By DEBRA KARPLUS
A mountainous capital city and a university town, Salt Lake City offers the opportunity to explore your family roots in its expansive international genealogy library.
And there's much more to visit — downtown, around town, on campus and on the outskirts. You won't be bored in one of Utah's largest year-round scenic vacation spots. If you enjoy shopping, you'll find that, too. And don't forget about skiing or spectator sports. Pack your casual clothing and comfortable walking shoes and head to Salt Lake City.
Accommodations and eateries are ample and affordable, regardless of whether you want to stay in the downtown area or in some other part of the city. The city has a user-friendly rail system, Trax, and depending on your destination, many trips are free for locals and tourists. Information about schedules and fares is available at rideuta.com.
Genealogy has become one of the fastest-growing and most popular hobbies worldwide, and resources in Salt Lake City enable family tree researchers, from novices to experts and of all nationalities, to discover their ancestral roots.
For no cost, visitors can locate documents and databases and can receive much assistance from many genealogy library volunteers who are fluent in numerous languages and can help you read and interpret information about your family tree. Learn more about the genealogy resources at familysearch.org.
Whether you visit the city as part of an organized tour such as Ancestor Seekers (ancestorseekers.com), a hotel genealogy package such as at the Salt Lake City Plaza Hotel at Temple Square (plaza-hotel.com) or go it alone, you won't be disappointed in your visit.
To get the most out of your genealogy trip to Utah, plan ahead. Do as much family tree research at home and at the Urbana Free Library archives on the second floor (urbanafreelibrary.org/archives) before heading west. When packing for Utah, bring your laptop computer and flash drive. Pack copies of useful documents, but never bring originals as they might get lost or ruined in transit.
Make use of the databases, microfilm and microfiche, volumes of useful print publications, and carry change to make copies. Southpaws will be pleased to discover left-handed microfilm reading machines.
Because the city is the hub of the Mormon church, you can enjoy free tours of ornate cathedrals and breathtaking sculpted gardens. Plan your trip wisely and you can enjoy the free noon hour organ concerts, and possibly you can listen to the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir at its weekly rehearsal each Thursday night in their supersized music hall.
All of this is a short walk within the downtown area adjacent to the family search library. Find detailed information and times for special events at ldschurchtemples.com.
Also within walking distance from the downtown area, the library and hotels is Utah's Capitol building, nestled in a beautiful hilly area. You'll see lovely old mansions along the way. The view when looking down from this architectural masterpiece is panoramic; you can see much of the city. Learn more about Utah's Capitol at utahstatecapitol.utah.gov.
If you enjoy exploring college campuses, the University of Utah (utah.edu) will interest you. Easily accessible by the city's rail system, you can walk the campus and enjoy nearby restaurants. Plan to do much walking while on campus.
Also a short walk from the downtown area is City Creek Center (shopcitycreekcenter.com). Fast foods and restaurants for fine dining, large department stores and specialty shops like the olive oil store can all be found in this large multistory outdoor mall. Whatever you are looking to eat or purchase, you are likely to find it at City Creek Center.
There also are other stores in the downtown area as well as in the residential areas.
Salt Lake City is no sleepy little town. There is much to do in the evenings. You can enjoy live music and theater. Just west of the city is The Hale Centre Theatre, which offers top- notch professional performances in their newly renovated theater-in-the-round. View the exciting list of upcoming shows at halecentretheatre.org.
To learn more about how you can experience an enjoyable and affordable trip to Salt Lake City, see visitsaltlake.com. You'll be ready to purchase your tickets and head west.
Debra Karplus is a registered occupational therapist from Champaign. Check out her blog at debrakarplus.blogspot.com.