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I drive to and from Holladay at least once a week. My two sons have music lessons there, we've eaten at the city's many restaurants and we like to browse the local library stacks.

So it might have sounded strange to them when I suggested that we hang out in Holladay as if we were on vacation.

I was thinking of our trip last summer to Pacific Grove, Calif., where we spent hours on our bikes exploring the shops and beaches along a bike path that parallels the ocean.

I wanted to take the same vacation vibe — the one where you let the dirty dishes sit in the sink and you leave behind the inner nutritionist who says treats are for after dinner — and apply it to home.

Different than a staycation, my brand of home holiday would be a way to fill a long summer day in a unique way. Sure, I could take them on one-off trips to get ice cream, swim or play in the park. But I thought there might be something to making a day of it.

We committed to the vacation theme by ditching our car, bringing our bikes and swimsuits and an explorer's attitude.

My kids quickly grasped the concept: "Can we go out to breakfast?" asked Jack, 10. Of course, I answered, because that's what you do on vacation.

"Yes! And we can have Coke. Because it's a special day," added Luke, 8.

Holladay Boulevard and Murray Holladay Road formed the T-shaped spine of our trip, for good reason: They're filled with local restaurants and public amenities all within easy biking distance. There are lots of possible itineraries—add a picnic in the park, a pedicure or different restaurant stops. Tack on a concert — free ones start Saturday at the park behind City Hall. Here's how we spent our recent June day:


We parked and ate at Holladay Village, a block of two-story red brick buildings with a clock tower that faces a gray-and-white-bricked pedestrian-only plaza. It stands at the heart of Holladay's commercial district on Holladay Boulevard, with restaurants with outdoor seating facing construction sites that will be home to a new Harmons grocery store and luxury condos.

We ate at 3 Cups, the neighborhood coffee and pastry shop, where working professionals and boisterous families are welcome in the space decorated with a black-and-white palette. There's something for everyone: the house-made lemon poppy sweet buns and pear lavender scones for kids and a savory spinach and gruyère morning tart topped with a soft-boiled egg for me.

Sing and swing

You probably wouldn't look up the library toddler time schedule while on a real vacation, but our home holiday required places to escape the heat. We biked down Murray Holladay Road to the Holladay Library, and Margot, my almost-3-year-old, spent a half-hour dancing, singing and learning about farm animals.

We biked back to the park behind City Hall. Half the playground is covered in large shades, but we could still only stand about 20 minutes playing on the swings and zip line in the early afternoon sun.


Ditching four wheels for two, with biking's relaxed pace and remove from routine, is crucial to the vacation vibe. We borrowed a locally owned Madsen Cycles cargo bike, which has a bucket in the back with four seat belts — perfect for carrying Margot and our swimsuits, sunscreen and water. While we like to bike, we likely never would have traveled around Holladay that way without our tourism goal. Had my kids been better cyclists, we could have taken advantage of the bike lanes on Holladay Boulevard and meandered among the mansions. Instead, we stuck to the sidewalks on our route, veering off here and there to check out surrounding neighborhoods.


We needed a cool treat by 11:30 a.m. so we headed to Iced, a gelato, ice-cream and soda spot painted in sherbet aqua and pink and run by a local family. The Butlers moved their summer-only shaved ice menu from the Island Flavor food truck that had set up in front of the nearby Rite Aid and added house-made gelato and ice-cream at the permanent spot on Murray Holladay Road.

The kids were happy to jumble up the syrup flavors for their shaved ice. Instead, go with their specialty Typhoon, a mix of gelato, syrup and cream for a light milkshake-like drink. Grapefruit gelato with guava syrup is exactly what you want on a hot day.

Lunch and a movie

Megaplex Luxury Theaters at Cottonwood recently took over and renovated the more affordable Water Gardens theater in a strip mall across the street from the former Cottonwood Mall. But the large recliners and cool auditorium gave a nice respite in the middle of the day. While the boys watched "Cars 3," Margot and I walked across the street to the newest restaurant addition, the Southern-styled Pig & a Jelly Jar. The dark interior of a Thai restaurant has been replaced with brightly lit butter-yellow walls, a garage door opening to sidewalk dining with enough tree coverage to screen the abandoned Macy's. Pork sandwiches and pig burgers sounded too heavy on this day, but curried chicken over greens was just right. If this was going to be a real vacation, a white wine spritzer with orange juice served with chunks of strawberries and lemons in a Mason jar and dubbed Pig Punch was a must.

Cool off and dine

We spent an hour at the Holladay Lions rec center pool and were glad it was indoors. My kids had zonked at this point. As we biked up the gentle hill to our car, Margot's head lolled in the bike bucket and she asked, "Can you put me to bed?"

I had planned to eat dinner at SoHo, a permanent food truck park on Holladay Boulevard. But Taqueria 27 at Holladay Village was closer to the car and we wanted to be waited on at that point. Sitting under an umbrella and facing Mt. Olympus, guacamole and chips in our bellies, we were spent but happy.

Earlier, I asked how they thought our experiment was going. Luke's answer was what I was looking for: "We're doing stuff we've never done before. It's like we've never been to Holladay." —

Holiday at home in Holladay

Free summer concerts •

Holladay Library • 2150 E. Murray Holladay Road;

City Hall Park • 4570-4580 S. 2300 East;

Holladay Lions Recreation Center • 1661 E. Murray Holladay Road;

Megaplex Luxury Theaters-Cottonwood • 1945 E. Murray Holladay Road;

3 Cups • 4670 S. 2300 East;

Iced • 2245 E. Murray Holladay Road

Pig & a Jelly Jar • 1968 E Murray Holladay Road;

Taqueria 27 • 4670 S. Holladay Village Plaza (2300 East and 4670 South);