If you’re a University of Utah student, you might be surprised to learn you’re entitled to free access to TRAX, Utah’s light rail system. The TRAX Red, Blue, and Green lines have been an integral part of Salt Lake City’s public transportation system for over a decade, and through a partnership with the Utah Transit Authority, the University has made it possible for every student to reap the benefits.
This fall, an average of 9,042 students per day took advantage TRAX--almost one third of the U’s student body. This means about 20,000 students are missing out on the convenience and freedom TRAX provides. If you’ve been out of the loop, it’s going to be okay. We’ve put together an itinerary to get you up to speed with all that TRAX and Downtown Salt Lake City have to offer.
Starting at the U, hop on the Red Line. With four stations on campus and trains every fifteen minutes, TRAX couldn’t be more convenient for University students regardless of where they are on campus. The University Medical Center Station is near the hospital, the Fort Douglas Station is near the Ute Soccer Field and the Eccles Legacy Bridge, University South Campus Station is close to the Utah Museum of Fine Art, and the Stadium Station is adjacent to your favorite football stadium and the brand new S.J. Quinney Law building.
A quick seven-minute ride on the Red line will take you to downtown Salt Lake City. Stop off at the Library Station if you want to check out Salt Lake City’s public library. But don’t just peruse the bookshelves—the library was designed by internationally-renowned architect Moshe Safdie and boasts a public plaza, sculpture garden, granite water wall, cafes, gallery space, and cozy reading rooms. If you want a little snack or fresh coffee to keep you energizes, you can visit the nearby People’s Coffee and enjoy a fresh and relaxed atmosphere.
One stop past the library is the Courthouse Station where you can transfer to the Blue and Green lines. While you’re waiting for your connection, take a look at the sculptures displayed at the station. The Utah Transit Authority has made public art a priority, and each TRAX station features unique artwork reflecting an aspect of the community. Or if you’ve got a few minutes, head to Ray’s Barber Shop for a quick cut and style. You know you won’t wait long for an experienced barber with so many chairs. Clean up your fade, straight razor that chin stubble and get a shoe shine to boot!
If you want to stick around the courthouse area a little longer, wander over to the Green Pig Pub where you can chow down on wings and listen to live music. When the weather is warm, you can grab a seat on the roof deck, sip a Stein, and watch the hustle and bustle of Washington Square.
Both the Green and Blue lines stop at Gallivan Plaza. If you’re hungry you’ve got plenty of options here. On Thursdays between 11:00 and 2:00 the Gallivan Center hosts a food truck feast. You can choose from some of Salt Lake’s outstanding food trucks like Chow Truck, Cupbop, and Chop City. If you’d prefer a restaurant, you have some tough decisions to make. Takashi serves delicious and creative sushi rolls and Red Hot dishes up Kobe beef hot dogs with a funky culinary twist. Try the Reservoir Dog Burrito: this pup is loaded with bacon, corned beef, chili and cheddar. Don’t worry, there’s something for the veggie lover as well.
Once your stomach is stuffed, you can burn off that Bánh mì on the Gallivan Center ice rink, under strings of holiday lighting. Don’t have skates? Don’t worry—the $8 ticket includes skate rentals. If you’d prefer to sit back and relax, instead head to the Broadway Center Theater, a nonprofit community art house cinema. You can catch a documentary, indie, or international film and sometimes there are even free showings. Follow @SaltLakeFilmSociety on Twitter to stay up to date.
When you’re sufficiently tuckered out, get back on TRAX and take either the Green or Blue line to City Center. Hopefully the two-minute ride will be rejuvenating. Take a minute to scan some window displays and do some shopping at City Creek, then take a break at the Beer Hive Pub, a convenient place to take a breather on Main Street. In pleasant weather you can sit outside on the sidewalk terrace and people watch; if it gets stormy, head inside for a more traditional atmosphere. The pub features one of Salt Lake’s most extensive craft beer lists, and an ice slab for chilling your pint.
Temple Square Station, just two blocks away, is adjacent to Abravanel Hall, where you can listen to world-class symphonies on Fridays and Saturdays. With a student ID, tickets are only $10. Even if you aren’t into Bach and Mozart, you should take a look at the The Olympic Tower in the main lobby. The 30-foot tall, blown-glass sculpture commemorates the 2002 Winter Olympics. You should also take a peek at Temple Square itself. As the most visited tourist site in Utah, it’s sure to to impress. You can even enjoy a free organ performance every afternoon in the Tabernacle.
The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art neighbors the symphony hall. Exhibits are constantly changing, so you should probably become a member. If you’re only stopping by for the day, the museum recommends a $5 donation. When you’re finished, head to the gift shop and support local artists.
At the Arena Station, TRAX drops you off directly in front of the Vivint SmartHome Arena, where you can catch a Jazz game, concert, or convention. One stop further to Planetarium Station, and you’re at The Gateway, an open air mall encompassing the old Union Pacific Building. At Gateway you can visit the Clark Planetarium to see a free exhibit or watch a Cosmic Light Show. You could also check out the Urban Art Gallery and see more work of local artists. To finish off the evening, attend a show at The Depot. This year they’ll be hosting Dr. Dog, Joanna Newsom, and many others. As you walk back to the TRAX station, pass by the Olympic Snowflake Fountain and watch a choreographed water, lights, and music show.
You’ve had a full and exciting day, but the best news is that you don’t have to hunt for your car, pay for parking, and fight traffic on the way back home. Just find a seat on TRAX, slip in your ear buds, lean back, and enjoy the ride home.