Best of Utah 2002: Activities 2007 | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah

Best of Utah 2002: Activities





Albion Basin

We shouldn’t say this, but if the tourists are hip to it, you might as well join in. June brings wildflower bloom to this most picturesque basin located adjacent to the town of Alta in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Timing, of course, is everything. Depending on the year, the bloom can occur from early June to early July. Watch for it to be early this year. The challenge is that you’ll have to leave your car behind and walk up into the meadows with your picnic and a blanket. There, among bouquets of Indian Paint Brush, white columbine, blue bells and yellow wild daisies, you’ll have something of a religious experience with a baguette, wedges of Havarti cheese and golden delicious apples. Who said the good stuff wasn’t free?

Readers’ Choice



Brighton owes much of its contemporary success to the snowboarding revolution. When skiers dominated the downhill sports, Brighton was one of the first to open its lifts to the knuckledraggers. Time would later prove that to be a brilliant decision. Snowboarders flocked to Brighton when they felt shunned from the skier bastions of Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Park City, Deer Valley and Snowbasin (all of which now allow snowboarding except Alta). With that resort-revitalizing renaissance, Brighton found itself financially capable of huge expansions and more innovation. But it has always remained loyal to the people who made it possible and in return, snowboarders still see it as home.

2. Snowbird

3. The Canyons


Snowboarders for Christ

This group of youth decided they needed more than being good on snow to maintain their place in heaven and to grow spiritually. They made their own group to defy the dominant snowboarding culture. Now their only problem is that it’s not snowboarding season. During the season, they meet on Fridays at 7 p.m. at Main Street Coffee. Bless ’em and pass the sugar.

Readers’ Choice


Deer Valley

If you like groomed corduroy on a nice fall line above restaurants boasting the best cuisine at a North American ski resort, then, like our readers, you’ll love Deer Valley. And why not pamper yourself? Skiing at Deer Valley is as luxurious as beaching it on the French Riviera. Upscale relaxation is the name of this game. And while you’re plying those perfectly groomed slopes as they zig in and out of $10 million-chalets on the hillside, you may bump into a rising movie star. Or perhaps you’ll meet a Hollywood has-been sunning him or herself at the Silver Lake Lodge with a Czech beer in one hand and a would-be Hungarian starlet in the other. Pretense and image are everything. Live it up, dahling.

2. Snowbasin

3. Snowbird


Shoreline Trail

For biking or hiking, the Great Salt Lake Shoreline Trail that circles the valley in the foothills from City Creek Canyon to Draper provides three seasons of recreation. The views, of course, are stupendous too. You can catch the trail above the Avenues or above Foothill Blvd. at the mouth of Parleys Canyon and elsewhere as it meanders south. The trail is actually the high-water mark of ancient Lake Bonneville, and has left us with a wonderful way to see the valley, the foothills and a natural setting above our ever-more-urban Salt Lake Valley. It’s particularly nice in spring and fall. But one word of advice to those on foot: Watch out for those young, rad mountain bikers.

Readers’ Choice


Millcreek Canyon

Convenience, scenery, shade—according to Best of Utah voters time and again, Millcreek Canyon has all the stuff that makes for a great hike. It’s also a decent workout at 8.5 miles and 2,600 vertical feet, as well as the place for non-stressful family outings … if there is such a thing.

2. Zions National Park

3. Big Cottonwood Canyon


Cottonwood Canyons

We’re tempted here to say that the best rock climbing is at the gym. But then we’d be labeled as wimps and frankly, that goes against our grain—say nothing of our egos. But a trip to the climbing gym and some professional instruction are absolutely a must. Do we have to mention helmets here? All that said, the Wasatch is a wonderful playground for rock climbers, from the sheer smooth granite faces at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon to the more jagged exposures around Storm Mountain in Big Cottonwood. And it’s not just for guys. The popularity of this sport is surging with the female half, whose lithe bodies can be as hard as the rock they’re scaling.

Readers’ Choice


Strawberry Reservoir

Omega-3 oils. The placid, bubbling drone of an exotic fish tank. There’s just something about finned creatures of the water that relaxes the senses and lowers blood pressure. Once again, among those who fish, Strawberry gets full marks for its accommodating ways. It holds a variety of fish, it’s open to most every style of fishing, and it’s only a short trip away from most Wasatch Front office complexes. Tempting, isn’t it?

2. Provo River

3. Green River

Readers’ Choice



Like it takes a genius to figure this one out—if we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times, Moab is where fat-tire pilgrims go looking for enlightenment, or at the very least, some slick rock to play on. Take your pick: From the Needles to Island in the Sky, to Klondike Bluffs and the world-renowned Slick Rock Trail just outside town, the riding is as indescribable as the scenery. But that’s only part of the fun of Moab. When you’re done scraping yourself off the sandstone, towel off and make the scene in one of the town’s brewpubs, coffeehouses or restaurants. That’s half the fun.

2. Millcreek Canyon

3. Park City


Upper Provo River (Heber Valley)

The rich, boggy wetlands and lowlands that frame the Provo River as it drains into Deer Creek Reservoir in Charleston is an ideal habitat for sandhill cranes, blue heron, bald eagles, osprey and other migratory birds that need food and water to sustain them. This time of year, the area literally hums in a symphony of chirps, whistles and trills from our fine-feathered friends. The long-legged sandhills with their distinctive red markings have arrived in time for spring. Two seasons ago, two whooping cranes were seen nearby, feeding and flirting in a farmer’s field. If their plumes weren’t enough to indicate their rarity, the radio bands on their legs did. According to the Audubon field guide, there are only a hundred pairs of these majestic white creatures left in the universe.


Sugar House Park

Liberty Park has the goods when it comes to jogging, Frisbee, picnics, or just plain lounging in the sun under a tree. But what you really need for the gusty days of spring is a good, robust bout of kite-flying. Nothing feeds the soul quite like it. And no other park has the breeze for kite-flying like Sugar House’s vast, mostly tree-free expanse. Soar on!


Wasatch Elementary Playground

The chain on the north hoop needs a new link before somebody gets their hair caught in it. Aside from that, with the weather finally warming up, the games are on again. It’s a laid-back atmosphere, but still competitive. Some players are good, others hold their own and still others seem to be happy if they don’t throw up after a few plays. Bring a ball, a good attitude and some water.


Liberty Park

Ducks, grass, drum circle, dog fights, outdoor pool for summer, roller-blading and running routes—what else do you want? A drum circle plays on Sundays with eccentric youth dancing to the beat. You can draw your own conception of being a youth in this materialistic society with free chalk. For kids, when they get tired of chalk drawings, there’s always the playground with rusty swings and squeaky seesaws.


Wheeler Farm

You might not believe this—if you don’t, ask your grandparents—but it wasn’t all that long ago that virtually nothing existed south of 6200 South. No, you wouldn’t drop off the face of the earth, but you would find in the southern environs of Salt Lake Valley a rural atmosphere of vegetable and dairy farms. Draper was a tiny burg and West Jordan and South Jordan were pastures and hay. If you want to take a refreshing look back, take a trip to Wheeler Farm, where you’ll get a sense of the serene and bucolic place this once was. And the younger kids will love it. Sorry, there’s nothing we can do for the teenagers.


Rodin’s “The Kiss”

Back in 1997, Auguste Rodin’s famed sculpture, “The Kiss,” was withheld from public display at BYU because of concerns that the embracing nude figures were pornographic. The newly-opened Museum of Fine Arts on the U of U campus saw things a bit differently, bringing “The Kiss” and other Rodin sculptures for exhibit at its grand opening in June. If someone’s morals must be corrupted, better those heathens on the hill than the sensitive souls at God’s University.


Trolley Square Parking Lot

Downtown parking may be at a premium—and getting more expensive by the day—but who says you can’t have your space and not feed it, too? Daytime parking in the lower level of the Trolley Square parking garage is plentiful, and it’s only a two-block walk to the 600 East TRAX station, or you can take Trolley’s free shuttle from the parking lot to the station. Just buy a snack or doodad at a Trolley Square business, and commute with a conscience as free as your parking.


W.C. “Bill” Roderick Statue

In Fashion Plaza, across 6400 South from Fashion Place Mall, stands a bronze likeness of the founder of Murray Petroleum. The figure of the local entrepreneur poses nobly with a gas pump on the site where his first station once stood, a dozen yards away from a huge Borders store. Even in Utah, where else could one find such a delightfully ironic juxtaposition of independent spirit and corporate monolith?


Women’s Basketball

When it comes to distaff hoops in the Beehive State, the future’s finally so bright you gotta wear backboard-sized shades. At the professional level, the Utah Starzz, under new coach Candi Harvey, made their first-ever appearance in the WNBA playoffs, falling in the first round to Sacramento. And in the college ranks, BYU’s women scored two upset victories in the NCAA tournament before losing to national powerhouse Tennessee, just one year after the University of Utah women went to the Sweet 16 and lost to eventual champion Notre Dame. You go, girls.



Now, we’re not talking Prozac, but hey, if that works for you don’t let anyone stand in your way. You can pick your method of self-medication, but our expert board of researchers has found that the following examples have proven more than effective in gut-wrenchingly depressing times past: Beer. Music. Your tight web of equally disillusioned and extremely supportive friends. A really good shrink. Cross-country skiing or running. Cross-oceanic canoeing. Staple guns. Chocolate. Excessive amounts of sex and violence. Film noir. Impulse shopping at All A Dollar. Ten gallons of Rocky Road ice cream. Fantasizing about death. Dressing as a transvestite (guys). Dressing as Madonna (girls). Getting a tattoo of your favorite Spice Girl—in a coffin. A Stanley Kubrick film marathon (Musts: A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey). Getting a boob job. Gorging yourself into a stupor with Brewvies buffalo wings. Listening to 90.9 KRCL. Massive doses of Novocaine and/or cough syrup. Club Manhattan’s fetish night. The Home Shopping Network. And last but not least, Elmer’s Glue. Good luck, and we sincerely hope you find the one that works best for you.



This doesn’t really need an explanation, but here goes. According to a story in the Daily Universe, BYU’s official student newspaper, the leading cause of death among Utah boys from the ages of 18-25 is suicide. Further, an opinion uttered in an article written in 1996 for the Universe still holds true: “I don’t think suicide is a big problem at BYU,” says Steven Smith, an assistant clinical professor at BYU’s counseling and development center. “But there’s a lot of unhappiness here that people don’t know about. Maybe they’re not suicidal, but they are depressed and unhappy.” Rock on!



Cathedral of the Madeleine

Need to get away from the madding crowd? Searching for direction? Hating life? Consider going to the Cathedral of the Madeleine to gather your thoughts. The interior is gorgeous and peaceful. No matter what your religious affiliation, this is a place for everyone to connect to their inner and outer universes just a little bit better.



Say what you like, it’s no longer nerdy to ride TRAX. Everyone’s doing it, from businesspeople to moms with their kids to teenagers on dates. And now, university students and employees can also put off chaining the next five years of their life to a car payment. Halellujah!


The Beigeway

It is a whole lotta beige, you know. City Weekly’s own Bill Frost coined this nickname, and cracked himself up so much that he’s even considering trademarking it. We’re not sure why.


Skydive Salt Lake

Even though it had to move to the Tooele airport a few years ago, the operation kept its same name. Skydive Tooele just wouldn’t have the same ring to it. The skydivers are a tight-knit group. They walk around barefoot, drink lots of beer and howl at the stars. At parties, they have been known to get real naked real fast. If you show them you’re worthy, they’ll show you the ropes. It’s quite a view.


Wasatch Hash House Harriers

Every week or so, the Harriers (motto: “A drinking club with a running problem”) go jogging, follow strange clues to hidden cans of beer and find their way to a previously determined bar. Nobody has ever marketed beer as a helpful exercise supplement, but these—let’s call them “eccentric”—folks seem to think of the frothy beverage as a good motivator. If you pass the bizarre hazing ritual and they grant you formal membership to the club, your new brothers and sisters will grant you a nickname—a horribly offensive nickname, but something to identify you nonetheless. It’s all in good fun—just try to keep up. You don’t want to know what happens to people who fall behind.


The Living Room

Just above Red Butte Garden, trails lead up the steep mountain. Find the right one and you can make your way to the Living Room. If you don’t get lost or throw up on the way, you can relax in the reclining stone-slab chairs. Don’t worry about missing them, the chairs are unmistakable. And the view to the west is spectacular. Take a bottle of wine if you want, but don’t drink too much. It’s entirely too easy to fall on your face while walking back down.


Teazers Sports Bar & Grill (Ogden)

If you’re in the mood to hang with Ogden’s finest —mullets, not police officers—check out Teazers Sports Bar & Grill on 36th Street. It’s the perfect venue for catching the game or NASCAR event of choice, as it has the requisite number of TVs to claim its sports bar moniker. And despite the multitude of “hockey hair” one might see in attendance, the crowd is still diverse and friendly. Don’t worry, there’s more than Pabst on tap. Teazers has a wide range of microbrews and the service is great. Don’t fear the mullet, party with it.



Cabana Club

Club Cabana formerly had a tradition of rotating art by local artists on its walls. It was always of quality and always brought pleasure, but one month it was modern art and the next month, renaissance. If the art wasn’t consistent, the food was. The food still is, but when Morris Sosa took over as owner, he went one better. He hung his own art. Now, framed Sosa works of brightly-hued musicians of all types cover the walls of one of Salt Lake’s oldest clubs—a perfect backdrop for pianist Dave Compton, one of the last of Salt Lake City’s piano barmeisters.

Readers’ Choice


Red Rock Brewing Co.

I suppose it only makes sense that a place named Best Brewpub in the entire country (by National Brewpub Conference & Tradeshow in 2000) would be the best in the state. Red Rock serves up a wonderfully tempting array of microbrews, from the Honey Wheat and Blonde Ale to the Black Bier (winner of a Great American Beer Festival silver medal). Is there a theme developing here? Red Rock has become a destination attraction for beer aficionados nationwide. It’d be a shame to miss it when it’s right here in your own backyard.

2. Squatters

3. Wasatch Brew Pub


Club 90

Back when disco was cool, and then urban-cowboyism, Club 90 opened as a tiny respite in the tiny hamlet of Sandy. Since then, Sandy grew off the map and Club 90 grew up and out and over as well. Now embedded as one of Utah’s most enduring clubs, Club 90 seats well over 500 people on two floors. The occasion for many of those visitors to partake there are Club 90’s oft-held and off-the-wall parties. When was the last time you had tasty Elvis fare? Or played butt-darts or sumo-wrestled? If it can be done, they’ve done it—nothing remains up the sleeve of club manager Randy Snyder for too long. All the better for those fun-deprived young ladies who flock there every weekend from fun-deprived Utah County.


Peery’s Egyptian Theater (Ogden)

In a world filled with 27-screen megaplexes, Peery’s Egyptian Theater is a lushly refurbished oasis—complete with a golden Egyptian lady above the movie screen who shows her boobies. (There was a call to cover her up, %uFFFD la Attorney General John Ashcroft, but that seems to have died down.) Coupled with such fantastic ambience, the theater does a great job of bringing in a variety of cultural and musical acts, revived classic motion pictures and Sundance screenings.


Salt Lake Acting Company

Just in case splendid live theater wasn’t enough to lure you to SLAC shows, the basket of incentive goodies overflows. Opening-night attendees are treated to champagne and desserts from Brumby’s. Season ticket-holders have received a series of commemorative Olympic pins designed by Pat Bagley. And this year, the texts from the plays commissioned for Cowboys, Cabbies and the Tree of the Weeping Virgin were distributed in a paperback book, including the plays that were not ultimately part of the production. With that many free perqs, you’ll feel like a member of the Legislature.


Ken “Lucky” Packer

If you think telling a crowded room whether it’s time to right-and-left grand is a dying art, you haven’t made it down to American Fork lately. Ken “Lucky” Packer, a 35-year veteran of square-dance calling, runs the show every Thursday night at the American Legion Hall. And if you’re holding a wedding reception or church party where you want to do a little promenading two-by-two, Ken’s your man for that task as well. Take a bow, Ken—to your partner and to your corner, of course.

Readers’ Choice


Fats Grill & Pool

For the third year in a row, this Sugar House joint racks up a win—and for the second year in a row, a “rack” pun is made here about it, right on cue … and there’s another one. Fats himself could not be reached for comment, but he’d probably tell you that the raw details—beer, food, pool tables—are what make a cool pool experience.

2. Port O’ Call

3. Brewvies


Don Nothdorft

Regulars at Century 16 prime-time shows have grown to know and love the 73-year-old Don, who wheels his portable cart of goodies into the theaters before the show. Hawking his goods with the zeal of a circus ringmaster—appropriately enough, since he was a ringmaster for 20 years—he’s the kind of quintessential salesman who makes you want to buy what he’s got to sell because he loves what he does. You half-expect him to come up and hand you your popcorn personally. And bonus props for his willingness to offer a firm, respectful challenge to hecklers.


The Park City Film Series

By far, Park City’s most successful home-grown event is the Park City Film Series, showing every Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. in the auditorium at the Park City Library and Education Center. Originally hatched by independent film enthusiasts on the Park City Arts Council, the series has entertained such a loyal and expanding audience that it became its own non-profit organization. Frank Normille, the group’s director, introduces each film with a raffle of cool items and his own brand of movie critiques. His film schedule includes independent films as well as commercially-produced movies. The series is an entertaining alternative to barhopping on Main Street and an easy way to meet locals. No matter what’s playing, it’s a fun, casual night out.


Mormon Multiplex Movies

Temple Square isn’t the only place to catch movies with that special Mormon flavor any more. Following the success of Richard Dutcher’s God’s Army and Brigham City, LDS filmmakers went wild in late 2001 and early 2002 with independently-distributed efforts. Suddenly, you couldn’t swing a jumbo popcorn without hitting a “Mormon movie”—The Other Side of Heaven, The Singles Ward, Out of Step. If you can’t beat secular pop culture, join it on your own terms.


2002 Sundance Film Festival

It could have been a glittering disaster. Already bumped up to a slot a week earlier than usual by Olympic scheduling, this year’s Sundance faced shuttle-stop traffic jams due to Olympic venue construction, makeshift screening sites when the Holiday Village Cinema was not completed on time, and heightened post-9/11 security concerns. Yet the festival went off without more than a whiff of additional inconvenience—just the usual restaurant lines and screening delays. Congratulations to Sundance organizers for showing that improvisational independent spirit the festival is supposed to represent.



One more Goth joke and its death—ha! No, really. Being “Gothic” (heavy emphasis on the quotes) is less about vampires, blood and grossly unfair stereotyping as it is about great music. Cool pregnant bartenders, dozens of kids with a flair for fashion, old church-turned-club and two floors of atmospheric lighting, marrow-thumping beats and gravity-defying hairstyles make Club Sahnc-two-ary one of the coolest places in Salt Lake to wind down after yet another all-too-often disappointing day on the Planet Earth.


Redd Tape

George St. John, the former manager of Salt City CD’s, local musician and the driving force behind last year’s “Best Drum and Fife Band,” Shimmy She Wobble, rarely voices his opinion on the local music scene. In fact, it’s seldom when George will express an opinion on anything. Recently though, he was heard to say, “Redd Tape just may be the best local band in Salt Lake City.”

Readers’ Choice


Zephyr Club

One of the more ironic facts of Salt Lake City nightlife is that few of our music venues are truly built with the audience in mind. You know, an audience that would rather get up and move on the dance floor than nurse drinks at the bar like some surly cadaver. The Zephyr Club is the best exception to that rule. You can move on it, you can groove on it and, for a night, you can live on it.

2. Liquid Joe’s

3. Harry O’s


Trolley Square Live

For a while there, it looked like a lot of specialized space was going to end up unused after Cineplex Odeon shut down several Salt Lake-area movie theaters. While several were snatched up by other theater chains, the four-plex at Trolley Square went a more creative route. Now the four theaters are a hoppin’ venue for live entertainment, from improvisational comedy by KYSOff and Skinny Lincolns to music by local bands. A screen on the wall didn’t prevent these clever folks from thinking outside the box.

Readers’ Choice



Axis has more DJs and DJ-play variety than there are drag queens in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Wednesdays open up the week with DJ Panama spinning R&B and hip-hop and DJ Naomi spinning Top 40 hits, and Thursday’s brand-new Club La Boom, Latin Nite highlights the scratch synergy of DJ Pachunga and DJ Latino Activo. Fridays, gay night, you’ll find DJ Jester sitting high on his throne, spinning Top 40 and “all your favorite circus grooves.” Saturday ends the week with 94.9 FM’s Planet V Live Radio Broadcast with DJ Caterpillar, DJ Sean Phelps’ trance and house and DJ Tony Marino’s Top 40, R & B, disco and funk.

2. Bricks

3. Area 51

Readers’ Choice



When informed of winning this glamorous category once again, glamorous bar manager Andrea McDonald laughed, “the hotties at Axis are all working behind the bar.” She’s right about the staff—have you seen the 6-foot-1 blonde bartender babe? Yow!—but the dance club’s pretty, pretty clientele has it goin’ on, as well. Are you letting the Beautiful People boogie the night away without you, gorgeous?

2. Harry O’s

3. Port O’Call


The Bongo

This place has cheap drinks, dart boards, TVs and a friendly staff. Best of all, there are many private booths lining the wall. The regulars will either welcome you like you’re family or leave you alone if you’re looking to get away from the downtown scene. If you want to go where nobody knows your name, go Bongo (Regular customers: please don’t take offense at this award, you’ve created a perfect weekend getaway).


Bourbon Street Bar & Grill

OK, the last thing most people want to do when they drink is, well, think. But c’mon, you’ve got the liquid courage. Why not call someone on to a battle of wits, not fists? Bourbon Street Bar and Grill has NTN trivia, where you can compete with your local barflies as well as other beer-swilling mental pugilists nationwide in live trivia and sports-related game shows. You can even see your game-name on-screen upon victory. And if you lose, no one’s exactly sure who you are unless you tell them or they notice the game controller in your hands. Did we mention that the beers are cheap and big?


Jill Bob

Maybe she’s not even called Jill Bob anymore, but that was Jill Payne’s term of endearment during her many years of bartending, just around the corner at Lumpy’s. For the record, we still think of her as Jill Bob—and in the spirit of Best of Utah, a person deserving of the honor. We don’t know if she gives to charity or gives blood. All we know is that it’s hard to survive in the bar business and even harder for women. Jill Bob has done both, resurrecting a club that was once on the edge and revitalizing it with a new name and new energy. Her success has not gone unnoticed. Best and bottoms up to Jill Bob.



Looie is old and gruff and dirty and tough and he just turned 80 years old. His bar, Looie’s, looks like it could be blown down by the Big Bad Wolf. If so, though, it would be an inside job, because the wolf is manning the bar. Looie’s is only open a few hours a day Tuesday through Saturday, and if you don’t like his hours, then he’ll tell you to go someplace else. The only problem is (don’t tell him you read it here), Looie has a heart of gold. He makes night lights, calendars and mirrors for kids out of stickers, plates and clocks he buys at the dollar store. If you have, want or know a child, he’ll give you a piece of this “artwork.” If you want or need a beer, he’ll sell you one of those, too.


Todd’s Bar & Grill

There are no women dancing semi-clothed on stage (at least not officially) at Todd’s Bar & Grill like there are at that fine establishment known as Golden Trails right down the street, but things definitely get shaking. It’s a great, non-pretentious venue to see up-and-coming bands and to meet friends. Another great touch is the array of old-school video games that line the east wall near the stage—tons of shoot-’em-up types, including the NRA-inspired Deer Hunter. A great way to spend those quarters otherwise given as tips to the “adult entertainers” just up the street. The crowd varies from the local tattooed-and-pierced contingent to the atypical frat bunch, but seems welcoming of the wayward newcomer. Rock & roll!

Readers’ Choice


Port O’ Call

Although Port O’ Call is one of the busiest (and noisiest) clubs in town, constantly alive with the comfortable buzz of talking and laughter during prime time, it’s s