Best of Utah 2019 | Our 30th annual ode to the people, places and businesses that make life in the Beehive State great. | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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    click to enlarge FUSE DRAGON
    • Fuse Dragon

    Best Spot to Contemplate World Peace
    International Peace Gardens
    Located alongside the Jordan River, the International Peace Gardens is a monument to unity and hope. The grounds, according to its website, "encourage pleasant wandering and meditation" as visitors take in the symbols, heritage and folklore from more than two-dozen countries. With garden architecture and native plantings in abundance, the space offers an opportunity for somber reflection on the value of international harmony, and a chance to celebrate other cultures with fellow globalists on Norwegian Constitution Day, or for the Swedish summer frolic. And in July, the Utah chapters of the Japanese American Citizens League host a picnic for students from Matsumoto, Salt Lake City's sister city. (KL) 1000 S. 900 West, 801-938-5326,

    Best Lost Piece of SLC Lore
    It was one of those only-in-SLC places. Down to its "Hobbitville" moniker, Allen Park was enveloped in mystery since its creation back in the 1930s. It was a place where Tolkien-approved mythical creatures lived. No, wait, its residents were actually human. More specifically, dwarves who had settled there after retiring from a circus show. In reality, it was an insular mixed-use space—half residential, half bird sanctuary, with a dose of outdoor folk art museum thrown in—conceived by Dr. George Allen along Emigration Creek. As City Weekly first reported back in January, its dwindling tenants were unceremoniously evicted and the property was caught in a probate court web. With interminable construction along 1300 East barring traffic from the park's main entrance, the future remains shrouded for this unique piece of gone-but-not-forgotten local lore. (EL)

    Best Place to Take in the Summer Solstice
    The Sun Tunnels
    The Sun Tunnels in the Great Basin Desert radiates an otherworldly vibe. And perhaps it's fitting they seem out of this world—they're meant to draw attention to the heavens. Created in the 1970s by artist Nancy Holt, the tunnels are sundials, monuments to four constellations, and frames for the summer and winter solstices. If you're up for a drive on the solstice in what feels like the middle of nowhere, you can watch the sun rise and set at one of Utah's most overlooked pieces of land art. (Kylee Ehmann)

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Retailer Rebirth
    The Gateway
    A couple of years back, it would have been easy to discount The Gateway as yet another ghostly concrete cathedral whose glory days had come and gone in the age of Amazon. Then, something happened. Pop-up art experiences like Love Letters and the sensorial (and highly Instagrammable) Dreamscapes, new murals aplenty, the arrival of adult playgrounds like Dave & Buster's and Punch Bowl Social and, oh yeah, the cooked-in-record-time Sunday Service staged by Kanye West in October, which drew an estimated 7,000 people to the space. You've got Yeezy's seal of approval, Gateway. And ours, too. (EL) 400 W. 100 South,

    Best Place to Pretend You're Nicolas Cage
    Wendover Airfield
    As part of a classified project dubbed Project W-47, military officers and scientists held practice runs for the Japan atomic bombings at this dusty outpost. Decades later, it was the setting for several scenes from the 1997 Nicolas Cage action flick, Con Air. Today the base houses a quaint museum full of WWII memorabilia, and there's also the rusted-out C-123 transport aircraft that Cage and his convict buddies rode in. It's parked right there on the airfield—anyone can jump into the cockpit and imitate Cage's Alabama accent while dreaming of freedom. (PH) 352 E. Airport Way, Wendover, Utah,

    Best Monstrous
    Multi-Use Trail
    Jordan River Parkway
    Whether you're walking, running or biking, meandering through the Jordan River Parkway is an ideal way to spend a lazy Sunday or blow off some steam after work. A 45-mile multiple use trail, the JRP features paved and equestrian trails, as well as connections to several neighborhoods' trails. It links together urban fishing ponds, cultural centers, shopping areas and parks, making it a good option for shoppers and families who want to travel to a nearby mall or play area without driving through the city. The trail is so long that, if you're really into water, you can hike from the Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake. (KL)

    Best Place to Get Your Art on Without Emptying Your Wallet
    Clever Octopus Creative Reuse Center
    Walking through the doors of the Reuse Center, artists are transported to a magical world where they can find just about anything. A thrift store for arts and crafts supplies, the shop is filled with a diverse variety of reusable materials. From the basics of paint and brushes to hard-to-find items such as vintage material and funky jewelry, there are supplies for artists, teachers and even parents looking for odds and ends. On a mission to send less waste to landfills, the shop encourages visitors to "Create art, waste less and save money." (Colette Finney) 4973 S. State, Murray, 801-441-0866,

    Best Hike to See Ancient Art
    Nine Mile Canyon
    Known colloquially as the "World's Longest Art Gallery," the inexplicably named Nine Mile Canyon has 40 miles of Native American petroglyphs from the Fremont and the Ute peoples, pioneer-era graffiti and a ghost town. Located between Myton and Wellington, visitors can hike up close to see art thousands of years old. Just remember not to touch—the oils on your hands can destroy petroglyphs. The hike is located about halfway through the canyon, but if you don't have the time or inclination to do it, there are many petroglyphs visible from the road. (KE)

    click to enlarge BACKROADSORBUST
    • backroadsorbust

    Best Place for Strolling Troubadours and Steamy Baths
    Mystic Hot Springs
    Off the beaten path in the tiny town of Monroe, travelers can find a funky oasis in the desert. Sink into a vintage tub swathed in overgrown rock formations while watching a sunset or a band perform on the "hill." If tubs aren't your thing, swim in one of two hot spring grottos of varying temperatures. Too relaxed to get back in the car? Overnight stays are welcome in converted school buses, campsites or rustic cabins. As they say at Mystic, "It's funky but functional." Groovy has new meaning as you tour the grounds and pass by a strolling troubadour strumming a guitar and singing. (CF) 475 E. 100 North, Monroe, 435-527-3286,

    Best Hike for Vertically Challenged Outdoor Lovers
    Oquirrh Lake Long Loop
    After being confined indoors for weeks due to broken ankle surgery, it was crucial for this nature lover to find a trail that could be maneuvered on a knee scooter. Discovering the paved Long Loop Trail around Oquirrh Lake in South Jordan is a gift from heaven for anyone with limited mobility. The well maintained trail is perfect for roaming at any pace. Edged with beautiful foliage, this picturesque shoreline is also wonderful for reading, picnicking and bird watching. There are even docks for avid fisherman looking for a bite. Street parking is available on Kestrel Rise Road between South Lake Avenue and 11400 South within the Daybreak neighborhood. (CF)

    Best Spot to Meet Doggy Daddies
    Tanner Park
    Anyone who enjoys men and dogs will want to wander over to Tanner Park. While not an official dog park, doggos are plentiful here. Leave any fancy expectations at the door. Basically, it's a giant dirt-and-gravel walking path that leads to a small swimming area for your furry friends. If you're lucky enough to possess a small or large yippy thing that requires walks, meeting dogs who have cutie men leashed to them isn't too difficult. About the men: If you're not into the "outdoorsy" type, this isn't the park for you. Instead, expect to encounter guys with some scruff and a couple of tattoos Throw in a good lint brush, and it'll be a match made in heaven. (KR) 2740 S. 2700 East, 385-468-7275

    Best Reminder Utahns Don't Forget Their History
    Topaz Museum
    During World War II, Japanese-Americans across the U.S. were taken into custody in fear they might sympathize with their home country and harbor ill will toward the U.S. They were placed in internment camps throughout the country, marking a dark civil rights chapter in U.S. history. One of those camps, Topaz, was located in Utah. In 2017, a museum meant to remind us of those horrors opened in Delta. More than 11,000 people were processed at Topaz. A visit to the museum is a stark reminder of what can happen if we're not mindful of xenophobia. (RH) 55 W. Main, Delta, 435-864-2514,

    Best Place to Experience Nature from Your Car
    Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
    Utah is known for its stunning natural views, but, unfortunately for those of us nature-lovers with bad knees, most require a truly unreasonable amount of walking to see. Enter the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge's 12-mile automobile-only tour. The drive offers stunning views of Utah's wetlands and the literally millions of birds from all over North and South America who make the area their home. There isn't a bad time to visit—spring and fall might have the broadest variety of feathered visitors, but the summer brings baby birds and the winter brings bald eagles and great blue herons. (KE) 2155 W. Forest St., Brigham City, 435-723-5887

    click to enlarge JEFF TURNER
    • Jeff Turner

    Best Ghost Town
    Maybe it's because he undermines Utah's prudish reputation or maybe it's because outlaws are just kind of cool on an aesthetic level, but Utah is populated with markers and monuments associated with the Utah-born outlaw Butch Cassidy. None of these are quite as cinematic as Grafton. Originally a Mormon pioneer settlement, the few remaining buildings were part of the set of the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Visitors can walk through most of the buildings and tour the nearby historic cemetery all while taking in the dramatic red cliffs of the nearby Zion National Park. (KE)

    Best Weird Family Attraction
    Ogden's George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park
    OK, I know people died terribly in the Jurassic Park movies, but that doesn't erase the fact that I want to pet dinosaurs. Until science can figure out how to let us do this without being eaten, we'll have to make do with Ogden's Dinosaur Park. For $5-$7, you can watch an animatronic T-rex face down a triceratops, climb on prehistoric creatures at the playground, and walk under and around massive dinosaur sculptures. The park also leans hard into spooky season every October with thousands of lights illuminating giant cobweb and silly skeleton décor while kids trick-or-treat. (KE) 1544 E. Park Blvd., Ogden, 801-393-3466,

    Best Place to Avoid Inversions and Smoky Wildfires
    West Jordan Library
    Just one of many in the area, the West Jordan Library provides the perfect place to escape the harmful valley air during the onset of inversions and wildfires by offering an indoor refuse. No matter what your age, the facility is a passport to possibilities with a large variety of entertaining materials, a children's area, book clubs, and arts and crafts. A library card is only necessary to access free Wi-Fi on one of their computers or checking materials out. Connected to the Viridian Event Center which provides free classes, concerts and movies, there are fun activities for anyone in the family. (CF) 8030 S. 1825 West, West Jordan, 801-943-4636

    Best National Park Field Station
    Capitol Reef Field Station
    There are not many places in Salt Lake where you can get away from the light and air pollution obstructing Utah's scenery and the constellations which always shine bright. Some 200 miles south from the city is the Capitol Reef National Park Field Station (CRFS). The unobstructed view of the sandstone mountains and scenic pastures in the small secluded valley where the field station sits, makes it a phenomenal place. Aside from the unsurpassed views, it offers opportunities to learn about the "natural and cultural legacies of the Colorado Plateau." CRFS is a partnership between Utah Valley University and Capitol Reef National Park, making UVU one of 10 universities in the U.S. to have a field station in a national park. The university utilizes the site's sustainable and environmentally friendly design as a teaching tool. Part of the field station's mission is to "provide its visitors with educational experiences that are as remarkable as the landscape in which they occur," the website says. CRFS site manager Joe Ceradini mans the site and welcomes students to lodge at the site as an opportunity to live feasibly and connect with the landscape. (Erik Hight)

    Best Place to Take a Bathroom Break During a Road Trip
    Cove Fort
    Anyone who has made the drive between St. George and Salt Lake City knows that the long stretches between towns can be hell on your bladder. There often aren't even truck stops to brave going into. Cove Fort is a blessing in this wilderness. Located roughly 20 miles from a town in any direction at the junction of I-15 and I-70, it offers incredibly clean and well-maintained bathrooms and refreshing, cool drinking fountains. Oh, and there's a 152-year-old fort made of volcanic rock across the street. Visitors can take a free tour to walk through this fort that was restored and is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (KE) 435-438-5547,

    click to enlarge DEREK CARLISLE
    • Derek Carlisle

    Best Escape From the City Without Leaving the City Limits
    SLC Main Library
    A reader's paradise notwithstanding, the fifth floor of the library offers a portal to paradise on their rooftop terrace. With 360 degree views of the mountains, it flaunts an open-air respite for those longing to flee the city without spending a dime. Absent the maddening street noise, one can take a seat on the benches or check out the beautiful garden. Better yet, pick up a coffee or lunch from a shop below to pair with your favorite book as you sink into serenity. On a clear night, aim for the bewitching hour of sunset and you won't be disappointed. (CF) 210 E. 400 South, 801-524-8200,

    Best Real-Life Version of Rainbow Road
    Lehi I-15 construction
    Mama Mia! That's a lot of construction. For those in Utah County, the stretch of freeway between American Fork and Lehi is a thrill-ride to say the least. Who needs Disneyland or Lagoon when just a ride over the bumps and uneven pavement can send cars flying into the air and in typical Utah fashion. See who can go the fastest to get the high score. (EGW)

    Best Nerd's Night Out
    Evermore Park
    Evermore is most accurately described as what would happen if a low-stakes Dungeons & Dragons game came to life. Guests are encouraged to explore, watch performances and go on quests for the fairy, goblin and dragon-trainer characters that roam the vaguely European-village setting. While part of the park is under construction, it is easy to ignore the dust by getting lost in the immersive world of the park. The park is currently entering its fall "Lore" season ($12-$29 a ticket), which serves up a haunted and spooky vibe. The park is open Monday, Friday, Saturday 6-11 p.m. (KE) 382 S. Evermore Lane, Pleasant Grove,

    Best New Ogden Happenings Hub
    The Monarch
    While Salt Lake City gets most of the attention for big arts events in Utah, you shouldn't discount Ogden as a vibrant place for art, dining and all manner of lively happenings. The latest addition to Ogden's 25th Street is an ambitious project that completely renovated the historic Monarch Building, turning it into a combination of event venue, showcase for art installations courtesy O1ARTS, and location for the new WB's Eatery wine bar and coffeehouse. The November grand opening promises to be just the beginning for another exciting place to be reminded that Ogden has a lot to boast about. (SR) 455 25th St., Ogden,

    Best Place to Watch a Show
    Gallivan Center
    I know Ogden Twilight has kind of overshadowed Salt Lake's Twilight Concert Series in terms of popularity, but it's quite lovely watching concerts at the outdoor Gallivan Center. The sun goes down to the soundtrack of rhymes from Vince Staples or the pulsing rock of Courtney Barnett. Off in the distance are the glowing lights from the Walker Center. People are watching across the block from the great height of a parking structure, the sound of music reverberating off city walls. You're right in the center of town, but you may as well be at the center of the universe. (PH) 239 S. Main,

    Best Place to Listen to Music with 20,000 of Your Closest Friends
    Usana Amphitheatre
    There's certainly a value to intimate live music experiences, getting you up close and personal with the performers. But there's something uniquely electrifying about being part of a massive music party, joining with a huge crowd in enjoying the work of some of the most popular and storied music acts in the world. Even if you're far from the stage, you can still feel that, for a summer night, you're in the middle of something special. (SR) 5150 S. 5600 West, West Valley City,

    click to enlarge ENRIQUE LIMÓN
    • Enrique Limón

    Best Smelling Street in SLC
    Regent Street
    Between the smells from Pretty Bird's fried chicken and Last Course's fresh-baked waffle cones, Regent Street is by far the best smelling street in all of downtown. If I were on the Downtown Alliance, I would figure out a way to turn that smell into a scented candle and sell it at tourist shops throughout the city. Within no time, Regent Street candles would become so popular they would be named SLC's signature scent (move over, fry sauce air freshener). The city could then use the candle profits to fund a solution for SLC's (otherwise) un-breathable air. (AP)

    Best Place To Catch the STD of the Sea
    Lake Powell
    As popular as mussels are on a restaurant menu, they are significantly less so when it comes to the infestation, and destruction they cause in our lakes. Hence being termed the STD (Skiff-Transmitted Disease) of the sea, with Powell being on the list of afflicted lakes. So if Lake Powell is on your hit-it list for lake hopping, you might want to double bag your boat—or no other lake will have you. In reality, you will be allowed to boat elsewhere, but only after thorough and time-consuming inspections, and a solid scrub down. Allowing your boat a bit of a dry spell before docking from one lake to the next is also highly recommended. (AP)

    Best Place to Pick up Free Furniture
    The Beach in Front of the Great Saltair
    Spent your entire savings securing a new apartment with zero dollars to furnish? Take a drive down to the beach in front of the Great Saltair and you will find a variety of pieces to drag off the lakeshore and into your new abode. If you don't mind the coating of salty sand, these weather-beaten pieces have already been broken in so you don't have to worry about pesky spills or stiffness. No need for furniture? Take a seat and the boats go by or pucker up for a one-of-a-kind selfie. (CF) 12408 W. Saltair Drive, Magna

    Best Place to Attempt a World Record
    Great Salt Lake Marina
    In the summer of 2019, staff at the Great Salt Lake Marina wanted to drum up support and awareness for the unique body of water to Salt Lake City's west. Its wetlands are threatened by development (the inland port, for example) and its salt flats where countless land speed records have been set are shrinking. So what better way than to invite thousands out to the marina in Magna to attempt a world record? In 2017, 1,941 people gathered in Argentina at its Lake Epecuen to set the record for the most people floating in a line, unassisted, at one time. Unfortunately, Salt Lake's attempt fell more than 1,000 people short. Here's to trying that record next year! (RH) 1075 S. 13312 West, Magna, 801-250-1898,

    Best Otherworldly Campground
    Three Peaks Recreation Area
    There's something rather Mars-like about Three Peaks, a high desert getaway located about 10 miles outside Cedar City. The main campground overlooks a mountain range that stands off in the distance, reflecting the rays of sunset like some sort of wild man's mirror. Off-road vehicles and rock-climber cars clamber over giant volcanic stones nearby, and deep in the night you can gaze into the universe, pointing out the planets over the crackles of a campfire. It's also a great place to get abducted by aliens, or just talk about aliens, as I experienced when I went here for this year's Utah UFO Fest. (PH)

    click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Place To Get Worked
    Rocksteady Bodyworks
    Whether you sign up for a yoga class or strap yourself to one of the pilates torture devices, Rocksteady's classes will sweat out your toxins while building your strength. For the record, I loathe working out, yet regardless of how sore I am the day after, or how many times I promise myself I'll never return. There I am a week later—a once a week workout is sufficient—back at it thinking to myself, "Thank you Ms., may I have another?" (AP) 4689 Holladay Blvd., Holladay, 801-277-9166,

    Best Way To Stay Off the Needle
    Align Spa
    I'm not really sure how Botox became a thing, but I imagine the inventors often heard their parents say, "Stop, or your face will freeze that way." Regardless, if you find yourself wanting to slow your roll with injectable face poison, Align's Dermasound Ultra Facial just might be the answer to your aging woes. At roughly the same cost of poking your face with a needle, this facial is significantly more relaxing (sans the extractions portion), and will leave your skin with the youthful glow you didn't appreciate naturally having in your 20s. (AP) 1792 Bonanza Drive, Ste. 130, Park City, 435-647-9300,

    Best Place to Camp Within Minutes of the Wasatch Front
    Silver Lake Flat
    Need a quick weekend getaway after leaving the office on Friday? Head up past Mount Timpanogos east of Lehi. The drive isn't far—maybe 30 minutes to an hour depending where you live on the Wasatch Front—and when you get there, you'll find pristine bodies of water, hiking trails and plenty of camping spots. If you're looking to find an even more remote place, head up the dirt road above the Tibble Fork area to find Silver Lake Flat. It might be hard to believe the place is so close to the bustling urban hellscape, but it's a place you can disconnect and feel hours away from your responsibilities. (RH)

    Best Place With a Heart
    The Inn Between
    The not-in-my-backyard folk came out in force this past year dreading the move of a homeless hospice to Salt Lake City's east side. There was the typical fear-mongering of more crime and drugs. But anyone who knows about The Inn Between, knows the people receiving care there just need some compassion and a roof over their head. They're not heading out in search of their next score. These are people suffering from cancer and the like while they face the end of their life. The Inn Between is there to serve, and in this era of over-the-top outrage, we could all use a little more compassion. (RH) 1216 E. 1300 South, 801-410-8314,

    Best Place to Ride the Trails
    Corner Canyon
    The trail system near point-of-the-mountain in Draper was built with accessible outdoor activities, and for many, mountain biking in mind. Before the park was established in 2005, there was potential for the land to be sold to a developer with the intention to build 1,200 homes. But public land advocates and the city came together to secure the land, forego a windfall of property tax revenue and create something accessible for everyone. With more than 30 trails to choose from, the maze of winding trails has options for all skill levels. Try the popular Rush Trail (downhill only) to experience the rush of downhill mountain biking. (RH)

    Best Spa to Treat Yo Self
    The Kura Door
    After the thorough and painstaking research of trying multiple spas in the Salt Lake Valley, I've concluded that no place pampers like The Kura Door. The second you slip off your shoes, and walk through the sliding doors, all stress melts away. From the Ofuro tub soaks ($49 for 45 minutes) to the tiny dishes of dried apricots and almonds, and cozy robes. It is impossible to book a treatment and not leave feeling like a million bucks ... so go on, treat yo self. (AP) 1136 3rd Ave., 801-364-2400,

    click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
    • Courtesy Photo

    Best Place To Lose Your Child
    Museum of Natural Curiosity
    Not only does this museum conjure curiosity and wonder for young minds, but it often leaves parents wondering. Where in the hell is my child? Tiny human will-power is futile when surrounded by the sound studio, vet shop, puppet theater, Lego room and more. As one kid zags right, the other will zag left, and regardless of the number of years you previously judged parents with a child leashed to a teddy bear backpack, less than five minutes in this museum, and you, too, might find yourself pondering, "I wonder if they make them in blue?" (AP) 3605 Garden Drive, Lehi, 801-768-2300,

    Best Shop for Channelling Your Crunchy Side
    Arts of the World Gallery
    Step inside this shop and it's like you've arrived at a bustling market in a magical port town: The shelves are stocked with rings, necklaces, handbags, bamboo flutes, art pieces and handicrafts from lands far and wide, including Thailand, Indonesia and West Africa. The business first opened as a Renaissance faire booth in 1990 and since then it's established close relationships with artisans and vendors, meaning your dollars spent here will help support the work of non-corporate craftspeople across the globe. (PH) 802 S. 600 East, 801-532-8035,

    Best Only Semi-Awkward First Date
    Any avid dater would get excited when dates don't start with a genius idea, such as, "let's grab a drink" or "let's hang out." So, grab a bottle of your favorite liquor/wine/whatever drink, do a little "pre-game" and Lyft on over to Nickelcade. Make sure it's later in the evening, so all the kiddos have left the almost-forgotten arcade. When the libations hit, feel free to let your inner-child out. Save your boring work convo for another day and engage in a dance off with your date while playing Dance, Dance Revolution. By night's end, combine your tickets and pick out a piece of memorabilia that'll let you reminisce on that time you met your feature beau (or, you know, added a new name to your block list). (KR) 4160 S. Redwood Road, 801-966-1213,

    Best Bar to Find Refuge From the Mormons on NFL Sundays
    The Green Pig Pub
    There are few things more fulfilling in Salt Lake City than donning an NFL jersey, biking past all the churchgoers and joining your fellow sinners at The Green Pig Pub on Sunday mornings around 11 a.m., just before the first slew of the day's games begin. You can feel the vivacious sense of rebellion as soon as you walk through the doors and order your first PBR pounder, munching on the delicious brunch as you laugh with your friends at the knowledge you'll all be going to hell, but at least you didn't have to spend your earthly Sundays at Mass. (KL)
    31 E. 400 South, 801-532-7441,

    Best Late Night with Kids
    Red Butte's Garden After Dark
    SLC is full of family friendly Halloween fun, but Garden After Dark is hands down the best! As an annual tradition, 2019 marked my fams' ninth year attending this spook-tacular event, and the garden has never disappointed. The hot cocoa stations help keep you warm, as you and your littles go from one activity station to the next. This year's Trouble in Oz theme was (as always) on point as we followed the yellow brick road to search for flying monkeys, and stopped in the Ozdust ballroom to meet Dorothy, Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West. If you missed it this year, there's always next. (AP) 300 Wakara Way, 801-585-0556,

    Readers' Choice
    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best All-Ages Venue
    Kilby Court
    Every great music city worth its salt—and not just Salt Lake City—needs a place where those not yet of drinking age can get an indoctrination into the thrill of seeing live performances. The intimate space of Kilby Court, run by Will Sartain (pictured, left) and Lance Saunders (pictured, right), has been providing that place for 20 amazing years, which the venue celebrated this year with a massive block party. That event was like a microcosm of what Kilby has been all about since its inception: a mix of touring and local acts, up close and personal with fans who want to feel the sweat fly, interact with their idols and fall in love with music. 741 S. Kilby Court,
    2. Diabolical Records
    3. Red Butte Garden

    Best Concert of the Year
    It may not be necessary for a great concert experience to be attached to a great cause, but it often doesn't hurt. The sense of shared purpose at the annual LoveLoud concert—created by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds to support LGBTQ+ youth in Utah, and which celebrated its third installment in 2019—adds an emotional power to a day of music that also includes speakers and calls to action. As the event has grown from an Orem ballpark to USANA Amphitheater, and attracts headliners like Kesha, it remains a demonstration of what artists can do when they use their celebrity to do good.
    2. Flaming Lips
    3. Death Cab For Cutie

    Best Dance Company
    Ballet West
    For more than 55 years, Ballet West has brought some of the world's most beautiful dancing to downtown Salt Lake City—but it's much more than century-old classics. Although every season offers classic works like the beloved holiday presentation of The Nutcracker or the 2019 production of John Cranko's Onegin, the company shows its commitment to innovative new work annually with world premieres at its spring Choreographic Festival. It's a wonderful place to find both a celebration of the past and a recognition of amazing new works of movement still to come. Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South,
    2. Odyssey Dance Theatre
    3. Repertory Dance Theatre

    Best DJ
    DJ Juggy
    Step aside, kids: There are some things you want a veteran pro to handle. California transplant DJ Juggy (aka Ryan Alfaro) has been spinning in Utah since the 2002 Olympics were in town, and has built his status to the point where he became a regular at Utah Jazz and Salt Lake Bees games. If you want to get moving to his music, check out his regular gigs at SLC's Bourbon House and Park City's Downstairs.
    2. Jimmy Chunga
    3. Brad Wheeler

    Best Drag Entertainer
    Jason CoZmo
    He's graced a City Weekly cover in full Dolly Parton regalia, so it's no surprise that our readers know about Jason. But the Utah native isn't just a pretty face. His versatility is on display in multiple showcases that bring to life not just divas like The Divine Miss Dolly, but a wide range of Disney princesses—cashing in on CoZmo's history as a Disneyland performer—in a show that isn't exactly kid-friendly. The costumes may be part of the fabulousness, but entertaining crowds is all about showing off your big ... talents.
    2. Sister Molly Mormon
    3. Gia Bianca Stephens

    Best Friend of the Arts
    Urban Arts Gallery
    What does it mean to be a "friend of the arts?" In part, maybe it means putting together opportunities for as many people in the community to participate in the arts. That includes the Urban Arts Festival, a free event that places no financial barrier on allowing interested visitors to experience a wide range of arts experiences. And it includes the monthly Connect pop-up exhibitions, which allow artists to bring in two of their works for free, so that they can be seen by the public. Art belongs to all of us, and helping facilitate that ... well, that's what friends are for. 116 S. Rio Grande St., 801-230-0820,
    2. The Eccles Family
    3. Craft Lake City

    click to enlarge JOSH SCHEUERMAN
    • Josh Scheuerman

    Best Live Music Venue
    Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre
    A live music venue can be spectacular, and still offer nothing you really want to see; a live music venue can offer great music, but be a miserable place to try to enjoy it. What makes Red Butte Garden's amphitheater so special is that it offers the best of both. The 2019 season presented more than 30 live acts, from the 1980s nostalgia of Stray Cats, Howard Jones and the B-52s to contemporary Americana like Mandolin Orange and Shakey Graves. And all of it happens nestled in the Wasatch foothills on glorious summer evenings, where you can enjoy the show with your own picnic and beverages from home. 2155 Red Butte Canyon Road, 801-585-0556,
    2. Usana Amphitheatre
    3. The Depot

    Best Gallery
    Urban Arts Gallery
    Every gallery has its own distinctive sensibility and place in the community, but our readers love the inclusive vibe of Urban Arts Gallery. Its exhibitions incorporate popular culture, like in the fantasy-themed Spellbound show and the annual Star Wars-themed showcase, plus turning practical objects like skateboards into works of visual art, helping feed the idea that creativity isn't just something for a highfalutin crowd. Plus, it's wonderful to get an exhibition dedicated to work by Utah's art teachers and their students. 116 S. Rio Grande St., 801-230-0820,
    2. Phillips Art Gallery
    3. Modern West

    Best Instagram Feed
    The Salt Project
    In a place as full of families with children as Utah, it's nice to have people pointing you toward the best activities and places to take your little ones. The Salt Project showcases images of interesting, often out-of-the-way places—from public parks, to parades, to outdoor locations—with an emphasis on those that are fun for the whole family. And food, of course; what would Instagram be without it? It's a great resource for anyone who needs a reminder that Utah is a great place to stay-cation.
    2. Iconoclad
    3. Salt Plate City

    Best Local Band/Group
    Royal Bliss
    After more than 20 years, it's easy to take Royal Bliss for granted; media does tend to gravitate toward the young upstarts. But Neal Middleton and company just keep rocking through the years, despite the ups and downs of gaining and losing record contracts, medical crises and just the stuff of growing older. While they're established enough to have their very own home venue at The Royal, they also proved in 2019 that they haven't lost their fire with a crunching new self-titled album. As one of its tunes aptly puts it, "Hard and Loud" is still how they like it.
    2. Zac Ivie
    3. Ginger and the Gents

    Best Museum
    Natural History Museum of Utah
    When you visit the gleaming copper building of the Natural History Museum of Utah's Rio Tinto Center, there's no way to avoid realizing it's absolutely the Natural History Museum of Utah. The exhibits give particular attention and celebration to our state—the people who first called it home, the creatures that have lived (and continue to live) here, its climate and ecosystems. Exhibitions look into the past and toward the future, with interactive opportunities to consider greater sustainability. Through spring of 2020, celebrate the institution's 50th anniversary with Nature All Around Us, a further reminder of the local natural world with which we're all intertwined. 301 Wakara Way, 801-581-4303,
    2. The Leonardo
    3. Utah Museum of Fine Art

    click to enlarge CHRIS MADSEN
    • Chris Madsen

    Best Visual
    Cat Palmer
    Professional photographers occupy a unique artistic place, balancing a commercial market for their work at events like weddings and the opportunity to do weird and creative things. Cat Palmer has always excelled at both. You'll see her work everywhere, from the pictures of your favorite local bands to promotional images for businesses like Ruby Snap cookies. Yet she's also the imagination behind works like the Last Supper-styled "12 Badasses of Salt Lake City," or politically-charged pieces against the backdrop of the Salt Flats or the State Capitol. It's a rare combo to find that mix of absolute professionalism and a real rebel spark.
    2. Sril Art
    3. Josh Scheuerman

    Best Music Festival
    Das Energi
    EDM is all about a pulsing feeling that turns a crowd into a living organism, moving together in euphoric rhythm. Bring some of the genre's biggest names together for a two-day extravaganza, and you've got an experience that's hard to match. The 2019 incarnation of Das Energi turned The Great Saltair into an electronic explosion of acts including Galantis, Above & Beyond, Seven Lions and more than 40 other acts on multiple stages, allowing delighted fans to celebrate into the sweat-soaked wee hours of an August night.
    2. Ogden Twilight
    3. Country Fanfest

    Best Piece of Public Art
    Spiral Jetty
    Even when it was hidden from view by the Great Salt Lake, it was comforting to know that it was there. Robert Smithson's celebrated 1970 work of land art in Box Elder County remains a tourist destination that suggests an almost alien creation, curling its 6,000 tons of basalt rock into the distance as the edges of the stones crust over with salt. Walking its length can become an act of meditation, recognizing both the power of humans to alter the landscape, and the power of the landscape to reclaim and alter the work of humans.
    2. Mural Fest Murals
    3. Harvey Milk Mural

    Best Record Shop
    Randy's Records
    According to Rolling Stone and the Recording Industry Association of America, 2019 will mark the first year in more than three decades that music on vinyl will outsell music on CDs. So what better place to celebrate that resurgence of the classic format than at Utah's oldest independent vinyl retailer? The massive selection of new and used LPs and 45s truly indicates the 40-year history of Randy Stinson's pride and joy, as well as providing turntables and supplies for keeping all of that freshly-popular vinyl clean and in perfect condition. 157 E. 900 South, 801-532-4413,
    2. Graywhale
    3. Diabolical Records

    Best Theater Company
    Salt Lake Acting Co.
    On the doorstep of its 50th season in 2020, Salt Lake Acting Co. continues to be a showcase for risk-taking contemporary theater, whether it originates on New York stages or with playwrights here in our own backyard. And as much as "something for the whole family" seems like a cliche, what other phrase is there for a company that can find a place both for a kid-friendly annual holiday production and the raunchy, taboo-busting, iconoclastic glory of Saturday's Voyeur? We're lucky to have a place that, in reactionary times, isn't afraid to keep pushing the envelope and finding audiences who are excited to ride along with them on that journey. 168 W. 500 North, 801-363-7522,
    2. Pioneer Theatre Co.
    3. Desert Star


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