Thank you for picking up our 2015 City Guide. We published our first City Guide to coincide with the 2002 Winter Olympic Games hosted by Salt Lake City. My, oh my, how things have changed. Everyone knew that hosting the Olympics would be a game changer for Salt Lake City, and for all of Utah, really. But, did we understand just how much our game would change? Nope.
Who would have known in 2002—at a time when persons wanting a mixed drink had to join a club, when downtown was a certifiable ghost town most nights, when Main Street was full of vacant or fake storefronts, and when other burgs and neighborhoods in the Salt Lake Valley were dimly lit—that today one can easily order a mixed cocktail in a bar; that some nights, downtown Salt Lake City's Main Street is so crowded with music and arts lovers (and partiers) that it's hard to get into a club at all; that Main Street bustles by day, too; and neighborhoods like 9th & 9th and Sugar House have become destinations in their own right? Well, no one did.
This is what we bet on back then, that Salt Lake City—with its first-class entertainment, dining and arts—would become recognized as the trendy city it always had the promise to become. Yeah, trendy—I mean, just look at the opposite page. Trendy digs like C.G. Sparks and many other post-Olympic businesses now help define our city.
Join us as we celebrate all that is great about Salt Lake City—and our neighboring cities—in this issue of City Guide. We're more than mountains these days. Turn the pages and find out for yourselves. Welcome to our world.
Each season brings a new way to experience Salt Lake City's charms.
By Trevor Hale
Here's a little-known secret: Salt Lake City is amazing. It may not be a major metropolis, but it offers as much as, and sometimes more than, other U.S. cities. You just need to know how to make the most of your time. Break it down by the seasons, and you'll find reasons to love the city like a local.
Salt Lake City's art scene is on full display during Gallery Stroll. On the third Friday of each month, more than a dozen galleries and shops downtown showcase the work of talented local and visiting artists. Spring is the best time to attend the stroll, because all the artists have been cooped up in their studios working all winter, and the weather is usually perfect for an evening saunter around the city. You can stop in at the Beer Bar (161 E. 200 South, 801-355-2287, BeerBarSLC.com) for a quick drink before hitting Copper Palate Press (160 E. 200 South, 801-633-9470, CopperPalatePress.com) for some great art, and Diabolical Records (238 Edison St., 801-792-9204), where there's almost always a band or two playing.
Speaking of art, while it's just off the beaten path, make sure to stop in at Signed and Numbered (2320 S. West Temple, 801-596-2093)—a shop owned by local artist Leia Bell. You wouldn't be a true Salt Laker unless you picked up one of her prints, frames or a magnet. There's probably not a single house in the city that doesn't have at least one of those, so collecting one of her pieces will make you feel like a local.
Before it gets too hot, spring is also the perfect time to try out our many nearby hiking trails such as The Living Room and Bonneville Shoreline trails. Locals love Big and Little Cottonwood canyons with their great views, trails, camping and bike-riding areas. These outings are no more than a few minutes' drive outside the city and offer a great way to get in shape for swimsuit season .
Summer in the Sun
Summertime is when some of the city's greatest attributes are on full display, starting with the Twilight Concert Series. Established by the Salt Lake City Arts Council nearly 30 years ago, Twilight concerts are held in previous years every Thursday night at Pioneer Park (350 S. 300 West) from early July through the end of August, featuring artists like Sonic Youth, The Flaming Lips, Wu-Tang Clan, Modest Mouse and The Black Keys—for only $5.
If shopping for locally made treasures is more your thing, be sure to check out Craft Lake City. For two days every August at the Gallivan Center (239 S. Main), SLUG Magazine hosts the DIY-focused festival that features unique, handmade goods, local food trucks, and live music and other performances.
You can get every weekend off to the right start by visiting the Downtown Farmers Market that takes place Saturday mornings June through October at Pioneer Park. You'll find homegrown vegetables, locally roasted coffee, baked goods, fresh juices, smoothies and everything else to make your own great Sunday breakfast, lunch and dinner.
There's no shortage of outdoor activities happening around Salt Lake City during the summer months, including the Living Traditions Festival, Utah Arts Festival, Utah Pride Festival, the Brown Bag Concert Series, and City Weekly's own Utah Beer Festival. If you don't mind a little heat, you'll never have to look far for something going on during the summer.
Once the leaves change color and the weather cools down, you'll want to blend in—which means it's time to buy a hoodie from The Heavy Metal Shop (63 Exchange Place, 801-467-7071, HeavyMetalShop.com). Pop one on and head to Broadway Centre Cinemas (111 East Broadway, 801-321-0310) or the Tower Theatre (900 S. 876 East, 801-321-0310)—both operated by the the Salt Lake Film Society (SaltLakeFilmSociety.org)— to catch the indie movie that's getting all the Oscar buzz.
While Utah hasn't been blessed with an NFL team, college football is a focal point every weekend in the fall. University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Utah State University and Weber State University all have solid programs and fans who reside everywhere, and come Saturday afternoon, you can't escape the team spirit. So, score some tickets for a home game, or find a local bar where you can watch the game. Just make sure you know which team you're rooting for.
Aside from Christmas, no other holiday gets locals as excited as Halloween. Haunted houses (such as Nightmare on 13th Street and Fear Factory) open their doors in mid-September, and you'll wander through makeshift graveyards, haunted insane asylums, the zombie apocalypse and anything else your nightmares can conjure up. The best part is that once you make it out alive, you, like the rest of us locals, will start eagerly awaiting next year's haunted productions.
Salt Lake City's new slogan is "Ski City USA," and for good reason. With nearly a dozen resorts—most located less than an hour away from downtown—there's no better place to ski, snowboard or take in the winter season (see "Powder Brats," p. 44).
If you're not one for winter sports and death-defying stunts down a mountain, don't worry. There are plenty of options if you'd like to stay in town, such as the Utah Symphony (Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, 801-533-6683, UtahSymphony.org), Ballet West (52 W. 200 South, 801-869-6900, BalletWest.org), and, beginning on Black Friday and running through New Year's Eve each year, the holiday decorations at Temple Square (50 W. North Temple, 801-240-4972, VisitTempleSquare.com) are a must-see. With more than a million lights intricately placed within the temple's gardens and trees, there are few displays quite like it.
After the holidays, Park City kicks into high gear with the annual Sundance Film Festival, which happens every January. Founded by Robert Redford, the festival prides itself on showing independent films at theaters all over Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and the Sundance Resort in Provo. Main Street in Park City is regularly packed with events, parties, live music, workshops, interactive exhibits and, of course, a few celebrities, too.
Now you know exactly how to be a local—even if you've never set foot in Salt Lake City before.
Correction: The Salt Lake City Arts Council has long hosted the Twilight Concert series. The original version of this story incorrectly identified the host of the concert series.