July 24 is a state holiday in Utah, a welcome day off in the middle of summer. The date commemorates the Mormon pioneers’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, and locals recreate the occasion with the city’s largest parade of the year. Folks in Salt Lake City dress up in pioneer costumes and march through sweltering streets to the cheers of viewers, many of whom camp out for a good spot.
Visitors can get a taste of pioneer life any time of year at This Is the Place Heritage Park, on the foothills on the city’s east flank. Some of the city’s oldest buildings were moved to the site to make way for the high rises that now populate downtown. The park grew up around them and now looks like its own 19th-century town, complete with a blacksmith shop and a Native American village.
Actors in long skirts or wool trousers demonstrate farm chores and tell stories of times past. You can also tour the park on a miniature train, pet farm animals, ride a pony, pan for gold or even try your hand at milking a cow.