Best Sexy Acrobatics
Blue by Adult Dance & Fitness
Across from the Egyptian Theater in downtown Ogden, Meagan Goodson has built a space called Studio Blue. Women—and adventurous males—come to discover their limits of strength and endurance as they climb silk ropes and twirl and spin, hanging in the air, wrapping themselves up in the rope, only to tumble down in a “death drop,” stopping inches from the ground. While being the only club in Davis and Weber counties to offer these aerial silk, hoop and trapeze circus classes, it’s also the only club in Ogden to provide pole fitness. Then there are classes to learn how to dance burlesque with a chair as your only prop. Blue celebrates independence, strength and beauty, and the joy of being sexy in a gawk-free zone.
2440 Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-394-3185, DanceOgden.com
Best Gnarly Off-Road Biking
18th Avenue, Salt Lake City
Just looking causes a shudder. From gap jumps to wall hits, this huge dirt park is made for both mountain and BMX bikes. Jordan Seldin of Salt Lake Bicycle Company says, “There are a dozen lines. The ‘Hollywood’ line is the gnarliest, it has five large jumps in a row, all gaps. They range from 10-15 feet. Once it dries out, it’s really popular.” There are smaller jumps in the back of the park that beginners can try for practice. To get there, drive all the way north on I Street in Salt Lake City's Avenues until the road bends left, then right. You’ll pass an LDS Church and the park is the next left. Turn in and park anywhere. This little-known park is a treasure for off-road bike riders.
650 East & 18th Avenue, Salt Lake City
Best Pool Love
Swimming pools are expensive to maintain, especially given how few months they are open between Utah’s winters. Finding reliable pool maintenance that doesn’t result in hefty bills can be trying. Aquacate is a small, friendly operation out of Layton, run by T.J. Cate and Desmond Ebberts. In contrast to other pool companies that rotate inexperienced maintenance staff while charging high prices, the Aquacate staff is knowledgeable and charge a reasonable fee to open and close pools. In the world of pool maintenance, they are truly diamonds in the rough.
810 Oakmont Circle, Fruit Heights, 801-916-3059
Best Neighborhood to Live In
Sugar House is a vortex. Once renters and homeowners move into the ‘hood, it’s hard to leave—not like they’d want to, anyway. Arguably the most walkable neighborhood in town, it’s an easy live-work-play district. The houses are charming; the restaurants—like Omar’s Rawtopia, Fiddler’s Elbow and Blue Plate Diner—are delicious; there’s a big park and lovely streets to run in; and the shopping ranges from quirky local shops to trendy national chains. And there are high hopes for what the trolley-car system and the proposed development of the “Sugar Hole” will bring.
3. 9th & 9th
Best Ski Resort Staff & Service
Talisker, the high-end real estate developer that now owns Canyons, has emphasized customer service. Now, the staff can’t do enough for visitors, even those not staying at the Grand Summit Hotel. Want your gear carried? Directions to the near-secret upper parking lots? Just ask. Employees will do whatever it takes to make you happy. Lifties help you onto the new bubble chair, where you immediately feel the value of heated lift seats. Impeccable service is matched by a selection of gourmet restaurants like Cloud Dine and The Farm, which offer fresh, locally grown food. Canyons also opened 300 more acres of skiing in an area called “Iron Mountain,” making it the third-largest resort in America.
4000 Canyons Resort Drive, Park City, 435-615-8040, TheCanyons.com
Best Place to Escape Work
Up beyond Parley’s Summit, above the Salt Lake Valley’s smoggy haze, sits glorious Park City. Whether you’re playing hooky for the day or bolting before rush hour, the historic mountain town provides a well-needed respite—no matter the budget. The town boasts great dining—High West Distillery or Shabu—in addition to fine window shopping on Main Street. There are also big events like Sundance Film Festival and the Deer Valley concert series as well as skiing and mountain biking to keep you from going back to the office. Just make a day out of it, already.
2. Millcreek Canyon
3. Liberty Park
Best Evening Glow
Bluff Balloon Festival Glo-in
The sleepy little town of Bluff comes alive once a year with very big balloons. And every January, the festival kicks off with an evening “glo-in,” when balloonists inflate their balloons in the evening dusk, providing spectators the opportunity to see the colorful balloons come to life and take to the sky. It’s a fitting kickoff to a spectacular festival filled with gorgeous and unique balloons that take over the skies and red-rock landscape of Bluff, adding even more beauty to one of Utah’s most picturesque communities.
Best Childhood Relived
Hogle Zoo Train
From Poison Springs to the elephants, little has changed about the Hogle Zoo’s train in decades. Some new views have been added, but the essential ride is the same for people who rode it as children and are now taking their own children. Even better? It’s still as much fun at 35 as it was at 5.
2600 E. Sunnyside Ave., 801-582-1631, HogleZoo.org
Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area
This important ecological wetland serves as nesting habitat for 57 species of birds, as well as a migratory stop for many more. Some people are content to enjoy the beautiful plumage, inspiring flight patterns and beguiling mating rituals of these magical, peaceful creatures. But if the sight of wild waterfowl awakens in you only a sense of bloodlust, wait till October, when you can shoot the pretty birdies. Dogs are welcome Sept. 25-Feb. 28.
Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, Interstate 15 exit 322, 801-451-7386, Wildlife.Utah.gov/Habitat/Farmington_Bay.php
Best Braveheart Moments
Best Picnic Spot
Though the sight of Liberty Park’s pond being drained and cleaned following 2010’s oil spill was a sad one, the pond is well on its way to being restored to its former glory. Diverse crowds converge on the park before or after a picnic—for activities like pick-up games of Ultimate Frisbee or kickball, mock medieval sword fights, Sunday drum circles, family gatherings and bird-watching at Tracy Aviary. Exercise enthusiasts run laps around the track or play tennis to work up an appetite. Finish the outdoorsy day with big barbecue or a blanket under tall oaks, snacks and a beverage.
1100 S. 600 East, Salt Lake City
2. Millcreek Canyon
3. Sugar House Park
Best Ski Coach For Women
Olympian Holly Flanders offers unique three-day women’s ski clinics on the first weekend of every month during ski season. “We talk about technique, the mental side of skiing, how skiing ties in with life in general, building confidence and letting the mountain come at you,” she says. The seven-hour clinics cost $499, with many clients inspired to come back every year. Flanders is a former downhiller, so if you want to learn how to go fast, she’s your girl.
4000 Canyons Resort Drive, Park City, 435-615-3449, TheCanyons.com/ski_school_womens.html
Best Dog Parade
Kanab’s Gathering of the Greyhounds
Besides being a gem of Utah’s desert country, the town of Kanab is also host to a happy retirement community of rescued greyhounds. Bolstered by the love and energy of the Greyhound Gang, a local nonprofit for adopting and rescuing greyhounds, the town celebrates its furry constituents every year in May with the Greyhound Gathering. The celebration hosts a parade of usually more than 300 greyhounds that take over the town and march down the main drag in costume with their owners. You also won’t want to miss the “blur of fur” event where the greyhounds chase their owners down in a race clocked by radar gun. The gathering is plenty of fur and fun, but it’s also a great way to learn about adopting these former racing dogs and giving them a happy and well-deserved retirement.
Steiner Aquatics Center
Inexpensive day passes allow an opportunity to get a great workout by lap swimming in the two pools or to just lounge in the sun and soak in the hot tub with friends. Steiner’s 25-yard indoor pool is open year-round, while the 50-meter outdoor pool beckons seasonal aqua-lovers come May. Beyond the pools, the clean atmosphere, friendly staff and proximity to downtown make Steiner a haven for families, seniors and the college-age crowd. After one visit, you might skip the day pass and make a long-term commitment.
645 S. Guardsman Way (1580 East), Salt Lake City, 801-583-9713, Recreation.SLCo.org/SLCSports
2. Fairmont Aquatics Center
3. Cottonwood Heights Rec Center
Best Art Club
Jan Henderson’s Artful Heart Classes
It’s almost like an art “spa.” You arrive each week for your session, and your canvas, paints and notes are assembled at your station, so you can get right to work on your painting. Jan looks over your shoulder every so often to help you through the jungle of despair when you are ready to trash your work. Depending on the time of day, someone in the group is always sharing a homemade snack, a specialty tea or coffee or a bottle of bubbly. In the company of fellow artists, you learn techniques and actual tricks to achieving beautiful art. An accomplished wildlife artist herself, Jan Henderson now helps new crops of artists develop their own creative vision.
Best Soothing Scuba
Utah is not the first place anyone would think of as a prime scuba or snorkeling destination, let alone one where you can learn or practice diving in cozy 90-degree waters. But that’s what you’ll find at Midway’s Homestead Resort, where Mother Nature has filled a 55-foot-tall limestone rock structure with a natural hot spring, and the resort has enhanced it with a specially built underwater tunnel. Resort guests can enjoy a therapeutic soak, but they can also try a one-hour introductory scuba experience (all equipment provided) or—if they’re fascinated by geology—take a self-guided tour.
700 N. Homestead Drive, Midway, 888-327-7220, HomesteadResort.com
Best Taste of Speed
Miller Motorsports Park Mustang Experience
The need for speed, in some of us, is as primal as the need for food and water. But there’s speed, and then there’s speed with class. Miller Motorsports Park offers a variety of opportunities for wannabes to experience the thrill of the track, but there’s something particularly invigorating about the two-hour Mustang Experience, which begins with 30 minutes of classroom instruction, leading up to 10 laps on the track behind the wheel of the Mustang GT used in the Racing School. Wrap up the adventure with two “Hot Laps,” sharing the car with a professional driver behind the wheel.
2901 N. Sheep Lane, Tooele, 435-277-7733, MMPSchools.com
Best Horse & Burro Trading
BLM Wild Horse & Burro Adoptions
Public lands in Utah are home to herds of roaming wild horses and burros, administered by the Bureau of Land Management. When those herds grow to unmanageable sizes, excess animals are offered to the public for adoption. Many conditions and restrictions apply, and specific adoption dates are scheduled each year. But if the timing and conditions are right, a part of the Wild West’s untamed legacy can come to your backyard.
Best Camp at 10,000 Feet
Seely Creek Guard Station
For $30 a night, the Seely Creek Guard Station, east of Ephraim in the Manti-La Sal National Forest, provides four bunk beds (bring your own blankets), a fireplace and even an outhouse. Popular with hunters, horseback riders, ATVers, bicyclists, hikers and campers alike, the guard station sits on one of the highest points of the Wasatch Plateau, the perfect nucleus of a mountaintop adventure.
1150 W. Canyon Road, Sanpete County, 435-384-2372, Recreation.gov
Best Crimps & Jugs
The Front Climbing Club
When the weather sends rock climbers indoors, they can head to The Front, the Wasatch’s premier bouldering gym, boasting 10,000 square feet of climbing wall. With exceptional route-setting that changes frequently, climbers will tire of their spotter before they run out of problems to solve. The climbs are rated from beginner jug hauls to expert crimp fests. To top it off, for off-season training, The Front offers yoga classes, a cardio room, free weights, and ping-pong and pool tables. Because of the laid-back atmosphere, folks come to socialize almost as much as they come to climb.
1450 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-466-7625, TheFrontSLC.com
Best Ballpark Views
Berm, First or Third Base
There are often ample tickets available at regular-season Salt Lake Bees games, so you can pick which section of Spring Mobile Ballpark you want to sit in to watch the Bees. The berm—the grassy area beyond the outfield—is nice if you bring dogs or kids; the afternoon shade behind first base is often most popular, but many of the rowdiest fans can be found in the sun behind third base, heckling the opposing team’s fielders during the Bees’ at-bats. Your pick.
77 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-350-6900, SLBees.com
Best Public Golf Course
The beauty of Bonneville’s rolling fairways and the views in the Salt Lake Valley from the east bench might just prove Mark Twain wrong when he said, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” Of the nine public courses in Salt Lake City, our readers love Bonneville’s gorgeous landscaping and the challenge its greens pose. The course, however, is well-suited for beginners, as well. No matter the amount of birdies or mulligans, at least there are the views and the pleasant walk.
954 S. Connor St., Salt Lake City, 801-583-9513
2. Mountain Dell
3. Old Mill
Best Ultra Trail Running
The SpeedGoat 50K
It takes a certain kind of fanatic to run a 50K (just over 31.7 miles). To trail run that distance and do it climbing over 20,000 combined feet, you have to be part goat. The SpeedGoat is a rigorous yearly trail run that covers the expanse of Snowbird Resort. This race is for berserker trail runners who welcome the challenge of ascending the 11,051-foot summit of Mount Baldy, at the 9-mile mark dropping back down to the roughly 8,000-foot starting elevation and then hoofing it back up to 11,000 feet to the summit of Hidden Peak at the 26-mile mark. The 2011 race is July 30, but if you can’t get in shape in time, it’s not too soon to start sharpening your hooves for the 2012 race.
Best Garage Bike Shop
Best Frostbite in August
Located centrally on the Highline Trail—about 70 miles of trail connecting the Uinta’s loveliest peaks—King’s Peak is a beast. Utah’s highest peak sits at 13,528 feet and is only accessible by foot, requiring a multi-day backpacking trip. After the long jaunt and a scramble to the top, the views are nearly unmatched. But be forewarned: The weather changes on a dime. August hail storms and snow can leave happy hikers bewildered and frostbitten. However, it’s well worth braving the elements to bag this peak.
Henry’s Fork Campground, Mountain View Wyoming, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, 307-782-6555
Best Downtown Street to Explore
This street is home to a collection of eclectic and unique shops and places, from Western Nut Factory to the beautifully ornate Holy Trinity Cathedral. Check out Pioneer Park, EnergySolutions Arena or one of Utah’s few independent cookie shops, Ruby Snap. Eat gourmet Italian at Cucina Toscana or browse and nosh at Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli. But the true attraction, of course, is Mischievous Pleasures, the one-stop sex shop for all adult persuasions. Corsets that lock, bizarrely anatomically correct blow-up dolls like the “Lady Gag Gag” model, high heels in men’s sizes, fetish fantasies and an entire room of dildos—surprisingly unisex, according to the diverse photos on the packaging. And there’s parking available everywhere (except during Jazz games!).
300 West from 800 South to South Temple
Best Social Knitworking
The Wool Cabin
This little shop in East Ivy Place was founded by Renee Groves in 1979. After Groves passed away in 2003, the tradition of providing a friendly, knowledgeable and helpful fuzzy spot for local knitters was carried on by her daughters, Alison Barlow and Suzette Cannon. Upon entering the store, you can’t help but squeeze the skeins of yarns in myriad weights, fibers and colors along with an inspired selection of needles, patterns and tools. But more important is the tradition of sharing the craft through classes and events, including free social knitting on Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m.
2020 E. 3300 South, Suite 11, Salt Lake City, 801-466-1811, TheWoolCabin.com
Best Haunted Bookstore
Utah Book & Magazine
The hijinks begin at 6 a.m., when Peter Marshall opens Utah Book & Magazine for the day. The shop overflows with paperback Westerns, science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and book lovers can also find used hardcover classics and modern fiction at good prices. There are stacks of children’s books, comics and vintage magazines, including Life, and adult publications like Playboy and Hustler. With so many treasures in one spot, it’s not surprising the eclectic book nook attracts a loyal following. So loyal, in fact, some patrons reportedly are putting off their eternal reward to nose around in Marshall’s book stacks. After encountering numerous unexplained noises and movements, Marshall is convinced a few ghosts have taken up residence in his shop. He’s not afraid of them, he says, because they’re friendly. They add just another dimension of high entertainment to the Utah Book & Magazine shopping experience.
327 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-359-4391
Best Novice-to-Expert Hiking Resource
The spectacular scenery in Utah’s widely varying landscape—from mountain canyons to red-rock country—has made it a magnet for hikers. Whether you’re a veteran of hitting the trails or a newbie wondering how to find something not too intimidating, UtahHikingInfo.com provides a terrific year-round resource guide in blog form. Entries provide detailed information about finding the trailhead, time and distance, degree of difficulty and special notes and features. Search by region of the state, or even look for kid-friendly hikes.
Best Fast Car
Best Kid’s Summer Gift
Wasatch Kids Camps
As spring approaches, the question of what to do with your kids in the summer becomes daunting. Wasatch Kids Camps offers a singular invitation to the valley’s children: Jump on one of their green buses and depart for a day of adventure. Wasatch’s kids, divided into three age groups, get to socialize and explore. One morning, they might make windsocks, then in the afternoon take swimming lessons, or go on a tour of the local library, followed by a game of yarn dodgeball. Wasatch understands that a child’s long summer days should be full of sensations and pleasures, the memories of which will last long after the leaves have started to turn.
Best Social Network for Animal Rescue
Cause for Paws
Cause for Paws Utah realizes you don’t need a shelter or to buy a ranch to rescue animals from euthanasia. Cause for Paws uses social media to build awareness of shelter animals in need of rescue as well as to bring in donations to support other rescue efforts in the state. Socially networked communities are able to connect animal lovers to the animals that need a loving home. While it’s not a brick-and-mortar shelter, the Cause for Paws animal activists work tirelessly to build something perhaps equally important—a social community of compassionate people and animals in need.
Best Aqua Binge
By official Utah designation, the Boy Scouts receive one day of honor. Water gets seven—desert dwellers sure appreciate their water. Based on engineer-run American Water Works Association, Water Week diverges from a lecture-based approach and has engaging speakers, movies and interactive activities at Hogle Zoo and Tracy Aviary, among others—far from stuffy and boring. The week in May is all about educating folks about the water cycle, how it becomes potable and how and why conservation is important, especially in Utah. Even after seven days, many find themselves thirsty for more.
Best Mix-and-Match Dance Classes
Best Dog Park West Of State Street
West Jordan Dog Park
A wonderful place for pooches of all sizes, this park offers three separate fenced-in areas off the main entrance: one for large active dogs, one for smaller and more timid mutts, and one with enough acreage to tire even the most energetic hound. The garbage cans are emptied regularly, there’s no license fee to get in and it’s about four times as large as the nearby Taylorsville dog park. Another plus: The regulars at this facility are friendly and there are no cliques or politics—perhaps because the West Jordan Animal Shelter adjoins the park acreage. Another plus: There’s so much room, dogs don’t get territorial and get along sans aggression.
5982 W. New Bingham Highway, West Jordan, 801-282-3951, Parks.SLCO.org/WestJordanDog/index.html
Best View of the Valley
At just over a mile from the Capitol and with an expansive vista even from the parking area, Ensign Peak’s accessibility makes it the top choice. A mere quarter-mile hike from the road, the heavily trafficked peak is adorned with several historical plaques in close proximity to woods and seclusion. The view south into the Salt Lake Valley is exquisite for sunrises over the Wasatch or sunsets over the Great Salt Lake, while the more daring find their way there at night with the help of a full moon and perhaps a flashlight.
147 Ensign Vista Drive, Salt Lake City, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, 801-236-3400
2. Red Butte
3. Olympus Cove
Best Indoor Construction Zone
Best Reused Transportation
Salt Lake City Bike Collective
The Salt Lake City Bike Collective receives more than 400 bikes yearly from the city police department and from private donors. That’s some serious locomotion. Folks in the community can swing by for a cheap bike, or learn how to work on their own ride. Kids and people who can’t afford to buy a bike outright can volunteer and earn $5 per hour toward a bike. Not only does the collective help butts get on reused bikes, but it also helps keep them on.
2312 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-328-2453, SLCBikeCollective.org
Best Indie Gallery
Shilo Jackson may have taken over Kayo from Kenny Riches a few years back, but recently she’s made it her own in more ways than one. With zero ties to any art foundation or organization, and no partners involved with day-to-day operations, Kayo has turned into one of the few self-sustaining galleries in the state, pushing to bring in national artists mixed with locals. Working solely off Jackson’s income from her day job and donation-box funding, the space is as independent as they come.
177 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-532-0080, KayoGallery.com
Best Affordable Fitness Training
9th & 9th Pilates
Are you out of shape? Out of whack? Or just plain out of it? If so, you’re in need of The Reformer, a rolly, springy, spine-aligning exercise device central to the Stott Pilates method. For $10, the friendly and knowledgeable instructors at 9th & 9th Pilates will train you how to use it and show you techniques to get your body into tip-top condition. Class sizes are just right, and individual training is available as well as nutritional counseling and massage.
854 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-410-4180, 9thAnd9thPilates.com
Best Geek Art
Kat’s Creepy Art
Kat Martin started off painting cartoons and murals for children’s rooms, bringing warmth to family homes. But her most recent work that has people awestruck is her creepy and geek-driven reworks. Martin takes old Bob Ross-style landscape paintings and adds new elements in the same style, but creepier: Paris under a nuclear attack, an otherwise-tranquil forest riddled with zombies, a rushing river of blood with psycho killers at the top, and in a snowy field … a Tauntaun! All this creepiness brings new life to paintings that would normally languish at the DI.
Best Extreme Dog-Walking
Best Obsession With Mormon History
Wilford Wood Museum
Wilford Wood’s love of early LDS history compelled him to buy lands considered sacred by Mormons, including the original temple site in Nauvoo, Ill.; the jail in Liberty, Mo.; and the Whitney Store in Kirtland, Ohio, as well as property at Adam-ondi-Ahman. Wood later gave or sold (at cost) most of these properties to the church. To house everything else he acquired, he founded the Wilford C. Wood Museum in Bountiful. Open seasonally to small groups by appointment only, the museum consists of two buildings, one that was the family-owned fur shop and the other being the original home built by Wood’s father. Outside stands a life-size bronze monument depicting Joseph Smith receiving the golden plates from the Angel Moroni. Wood bought this from the church in 1959. Hopefully, at cost.
3697 S. 550 West, Bountiful, 801-292-7676, WilfordWoodMuseum.com
Best Egg Man
He doesn’t lay ’em; he carves them. Brain Baity is not only Utah’s best, but also one of America’s best contemporary egg carvers. He uses quail eggs, ostrich eggs, and more to create a lace type of art. While some have been lucky enough to see Baity’s work at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City (on display there March 31-June 23, 2011), he’s exhibited across the country and is preparing to spend three months in Bulgaria, where egg carving is serious business. Baity also carves breathtaking wood pieces and gourds.
Best Garden Party
Tanya Chatterton has been hosting a free annual garden party at her 100-year-old house-cum-garden-shop for 15 years. More related to a harvest fair than to Jay Gatsby’s lavish lawn parties, Chatterton’s August event offers food from her onsite gardens, acoustic tunes from local musicians; and pottery, jewelry and the like from Salt Lake City artists. There are even poets hanging around the heirloom tomatoes!
1432 S. 1100 East, 801-467-9544
Best No-Sweat Farming
Community Supported Agriculture
Joining a CSA program doesn’t make you a farmer, but CSA shares are the easiest way for you to consume fresh, local and seasonal veggies, cheese, eggs and meat. With more than two dozen farms to choose from—such as Draper’s Bell Organic Gardens, Copper Moose Farm in Park City or Group Garden in Holladay—it is simple to find a convenient pick-up location no matter which corner of the state you call home.
Best Penguins in Your Face
Living Planet Aquarium “Penguin Encounter”
Aquariums have typically been a great place to get closer to wild critters than zoos tend to permit. But you don’t usually expect to find penguins among the animals separated from you only by a layer of Plexiglas. The Living Planet Aquarium’s “Penguin Encounter” is set up like a South American research station for studying the Gentoo penguins, and you’ll feel like you could do that research yourself when you’re standing practically nose-to-beak with the playful birds, and have enough information on hand that you might even be able to identify them by name.
725 E. 10600 South, 801-355-3474, TheLivingPlanet.com