Best of Utah 2016 | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Best of Utah

Best of Utah 2016

Get Schooled

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Best Neighborhood Boxing Gym
State Street Boxing Gym
Nestled away in a quiet backwater of State Street, this compact gym with a ring, bags and local kids hammering the leather is a tribute to one man's passion for at-risk youth and the therapeutic art of pugilism. David Mario Ramos boxed amateur and pro and has worked with youth programs, treatment centers and lockdown facilities for more than 35 years. He found that training to box worked wonders not only for troubled youth but amazingly also folks with brain injuries and survivors of domestic violence. You can train at this 8-year-old nonprofit if you're seeking a taste of the Rocky experience, or just want to be part of a noble endeavor that's changing kids' lives one swing at a time. (SD)
1420 S. Edison St., Salt Lake City. 801-671-2214, StateStreetBoxing.org

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Best Duck Pond to Dump your Old Shitty Bread
The Pond at Sugar House Park
One bad thing about bread: If you don't eat it right away, it gets old and shitty. This continues to happen despite numerous advances in the field of science. I eat 12 sandwiches each day as a stopgap solution, but I still end up with dozens of old, shitty loaves of bread every week. It's an intractable problem for too many in our state. Thankfully, ducks eat all sorts of shit even if it's bad for them. That's why I dump all my old bread in the pond at Sugar House Park. The best part is that I don't even have to get out of my car or stop driving. I just roll down the window, throw it at the pond, and yell, "Come and eat old shitty bread, you stupid ducks!" They eat it every time. (RC)
1330 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-1721, SugarHousePark.org

Best Place to Skewer a Pumpkin
Salt Lake City and County Building
The city woke several years ago to a peculiar ornament atop the Salt Lake City and County Building's highest perch. An orange pumpkin sat, impaled by the statue. Take a tour, sometime, up into the clock tower and you'll likely hear about the mysterious caper. You'll also learn that the daredevil culprit must be among us because he was never caught, and that the city spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000 to get the gourd down. The historic landmark offers more than the pumpkin-gate tale, though, if that sort of thing doesn't pique your interest. A display of gifts bestowed by sister cities across the globe might be more your thing, or the barren underground tunnel entryway that leads to the library across the street. The Utah Heritage Foundation sets up free tours in the summer and $10-per-person tours can be arranged in the off-months. (DWH)
451 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-533-0858 ext. 107

Best Place to Grab Pussy
Kitty City at the Humane Society of Utah
Whether you're searching for a new family member or just want to hang with cats looking for homes, Kitty City at the Humane Society of Utah is your best destination. "Older cats tend to be overlooked and can stay in the shelter for months," says Deann Shepherd, the director of marketing and communications. "We built Kitty City to look like a home environment. We wanted folks to envision spending time with the cats in their own home." In Kitty City cats are free to mingle with other cats as well as human visitors. With wide windows, cozy spots for napping and a television playing cat-friendly TV shows, life in Kitty City is pretty sweet, but that doesn't mean the residents wouldn't rather have a permanent loving home with you! (AR)
4242 S. 300 West, Murray,
801-261-2919, UtahHumane.org

Best Bureaucratic Breeze
Utah Department of Motor Vehicles Draper Office
Yes, the DMV. Yes, the real DMV. Standing in line at what everyone considers to be the seventh circle of Hell is not so, well, hellish at the Department of Motor Vehicle's Draper branch. Applying for a license or amending vehicle registration is relatively pain-free. The lines are short, Patty and Selma Bouvier will not greet you at the window to deny your application for some mundane reason, and there's even a drive-thru for certain processes. Don't let the expiration date on your driver's license loom over you, the DMV is just another quick errand. (SA)
14555 Minuteman Drive, Draper, 801-297-7780, Utah.DMV.gov

Best Place to get Eaten by Vegetarian Goblins
Nilbog aka Morgan County, Utah
Often selected as the best worst horror movie of all time, Troll 2 has captivated audiences for nearly 25 years with its wicked one-liners, atrocious acting and dubious (at best) plot. In 2012, nearly all of the cast and crew, including Italian director Claudio Fragasso, converged on Nilbog one last time for a celebration of the film's 20-year anniversary. Since then, many Morganites have reported seeing the goblins thought to be defeated by Joshua and Grandpa Seth in the early '90s. What fans loved about the cult classic, they'll find more of just spending some time around Morgan County—a true spectacle of small-town quirkiness. See the sights from the film and maybe even spot some of the supporting cast, many of whom were Morganites and still live there. (WP)

Best Indie Bookstore Re-ignition
Weller Book Works
It's been a few years since Tony and Catherine Weller moved their bookstore from Main Street to Trolley Square, rebranding as Weller Book Works. Yes, we miss bumping into Tony and hearing his passionate views about downtown development, but we can't fault him for putting down roots at Trolley Square. At least there's parking! Attending author readings and special events there, you sense they made the right move and are working to create a sustainable future for the store. The road forward for independent bookstores is not well defined. Luckily, we live in a city that loves its rare books—one of Weller's specialties. (JW)
607 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City, 801-328-2586, WellerBookWorks.com

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Best Trail to Shoot the Mr. August Picture for Your Upcoming "Mountain Men of Utah" Calendar While Also Contemplating a 127 Hours Future
Devil's Garden at Arches National Park
"Yeah, sure," I tell my Canadian buddy after he suggests we start our Moab adventure on the park's longest maintained trail. It'll be a good excuse to avoid the rubes attempting to take the perfect Utah license plate pic at Delicate Arch anyway. About 45 minutes into the 7.2 mile trek, sweat is commingling with sunblock and running into my eyes as I press myself to muster on and play it cool. Trust me, a garden it ain't. I am delirious. At one point, my bud and I recreate a pivotal Lion King scene off a rock formation's edge wherein he plays the role of Rafiki and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos doubles as Simba. Supplies running low, my squinty SPF-ridden pupils eventually see Double O Arch on the horizon. We've reached selfie holy land. "Expert's way" back? Sure, why not! Mom, Dad, I really love you guys ... (EL)
Moab, Utah, 84532, 435-719-2299, NPS.gov/Arch

Best Place to Help you Forget That your Ex Took the Dog
Memory Grove Park
When you finally realize that nagging, dog-shaped hole in your heart will never be stitched with lukewarm PBRs and B-sides by The Cure, it's time to step out from that hovel of an apartment and get some air. On pleasant days, Memory Grove Park's off-leash dog area is a catalog of canine breeds pattering along the trail, fetching balls on the lawn and basking in the shallow pond. But if the dogs aren't enough to scrub an ex from your mind, the numerous war memorials can at least put those quotidian struggles into perspective. Or locate your zen by the fountain or Meditation Chapel. (DWH)
300 N. Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, 801-972-7800, SLCGov.com

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Best Place to Touch an Anaconda
Scales and Tails
Scales and Tails, tucked into an industrial strip mall that abuts a residential area in West Valley City, keeps a low profile—mainly because their business entails taking their massive collection of reptiles and invertebrate off-site to private parties and state fairs. But on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, for a nominal fee, you can tour their facility, which houses scores of creatures, including giant pythons, alligators, a green anaconda, big monitor lizards and plenty of tarantulas. They'll even let you handle some of them yourself. It's perfectly safe, educational and tons of fun. (RH)
3584 S. 1950 West, West Valley City, 801-577-7182, ScalesAndTailsUtah.com

Best Downtown Brass Foundry
State Brass Foundry and Machine
In an era where the word "worker" brings to mind a person wasting at some desk, hunched over a tyrannical computer screen, there is a bit of comfort in knowing that there are still people—indeed, still people in Salt Lake City—who get shit done a different way. One needs to look no further than the century-old brass foundry on State Street, where the soot-covered men in denim overalls carefully craft massive pump housings and pretty much anything you can imagine, out of molten metal. The place—and the profession—is simply burly, and once you pick the place out amid the convenience stores and motels that dot the street, you, too, will take comfort each time you pass by and see that heavy manufacturing lives. (CF)
1400 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-9461, StateBrass.com

Best Place to Crawl Inside a Giant Monkey Head
Museum of Natural Curiosity
Utah has always offered family-friendly places to play and explore; it's particularly satisfying when those places are as colorfully entertaining as they are educational. Thanksgiving Point's Museum of Natural Curiosity offers a variety of environments for kids to climb, crawl, run and splash through—from a rainforest (featuring that aforementioned, stone idol-esque giant monkey head) to a desert watering hole to a "Kidopolis" model town, along with space for rotating touring exhibits, all of them offering information about science, the environment and healthy living. Getting the wiggles out can be a learning time, too. (SR)
3605 Garden Drive, Lehi, 801-768-2300, ThanksgivingPoint.org

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Best "There's More Than One Drive-In Movie Theater in Utah"
TIE (Various)
For decades, the Redwood Drive-In (RedwoodDriveIn.com) has been the biggest and best outdoor movie theater in Utah, but there's a misconception that it's the last one in the state. Ogden has the four-screen digital Motor-Vu (MotorVu.com) which is a year older than the Redwood. Mt. Pleasant boasts The Basin Drive-In (SanpeteMovies.com) and Roosevelt has the Echo Drive-In (RooseveltMovies.com). Plus, located in Escalante, off Scenic Byway 12, the Shooting Star airstream park and RV resort (ShootingStar-RVResort.com) has a mini drive-in where resort guests (only) can watch films from within classic convertibles. Now if only we had a proper drive-in grindhouse. Hello? Salt Lake Film Society? (RH)

Best Bird Refuge
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
It's easy to neglect things that you don't know. And in Utah, it's easy to not know much about the Great Salt Lake's fragile ecosystem. One easy way to start is a visit to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, which was designated by presidential proclamation in 1928 and protects 80,000 acres of marshes, waterways and alkaline mud flats. A crucial water body for migrating birds, the refuge is home to more than 250 species that stop off by the millions as they travel to different climes. And, because we humans are now once again threatening the future of the Bear River and Great Salt Lake with water projects, the days of seeing this ecosystem in tact could be numbered. (CF)
2155 W. Forest St., Brigham City, 435-723-5887, FWS.gov

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Best Slice of Movie History
Kanab Little Hollywood Museum
For nearly a century—from Tom Mix Westerns through John Ford classics and up to modern blockbusters like John Carter—southern Utah has been cinema's all-purpose stand-in for everything from the vintage American West to alien worlds. The Little Hollywood Museum celebrates that legacy, showcasing actual sets, props and memorabilia from movies like The Outlaw Josey Wales. Pick up gifts celebrating stars like John Wayne, take a photo in Western costume, and stick around for the authentic chuckwagon cookout. (SR)
297 W. Center St., Kanab, 435-644-5337, LittleHollywoodMuseum.org

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Best Artistic Collision of Comic Books and Music
Black Omen Comics
Like an nuclear blast of peanut butter and chocolate, Black Omen Comics went the extra mile to provide a unique reading experience for comic-book lovers. The creators took the music SLC-based synth-pop band Conquer Monster in their latest full-length album, Metatransit, and used the soundtrack as a listening-pleasure template for their latest comic title, Purge Worlds. Both elements give the other boost and complement each other throughout the story, which makes us wonder what all comics would be like if they came with a score. (GS)

Best Downtown SLC Parking
The lot on 400 S. Main Street/500 S. West Temple
As we all know, parking downtown is a nightmare, and those meter maids have no mercy. (Looking at you, "Officer P129." Tell me, how do you sleep at night?) Several lots claim to be the best and cheapest, but after living and working downtown for a year now, I've found the best deal on the corner of 400 South and Main Street/500 South and West Temple. You can park there all day for $6, or get a monthly pass for $55. Public entrances are on 400 South and on West Temple, where you pay with a credit/debit card to get in. I've yet to see it fill up. (Knock on wood.) (AH)

Best Retailer to Find Hot Deals (and Maybe Bed Bugs)
Deseret Industries Centerville
A true Utah original, Deseret Industries has long served us with its socialist (shhh, don't tell anyone) co-op of second-hand clothes, toys, home supplies and romance novels. What makes the Centerville D.I. great is that, while others around the state have taken efforts to look less like yard sales or the basements of your Mormon aunt, the Centerville location has stuck to its Davis County guns—hymn books, white-jesus pictures and all. Take the trip to Centerville, and find yourself that Viewmont High School track-and-field windbreaker you've been wanting. Just beware of the furniture section ... (WP)
158 E. Pages Lane, Centerville, 801-298-8918, DeseretIndustries.org

Best Place to Buy Street Cutlery
Indoor Swap Meet
You know those days when the micro-aggressors are everywhere, neglectin' to check their privilege—but you left your katana and your coffee on the roof of your car that morning? If you live in West Valley, where shit is real, you're lucky. Whether you need a pocket, buck, butterfly or throwing knife—or, for more egregious offenses, a machete, kukri or tanto, it's available at The Indoor Swap Meet. You'll need your energy, so get yourself a plate of tacos al pastor at the concession stand. Because Hell hath no fury like a butt-hurt SJW with a raging case of firehole. (RH)
1500 S. 3500 West, West Valley City, 801-887-7927, SaltLakeIndoorSwapMeet.com

Best Place for Missionary Nostalgia
London Market
While the LDS Church has spread out over much of the world, one of the first places missionaries headed out to conquer in those first years was the U.K. That continues to this day and so when someone you talk to says he or she did their mission abroad, there's a good chance they got to know intimately some part of the British Isles. Go to the London Market on 900 South—with its adorable mini-cooper parked out front—and there may well be a former missionary chowing down on a cornish pasty (think a large savory pastry roll full of meat, potatoes and rutabaga) and fondly remembering hefting the Book of Mormon door-to-door. But if you're an ex-pat Brit or simply someone who hit London as part of their Euro-train wallow before college, there's plenty to find here to satisfy both your need for nostalgia and a sweet tooth. (SD)
439 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-7074

Best Place for a Fall Photo Shoot
Millcreek Canyon
Ever thought about offering a "pop-up" photography studio? If yes, consider "popping up" in Mill Creek Canyon next fall. The canyon's striking fall foliage and wildlife sightings make it a natural backdrop for family and wedding portraits. It's breathtakingly beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that on many a fall weekend, couples, families and groups converge on scenic spots along the road and vie for that perfect portrait or Christmas card photo. Meanwhile, others are waiting, hoping for their shot. They want the good light and red leaves, too! An enterprising photographer could take control of the situation and ... put a smile on their faces. (JW)
SLCO.org/Recreation/Parks/MillcreekCanyon

Best Way to Hit the Slopes with Kids
Brighton Resort
There is a wealth of blissful snow that piles high each winter in the Wasatch Range, and a stupid number of great resort choices. For kids under the age of 10, though, there is really no better option than Brighton, where children who fall within this age range ski for free with a paying adult. Since a full-priced adult lift ticket at Brighton is $79—still a far cry from costs at some other Wasatch resorts—the whole "free" thing certainly the numbs the pain. Lessons at Brighton are also reasonably priced, with children up to the age of 12 able to secure a two-hour slot for $59. (CF)
8302 S. Brighton Loop Road, Brighton, 801-532-4731, BrightonResort.com

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Best New Library
Salt Lake City Public Library Marmalade Branch
Somewhere, the author Ray Bradbury is smiling. In 2016, Salt Lake City opened a new 18,600-square-foot library branch in Marmalade, complete with computers, a café and places to read, but mostly—eureka—books. That free libraries exist in a 21st century that has so far been dominated by technological outbursts mostly linked to how humans stay in touch with friends they no longer care about on telephone screens, is remarkable. Indeed, on any given day anyone can waltz into a library, grab some books and sit until closing time swimming in imagination. (CF)
280 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City, 801-594-8680, SLCPL.UT.us

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Best Drive-Thru to Contemplate Life At
Sconecutter
"Is anything open after midnight in Salt Lake City?" someone recently asked me. I nodded and recited a small-but-mighty laundry list of establishments before realizing halfway through it all of my choices were food-related. Whatever, I work long hours, OK? Many a night I've found myself contemplating life during my wait at the Sugar House Sconecutter. Most recently for a meditative 26 minutes while the nice voice behind the drive-thru speaker made me feel at ease by referring to me as "sweetie" and "hun" as she wrangled up the Oompa Loompas to make my Philly steak-and-cheese sandwich a reality. Depending on the night, the ghost of Forrest Gump is in full effect as you never know what you're gonna get. The fact they're open 24 hours Tuesday-Saturday, however, makes it worth the gamble. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo I chant, questioning my existence. It is now just past 1 a.m. and I find myself singing along to Def Leppard's "Photograph" which just came on the radio. It is a cleansing experience. Eventually, the bounty of food passes through my car window and onto my lap. My chakras are aligned and I am at serene as I arrive home and unwrap my delicious ... veggie sandwich? Dafuq is this? A phone call and a couple of business days later, a gift certificate for a free sandwich arrives in my mailbox and like an intricate sand mandala, the slate is wiped clean. (EL)
2040 State, Salt Lake City, 801-485-9981

Best Ignored Park in Need of Love
Fairmont Park
Salt Lake City has its fair share of attractive parks for the legions of walkers, runners, bikers and picnickers (depending the weather) seeking to enjoy the outdoors, without having to tramp up in the mountains. Fairmont in Sugar House is surely one of the most beautiful parks in the valley, full of tree-graced meadows, a medium-sized pond populated with ducks and geese and even an admittedly partially vegetation-clogged stream. A horrific murder there seven years ago cast a shadow over the park that judging by the absence of visitors most days—except skaters at the skateboard park and the homeless sleeping there from spring to autumn—has left it with a dark reputation for violence. A Wednesday farmers market from June through October provides not only a welcome midweek break but also an opportunity to remind us of the pastoral glories that Fairmont offers and that perhaps it's time for Salt Lakers to give it another chance. (SD)
SLCGov.com

Best Way to Train yourself for UFC
Foley's Mixed Martial Arts
Ogden native David Foley is one of the most knowledgeable fighters and trainers in the state, with an impressive five-time Golden Gloves State Championship to his name. His skills and experience fuel his gym where kids and adults can train to learn both boxing and MMA-style fighting. A one-on-one session with Foley can help people with no fighting skills whatsoever be prepared and stay in shape, while those seeking a career in the fighting world learn first-hand what lies ahead. (GS)
375 31st St., Ogden, 801-628-8520, FoleysMMA.com

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Best at Putting a Lump in Your Throat
Sandy Healing Fields
Americans continue to struggle with the Sept. 11 attacks. The wound begins to smart again each September. In 2002, Paul Swenson, owner of Colonial Flag in Sandy, came up with the idea to place flags in honor of those who died. Sandy City offered the grassy area of its promenade as a healing field, and filled it with 3,000 American flags (one for each 9/11 victim). That idea caught on and Swenson created the Colonial Flag Foundation in 2003 to help other communities create their own healing fields. If you haven't been, the idea could initially seem jingoistic. But in reality, walking among the flags becomes a meditation. Each flag contains information about one of the victims. You see these individuals for the lives they led, their jobs, families, hobbies, likes and loves. As the flags rustle in the breeze, you can't help feeling a lump in your throat. (JW)
HealingField.org

Best Mysterious Day Care
Fun Time Kidz Kare
OK, most of you have probably driven past the neon-green shoe-box building on 1300 South and thought, "Huh, weird, I don't see any kids out playing," or maybe, "Huh, weird, why would a day care have cardboard and curtains covering all of its windows?" Fun Time Kidz Kare is, in fact, a day care. However, the Reddit threads it has inspired are the kind of internet-folklore that will live on for decades. Vice even chronicled the theories Salt Lakers have baked up. Some non-reputable deep-web reports have claimed the day care is linked to a mysterious Chinese shipping container and a nefarious bait-and-tackle shop in Iowa, making this day care officially, Utah's most mysterious. (WP)
1248 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-467-9988

Best Historic Rejuvenation
Clubhouse SLC
Since April of this year, photographer Dave Brewer and his partner Jude Gilmore (owners of the Greektown brothel-turned-photo studio Photo Collective Studios) have expanded their passion for visual art and local historic architecture with the purchase of the Ladies Literary Club mansion from the Utah Heritage Foundation. The newly deemed Clubhouse SLC's unassuming brick façade might not be as eye-catching as some of its neighbors on South Temple, but inside lies a dazzling ambiance of historic details, like original towering stained-glass windows, paired with fresh and modern touches—they've even installed a darkroom. Brewer and Gilmore hope the space will be not only a resource for photographers and other artists, but also for the community at large that values Salt Lake's rich history. (SA)
850 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City,
385-313-8285, ClubhouseSLC.com

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Best Soar Winners
The Leonardo's Flight
Salt Lake City museums have hosted many grand-scale exhibits that came to town as part of national tours. Far more rare are those with epic scope created entirely in-house. The Leonardo channeled the spirit of its pioneering namesake with the August 2016 launch of Flight, a beautiful celebration of the history of air travel from da Vinci's own speculative experiments through the space age. With a full-sized C-131 aircraft as its centerpiece and great interactive components like a pair of flight simulators, Flight offered a true sense of the heights to which local exhibits could ascend. (SR)
209 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-531-9800, TheLeonardo.org

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Best Place to Accept your Certain Death
Mount Olivet Cemetery
Established in 1874 as a cemetery to serve all faiths, this peaceful oasis is home to beautiful statues, elaborate headstones and impressive mausoleums. It's easy to lose yourself here, wandering, reading headstones and hoping for a glimpse of the family of deer that call Mount Olivet Cemetery home. The deer spend their days nibbling grass and dozing in sunny spots among the cemetery's markers. Mount Olivet is a beautiful and serene place—perfect for spending some quality time with yourself contemplating the big questions. (AR)
1342 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-582-2552, MountOlivetCemeterySLC.com

Best Place to Facilitate that Career Change
DevPoint Labs
Everybody has that friend who is terminally unsatisfied with his or her job. They call you up with another sad story about how their boss doesn't appreciate them and how that dick who sits two cubicles away got the promotion that should have gone to them. Next time this happens, have that friend look in to DevPoint Labs, one of Utah's finest coding boot camps. Not only do they provide expert-guided courses in several coding languages, they offer scholarships for the ladies, and student housing to boot. Once enrolled in DevPoint's intensive courses, students emerge like HTML5 phoenixes, ready to make the world of web and software development their bitch. (AS)
370 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-448-7240, DevPointLabs.com

Best Anticipated Place for Cat Lovers
Tinker's Cat Café
Cue the heavy breathing, cat ladies. It's real and it's coming to SLC in early 2017. Tinker's Cat Café will be the very first of its kind in Salt Lake City, following a trend that started in Japan and has now reached numerous major cities across the globe. The concept is essentially café-meets-cat adoption center. One half of the space will house a coffee house, complete with your typical bistro tables, couches and baristas serving up what founder/owner Lisa Boone says will be cat-themed drinks—you know, chamo-meow tea, cat-ppucinos, etc. Taking up the other half of the space will be a cat lounge, which visitors can enter for a small price. These cats will all be available for adoption. After some setbacks, Boone has finally secured a location at 900 South and 300 East in Salt Lake City. (AH)
TinkersCatCafe.com

Best View of the Salt Lake Valley
Block U
Most people who've lived in Salt Lake City for any period of time have seen the giant letter U (whose official title is apparently Block U) from a distance, up in the hills to the north of the University of Utah campus. But have you ever seen the city from the Block U? My first time experiencing this beautiful view of the valley was right after I moved here, in summer 2015. I hardly knew anyone my age here, so one night when I was feeling adventurous, I decided to go to a bar solo. Long story short, my night ended around 5 a.m., watching the sunrise with some dude named Joey at Block U. And, yes, it was super romantic until we learned that it's also the stomping grounds of local moms on their morning power walk. (AH)
1635 New Bedford Drive, Salt Lake City

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Best Full-Service Flashback
Lakeside Petrolania Museum
While America works to reduce its fossil-fuel dependency, there's still a nostalgic longing for an era when the country was just beginning to be on-the-move, and uniformed attendants accompanied every fill-up with an oil check, a window cleaning and a smile. Relics of that era can be found in Provo, where AAA Lakeside Storage features a collection of memorabilia from oil companies and gas stations of bygone days. One-of-a-kind signs and antique gas pumps from as far back as 1917 are part of this unique roadside experience—and it's entirely free for curious visitors. (SR)
4095 Center St., Provo, 801-377-5900, AAALakesideStorage.com

Best Accidental Community Art Display
The Defunct Plaza at State Street Development
Back in 2012, when an old theater and 50 units of affordable housing were ripped down at 255 S. State, city leaders and developers, hungry for progress and the gentrification it breeds, embarked on an ambitious $55 million development. But alas, the project was plagued by cost overruns and for the past two years or so, the skeletons of this development have become a haven for graffiti artists, which, if you really think about it, is awesome poetic justice. Anyone who drives or walks State Street has witnessed the changing nature of the graffiti pieces plastered on the concrete walls. Hey, if the poor are no longer allowed to live downtown, we might as well give our talented artists a place to legally paint. (CF)

Best Prehistoric Haunting
George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park's Halloween Carnivore Carnival
Ogden's George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park is a fascinating, educational place any time of year with its life-size dinosaur figures and interactive exhibits—but it's not an experience that generally takes place in the dark. That all changes during October, as the park offers its only after-hours time with strings of lights, tricks, treats, games and a nightly costume parade. If walking through the world of Cretaceous Era predators could be alarming in broad daylight, just imagine it once night has fallen. (SR)
1544 E. Park Blvd., Ogden, 801-393-3466, DinosaurPark.org

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Best Place to Kick Up Dust
Notom-Bullfrog Basin Road/Burr Trail Road, Capitol Reef National Park to Boulder
Notom-Bullfrog Basin Road turns south off the beaten—sometimes crowded—path that is State Route 24 running through Capitol Reef National Park, and showcases the park's lesser-seen attractions on about 10 miles of cracked pavement and a three-hour stretch of fine, pale dust. The crown jewel of this rural road is the Burr Trail Switchbacks, which steeply climb the cliff face and terminate at a mind-boggling view of the park's lower half. Continuing west, you'll cut through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument's northern tip, where the road eventually becomes paved again—a sign of nearing civilization—and deposits you onto Route 12 at the edge of Boulder. The trip is a 70-mile detour through isolated sections of Utah's magnificent high-desert wilderness suitable for the dedicated road-tripper: A high-clearance vehicle and a full tank of gas are recommended. (SA)
State Route 24 between mileposts 88 and 89

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Best Place to Get Excited About Utah Jazz Basketball Again
Vivint Smart Home Arena
What wins 50 games, has a 7-foot, 3-inch shot-blocking, slam-dunking monster and is located in the heart of Salt Lake City? You guessed it—the 2016-2017 Utah Jazz. For the past 25 years, the Jazz has played in what has become one of the oldest venues in the NBA. But that's all about to change as the Provo-based home security system company Vivint bought the venue's naming rights last year and announced a $110 million renovation for the decrepit building. While the Jazz and Vivint have both been quiet about specific additions to the arena, some promises they've made include solar panels, outside atriums to shelter fans while they wait in line and expanded locker rooms to build player excitement. (WP)
301 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, VivintArena.com

Best Old-Time Scenic Journey
Heber Valley Railroad
As eager as we tend to be to get from here to there as quickly as possible, sometimes a journey can actually be a destination. The Heber Valley Railroad runs its vintage steam locomotives on regular three-hour round trips through Provo Canyon (gloriously colorful during the fall) or a Monday night express along the shores of Deer Creek Reservoir. And that's not even taking into account special seasonal events like the North Pole Express during December, or the Cowboy Train (complete with music and train robbery), or even a Steampunk Train. Riding the rails can take you to amazing places. (SR)
450 S. 600 West, Heber City, 435-654-5601, HeberValleyRR.org

Best Hardwood Supply
MacBeath Hardwood
Some people think Utahns are luckier than others in the Mountain West because the fast-food restaurant chain In-N-Out Burger now slings food in Zion. But there is at least one other reason to feel blessed: One of three MacBeath Hardwood retail stores in America is based in Salt Lake City, and, if you're into wood, the warehouse on 300 West is your sacred temple. MacBeath stocks dozens upon dozens of different woods that, with the right tools, can be milled, mitered, sanded, stained and modified into the furniture of your dreams. If you're not a woodworker, go in anyway and buy a T-shirt with their slick elephant logo and the company's motto: Wood is Wonderful. (CF)
1576 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-484-7616, MacBeath.com

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Best Place to Buy Discs for Disc Golf
Play It Again Sports; Infinite Discs
Disc golf—not Frisbee golf, not frolf—is the fastest-growing sport in the world. It's free to play, easy to learn, and discs are relatively cheap. The game is addictive, especially with the redonkulous variety of discs with cool names like Katana, Destroyer and Mamba, which all fly differently and come in pretty colors and grippy, durable plastics—some even glow. When you get serious, you can spend up to $20 on a new disc in premium plastic. So it helps to have brick-and-mortar locations where you can put your hands on the goods. Play It Again Sports is the main source of golf discs in Utah, with a huge selection of new and used discs. In Logan, Infinite Discs has upward of 24,000 discs to choose from, making them one of the largest disc golf retailers in the nation. You can't peruse them all, but they'll search their database for your ideal disc and pull it from their warehouse. Or just go to InfiniteDiscs.com. (RH)
Play It Again Sports, multiple locations, PlayItAgainSports.com; Infinite Discs, 1125 W. 400 North, Logan,
435-799-1106, InfiniteDiscs.com

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Best Treasure Trove of Unique and Inexpensive Clothing
Uptown Cheapskate in Sugar House
A resale and consignment franchise originally started in Salt Lake City in 2009 has now grown to include dozens of locations across the country. These consignment stores have the best selection of everything trendy for all different styles, and at reasonable prices. I've been to both the Salt Lake City locations, and have found the Sugar House location to have a much better and bigger selection. Their assortments of tops, sweaters, jackets and dresses are particularly outstanding. Last month, I walked out with two sweaters, two T-shirts and a pair of jeans for around $50. New this year is a store that just opened in American Fork—the second one in that city, and the sixth store in Utah. (AH)
2120 S. 1300 East, 801-467-4945
UptownCheapskate.com

Best Flashback to the Mormon Rebellion that Never Was
Camp Floyd
In 1858, President James Buchanan—perhaps genuinely convinced that Utah Mormons were about to rebel against the U.S. government, or perhaps trying to unify the country against any threat besides the roiling threat of civil war—sent nearly a third of the U.S. Army's troops to the Utah Territory. Those soldiers departed in 1861 as the Civil War began, but the commissary building left behind now serves as a museum to that intriguing bit of state history. Stay across the street at the Stagecoach Inn, once an actual stop on the original Pony Express route. (SR)
18035 W. 1549 North, Fairfield, 801-768-8932,
StateParks.Utah.gov

Best Place to Feel Like You're in The Shining That Isn't the City Weekly Second-Floor Hallway
Pre-renovation Peery Hotel
If you work in the newsroom at City Weekly and you gotta go, the closest bathrooms lie down a creepy hallway that's straight out of The Shining. A few blocks away, The Peery Hotel is considerably more reminiscent of the 1920s-era Overlook Hotel from Stanley Kubrick's film of Stephen King's story. The elevators were claustrophobe's nightmare—and supposedly housed a sad female spirit (and blood tsunami?) and the upstairs corridors looked extra long and like they're missing something (murder twins). At night, if you listened closely, you could almost hear Scatman Crothers performing the Hong Kong Phooey theme. (RH)
110 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-4300, PeeryHotel.com

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Best Spot for a Quick Meeting to Morph into a Day Off
The Watchtower Café
Most coffee shops have the same array of free reading material—including the rag currently in your hands. At a coffee meeting at Watchtower the other day, I couldn't help but be distracted. There's a video game station (couch, console, controllers and flatscreen), stacks of board games, private-ish booths, racks and racks of comics and graphic novels that are either cheap, free or part of their honor-system library (take one, leave one). Plus, among their many comfy couches are two just like mine at home. I stayed long past the end of my meeting. Good thing they have sandwiches. (RH)
1588 S. State, 801-477-7671, Watchtower-Cafe.com

Best News for Book Lovers
Ken Sanders Rare Books
A list of reasons to love Ken Sanders Rare Books would fill this entire paper, plus another hundred thousand or so novels. There is, however, one reason Salt Lake City book lovers may rejoice: In April, Sanders announced that he had struck a three-year lease extension that will allow him to peddle pulp through his doors for a bit more time before condominiums, a strip mall or some other shitty and unimaginative form of gentrification displaces him. In the meantime, fingers crossed that Sanders' Dream Garden Press will publish a series of books that will earn the man a cosmically impossible amount of money so that he can buy his little corner of the city and preserve it forever. (CF)
268 S. 200 East, Salt Lake City, 801-521-3819, KenSandersBooks.com

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Best Place to Buy and Play Board and Card Games
Game Night Games
Who plays Monopoly anymore? It's boring and makes you feel ... Trumpy. It's far more fun to kill bunnies and steal carrots (the mega-expando card game Killer Bunnies) or double-cross your fellow criminals by showing them the business end of an orange foam gat (Cash 'n' Guns). Indie board/card/role-playing games are booming in Utah, where we even have the annual SaltCon gathering. Game Night Games in Sugar House, however, is the unofficial epicenter, where the staff knows all, you can try before you buy, compete in tournaments and feast on a slice from adjacent Este Pizza Co. (RH)
2148 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-467-2400, GameNightGames.com

Best Demonstration of Water-Wise Landscaping
Central Utah Gardens
Mention the idea of "water-wise landscaping" to some Utah residents, and you'll get a look that suggests you've just asked them to throw garbage in their yard; somehow, the notion remains that accounting for our natural high-desert climate means colorless, aesthetically unpleasing materials. Central Utah Gardens is dedicated to showing how uniquely beautiful it can be to landscape with native plants with reduced irrigation needs. Stroll through the gorgeous examples of such well-planned plantings, then take a class or pick up information on how to bring these concepts home. (SR)
355 W. University Parkway, Orem, 801-222-0123, CentralUtahGardens.org

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Best Place for a Doughnut and Newspaper
A 7-Eleven near you
Discovering a fine selection of newspapers is not as easy as it once was, and, oddly, a quality chocolate donut is pretty rare these days, too. Luckily, in Salt Lake City, a need for a 7-Eleven convenience store on every other corner has persisted. Now, now, before you get all pissed that I'm advocating for a national chain store, for the sake of newspapers, you must take pause. For whatever reason, 7-Eleven continues to stock the local rags, including The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News, as well as USA Today and, most importantly, The New York Times. By all means, buy a newspaper wherever you can find one, but know that in a pinch, 7-Eleven has your back ... and your belly, too. (CF)
Multiple locations, 7-Eleven.com

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