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DOWNTOWN, TEMPLE SQUARE, THE AVENUES, U OF U
Many a Salt Lake grandma will reminisce about bygone days of lunches at ZCMI, an engagement ring purchased on Main Street and marble-floored department stores that no longer exist today. Perhaps she conveniently forgets that Regent Street was once a red-light district, but, oh, how she remembers getting tea downtown with friends on Thursday afternoons. Downtown continues to evolve. Blocks south of Temple Square are in clouds of dust while residents await the LDS Church’s 2011 unveiling of its mixed-use, 20-acre, billion dollar project called City Creek Center that includes retail, office and residential space. Meanwhile, art and antique dealers on Broadway (or 300 South) attract “Shop Local” supporters and The Gateway draws trendier and higher-end boutique shoppers. Salt Lake’s hip—or hippie—families have always called the old brick houses and eye-popping views of The Avenues home. Further east, the University of Utah is a focal point for college sports, concerts, plays, talks and exhibitions. Happily, TRAX and a good pair of sneakers will get you anywhere in this swath of urbania.
The Beehive Tea Room & Wedding Library (12 W. 300 South) and Sam Weller’s Zion Bookstore (254 S. Main): Perhaps downtown hasn’t changed as much as Granny thinks. The Beehive Tea Room provides an exquisite escape from harsh February afternoons. Peruse its extensive tea and drink list (including beer), select an American or European hot chocolate and sink into a plush velvet chair. Just around the corner, Sam Weller’s offers the perfect complement to afternoon tea with its inexpensive Jane Austen paperbacks and Utah book collection. Nor have the owners of the Beehive and Sam Weller’s overlooked their compatibility—they teamed up recently to host a Nancy Drew Book Club.
The Italian District (300 West and 300 South): Tony Caputo worked hard with like-minded Italians to create this block, which includes Caputo’s Market and Deli, Aquarius Fish Market and Carlucci’s Bakery. The district is sandwiched (pun intended, Tony) between the Pioneer Park and Pierpont Avenue’s bohemian art studios and shops, making it an ideal lunch location.
Lamb’s Grill (169 S. Main): The ultimate downtown dining experience, complete with old wooden booths, linen tablecloths and rice pudding of great renown.
Main Library (210 E. 400 South): With one of the world’s largest ‘zine collections, a local music shelf in the audiovisual department and a lovely staff of 20-something-in-the-knows who keep the library vibrant, it’s little wonder this was the Library of the Year in 2006.
State Street was a favored Friday night joyride location until city police department cracked down. Now it’s a favored and funky Saturday afternoon shopping stroll. Think of State Street as downtown’s rebellious offspring. Though it actually crosses the city center and continues north until dead-ending at the Capitol steps, State Street’s commercial drag begins just south of 200 South. From smoke shops and pawn shops to taco stands located along side streets and an array of bars and taverns, State Street’s offerings are anything but ordinary. The interesting quality of State Street lies in its combined creative and more traditional commercial businesses.
Decades (627 S. State): Decade’s Vintage Clothing is, without a doubt, the cr%uFFFDme de la cr%uFFFDme of second-hand shopping. The owners packed the store with every imaginable item: a large men’s section, antique dresses, hundreds of vintage hats and stoles, and the shoes, oh my! Everything is surprisingly affordable, but the task may be a little daunting. Going through all of the rows of clothing could take days. Still, you’re guaranteed to walk out with a few one-of-a-kind items.
Children’s Theatre & School of the Arts (237 S. State): Maybe it’s just sentimental, but something about seeing Roald Dahl’s The B.F.G. performed appeals. The Utah Children’s Theatre, now in its 23rd year, has made some recent changes (including a move up State Street) but still offers a season of plays. The staff also teaches children’s summer camps, an ideal summer activity for your favorite drama queen or king.
Shanghai Café (145 E. 1300 South): Here’s a vegetarian and vegan friendly Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant perfect for a late night feast with friends. Try any dish containing the strangely delicious vegan chicken. Despite all logic, you won’t regret it.