Nestled between the Wasatch Mountains on the east and the Great Salt Lake on the west, at an elevation of 4,330 feet, lies Salt Lake City. Utah's capital and major population center is small as far as American cities go, with a population of just over 180,000. (The entire metropolitan area is about 1.2 million strong.) But travelers come from around the world to visit magnificent Temple Square, world headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and to hear the inspired voices of the unequaled Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Although Salt Lake City may be best known for its religious affiliations, and has an undeserved reputation as a stodgy, uptight town where you can't get a drink, the city is growing in popularity as a base for outdoor enthusiasts. Exhilarating recreational possibilities are only about an hour's drive from the city. With some of the country's best ski and snowboard resorts; miles of terrific mountain trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding; and the intriguing Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City is quickly shedding its image as "that boring Mormon town with the choir."

Incidentally, one of the first things visitors notice upon arrival is how sensibly organized and pleasantly wide the streets are. Early church leader Brigham Young laid out the city streets in a grid pattern, with the Temple at the center, and decreed that the streets should be 132 feet wide so that a team of four oxen and a wagon could make a U-turn. A more tantalizing tale has it that the streets were made wide enough for polygamist Young and all his wives to walk comfortably down the street arm-in-arm, with no one forced into the gutter.