Best of Utah 2017 | Our annual celebration of the Best our state has to offer is here! | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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Best of Utah 2017

Our annual celebration of the Best our state has to offer is here!

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Best middle finger to the Utah delegation
Bears Ears National Monument

Utah's congressional representatives consider President Obama's unilateral declaration of a new national monument in the Beehive State to be a gross offense. The #MidnightMonument, they decried, was created in a cloak of darkness before the outgoing president rode off into political retirement. Of course, there is another version of this story, told from a Native American population in the state that has traditionally been ignored. Importantly in their version, they led the groundswell (not Obama or former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell) and petitioned the government to protect ancestral land that houses artifacts and petroglyphs—sites that have been wantonly looted and vandalized. (DWH)

Best place to see a concert and activate
Boing! Anarchist Collective

Rock 'n' roll is about rebellion. Located in a brick house near Liberty Park, Boing!'s main concern is activism, but they host concerts from time to time. And while local and national acts set up and tear down, there's an abundance of books, pamphlets, zines and other propaganda available to help you learn how to dismantle the machine. There's even a little light reading on hand, like copies of the killer zine PORK out of Oregon, in case you're not sure you wanna join the Weather Underground just yet. (RH)
608 S. 500 East, 801-364-2426

Best nonprofit DIY cemetery
Pleasant Green Cemetery

With graves variously covered by plywood, ornamental cactuses and glowing Kennecott mineral deposits, you might unknowingly start to hum Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" while walking through Pleasant Green Cemetery. Your showtune selection, while dated, is at least fitting. Erected in 1883 to primarily serve the rural LDS farming community, this western spread has, since 1983, been lovingly managed by the nonprofit Pleasant Green Cemetery Preservation and Development Association. And though there is talk of ghosts and the like, PGC is most welcomingly known for its affordable plot packaging ($500 per plot), liberal decoration policy and commitment to keeping sacred the memory of those buried within. (ZS)
9200 W. 3500 South, Magna, 801-860-1124,

Best local Lego Land
BAM! Bricks & More

With a surge in theatrical movies based on the beloved building bricks, Lego are as popular as ever—and real devotees love seeking out special bricks or rare sets. This Ogden-area toy store specializes in hard-to-find items for Lego-lovers, including used and discontinued sets and a huge, ever-changing selection of assorted random bricks available to purchase by the pound. Find distinctive licensed character mini-figures, or build your own characters from scratch. Putting together a combination of pieces that's perfect for you will be a snap. (SR)
539 N. Harrisville Road, Harrisville, 801-918-3972,


Best coffee shop to start your dystopian novel that's chock-full of unmistakable-yet-subtle post-Mormon themes and that you swear is nothing like Brave New World and nothing—oh my God, I mean, gosh, no, God!—nothing like The Hunger Games
City Creek Starbucks

So you're a post-Mormon, and, look, you know there are a lot of you out there, but you've got a voice that's distinct, and if you don't write the next great American dystopian novel about your po-mo experience, who will? Every writer knows the key to good writing, aside from alcohol, which you've now tried—well, it was one Mike's Hard and it got you feeling a little woozy, honestly—is an ideal writing environment. There's a lot of cool coffee shops around town, but you've grown up on gas station Diet Coke and aren't exactly sure if there's a secret password or something you've got to know to get into them, so the safe yet semi-rebellious bet is to go to a Starbucks. There's a million of those capitalist crap holes everywhere. To you, the best and most stick-it-to-the-friggin'-man Starbucks location is the one inside the City Creek shopping mall. That's right—you'll sip on that grande vanilla bean Frappuccino, 'cause you're still really not sure about the health effects of too much caffeine and you better start out slow and devise the most intricate, Nobel-worthy dystopian plot ever thought of. In the menace's incredibly convenient and air-conditioned lair, you begin: "A squat gray building of only 34 stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL UTAH HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTER, and, in a shield, the World State's motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY." That doesn't sound familiar to you, does it? (JF)
80 S. Main, 801-355-3037,

Best place to learn about the advent of punk from someone who was there
Sound & Vision Records

Mike Maccarrone, owner of South Salt Lake's coolest record store, lived in Brooklyn in 1977 and has been pushin' stacks of wax for nearly as long. And '77, as you might know, was the year punk rock was born. So Maccarrone, who also used to kill time at the storied venue Max's Kansas City, had a front-row seat and knows everyone. He also played in a little punk band of his own, and their 7-inch fetches 100 bucks when it pops up on eBay—ask him about that. Mike's lovely wife, Pam, worked at MTV in the '80s, so she has stories to share, too. And those stories greatly enhance the music-buying experience. (RH)
3444 S. Main, 385-229-4165,

Best place to relive your childhood
Atomic Arcade

Visiting Atomic Arcade is the closest you're gonna get to a time machine. Want to relive the decades you spent hanging out in the mall arcade, shooting monsters in Carnevil? Look no further. Atomic Arcade is filled with your favorite retro arcade games, pinball and everything else you'd expect to find. Admission is free; video games cost just 25 cents, pinball and driving games are 50 cents. "I just wanted to have a place to go that was like the places I used to go, instead of the stale, brightly lit ticket farms for babies," owner Chris Wright says. "I missed the dark and sketchy feeling of the arcades from my youth." (Amanda Rock)
3939 S. Highland Drive, Holladay, 801-634-1130

Best TLC for small furry beasts
Posh Paws

When it comes to grooming for your small dog, getting a good trim and cut isn't as easy as you'd think. Most places that cater to all dog breeds are booked weeks in advance and having change from $60 is doubtful. Posh Paws by 9th and 9th, along with offering those to-die-for accessories your small pooch can't live without, also offers an all-round small dog grooming service. Owner Courtney is attentive to dog and owner alike. She arranges her schedule so your pet gets more individual attention and, price wise, comes in competitively with other boutiques. But the ultimate test is how weeks after a visit to Posh Paws, your dog's coat still boosts an elegant, head-turning trim when you take her out for a stroll. (SD)
1005 E. 900 South, 801-671-6020,

Best place to escape the horrors of the real world by delving into the preferable zombie hellscape

You know that disheveled dude who lives at the end of your street, the one you try to avoid on evening walks lest you get caught listening to his soliloquy about which ammo is best to stockpile in preparation for the end times? Well now's the moment to admit that he might be onto something and you, too, are not ruling out a zombie apocalypse. Not only that, but, come on, it's a world that you kinda-sorta eagerly welcome. The VR games at Virtualities at the Gateway jolts you into this milieu where you can practice shooting or slicing up the undead in their tracks without the hassle of waiting around for our civilization to collapse. (DWH)
86 S. Rio Grande St., 385-215-7426,

Best place to try out homelessness for a few nights
The Road Home's emergency Rio Grande shelter

When you ask the question, "What do you know about homelessness?", some of our leaders can attest to firsthand experience. Folks ranging from Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox to Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams have spent a night or two at the shelter in order to understand the problems the homeless and the shelter face. Developer Bryson Garbett also spent several nights there, spinning his time into what would finally become a campaign to close the shelter down. While we would never decry trying to understand the highly nuanced, complex nature of homelessness, and indeed several of our reporters have gone down to the shelter in their best grubbies to learn more, perhaps the time for such research is over, to be replaced by more dialogue with the homeless themselves. (SD)
210 S. Rio Grande St., 801-359-4142,

Best place for free downtown parking
200 West between 300 South and 400 South

We don't usually associate the word "free" with downtown parking. Normally, the idea of urban parking provokes feelings similar to a slow death as you circle the city searching for a reasonably priced lot until the inevitable occurs and you realize you won't find anything inexpensive, so you pull into the first lot you originally passed back when you still possessed hope. Well, located on 200 West in between 300 South and 400 South on the west side of the road, are free parking spaces without a time limit. The spots are usually full, but I promise, if you circle the block about three times (it is nearly guaranteed), someone will have left, and your prayers will be answered. (Julia Villar)


Best analog photo stock
Pictureline's Film Fridge

If you didn't know it was there, you'd walk right past it, but photography enthusiasts have been flocking to Pictureline's fridge room for years to stock up on good old-fashioned film. The tiny space tucked away behind the store's entrance is normally stocked with 35mm basics from Kodak, Ilford and Fujifilm, but you can also grab medium- and large-format necessities as well as an array of instant film. If you're not sure what you need, no worries. There's always a helpful staff member on hand to aid in choosing the right roll—and to unlock the fridge doors. (SA)
305 W. 700 South, 801-364-1200,

Best homies in the Sk801
Flatspotter Goods

Fresh on the scene and touting a team of skateboarders with diverse and totally messed up styles of riding, SLC-based skate company Flatspotter Goods (FSG) has quickly become one of the most exciting presences in the sk801. A quick perusal of the company's Instagram (the app where just about everything in skateboarding goes down nowadays) will show FSG team skaters Matt Fisher, Deng Tear and Shylio Sweat are no joke and the company doesn't hold back when it comes to supporting whoever else is shredding in the state. If you're in the market for a new ride, or, hell, maybe if you just want some countercultural wall decor, skip the mall shops (read: Zumiez), and pick up something from FSG at your local skate shop or online. (JF)

Best place to get the DL on your community
City Council Meetings

Depending on where in Utah you reside, your city council might have better attendance than others. As a general rule, though, the audience headcount is likely to be under five. Which is a surprising number given the amount of friends we all have voicing complaints about city decisions via social media. If only there were a place they could go to voice those concerns—oh wait, there is! On any given night, your city council is sure to have time slated for public comments. An ideal moment for moving the rant from deaf ears scrolling on Facebook to the folks who make those decisions based on constituent feedback. (AP)


Best outdoor adventure for newbies
Goblin Valley Slot Canyons

I wouldn't consider myself a super outdoorsy person, but I have many friends who are, so I've had my fair share of Utah adventures. If I had to recommend a single daytime outing to someone from out of town, it would be the slot canyons at Goblin Valley. There are several different hikes you can do, ranging from easy to difficult. The one I did was relatively easy, but it was a total adventure nonetheless. The walls of these canyons are so close together at some points, you have to walk sideways, and sometimes through water up to your hips. Not to mention the giant boulders you have to climb, and the beautiful views of the almost surreal looking red rock formations. Some tips: Wear waterproof shoes, look for the signs telling you which direction to go and don't bring your dog. (AH)

Best hill to roll a rock up and down, up and down, up and down, until you die
Utah State University's Old Main Hill

So you're quasi-fluent in French and a born-again existentialist that's looking for something to consummate your transformation. Don't wait on State Street for an acquaintance named Godot who will never, in fact, arrive, and skip shooting a man for no reason, because, my existentialist, yr. corresp. has the thing for you. One-hundred-something miles north of SLC sits Utah State University's campus, a fabulous locale whose hallmark building sits atop a giant-ass hill. All the campus' beauty aside, the hill is the perfect metaphor for the universe's indifference. The hill is hot-and-heinous in summer, and colder than a banker's heart in winter. Whether traveling up or down, the hill flogs the muscles in your legs. The hill, above all, reminds you, you short-of-breath traveller, that one day you will be absent-of-breath and left to oblivion's will. So grab a boulder, you sad sack of philosophical shit, and roll it up and down, up and down, up and down that existential hill. Do it until you, too, reach your end. Try to smile along the way. After all, this is what Sartre was talking about, right? (JF)


Best in-the-round extemporaneous open-mic and conspiracy theory storytime
Twisted Roots

A few weeks ago, I met a mysterious well-dressed man outside the office. He toted an electric guitar with an American flag strap and was headed to downtown head shop Twisted Roots for an "open-mic." He also let me in on his business ideas and conspiracy theories, and even sent me the details—all 7,000 pages of them. (I'd share, but he made me swear to keep it secret.) It turns out there's a rotating stage in Twisted's storefront window, with instruments for anyone to play without an appointment. Attention local musicians: Pop-up shows before random people who might never see you on your own? Great idea. P.S. Anyone worth more than $20 million is a Satanist. I'm not saying where I heard that. (RH)
156 S. Main, 801-972-1312,

Best border Utah town to gamble in that isn't West Wendover
Franklin, Idaho

If the opulent Montego Bay and Peppermill Casino aren't tickling your gambling fancy anymore, and if spending all night wired on Diet Coke and Slim Jims at the Rainbow Trucker Lounge just isn't hitting the right spot either, get out the hell out of 'Dover and head up north to the humble town of Franklin, Idaho. At the foot of the Bear River mountains, and just minutes away from Logan, Franklin is the perfect place to blow through a pocket full of 20s, all while taking in the beautiful scenery and enjoying the excellent cuisine its two gambling-friendly gas stations have to offer. Perhaps the best part of Franklin is that it caters to Utah's addiction-conscious, covert gamblers. Selling exclusively lottery and scratch-and-win tickets, Franklin's gas stations provide patrons with the ability to get their gambling fix, but without having to sit at a table or slot machine where they might be seen by an unsuspecting ward member or neighbor. Additionally, having to interact with a clerk, each purchase curtails a gambler's impulse to continue vying for sinful winnings by way of guilt. The next time you hear that still, small and devilish voice whisper in your ear, pack up and make your way to Franklin. (JF)


Best recordings & ephemera
Albatross Recordings & Ephemera

These days you can buy anything you want online, but what about the things you didn't know you wanted? Albatross Recordings & Ephemera has it all. Peruse the record collection and eclectic books and art. You'll find curious and delightful things you didn't know you needed. "Albatross is an ever-growing organism," owner Timo Hatziathanasiou says. "It's a curated record store with a selection of non-musical items for nerds, witches, monster kids or fringe literary enthusiasts. The goal is to share something we appreciate with others—to find joy in the discovery." (AR)
1305 S. 900 East,

Best return of an institution
UMFA re-launch

A year and a half feels like forever in a world where everything moves at a rapid pace, but when the Utah Museum of Fine Arts decided to undertake major renovations on the University of Utah building, they wanted to do it right. The project involved upgrades both structural (improving temperature and humidity control) and conceptual (re-imagining gallery spaces for their focus, and how art would be presented to the public). The grand re-opening in August showed off beautifully re-painted spaces, bilingual curatorial materials and interactive family-friendly exhibits. It was worth the wait. (SR)
410 Campus Center Drive, 801-581-7332,

Best Christmas-spirit recharge carol fest
St. Paul's Christmas Eve service

By the time you hit Christmas Eve—after fighting your way through the shopping, the snow and finally managing to leave work behind—finding bona fide Christmas cheer can be taxing. If you need an injection of old-fashioned yuletide spirit replete with carols and a genuine sense of the magic of the season, then the 10 p.m. Christmas carol service, followed by an 11 p.m. Mass at St. Paul's Episcopal Church is for you. Drenched in seasonal decorations, a talented choir and small group of musicians bring an intimacy to Christmas carol favorites that warms the cockles of the most Scrooge-like heart. The Tudor-revival building is one of the jewels in Salt Lake's mostly cookie-cutter churches, and on Christmas Eve it fills with a bonhomie and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" spirit that can't be beat. (SD)
261 S. 900 East, 801-322-5869,


Best suburban bookstore
Marissa's Books

If you think the only cool bookstores are located downtown, you're so wrong. Marissa's Books, endcapping a Murray strip mall, is a bibliophile's dream. There's 4200 square feet stocked with new, used and gorgeous vintage books with a fantastic selection of children's books. I especially dig the pulp and science fiction paperbacks.The store is named after owner Cindy Dumas' granddaughter, Marissa. "Prior to opening the store, we used to love going to bookstores together and sitting for hours. When I decided to open the store, there was no other name I would even consider," Dumas says. (AR)
5692 S. 900 East, Ste. 10, Murray, 801-262-2873,

Best Noah's Ark library
Sprague Library

Torrential thunderstorms in late July saw Salt Lake City streets dramatically disappear under feet of water and residences, businesses and schools the victims of flash floods. Among the casualties on July 26 was the Sprague Library in Sugar House, which saw its basement-based children's and nonfiction sections flooded. The damage meant the 1928-built, English Tudor style library was closed for three months. Which is a genuine cause to mourn for Sugar House-ites who value it as one of the few remaining places in the 'hood that has not only a sense of history and character, but also a cozy warmth and intimacy that welcomes book-lovers. The city organized a rally for Sprague—a reflection, perhaps, of how valuable, despite the dominance of online culture and instant social media, such community assets are. (SD)
2131 S. 1100 East, 801-594-8640,

Best place to escape the heat after midnight and get an adrenaline rush
Northcrest Swim Club

Hidden in the upper Avenues sits the Northcrest Swim Club: a relatively small pool with a shallow section, deep section, low-diving board and the classic high-diving board. The pool closes at a reasonable hour during the day but, fortunately, the short gate allows locals to sneak into it at night without a struggle. You do not need to be fast nor fit to climb the fence. The pool is perfect for night time dips because you can enjoy the amenities without the scalding sun. However, remember to respect the neighbors and be relatively quiet, but don't refrain from wildly jumping off of the high-diving board. You won't regret it. (JV)
839 Hilltop Road, 801-359-1811,

Best spot to watch tumbling tumbleweeds
The Land Formerly Known as Cottonwood Mall Site

When Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC) added the 57-acre lot to their massive portfolio, it was reminiscent of the moment Wu peed on a rug that did not belong to him. Fast forward almost a decade, and the Dudes of Holladay are still looking for someone to populate their lot. While Ivory Homes might be the company to rejuvenate it, just how many ins and outs HHC is going to make Ivory jump through to purchase the land remains to be seen. In the meantime it's a great spot to... "go drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds." (AP)
4835 S. Highland Drive, Holladay


Best Summer Variety Venue
Sandy Amphitheater

Few things say "summer" in Utah quite like outdoor entertainment—and for many, that means concerts. You'll get plenty of those in a Sandy Amphitheater summer season, as 2017 just wrapped with performances by Collective Soul, Air Supply, The Band Perry and many more. But the fresh-air venue also provides a place for even more varied seasonal entertainment, from the classical sounds of the American West Symphony to Sandy Arts Guild theatrical productions to the improv comedy team of Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood. It's a four-month sampler of the entire performing-arts spectrum. (SR)
1245 E. 9400 South, Sandy,

Best Way to not get a Darwin Award while adventuring in Utah
Utah Department of Natural Resources Map & Bookstore

Don't be that douchecanoe who drives off the edge of Antelope Island because the GPS tells ya to. Step 1: Go to the Utah Department of Natural Resources main office building. Step 2: From the lobby, take a sharp left into the floor-to-ceiling lined book and map shop. Step 3: Tell the ever-helpful and knowledgeable staff where you're headed; they'll immediately locate a real-life paper map of your adventure destination in a multitude of options from general region to minute topographic. Step 4: Might as well pick up some guide books about mammal tracks, geologic history, campfire cast-iron cooking and outdoor survival while you're at it, right? Step 5: Figure out how to read a damned map before you need to use it. Duh. (DD)
1594 W. North Temple, 801-537-3320,


Best place to feel better about your dog
Tanner Park

Sometimes I like to spoil my dog by making her feel like people. That's when I'll take her to Home Depot and she's allowed to think we're this cute couple shopping for a bathroom vanity when I'm really only there to get duct tape for my car. It's an absolute joy for me, then, when I take her to Tanner Park and she thinks we're out for a stroll in some type of dog/human village! Tanner park is more like a small trail and even has a shallow river where your dogs can take a splash. I also like comparing my dog to other's dumpster ghouls. (Rex Magana)
2760 Heritage Way, 385-468-7275,

Best Sunday drive
East Canyon to Echo Reservoir

Alpine Loop and the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway are gorgeous but oh-so crowded during summer and fall weekends. Take a little meandering road away from the crowds during your Sunday afternoon and head up East Canyon for fabulous views of Parleys. Continue down the backside of the mountain into Morgan County and be surrounded by towering aspens and small ranches until you pop out onto sage-covered hills around East Canyon State Park. Head through to Henefer and instead of getting on Interstate 84, take Old Highway 30 through Echo and cross under I-80 to hit the east side of Echo Reservoir. It's a little barren here but gets green again as you pass through the fields of Coalville and meet up with I-80 in Wanship. Take exit 134 for East Canyon again but exit through Emigration Canyon for a little extra view. (SA)

Best wildlife spotting in city limits
Salt Lake City Cemetery

Salt Lake City sexton Mark Smith likes to say that cemeteries are for the living. And that includes non-humans, too. Romping freely around the 150-acre patch of green space in the Avenues, foxes, deer, coyotes and badgers have made living quarters among the dead in the state's largest municipal graveyard. Smith welcomes the public to stroll through and gander at the animals along the way. Folks, however, are asked not to try to corral any wildlife (you're bound to get your face eaten off or toe stomped on), and, as all wildlife experts will advise: Don't try to feed them, dummy. (DWH)
200 N St.,


Best premise licensed as a homebrew store not a bar
The Beer Nut

Homebrewing has been legal in Utah for less than a decade, but that doesn't mean the hobby isn't popular. Quite the contrary, actually. And The Beer Nut has been Salt Lake City's home base for all homebrew needs. Newbies (or "brewbies") can pick up a kit with essential ingredients and step-by-step instructions to get started. The store's got everything the more experienced brewmaster needs as well, including a selection of bulk grain to experiment with as you please. Chat up the expert staff to find the right tools for your perfect brew. (SA)
1200 S. State, 801-531-8182,

Best amplification of local girls' self-worth
Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls

There are tons of music programs for kids—the School of Rock and MusicGarage, for starters, but the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls SLC teaches more than music. It uses rock 'n' roll as a means to empower girls as they get out in the world, armed with the knowledge that they can do anything. Now doing two sessions each summer, the camp is looking to start an after-school program to help these nascent riot grrls' bands to incubate. And some campers have already returned as volunteers, hoping to pay the education and inspiration forward. (RH)

Best movie theater to escape a lazy Sunday's summer heat
Broadway Centre Theatre

Here's a movie idea: guy wakes up among his empties and then heads downtown only to duck away from the muggy Sunday morning at a cool $6.75 matinee. Plot twist: It's autobiographical. So maybe it doesn't make for a riveting narrative on the silver screen, but whatever film being projected undoubtedly will. If you don't know by now, the Broadway (the Tower is the other option) plays one-of-a-kind movies that rarely conform to the tired plotline that filmmakers insist on hammering over and over. (DWH)
111 E. 300 South, 801-321-0310,


Best when it's hot AF slope-style cool down
Utah Olympic Park Fly Freestyle camp

For the #neversummer crowd who can't swing a Southern Hemisphere ski trip come those 100-degree days in July, head up Parleys Canyon to the Utah Olympic Park and cool down in high-flying style. Snowboarders and skiers aged 7 and above launch themselves (under the supervision of world-class coaches) from graduated ramps into the specially designed plunge pool. Half-day and full-day camps cover safety, trampoline practice and ramp jumping skills for athletes just starting out or already sending inverted aerials. The sunny poolside deck makes a pretty nice viewing arena for parental units to ponder Olympic dreams and be really goddamned thankful for helmets. All safety gear, wetsuits and ski/board equipment is provided by the program. The camp runs June-September; rates start at $195. (DD)
3419 Olympic Parkway, Park City, 435-658-4200,

Best place to go streaking because why not?
Bonneville Golf Course

Imagine: the moon is rising, you are alone (or with a friend, probably/preferably), you are barefoot and vulnerable, at an open, endless field. You begin to run, then scream, then smile, because you realize you are absolutely free and safe from the judgement of society. This is a great, but temporary, way to momentarily forget daily anxieties and stresses and return to the natural state of mankind: naked and wild. (JV)
954 Connor St., 801-583-9513,


Best Returned Missionaries
The Book of Mormon at Eccles Theater

The span between The Book of Mormon's button-pushing 2015 local debut and its 2017 return engagement were not the best two years for local theater enthusiasts, as those who missed the original sold-out run awaited the chance to see the cheerful musical skewering of the dominant local religion. However, that wait did mean the second time around could be in the gorgeous new Eccles Theater, offering a magnificent and comfortable setting for the sacrilege. The songs remained the same, and for many locals it was a great chance to say "Hello" to the venue. Next year promises another home run in the form of Hamilton, running April 11-May 6. (SR)
131 S. Main, 385-468-1010,

Best place to hear a story
Clubhouse on South Temple

Once a month, The Bee: Stories from the Hive hosts its wonderful themed storytelling competition, and the event, cofounded by Giuliana Serena, has received Best Of accolades before. So now's a chance to spotlight the storyteller's new home, the Clubhouse. It's an exquisite, historical venue that originally provided space to the Ladies Literary Club. Now, the spot doubles as a host to miscellaneous events and a photography studio. This fall, for example, the Clubhouse screened No Resolution, a film by Cursive frontman Tim Kasher, whose crooning acoustic set reverberated all the way to the back room's open bar. (DWH)
850 E. South Temple, 385-313-8285,

Best quirky roadside pit stop
Escalante Rock Shop

Don't be mislead by the sight of the nondescript turn-off on Route 12 near Escalante. It's the way to Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, one of Utah's most scenic natural areas—and the Escalante Rock Shop. Additionally, don't be concerned by the sight of the rock shop itself. It might be tiny and shack-like but inside is packed with archeological and geological wonders like petrified wood, dinosaur bone and minerals. The outside is chock full of goodies, too, with shelves and tables barely visible under their geological bounty. Owner Scott Nelson is a wealth of knowledge on Utah rocks and can help you find that special souvenir to take home. (SA)
475 N. Wide Hollow Reservoir Road, Escalante, 435-826-4796,

Best neighborhood at a tipping point
9th and 9th

If you haven't been to this leafy, toned burg in a while, now's the time to visit. What The Washington Post called the Brooklyn of Salt Lake City is in the midst of a passionate revival. Whether it's the crowd drinking at East Liberty Tap House, the local cognoscenti dining at Mazza, tattooed bicyclists nattering outside Coffee Garden, teenage girls from Rowland Hall picking at their gelato at Dolcetti Gelato or pizza-lovers rushing to wood-fired pizzeria Nono, there's an undeniable energy to the 9th and 9th neighborhood that's second to none. The tree-lined streets echo to buzz and laughter and while the annual street festival is always tinged with the coming of fall, there's also a gratitude that this funky little gathering place has finally found its feet. (SD)


Best place to step on toes
Salt Lake Swing

You'll promptly learn how to not step on your partner's toes under the helpful guidance of Salt Lake Swing's dance instructors, but accidents happen and are quickly forgiven. Join them each Wednesday at Prohibition for free intro lessons and dance the night away to music from locals Hot House West. If you're ready for something more in-depth, sign up for a class or two and prepare to swing it up wherever you might be. (SA)

Best pool fiend expansion
Poco Loco Swim Shop

For more than 20 years, Poco Loco has been serving swimmers in Utah and throughout the West, recognizing that individuals and teams are looking for quality products whether getting in the pool is a hobby or a calling. That success was reinforced in 2017, as Poco Loco acquired Midvale's Aquaholics to offer an additional location for its products and services. Swimsuits, caps, goggles, snorkels and more make every dip into the water a great one, and now it's even easier to get the good stuff. (SR)
1774 N. University Parkway No. 12, Provo, 801-375-3987; 583 E. Fort Union, Midvale, 801-849-0928;


Best place to find the perfect last-minute present
Capital City Antique Mall

We love the people close to us desperately, but everybody can relate to how easy it is to forget our friend's birthday. You've been thinking about their birthday for a month and were planning to buy them the absolute perfect gift: creative, slightly sophisticated and unique. However, the truth is that you kept delaying buying them that perfect present until the day of their birthday, and now you have on hour to find it. Well, the simple solution is to visit the Antique Mall, a large building filled with a variety of interesting items, varying in price range, size and style. You can find anything from 50-cent old photographs and funky jewelry to an old, but slightly functioning, bike. There is something for everybody at the Capital City Antique Mall. (JV)
959 S. West Temple, 801-521-7207,

Best spot for a backseat makeout
Sandy Civic Center Trax Station Parking Lot

On a good night, the Sandy Civic Center Trax Station's parking lot is filled with the perfect amount of cars: not too many, which would ruin the possibility of getting a spot with a standard number of two empty parking spots on either side, and not too few, because a lone car in an empty lot could pique a passerby's interest, and the Lord knows the last thing you want during a backseat makeout is to make an accidental voyeurist of someone. The optimal time for your backseat extravaganza (sorry, you can't exactly be spontaneous here) is between the times of 7 and 11 p.m., depending, of course, upon the seasonal time of the sunset. During this period, Trax-goers are usually at their nightly destination, and are not likely to do anything that would intrude on your backseat ... fun. Bring a sunshade for your front window and a water bottle for hydration, of course. If you don't have tinted windows, it's best to lie prostrate to the backseat. Most of all, have fun, you crazy kids, and thank UTA for providing a backseat makeout haven, something your 17-year-old self could have never dreamed of. (JF)
115 E. Sego Lily Drive, Sandy