I wish to make a trip to Salt lake City - not more than 3-4 days. please recommend whether a long weekend in May will be ideal time to visit or not. Also recommend budget friendly ways (suggestion of routes that can be taken during air travel) to reach there from Chicago. Any hotel recommendation for a group of 8 people ($$).
May is the perfect time to visit Salt Lake City and Utah if you're wanting to do hiking! It's great weather; warmer with sunshine, but not too hot and all the spring flowers are popping up in the mountains so it's GORGEOUS!
For Salt Lake, must do things are see Temple Square, and the downtown vicinity such as the Salt Lake City Public Library and Library Square (really cool architecture). On Saturdays you can go to a huge farmer's market at Pioneer Park and get some local grub while enjoying the sunshine. If you enjoy gardens you could go to Red Butte Garden's Amphitheatre and check out a concert while you're there. They always have awesome bands and a sweet atmosphere. You sit on the grass while enjoying a beautiful view and can bring your own wine/beer. Make sure to book early in advance because those concerts sell out fast! Sugar House (Utah) and 9th and 9th Shopping District are areas near downtown Salt Lake that have a lot of hole-in-the-walls and mom and pop shops with an urban atmosphere. It's a cool vibe and you can find some good shopping and souvenirs there. Liberty Park is a big park near there that's great for a bike ride or walking around and crowd watching. It also has a bird conservatory in the middle of it with exotic birds and shows that's great for kids called Tracy Aviary. You can find incredible hikes in every canyon in Salt Lake, but some of my favorites are Big Cottonwood Canyon, Payson Canyon, and Ferguson Canyon Trail Head.
3-4 days is a little short if you are wanting to do Salt Lake and Bryce Canyon. They are about 4 hours apart, so you wouldn't have much time to spend in either place. But if you decide to do it, I would recommend trying to avoid the weekend in
Bryce Canyon National Park and shoot for the weekdays. It will be extremely busy during May and you won't get to enjoy it as much as when the crowds are smaller. I am not as familiar with the hiking in Bryce, but about an hour away is
Zion National Park which has some of the most beautiful hikes in the entire state.
Arches National Park is another favorite, with the famous Delicate Arch, but it's a ways away from Bryce. The best way to get to
Bryce Canyon National Park is by car on the I-15 freeway. It will be the fastest. There are buses that go from Salt Lake to there as well, but it will eat into your time.
Your best bet for a cheap flight from Chicago is to fly with Frontier Airlines. They will likely have a stopover/layover in
Denver where they are based. I have seen round trip flights from
Salt Lake City to
Chicago for around $180 if you're flexible.
Any hotel in downtown Salt Lake should be accommodating for a party of 8 if you book well in advance. Your choice really depends on if you want a nicer hotel like
The Grand America Hotel,
Hilton Salt Lake City Center or
Salt Lake City Marriott Downtown,
The Little America Hotel Salt Lake City or if you want a cheaper hotel like
Howard Johnson. For the national parks I recommend finding a summer house to rent out. They are much better deals than hotels for larger parties, and if you look you can find one for a good price. Plus you get all the perks of a house like a kitchen to cook, a deck with a sweet view, and a large space where everyone can hang out together. To find those just Google, "Houses for rent near Bryce Canyon," etc.
Good luck to you and I hope you enjoy what this incredible state of Utah has to offer!
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I would check out Capitol Reef National Park, it has some very pretty red rock and many great hiking trails. A nearby city that is also cool is Torrey, I would pick up a burger at Slackers Burger Joint.
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