Ah, Salt Lake City! Even in the time of COVID-19, those in the area are lucky enough to be able to enjoy some truly spectacular and unique winter activities. In non-pandemic times I’m optimistic everyone would agree with me. What if I told you, though, that there are still so many things you can do this season to embrace winter but stay safe?
Salt Lake City has turned up the COVID safety measures without sacrificing our favorite holiday traditions. While wearing a mask is mandated in Salt Lake City itself, bars and restaurants have made impressive strides towards establishing outdoor dining and COVID-safe procedures. Please remember that although some Salt Lake City healthcare workers have already received the Corona Virus Vaccine, Utah’s state-wide ICU’s are at 98% capacity at the time of this writing. That means our healthcare workers are at their limit - and our winter activities shouldn’t be actively making their lives more difficult. With that said, stay safe this winter.
Here in Utah, our variety of choices for things to do spoils us. That might not be the case in many cities this winter. Even if getting into the Great Outdoors isn’t quite your thing, there are so many unique ways to enjoy the season. Here are some of my favorite SLC winter activities that you can still participate in during the pandemic.
Shop Til You Drop?
You can and should still enjoy a little retail therapy this winter season. COVID has everyone rattled. Right now stores need the financial boost that holiday shopping can bring. Why not head to the iconic City Creek Shopping Center?
This season you can still Enjoy festive décor and socially distant activities. Like years prior, City Creek isn’t stifling their holiday cheer. Shoppers can enjoy Macy's famous Candy Windows on Main Street, an exhibit called Special Holiday Selfies, contactless Storybook Lanterns, the City Creek Giant Christmas Tree, and the beautiful festive lights. Don’t forget to mask up and often sanitize while you shop. Otherwise, enjoy the fun! Check out the City Creek website for more details.
City Creek isn't your 'thang? No problem! Boutique stores and locally owned businesses are grateful for your business more than you can know. Now more than ever, consider choosing a locally owned place to do your shopping. Places like The Stockist and Koo De Ker need your support. After the holidays, take in the after-Christmas sales. Strolling through some amazing boutiques for a fun, casual winter outing.
Get Out and Shred
Alpine skiing, cross country, snowshoeing, and snowboarding all look a little bit different this year. However, we aren't letting anyone stop us from shredding the Greatest Snow on Earth, are we?
As of December 12th, 11 of Utah’s famous ski resorts were already open and ready for you to ride. Beaver Mountain, Cherry Creek, Powder Mountain, and Eagle Point still plan to open this year. Most resorts require the advanced purchase of lift tickets (although not all), and quite a few require Pass holders to make reservations for skiing or snowboarding. All resorts require masks while riding, and all lodges have implemented strict social distancing, sanitization, and operating procedures to ensure rider safety. Ski Utah has a great rundown of current resort requirements. It’s safe to say that even if skiing and boarding look a bit different this year. We can still have a fantastic season with some safety measures.
Resort skiing looks a little iffy for you this year? If you’ve got a few years of shredding under your belt, now might be the time to consider touring or back-country skiing and boarding. Yes, if you’re a touring newbie, you’ll need new gear and an avalanche safety course. However, it’s a great way to see the beautiful Utah backcountry and enjoy your winter sports in a socially distanced way. Make sure you’re following and routinely checking Utah’s Avalanche page, and stay safe.
Remember also that you can Nordic-style ski in Utah! Alpine skiing tends to rule here, but Nordic skiing is a great alternative (or addition to) resort-style alpine skiing and boarding. Why not add cross country skiing to your repertoire this year? If you’re new to the idea, Utah dot com is an excellent resource for cross country ski maps and suggested places to rent (or buy) a new setup.
Finally, there are other ways to enjoy outdoor sports. Get yourself a fat tire...bike. On January 11th, you can enjoy the 4th annual Winter Festival in Heber Valley. Participants can try out cross-country skis, snowshoes, and fat-tire bikes in the Wasatch Back near the Wasatch Mountain State Park. Prior reservations are required to secure gear, and there is a $7 per car day use fee to attend the event. Visitors will also learn more about winter activities in the area, like dog sledding and snowmobiling. Visit the site or call 435-654-1791 to make reservations!
Eat Great Food
Salt Lake City restaurants are still open and ready for your business. Now perhaps more than ever, eating locally and supporting your favorite eaterie is essential.
Salt Lake City is currently allowing socially-distanced dine-in options. However, if dining in right now isn’t in the cards for you, why not have a winter date night at home? Order out your favorite brunch, lunch, or dinner. Then, set up a picnic! Why not enjoy a picnic on your living room floor? Don’t forget the blanket, decorations, and little touches that make the gesture a special one.
If you’d rather make your grub, consider visiting one of Salt Lakes’ plethora of specialty and ethnic markets. Chinatown Supermarket is an excellent option for those looking to find new, fun ingredients (don’t forget to grab a bubble tea while you’re at it). Other options include Rancho Market (snag a paleta for the road), the Japan-Sage Market, Shop n’ Go (the place to get your Indian food), and so many more places besides.
Treat yourself! Enjoy the fantastic variety of international and domestic foods on offer in SLC this winter.
Enjoy the Hygge
If you feel like the pandemic has you stuck at home all winter, take a page out of the Scandinavians’ books. That is, practice the hygge. Hygge (say: "hoo-guh") which can be a noun, verb, adjective or otherwise, is a concept that has no direct English translation. One might call it "cozy" or "comfy,” and wintertime is peak hygge. Think of hygge as taking pleasure in the little things, of fostering a sanctuary during a hectic time. Hygge is being with your loved ones in an intimate, smaller, cozy setting. Right now, smaller gatherings are best for everyone's safety anyway. Plus, they are the epitome of the hygge feeling that the Nordic countries have down to an art.
So how does one embrace this feeling? Try this on for size: a cold winter day, start up a fire and invite a handful of your closest friends (your "pandemic pod" would work well here). Sit around the fire with comfort food and mulled wine (“healthy hedonism”, as the New Yorker put it). Add in cozy wool socks, some fresh pastries, lots of fluffy blankets, and a few candles. Spend the day swapping your favorite books, catching up, and just enjoying a comfy winter experience. Pure hygge. Seems to me that our Nordic friends got a thing or two right there.
Enjoy that #nbholidaycheer, folks!