In years past, you might have expected to see a City Weekly Summer Guide issue sometime in May. Of course, years past were different because, well... [gestures broadly at everything].
As recently as late spring, it wasn't entirely clear if Summer 2021 would be a depressing instant replay of Summer 2020. But while we're still in a precarious position with those who remain unvaccinated and an aggressive COVID-19 variant on the loose, enough of a semblance of normalcy has returned that we can think about getting back to some of the activities we might have avoided over the past 16 months. And really, summer is more of a mindset than a particular set of dates on the calendar.
With that in mind, we welcome you (cautiously) back into the wider world during this toasty, roasty Utah summer with our better-late-than-never Summer Guide. Explore the Jordan River Parkway, or get out to some of the paddling spots just a short drive from home. Relax at a refreshing Utah spa, or learn how to have a fun (and fire-danger-safe) camping experience. Meet some of the local purveyors of food and beverage you can find at farmers' markets, find the best spots for a patio dinner or plan some of the most worthwhile road trips for a cooling summer treat. Dig deeper into our pages and you can prepare your activities calendar with summer concerts, summer arts festivals and summer movies.
Until those first snows start to fall, we're all going to be making up for lost time and celebrating a small sense of liberation. Play smart, play safe, but definitely play—and allow us to help remind you that, even in a crazy world, finding time to play is OK.
Arts & Entertainment editor
Rollin' with our Homies
Be blasé about it if you wish, but the 40-mile-long Jordan River Parkway is the urban adventure you've been waiting for.
By Benjamin Wood
With the summer months comes the annual Tour de France bike race and a particular itch in my legs to set out on a long ride. Thanks to the Jordan River Parkway Trail, we in Salt Lake County have easy access to roughly 40 miles of car-free biking and if you travel north, it's mostly downhill.
Here's a few of my favorite stops along the trail between the Lehi Frontrunner Station and the City Weekly offices on 200 South. And if biking isn't your transportation method of choice, most of these points of interest are just as nice—or even nicer—by foot or boat. Or just drive to the nearest trail access parking lot with your picnic basket, walk a few steps and get set for an afternoon of hanging out.
Test your incline skills as you pass through Bluffdale on the hilliest portion of the parkway, climbing from the edge of Thanksgiving Point up into the foothills west of the river and offering a unique view of Point of the Mountain that you can really only see by train or trail.
But fair warning, the parkway connections here are less-than-ideal, with what seems like an obvious bend in the trail sending you instead to a dead-end parking lot, and a current construction detour that puts you up alongside a canal with no clear return path. Keep your wits about you and don't worry when the trail disappears entirely, setting you up for a fast descent along Iron Horse Boulevard where you'll pick the parkway back up at the bottom.
Mile markers: 8-12, approximately
Nearest parking access: 1100 W. Jordan Narrows Road, Bluffdale
Galena Soo'nkahni Preserve
After you've crossed under Bangerter Highway into Draper, the next section of the parkway features miles of wide-open, relatively undeveloped land. Traffic on the trail picks up here—both the human and animal variety—as the area is popular among cyclists, runners and equestrians and prone to wildlife encounters.
It's also a convenient trailhead if you'd prefer not to start in Utah County (and who could blame you?) with quick access from the Draper Frontrunner Station. Starting your trip there will still include the bulk of the parkway trail's offerings, although you will miss out on some of the Lehi-Bluffdale bragging rights.
Mile marker: 15
Nearest parking access: 14600 S. 1220 West, Riverton
SoJo Story Walks
South Jordan has a string of lovely parks along its river segment, with fishing ponds, playgrounds, picnic areas and plenty of shade for a rest stop. But it's the Story Walks installation that always catches my eye, with pages from children's books displayed on fence posts, allowing you to read a short story as you run, walk or roll by.
The story walk is currently oriented toward south-traveling parkway users, meaning you'd have to turn around and backtrack if you're heading downhill toward Salt Lake City. But it's a short enough—and shady enough—detour to make it worth your while, particularly if you're traveling with the whole family.
Mile marker: Between 20 and 21
Nearest parking access: 10900 S. Riverfront Parkway, South Jordan
Kennecott Nature Center
Murray's river corridor is equipped with a series of wetland boardwalks, nature paths and observation decks, the largest of which doubles as an educational center for the city's schools. Its rooftop patio offers one of the most expansive views of the Jordan River, and just a few minutes ride north brings you to the confluence of Little Cottonwood Creek, one of the more popular river access points for kayakers.
Mile marker: 28-31, approximately
Nearest parking access: 5044 S. Lucky Clover Lane (825 West), Murray
- Tracey Aviary
Tracy Aviary Jordan River Nature Center
A recent addition to the parkway trail, the Tracy Aviary satellite location at South Salt Lake's James Madison Park comes just before the parkway trail passes under 3300 South and is a prime stopping point to rest before the final stretch into downtown. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the nature center has both bathrooms and a water refill station.
Mile marker: Between 32 and 33
Nearest parking access: James Madison Oxbow Park, 3300 S. 1100 West, South Salt Lake
International Peace Gardens
As city parks go, Liberty Park and Pioneer Park get most of the attention, but don't skip out on Jordan Park and its globally themed botanical gardens if you're passing through on the west side. With each parcel dedicated to a different nation, the gardens showcase a variety of floral and architectural styles, all bounded by a tree-lined bend in the river.
Another busy section of the parkway trail, keep an eye out for the usual cyclists and joggers, as well as frequent photo shoots—for weddings, quinceaneras, Instagrammers, etc.—that occasionally spill out onto the paved path.
Mile marker: 37, approximately
Nearest parking access: Jordan Park, 1060 S. 900 West, SLC
9 Line Bike Park
If you're headed to the east side, one of the better routes to take is the 9-Line trail, which juts off of the Jordan River Parkway after Jordan Park. Eventually the 9-Line will be a fully developed, multi-use corridor bridging the two halves of the city. But for now, you can enjoy the built-out west segment and imagine what may one day be as you head into downtown.
Before you pass under the freeway and over the train tracks, take a break at the 9 Line Bike Park and, depending on the type of bike you're riding, take a lap on the beginner-level pump track or maybe even "send it" down one of the intermediate-to-expert jump lines. Even if hang time isn't in the cards for you, there's almost always someone running the jumps that you can watch while you refill at the drinking fountain.
Mile marker: N/A
Nearest parking access: 700 W. 900 South, SLC