The first BIG change came as a result of the Olympic games, and the legislature has been tweeking them ever since. Right now, visitors may not notice any differences between Utah and the rest of the world. Asuming you are over 21, you can just go into a bar or restaurant and order something to drink without any odd rules like "private club for members." If you never experienced that, never mind. It's gone now. So is the so-called "Zion curtain." You still need to go to a state liquor store to buy your own to carry out, except for "Utah" beer which you can buy at grocery & convenience stores. You can only buy carry out wine at state stores, unlike in other states which also have state liquor stores. And compared to most of the rest of the country, there are comparatively few independent bars that are not connected with hotels or restaurants. As you travel in Utah outside of the greater Salt Lake area or other high volume tourist places, you may find that restaurants with an alcohol license become few and far between. Utah has quite a lot of de facto "dry" towns especially in the rural areas.

DO sample our local brews and wines. There are several excellent micro-breweries in Utah. We have a summer beer festival in Salt Lake City:


There are some good wineries:


and we even have an artisan distillery, High West Distillery & Saloon in Park City:


All this said, please DO remember to drink responsibly and DON'T ever drink and drive. Please DO be a good guest and DO help to keep our roads safe. DO drive especially carefully in the various canyons.

DO remember that this is the home of the Mormon Church. For better or worse, this is their place, and we are their guests. Think about what you might say and how you might talk about the Muslim faith in Morocco, Jordan or Indonesia, the Catholic Church in Rome, the Hindu religion in India and act accordinly. Please DON'T be rude or ugly about the  church in public spaces. You can think what you will, and feel free to say what you like in more private settings, but please DON'T insult your hosts deliberately.

DO ask local Latter Day Saints (LDS folks, aka Mormons) polite, genuine questions about their faith. If you really want to know about something you have heard (rumors, "facts," urban legends) it's ok to ask. Our LDS hosts want to tell you facts about their faith and are used to hearing outrageous things. They want to give you the real scoop from their viewpoint. So DO engage in conversation, not confrontation. You will probably learn quickly that our LDS hosts are a lot like everyone else.

DO take the DVD that the LDS missionary will want to give to you when you visit Temple Square. Be polite, say thank you quickly and then walk around with the DVD visible in your hand. That will be a sign to other missionaries that you have already got the goods and don't need to be approached again and again and again. Do what you want with the DVD once you leave the area.

DO say some nice things to the missionaries at Temple Square. For example, admire the flowers or Christmas lights or landscaping. Those thoughts will probably be quite genuine on your part. Take the tour of the Conference Center and be prepared to be amazed at the architecture. Each missionary will have a little flag on her/his name pin to indicate her/his home country. Ask the missionary something about his/her home. I find that if you engage the missionaries in conversation about something other than religion, you are less likely to have a talk about conversion. This suggestion is just another way to be a good guest.

DO remember that Utah is pretty much a desert, so DON'T waste water. City water is just fine to drink so DO carry your own refillable bottle and use the tap to fill it up. Or consider doing what I do ... visit the Artesian Well Park in Salt Lake and fill up big bottles. 


DON'T drive like the locals. Utah folks may be very polite under most circumstances, but this does not hold true once they get behind the wheel. Here's an article from the local paper. I could have written this myself based on a recent trip I took coming back from an out of state trip. I drove 2 days through 4 states with no problems, until I hit the greater Salt lake area. Beware! DO always wear your seat belts.


Tags: #blogyourbackyard, salt lake city, usa, utah

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