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Best stars in the making
Top professional sports leagues give us the chance to see the best athletes (such as today's star Real Salt Lake goalkeeper, Nick Rimando, pictured) show their stuff—but there was a time when players like Rimando were learning the ropes. It's great fun to be in the stands watching young talent emerge and gain strength and experience. In 2015, United Soccer League affiliate Real Monarchs launched as an affiliate of Real Salt Lake, with a schedule that pit them against affiliates of other MLS teams throughout the West. For fans, it's an inexpensive way to catch a soccer match in Rio Tinto Stadium. For both fans and players, it's just the place to watch stars be born.
Best Golf Course
Mountain Dell GOLF COURSE
The desire to escape everyday stresses with a round of golf can be achieved by taking a trip into Parleys Canyon for one of the most picturesque courses in the entire state. The two 18-hole courses of Mountain Dell—the Lake Course and the Canyon Course—take distinctive but similarly breathtaking tours through the valleys and waterways of their mountain setting, with wildlife such as moose and hawks making dramatic appearances along the way. And regular players rave about the quality with which this public course is maintained.
Interstate 80, Exit 134, 801-582-3812, SLC-golf.com/mountain-dell-golf-course
2. Bonneville Golf Course
3. Old Mill Golf Course
Mill Creek Canyon
Salt Lakers who wish to access the beloved wilderness areas of the Wasatch Range can do so most easily through Mill Creek Canyon, a densely forested canyon on the east side Salt Lake Valley. As such, it's a popular destination for hikers, bikers and nature-lovers. But what truly sets Mill Creek apart is its dog policy. On odd-numbered days, dogs are allowed in much of Mill Creek Canyon without a leash (hiking with Fido, on or off a leash, is a no-no in the Cottonwood Canyons). The canyon's upper reaches are closed to vehicle traffic during the winter months, but for those who are into huffing it, this is more of a bonus than a hindrance.
3800 S. Wasatch Blvd., Salt Lake City, SLCO.org/recreation/parks/millCreekCanyon/
2. Big Cottonwood Canyon
3. Little Cottonwood Canyon
With three ski resorts close to the town's center offering mountain-bike lift service, Park City could take this award without factoring in the array of biking trails not associated with Vail- or Deer Valley-owned properties. While it's easy to focus on the adrenaline-obsessed downhillers, Park City's other meandering trails offer a variety of terrain. And a fine place to start a mellow ride is at the historic Union Pacific Rail Trail, which winds 28 miles from Park City to Echo Reservoir, passing through hamlets like Wanship.
3. Corner Canyon
When the lights are dimmed at Bonwood Bowl, this neighborhood bowling alley is one of the few still-cool places you can see carpet that glows in the dark. Bowling alleys such as Bonwood have a special place in our hearts as a place to celebrate a kid's birthday, go out on a date or have some fun with the family. In addition to low prices on bowling and burgers, beer awaits in the Trophy Room Lounge, which you can frequent even if you haven't won a trophy. And what other bowling alley hosts a Heavy Metal bowling league? This group of metalheads happen to love beer and bowling, and their Black-Sabbath-laden playlists roar while they make their own thunder in the alleys. Of course, Bonneville also has standard leagues you can join, whether you're at the level of just above using bumpers or at the level of sending the ball smoking toward the pins every time.
2500 S. Main, South Salt Lake, 801-487-7758, BonwoodBowl.com
2. Fat Cats
3. Jupiter Bowl
Best Recreation Destination
There really isn't much a recreation-minded human can't do in Moab. The nearby La Salle Range offers a high-Alpine experience in the desert as well as some fine backcountry skiing. The Colorado River passes by gently on the outskirts of town, but Class IV whitewater adventures just east (Westwater Canyon) and west (Cataract Canyon) aren't far away, not to mention mountain & road biking, hiking, canyoneering and, for the fossil-fuel recreation-minded folk, Jeeping and ATVing. If you want it, Moab's got it.
2. Park City
3. Snowbird Resort
Alta SKI AREA
Skiers will flock to Alta to enjoy its ridiculously perfect terrain and its on-average 551 inches of annual snowfall, . Natural amenities aside, one reason avid skiers love Alta—like it or not—is because of the absence of snowboarders on its slopes. This ongoing controversy may need to be resolved in the courtroom. In the meantime, if your car sports an "Alta Is for Skiers" bumper sticker, you might want to catch some of that exclusive Alta pow while it remains exclusive to the folks who prefer two boards to one.
Highway 210, Little Cottonwood Canyon, 801-359-1078, Alta.com
2. Snowbird Resort
3. Deer Valley Resort
Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center
The swimming pool at Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center is not actually one pool—it's multiple. With outdoor and indoor pools, plus different levels of diving boards, two swirly water slides, a kiddie splash-zone with toys and, of course, space to dry off and soak up sun's rays (after slathering yourself in sunblock), the rec center has enough variety to keep the family entertained—or relaxed—all day. For those who want a little more structure with their water fun, there are water-aerobics classes. Or, take laps in the indoor racing pool.
7500 S. 2700 East, Cottonwood Heights, 801-943-3190, CottonwoodHeights.com
2. Salt Lake City Sports Complex
3. Fairmont Aquatic Center
Best Community Event
Utah Arts Festival
For 39 years, the Utah Arts Festival—exploding every June with creative art forms, performances and activities—has been bringing hundreds of artists and thousands of attendees together to spend four days in the summer sun. The spectacle of performing artists—from percussionists, street dancers, local musicians, theatrical performers and story-tellers—is thrilling as is the work of visual artists displayed in dozens of booths. In 2015, crowds were in awe of 3-D pavement artist Kurt Wenner's massive creation that came together over three days' time. A secret to UAF's success is how it creates ways for attendees to participate, from finger-painting on a wall to a 24-hour writing competition. Plus you can learn what the city's various arts organizations, such as Spy Hop, are doing.
2. Utah Beer Festival
3. Craft Lake City
The roughly 1.5-mile loop around Liberty Park is a runner's dream. Not only are there multiple running/walking surfaces (concrete, grass and wood chips) but the park features a water fountain that draws from an underground artesian well that runs all year. The park's size is robust enough to ensure that one doesn't get bored—even if the order of the day is a 10 miler. When the running is done, head to the playground and be that strange, exhausted runner who, as concerned parents look on, hogs the children's water feature to cool off.
600 East and 900 South, Salt Lake City, SLCGOV.com/cityparks/parks-liberty-park
2. City Creek Canyon
3. Bonneville Shoreline Trail
Best Fitness Classes
9th & 9th Pilates
The name is bit of a misnomer now, but don't hold that against Tessa Arneson, owner of 9th & 9th Pilates; the fitness studio started out as pilates-only and over the years, has expanded to include spin classes, yoga, TRX (muscle-suspension training) and cardio-circuit training. There is also a rehabilitation track not only for injuries, but illness, surgery and pregnancy. 9th & 9th Pilates offers classes and tracks, for all fitness levels. The fact that Coffee Garden is nearby means you have everything needed to wake up in the morning on the same block.
854 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-410-4180, 9thAnd9thPilates.com
2. The Bar Method
3. Fitness on 7th
Best Yoga Studio
Centered City Yoga
Whether you're drawn to yoga for religious reasons, for spiritual centering, or simply because you want to get more fit and look fantastic in yoga pants, it doesn't matter. Centered City doesn't judge; it is a welcoming and supportive place for people wanting to practice yoga for whatever reason. The staff knows its stuff—the owner, D'ana Baptiste, even teaches a class herself—and the center trains future yoga teachers in its academy. The center's natural light multiplies the clean, warm energy of the already soothing studio. Utah residents can take their first introductory class for free, so newbies, it's worth a shot; you're hardly likely to get tangled up in a comical pretzel, and you'll feel amazing after.
918 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-9642
2. Bikram Sugar House
3. Salt Lake Power Yoga
It's tough to say how it came to pass that Brighton—more so than any other Utah resort—became a haven for snowboarders. It could be due to its quality riding, its easy-to-access backcountry, its cache of local professional riders who call the mountain home and have showcased its terrain in myriad movies and magazines. Whatever the reason, a day spent at Brighton—even if you're just sunning yourself on the patio as the hours pass by—will confirm that the resort, even without five-star restaurants, fancy cocktails and film festivals—is lousy with guys and gals who know how to rip.
8302 S. Brighton Loop Road, Big Cottonwood Canyon, 801-532-4731, BrightonResort.com
2. Snowbird Resort
3. Solitude Resort
Best Summer Halloween
Art on You Studios
This tattoo/piercing studio was the first of its kind in Magna. When it opened its doors in October 2009, it was the first licensed tattoo parlor the western Salt Lake County township had ever seen. Since its Halloween-time beginnings, the studio has become a year-round home for all things creepy, mysterious and spooky. It keeps the spirit of Halloween going not just through October, but year round. July marked the studio's "Halloween in Summer" festival, during which time Magna's Main Street was overflowing with zombies, witches and the like. Kudos to Renee and Storm for recognizing that we all need a little scare now and then.
Art on You Studios Tattoos, 8971 W. 2700 South, Magna, 801-981-8180, ArtOnYou.com
Best Drag Show
This is not the kind of drag show that Utah filmmaker Trent Harris would have filmed for his Beaver Trilogy. It's another kind of drag taking place in Price, that bustling coal-and-college town in south-central Utah. You'll find very few wigs at Mud Drags, and not much lip-syncing, either. That's because it's drag racing. In the mud. Sponsored by the Western Mud Racing Association, events include ProMud, Outlaw, Modified, ProStock and SuperStock—you will get muddy! And that's not bad.
Mud Drags, Carbon County Fairgrounds, 450 S. Fairgrounds Road, Price, CastleCountry.com/Fairgrounds
Best Way to Prevent Gay Heatstroke
Provo Pride Festival
Most LGBT pride festivals, including Salt Lake City's, take place in late June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. Trouble is, June in Utah is already too hot. Before the parade passes by, spectators and participants alike are swooning from dehydration, and by the time they get to the beer corral, it's nearly too late. Fortunately, Utah County has an answer: Provo Pride is held in the lovely, temperate month of September! Still in its infancy, Provo Pride did not host a parade in 2015 (nor a beer corral)—but they sure demonstrate the fearless spirit of Stonewall by celebrating Pride in über-conservative Happy Valley.
Best Speedo Display
Slide the City
As the old Edgar Leslie/Walter Donaldson song goes: "When it gets too hot for comfort/ And you can't get ice cream cones/ T'aint no sin to take off your skin/ And dance around in your bones." And, by the end of August in Salt Lake City, it gets so scorching those baffling lyrics start to make an odd kind of sense. Fortunately, Sack Lunch Productions has the answer: a 1,000-foot inflatable water slide. "Slide the City" events take place in cities throughout North America, including—thank heavens!—our own. For one moist day, Main Street downtown is transformed into a giant slip-n-slide. It's an innovative—if not slightly insane—way to beat the heat.
Best Old-Timey Jams
Utah Old Time Fiddlers
Bluegrass and Americana music surged back into the public consciousness at the turn of the 21st century, but the appeal is still specialized enough that it takes some dedicated folks to keep the art form alive and thriving. The Utah Old Time Fiddlers is a nonprofit organization set to just that purpose, with six regional chapters in the state, gathering for regular jam sessions. And that means if you're a fiddler, guitarist or player of a similarly traditional instrument, you're welcome to join in playing at various locations, including West Valley City Hall, Orem Senior Center and Weber State University Shepherd Union Building.
Best Way to Skip Town
Rail service in the American West clings to life dealing with stripped-down funding and waning interest from both politicians and the impatient traveling public. Still, those trusty rails remain, and for the traveler who has a bit of time to spare, there's not a seat on any airplane in this world more comfortable than an Amtrak seat. For in-state travel, rail service is an often-overlooked option: For example, from downtown Salt Lake City, Green River is a mere $66 round-trip fare—and it's on a streamliner called the California Zephyr! Go, Go, Go!
Best Dinosaur Bones
Dinosaur National Monument
Reading in a book that dinosaurs like the flesh-eating Allosauras roamed a vast tropical plain 149 million years ago near Vernal, Utah, is food for thought. But if you drive on Highway 40 through Vernal, a monument to these vast numbers exists in the form of the world-famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry in Dinosaur National Monument. At the Quarry Exhibit Hall, bones from multiple species have been preserved in the condition they were found: imbedded in Morrison Formation rock that dates back more than 100 million years.
Dinosaur National Monument Quarry Exhibit Hall, 11625 E. 1500 South, Jensen, 435-781-7700, NPS.gov/dino
Best Unknown Mormon Gravesite
Mormon Pioneer Memorial
On First Avenue, just a few hundred feet from Temple Square's boundaries, sits the Mormon Pioneer Memorial. Anyone who's ever lived in the Covey or Brigham apartments has seen it—a leafy little zone with an assortment of statues, including one of the Mormon prophet Brigham Young sitting on a bench reading the Book of Mormon to two children. But if you look closely, the space is actually a graveyard where Young, several of his wives and his oldest son are buried. Without some hunting, you may not notice that they are grave markers, unless you see that the dates on the gate, 1801-1877, are Young's birth and death years.
140 E. First Ave., Salt Lake City
Best Steeps for All
There's only one option in Little Cottonwood Canyon for skiers and snowboarders alike: Snowbird. With its wickedly steep slopes, high-reaching tram (just standing at the base of the tram and watching the massive cable wheels turn is a pretty good time) and dozens and dozens of quality runs on the Best Snow on Earth, this resort is one of a kind. Couple these outdoor activities with the resort's spa and myriad restaurant options, and you're going to have yourself a dandy old time in the mountains, even if you don't ski or snowboard.
Little Cottonwood Canyon, 9385 S. Snowbird Center Drive, 801-933-2222, Snowbird.com
Best Way to Shred the North
If the hustle & bustle of Park City and the Cottonwood canyons aren't your thing, be soothed by the fact that Snowbasin is a mere 33 miles to the northeast. The 3,000-acre resort is large, with 500 more skiable acres than Snowbird, and the general feel of the place is somehow laid back, while still being ridiculously fancy. The restrooms, ballrooms and cafeterias are opulent—so much so that dirt-bag skiers and snowboarders have been known to actually pick up their empty PBR cans. Oh, and the skiing ain't bad, either. Catch Snowbasin after a fresh snowfall and, aside from the kick-ass view of the Ogden Valley at the top of Allen Peak, you'll swear you're in the Central Wasatch.
3925 E. Snowbasin Road, 801-620-1000, Snowbasin.com
Best New Roller Derby League
Ladies of the Lake
It's an exciting time for women's roller derby with new leagues cropping up all around the state. Salt Lake City-based Ladies of the Lake started as a nonprofit team and held its successful inaugural season in early 2015. The new crew of skaters gave established names a chance to compete against fresh meat, while reinforcing Utah's derby cred: The Beehive State now sports eight derby leagues from Ogden to Moab. As we roll into 2016, here's hoping the expansion of Utah teams will help fuel a new era of state-league play.
Best Excuse To Game Out
Salt Lake Gaming Con
Utah's got more "cons" than you can shake a Klingon bat'leth at, but that didn't stop the gaming community from rising up and forming a convention of its own. After being sorely ignored and shuttled off to dark corners at other conventions, gamers took matters into their own hands and created Salt Lake Gaming Con in August 2015, taking one of the most popular forms of entertainment and putting it front & center at Sandy's South Towne Expo Center. The success of the con's panels and tournaments provide a solid foundation to build upon when it returns June 2016.
Best Adrenaline-Fueled Go-Karts
After its ribbon-cutting this summer, you can now enjoy indoor go-karting at this brand-spanking new facility featuring state-of-the-art equipment. You can breathe easy knowing there's no exhaust in the air: Here, you'll find eco-friendly electric karts, asphalt tracks and shock-absorbing safety barriers around the track. Driving karts that can reach 45 mph, and with up to 12 racers humming around the indoor track at any given time, there's no better thrill. Watch out, you just may get bit by the racing bug. Next stop: Speed Week at the salt flats! Open seven days a week.
725 W. 10600 South, Sandy, 801-758-7228, K1Speed.com
Best Fresh-Water Surprise
Willard Bay State Park
The clueless among us drive north and south along Interstate 15 and hardly realize that Willard Bay is not part of the Great Salt Lake. It is, in fact, a freshwater man-made reservoir that exists on the flood plain of the Great Salt Lake; its purpose is to collect fresh water from the Ogden and Weber rivers to irrigate farms and provide myriad outdoor-recreation opportunities. The fishing here is another bonus. Here you'll find black crappie, walleye, wiper, smallmouth bass, channel catfish and bluegill. Keep an eye out for wildlife and migrating birds as well.
900 W. 650 North, Willard, 435-734-9494, StateParks.Utah.gov/parks/willard-bay
Best Flying Fish
Utah Grizzlies Games
Have spectator sports become a bit same-same? Become a fan of the Utah Grizzlies professional ice-hockey team, playing at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, and feel some excitement in your life. An evening spent cheering on the Grizzlies is both rowdy and fun. Young men gracefully gliding across the ice oval, whisking the puck toward the goal is almost a performance art. But when a team is in striking distance, the graceful movements become shoving, checking and even clobbering opponents, to say nothing of players slamming each other into the Plexiglas surrounding the ice. When the Grizz score their first point, prepare yourself for the crowd's deafening roar and witness yet another strange phenomenon: Fans start flinging frozen trout onto the ice oval—they have to feed the hungry bears.
3200 Decker Lake Drive, 801-988-8000, West Valley City, UtahGrizzlies.com
Best Free Party
University of Utah Football Games
Ever since the Utes got baptized into the Pacific-12 Conference, Utah fans have gone a little bit nuts. Where tailgating and boozing were once restricted to a single parking lot, the usually alcohol-free campus now erupts into a beer-pong playing paradise where RVs tricked out with big-screen televisions occupy a good share of campus asphalt, and cops just look the other way. But don't feel bad if you don't have an RV, or a ticket. Buy a 12-pack of beer, take a stroll almost anywhere on campus and enjoy pre-game festivities in front of campus cops who, only a few years ago, would have tossed imbibers in the slammer for such debauchery.
University of Utah campus
Best Pickleball Playground
Holladay Lions Fitness & Recreation Center
It is called the fastest-growing sport you've never heard of. Pickleball, a tennis-like game more fun than anything Ashley Madison has to offer, is flourishing in Utah. Outdoor courts are being built (16 in Bluffdale, six on 11th Avenue), and indoor courts are busy weekday mornings. At Holladay Lions Fitness & Recreation Center, three indoor courts are set aside for beginners at 8:30 a.m. every day but Saturday. Paddles and balls are provided, and the crowd is welcoming. Neither skill nor experience is required—you will be playing doubles on the first day.
1661 E. Murray-Holladay Road, Holladay, 385-468-1700, SLCO.org/recreation/holladaylions
Best Long-Distance Runner
When we say "long-distance runner," it's because Salt Lake resident Chris Chatzis recently made his mark in Greece, finishing 70th out of the 374 runners from around the world at the historic Spartathlon ultra-marathon. The modern marathon that most train for marks the distance (26.2 miles) from Athens to Marathon, Greece—the site of an Athenian victory over the invading Persians. News of that victory was delivered to the Athenians by messenger/runner Pheidippides. However, just before he made that journey, Pheidippides also had run from Athens to Sparta—153 miles—to enlist additional war troops, run back to Athens, then sped off again to Marathon to witness the battle, finally returning to Athens—where he promptly fell over dead. Today's Spartathlon honors Pheidippides, departing the Acropolis in Athens and finishing in Sparta—a distance the equivalent of more than five consecutive marathons. More than 200 world-class runners were unable to finish in the requisite 36 hours of what many in the running community consider the most demanding of all such races. Chatzis ran the full distance in 33:09:47. If you see someone around town missing a few toenails, say hello and tip your beanie to Chris Chatzis.
Best Adult Recess
Beehive Sport & Social Club
Longing for the days of kickball, flag football, and dodge ball? Sign up with the folks at Beehive Sport and make some new friends. At the end of league games, enjoy a party at a local bar and feel good about the fact that a portion of your registration fees help the kids at the Boys & Girls Club play some games of their own.
Multiple locations, 801-520-0708, BeehiveSports.com
Best New Gym
Orangetheory Fitness offers 60-minute classes split into cardio and strength training. Each client wears a heart-rate monitor so they, and the coaches, can scientifically measure the intensity of their effort—and push themselves further, or slow down, accordingly. After each class, clients are emailed a summary of their workout, including how many minutes they spent in the "orange zone" and how many calories they burned. Orangetheory also offers a huge amount of variety—clients alternate between running, rowing, lifting weights, using suspended TRX bands and more, all under the supervision of a fitness trainer.
602 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-255-9050, OrangeTheoryFitness.com
Best Place to Go Fly a Kite
Dixie Power Kite Festival
It might seem like an activity from a bygone era, but there's still an exhilaration that comes from sending a kite up into the sky and keeping it dipping and soaring. If you're prepared to let the wind carry you, head to St. George in the spring, where the Sun River Golf Course hosts a day-long festival in April with live entertainment and other activities. But the focus is on encouraging participation in this family-friendly outdoor activity—which includes free flying and prizes of free kites for students of Washington County schools who participate in a reading program.
Best Pinball Wonderland
With the advent of computer games, brick-and-mortar arcades have dwindled in number, and classic pinball machines are relegated to a token few in the remaining arcades, or in some bars and bowling alleys. But those who love the tactile joy of banging on those flippers and playing a mean pinball can find their bliss in Springville, where Nickel Mania is home to more than 25 tables, from classic movie-based games like "Terminator 2" and "The Addams Family" to "NASCAR" and "Harley-Davidson." And the newer Murray location comes only slightly less stocked with old-school goodies.
1575 S. 1950 West, Springville, 801-489-8698; 6051 S. State, Murray, 801-685-9229, NickelManiaGames.com
Best Nature Walks
Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter
The beautiful lands of the Wasatch Front are accessible in so many ways, but not all of them allow you to learn as you explore. Swaner Preserve's guided 75-minute Saturday Nature Walks in spring, summer and fall allow visitors to discover facts about local wetlands and the native plant and animal species that call them home. In winter, those walks become snowshoe tours, including identifying animal tracks. The tours are only $5 per person, and are free for members.
1258 Center Drive, Park City, 435-649-1767
Best BIRD connection
Tracy Aviary Pelican Encounter
Every kid who's ever been to a zoo has had to face the disappointment of the "Do Not Feed the Animals" sign. That's why they relish those rare occasions when they can get close enough to the animals to be part of feeding time. Visitors to Tracy Aviary can supplement their general admission with daily Pelican Encounters where they can help with filling the pouches at the pelican pond with fish. It's a special way to be a part of the experience—no extra points for scoring a pouch "basket," though.
589 E. 1300 South, 801-596-8500, TracyAviary.org
Best Ogden Hike
Waterfall Canyon Trail
For many hikers, it's all about the journey; but for reluctant hikers, there needs to be a payoff at the end. This 3-mile round-trip hike with a 1,500-foot elevation-gain begins at the trail head at the top of Ogden's 29th Street. With its rocky terrain, it can be a challenge for novices and younger hikers due to downed branches and, depending on the season, the need for creek wading. But once you reach the top, your payoff is a glorious view of a 200-foot waterfall as well as amazing views of the entire Ogden Valley.
Trailhead and parking lot, top of 29th Street, Ogden
Best Easter Sermon
Arches National Park Sunrise Service
On Easter Sunday at 6 a.m., cars pull up in the base parking lot at Arches National Park, and sleepy Moabians and visitors pile into several buses that head up to La Sal Mountain Viewpoint. As the sun rises, the small crowd sing hymns and listen to readings at the nondenominational service put on by the Association of Christian Churches in Moab. As the shadows of the night recede and desert flowers reawaken in the rising temperatures, sunlight reveals the awesome majesty of an orange-red landscape that lingers in the mind long after you've left the park. If you plan to stay longer than 9 a.m., you have to pay the park entrance fee.
Best Wildflower Hike
Cecret Lake hike
Come summer time, it's hard to find a more glorious vista than the pathway from Cecret Lake down to the Alta Lodge in Little Cottonwood Canyon. It's a stunning landscape of wildflowers that, while a little steep at times, never ceases to amaze with its abundance of colors. If you're not feeling ambitious, on the weekends Alta provides a bus up to the Cecret Lake trail head, which puts you in the best of both worlds, allowing you to either hike up to the placid beauty of the Alpine lake or down through the flowers to the lodge. Either is a treat to the senses.
Best Frontier in Miniature
Wild West Jordan Playground
Kids may not even realize they're getting a wonderful dose of state history in this impressively designed playground adjacent to the county library and Viridian Event Center in West Jordan. The 12,000 square foot, fenced-in area offers plenty of climbing, sliding and swinging areas suitable for kids of varying ages. But all that good stuff is tucked into 1800s-style storefronts, a representation of the Bingham Copper Mine and even the meeting of the railroads at Promontory Point. They get their wiggles out; you get to introduce them to Utah's colorful past.
1985 W. 7800 South, West Jordan
Alta Lodge, Little Cottonwood Canyon, 10230 UT-210, Alta, 801-742-3500, DiscoverAlta.com/business/hiking-alta/
Best Red-Rock River Paradise
Yankee Meadow Resevoir
Just east of Parowan in Iron County, Yankee Resevoir sits in 53 splendid acres of meadow, surrounded by mountain ranges. While the lake is popular with fishermen during the spring and summer, and with hunters during the fall, explorers traveling the dirt road that leads up to the reservoir will discover a beautiful creek-fed landscape that is often surprisingly overlooked. There are campgrounds available on a space-available basis and grills awaiting BBQers. While the ATVers rocket up to the reservoir, you can enjoy the tree-shaded tranquility of the creek and the rising red-rock landscape, recalling again why you love Utah so.
Bowery Creek Road, Parowan
Best Slice of Solitude
Solitude Mountain Resort
On any given powder-filled Saturday morning for the past 58 years, chances are good that while countless hordes of skiers and snowboarders stood in lift lines at other canyon resorts, snow fiends of all stripes were busy shredding at Solitude. Whether it is simple perception, or truth, it is difficult to ignore the fact that one tends to feel a bit more lonely at Solitude than at other ski areas in the Cottonwood canyons, and that can be a good thing. It's not that the resort isn't popular, or that it attracts fewer skiers than other resorts. Solitude has simply managed to preserve the feeling that as you slide downhill, the entire Salt Lake Valley—and all of those folks who used to ski in California when it snowed there—aren't in your way.
12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon, 801-534-1400, SkiSolitude.com
Best Salt Lake Valley PERCH
The Living Room Hike
This 2.7-mile Salt Lake Valley hike takes you to a rock formation of sandstone Flintstones-esque couches—sans TV. But the view from this summit is the entire valley—refinery to Rio Tinto—so who needs a TV? The mountain is one of the closest of all those surrounding the valley, and, even though it's a steep hike—with a 980-foot gain in elevation—it doesn't take as many hours to hike as one of its taller buddies, like Grandeur or Olympus peaks. And it may not be as fast or easy as walking from the bedroom to your own living room, but assuming your apartment isn't 80 stories above the city, the view is remarkably better. Time the hike right, and the sound from Red Butte Garden concerts echoes into the niche between the mountains for some delightful free entertainment.
Trailhead: 383 Colorow Drive, Salt Lake City East Bench
Best Peak Experience
Discrete Peak Series
Runners are flocking to this new trail-running series, seeking to challenge themselves with shorter distances but at maximum gain in altitude. Starting at the base of mountain resorts, runners blast their way to the top of a peak before careening back down to the finish. Runners like the fact the race is just about them and the peak—no gimmicks. Summer 2015 races were held at Alta (from Albion Lodge up Greeley and the High-T trails to Baldy's Peak); Snowbird (to the top of Twin Peaks and finishing at Snowbird's Oktoberfest) and Deer Valley (which toured the Wasatch Back). The operative word here is "up!"
Best Urban Phallic Symbol
The Draw in Sugar House
There aren't many hoodoos north of Bryce Canyon. But there is one: red and phallic, it towers over the Parley's Bike & Pedestrian Trail a stone's throw east of Hidden Hollow. This hoodoo dominates a massive, red-rock sculpture by renowned New York City-based artist Patricia Johanson. Titled "The Draw," the landscape art is meant to evoke some geographical features of the Mormon Trail—as well as the grit of those who walked it.
Best Body Sculpting
THE Bar Method
The Bar Method uses ballet techniques to form long, lean muscle. Every one-hour high-intensity workout starts to strengthen and shape the major muscle groups using isometrics, interval training, dance conditioning and sports rehabilitation—all without impact on your joints. And it isn't an impersonal gym; many clients see the studio as a place to hang out with extended family. So, next time you have the urge to head out to a bar, consider coming here. At least there's no hangover—only sore muscles and a feeling of being on top of the world.
1057 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-485-4227, SaltLakeCity.BarMethod.com
Best Big Bounce
Wairhouse Trampoline Park
Some parents resist the risk of backyard trampolines—but that doesn't stop kids from loving the thrill of a big bounce. The 15,000-square-feet of jumping space at the WAIRhouse Trampoline Park allows youngsters to tumble, somersault and launch themselves in a safer environment (signed waiver required), including Slam Dunk courts, dodgeball play area, foam pit and a special section for kids 6 and under. Come with a group to rent a party room, or just let the little ones get bouncy.
3653 S. 500 West, 801-266-5867, TheWairhouse.com
Best Climbing Gym
The Front features a spacious indoor rock-climbing area specifically designed for bouldering, with routes for beginners to hard-core competitive climbers—and plenty of space to just hang out. The Front also has rope-climbing walls, a separate area for climbing instruction, a cafe, yoga classes, cardio equipment, a weight room and community spaces. As an added bonus, dog owners can bring their furry friends to The Front's fenced-in dog area while they climb.
1450 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-466-7625, FrontSLC.com