10 Perfect Summer Days in Utah | Summer Guide | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

10 Perfect Summer Days in Utah 

Where to eat, drink and play

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Mountain Man
By Jesse Fruhwirth

I like getting hot and sweaty while hiking Utah’s highest mountain peaks, but sometimes I want to get hot and sweaty in the mountains while just lying there. Thus, a mountain beach. My perfect day does not involve constructing a picnic, so instead I stop at Great Harvest in Layton (96 N. Main, 801-543-0304, GreatHarvestLayton.com) to pick up delicious sandwiches to be eaten later with sand between my toes.

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Next, head to Anderson Cove campground in Huntsville (6702 Highway 39, 801-745-3215), where the water from Pineview Reservoir is cold and the mountain views are spectacular. Beach access is only $10 per car. Don’t use all your energy swimming, though; save at least enough for great, affordable beers and dinner at The Oaks (750 Ogden Canyon Road, 801-394-2421, TheOaksinOgdenCanyon.com). Sitting on their shady, creekside patio surrounded by canyon air will help soothe your sun-kissed skin. Finally, on your way back south, take exit 325 in Farmington and head east to the mouth of Farmington Canyon (600 N. 100 East). Head up the canyon road just a bit, but turn almost 180 degrees to your right and head up Skyline Road. Just up the incline, you’ll see a nice flat area to pull over and watch the sunset over a panorama of Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island—you won’t even have to leave the car.

Burgers, Art & A Movie
By Josh Loftin

Our trip to the Sanpete valley starts with coffee for the road from Raw Bean (611 S. West Temple, 801-990-2326) to help survive the drive through Utah County down Interstate 15 until the U.S. 89 exit at Spanish Fork. That historic highway takes us to Mount Pleasant and Spring City.

We reach Mount Pleasant about noon and stop for lunch at the Dairy Freez (1 N. Main, 435-462-2623), a quintessential burger joint known by many locals as “The Sleez.” While the menu is extensive, we stick to the basics like burgers, chicken strips and fries. For drinks, however, we all get their speciality, a “Fresh Lime.”

After The Sleez, it’s back in the car for the five-minute drive to Spring City, where we tour historic houses that have been beautifully restored, often by artists, before heading to the Spring City Arts Gallery (79 S. Main, 435-462-9751, SpringCityArts.com), which is open from noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. After that, we’ll head to Horseshoe Mountain Pottery (278 S. Main, 435-462-2708, HorseshoeMountainPottery.com) where we have scheduled an appointment with owner Joe Bennion and his wife, Lee, a renowned painter.

After our cultural excursion, we head to the Triangle Lounge in Mount Pleasant (96 W. Main, 435-462-0250) to down a few cold ones until dusk arrives. At that point, we will drive to the other end of town—about a one-minute journey—for a movie at the Basin Drive-in Theater (680 N. State, Mount Pleasant, 435-462-2712). Since the Triangle doesn’t have food, we’ll park next to a speaker box and go straight to drive-in’s grill, which is making hamburgers the same way they have been made for patrons for decades.

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After the movies, it’s time to head home, unless we decide to make it a weekend. For that, there’s plenty of camping in the nearby and many bed-and-breakfasts. Further south in the valley, there is a challenging 18-hole golf course at Palisade State Park (2200 Palisade Park Road, Sterling, 435-835-4653), which also has a lake and campground. East into the mountains there is great mountain-biking on the Skyline trail and multiple lakes for fishing. All told, the Sanpete valley—where I spent most of my teenage years—is a pretty perfect escape from the urban grind.

Up in His Grill
Stephen Dark

I buy a one-day fishing license at Smith’s (multiple locations, SmithsFoodandDrug.com), load up my portable charcoal grill and fly rod, pick up some Mexican charcoal from Rancho Markets (multiple locations, RanchoMarkets.com)—American coals provide neither flavor nor much heat—and head out to Provo Canyon. As I drive along Interstate 15, I can all but hear the trout snapping at the flies flirting with them above the water.

Six miles up Provo Canyon is Vivian Park, acclaimed by local fishermen for its plenitude of trout, ease of access and water quality. Through the park runs the lower Provo River, sourced by Bear Creek Reservoir. Parallel to the river is the Heber Creeper steam-engine track. On the other side of the park is a pond where only children and the handicapped can fish. I’ve spent many happy hours with my two young girls as they practice casting lines with their spin rods while trying to avoid the draping branches of willows overhead.

I find an unoccupied island in the lower Provo to use as my base of operations, wade out into the crystal-clear water and cast out to the eddies for brown or rainbow trout.

This is the perfect moment of the day. The light catches the line as I stroke it back, hang it in the air above me like a huge question mark, then curl it over the water to pause in the air before dropping to the surface.

I get that heart-tugging pull on the line and slowly work a brown trout out of the water. You are allowed to keep two for consumption. I whack it over the head, take it up to a nearby table, gut it, light a small fire of kindling and add coal, then marinate the fish with a little lemon juice and fresh oregano. While it cooks, I slice up some homemade bread, chug down a cold one and listen to the sounds of the river.

Fed and content, I lie under the shade of a willow tree, and as I slip into a nap, the shadows of the willow wave over my face.

As long as the Heber Creeper doesn’t trundle to the end of the line across the way, sounding its horn, I’m guaranteed my best sleep of the week.

Organic Urges
By Austen Diamond

When Saturday rolls around, it’s time to play. As the sun peeks over the Wasatch Mountains, Scott and Brian meet me at the Blue Plate Diner (2041 South 2100 East, 801-463-1151, BluePlateDiner.com), where I connect with my southern roots and dig into some vegetarian biscuits and gravy with coffee. A big breakfast is pivotal for a morning climb up the multi-pitch, yet mellow trad route, Steort’s Ridge on the Dead Snag Wall in Big Cottonwood Canyon. After soaking in the view from the top, we’ll rappel down and make the drive to the Downtown Farmers Market (175 E. 400 South, 801-359-5118) just before it closes at 1 p.m. My favorite market farmer, James Haggerty, owner of Sun River Farms (141 S. 6000 West, Mendon, 435-787-1182), will banter with us about the joys of farming and what’s popping up next before we buy a couple bags of food. Then we bike cruise around town until the pangs of hunger are overwhelming.

We meet more friends at Liberty Park (900 South, 700 East) when the time’s right. As far as being “on time,” my perfect day isn’t about punctuality. We’ll grill our fresh-picked veggies, throw the Frisbee around, play some music and chill. After a couple hours, I’m back at my 9th & 9th abode for a cat nap (which aren’t just for toddlers) in my hammock if the temperature is right. When I wake up, a gourd of yerbe mate should perk me up enough to get out the door.

After a day like this, I start to get thirsty, so it’s down to Desert Edge Brewery (602 S. 500 East, 801-521-8918, DesertEdgeBrewery.com). It’s summer, so the light, flavorful Pub Pils matches the season, joined by a salmon and pickled ginger-cucumber slaw sandwich. Then I head to the backyard with Scott for an after-dinner smoke. Pulled out from safe-keeping, the medium-bodied, dark-chocolatey Padron 64 Exclusivo ($12.99) from The Tinder Box (188 E. Winchester, Murray, 801-268-1321, TinderBoxSaltLake.com) makes a smoke-ringed “10.” A perfect day wouldn’t be complete without some live music, so back downtown we go to The Urban Lounge (241 S. 500 East, 801-746-0557, MySpace.com/TheUrbanLounge), meeting more friends—late-night dancing and overall hedonism ensues. It doesn’t matter how late we stay out because Sundays are for sleeping.

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