Story and photo by James Williams
With today’s economic situation, some senior citizens who live on tight budgets have had to cut back on activities like entertainment in order to afford necessary items, like food and medication.
This doesn’t need to be the case. Downtown Salt Lake City offers many free activities for seniors during the day.
For seniors who enjoy art, the Salt Lake Art Center offers free exhibits. The art center is located at 20 S. West Temple, with most exhibits done by local artists. One recent exhibit focused on scenic photographs of Salt Lake City’s Jordan River. The exhibit highlighted the beauty and serenity of the area’s natural environment.
According to the art center’s Web site, hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., and Friday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.
During the summertime, seniors can enjoy Utah’s largest farmers market at Pioneer Park, 300 S. 300 West. According to downtownslc.org, the market features fresh produce from more than 80 Utah farmers.
The market is free and open on Saturdays beginning in June from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. It is also open on Thursdays beginning in August from 4 p.m. until 8p.m. Both conclude in mid-October.
There is more to do at the market than purchasing freshly grown produce.
Seniors can stroll through the park, socialize with other people and listen to featured musicians from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.
However, seniors don’t have to wait for summertime to have fun and socialize downtown. Activities are scheduled during winter, too.
Seniors who are more adventurous can take advantage of the senior discount at the ice rink at the Gallivan Center and skate for $3. Those who do not feel up to skating can use it as an opportunity to spend time with their grandchildren; bring them to the rink and watch them skate.
According to the Gallivan Center’s Web site, the ice rink opens for the season in mid-November.
Seniors who have younger, preschool-age grandchildren might be interested in Story Time for Preschoolers, a program offered by the The City Library. Every Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m., librarians read stories to the youngsters. After the story, seniors can head to the adjoining Hemingway Café for lunch with their grandchildren.
Another popular place downtown is Temple Square, which offers free activities during the summer and winter to people from all religious backgrounds.
“There are movies, tours, concerts and restaurants,” said tour guide Amy Crandall. “All of them are free except for the restaurants,” she said.
According to a Temple Square visitor’s pamphlet, free tours of Temple Square are available in more than 30 languages and begin daily at 9 a.m. The tour lasts approximately 30 minutes, Crandall said.
In addition to the free tours, seniors can enjoy a free 30-minute organ recital at Temple Square, which takes place Mondays through Saturdays at noon in the Tabernacle.
Seniors who visit Temple Square might also enjoy a trip to the adjacent Family History Library.
“The average patron is a 64- or 65-year-old woman with no children at home,” said Daniel Poffenberger, who serves as both a genealogist and statistician at the library. The library averages about 850 patrons every day, he said.
The library is open to everyone, but library officials ask guests to come prepared with some background information, such as a name and birth date of a loved one, and have a goal of what they would like to learn.
First-time guests take a 10-minute orientation class. Afterward, guests are assigned a library staff member who will demonstrate more research techniques, answer questions and provide additional assistance.
The library is the largest of its kind in the world, with more than 2 million rolls of microfilm, 10,000 books and 50,000 digital books, Poffenberger said.
Today’s economy does not mean seniors need to remain at home with nothing to do. There are numerous things that seniors can do for fun downtown and not break the bank.