LDS patriarch Brigham Young may have been one of the first trailblazers to crest the Salt Lake Valley and say, "Let's stop here—this is the place." But he wasn't the only one. If you ponder the reasons why you're here, it's likely that, you, too, came to the same conclusion: This may be the place for you, too.
Perhaps you're just passing through, taking in the sights. Savor your stay, then, because Salt Lake City has much to offer.
But if you plant yourself here, beware: This enclave will grow on you.
This is the place where you can study at the University of Utah's 1,500-acre campus and cheer on its Pacific-12 conference sports teams. You can watch legislators grind bills into law on Capitol Hill or hobnob with film stars at the Sundance Film Festival. You can walk out your front door and be on a ski slope or hiking trail within minutes, or soak up world-class theater and dance, dine on outrageously tasty and diverse cuisine and fill your social calendar with top-drawer concerts and comedians.
Our neighborhoods themselves remain a large part of Salt Lake City's charm. The nearly 200,000 souls who reside in Salt Lake City proper take great pride in their cherished 'hoods. So, go ahead, use this guide to explore your surroundings. And, if you're willing to plant yourself, prepare to bloom.
Main Street/300 South
Salt Lake City doesn't look like a major metropolis from afar, but once you're downtown, you'll be pleasantly surprised. The biggest attractions need little introduction: the LDS Church's 10-acre Temple Square (50 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-240-4872, VisitTempleSquare.com) and the church-owned, upscale City Creek Center mall (50 S. Main, 801-521-2012, ShopCityCreekCenter.com) that give the city its clean-cut shine. For character and color, however, travel a few blocks south on Main Street, and you'll find great shops, restaurants, theaters and bars (yes, those do exist here) all within walking distance from the city's light-rail service known as TRAX (RideUTA.com). Main Street and 300 South act as a great jumping-off point for a night on the town.
Feel like catching an independent movie? The newly remodeled Broadway Centre Cinemas (111 E. Broadway, 801-321-0310, SaltLakeFilmSociety.org) offer six screens where you can catch first-run, independent films. East of State Street, 300 South offers one-of-a-kind retail shopping and services such as Abyss Body Piercing (245 E. 300 South, 801-810-9247, AbyssPiercing.com) if you feel the need to act out, and Garrett Michael Barber Shop (435 E. 300 South, 801-359-4580, GMBarberShop.com), if you're in need of a sharp haircut. There are also numerous boutiques and shops full of antiques and vintage collectibles.
Points of Interest
Exchange Place, on Main Street in between 300 and 400 South, is Salt Lake City's mini-Wall Street. With its historic architecture and common areas, filmmakers use the location as a stand-in for New York or Boston in Utah-based productions.
The area is a focal point for purveyors of food and drink, including Whiskey Street (323 S. Main, 801-433-1371, WhiskeyStreet.com), Eva (317 S. Main, 801-359-8447, EvaSLC.com) and the Atlantic Cafe & Market (325 S. Main, 801-524-9900). A bit further north is eBorn Books (254 S. Main, 801-359-0460, EBornBooks.com), offering one of the largest collections of used and rare books in the state. With three floors and a built-in coffee shop (Coffee Garden), it's a great place to lose a few hours.
Getting here: Check out ParkingSLC.com for apps and guide to where to park downtown. Better yet, consider taking mass transit (RideUTA.com). Or jump on one of the GREENbikes (GreenbikeSLC.org) available to rent all over downtown. You'll love the ease and convenience, to say nothing of the health benefits.
If you're in the mood for a little old-time charm, Bodega (331 S. Main, 801-532-4042, Bodega331.com) might be the place for you. On its face, Bodega looks like a mix of a small, cozy bar, a liquor store and an actual bodega with a few sundry items for sale. It's what happens next that makes it unique. In the basement is a reservation-only, speakeasy-style joint called The Rest. Special access is required, but once you're downstairs—immersed in the intricate decor and enjoying expertly crafted cocktails—you'll feel like you're in whole new world. (By Trevor Hale)
9TH & 9TH
This venerable neighborhood, clustered around the 900 East and 900 South intersection (9thand9th.com), keeps getting it right in terms of the shops, services and dining options available. Most national chains find it hard to make it in these hip environs, so everything from the coffee shop—Coffee Garden (878 E. 900 South, 801-355-3425)—to food—9th South Delicatessen (931 E. 900 South, 801-517-3663, 9thSouthDeli.com)—to the art cinema—Tower Theatre, (876 E. 900 South, 801-321-0310, SaltLakeFilmSociety.org)—has local roots.
Points of Interest
While the Tower Theatre and its neighbor, Coffee Garden, are two mainstays of 9th & 9th, newer shops and restaurants pop up regularly. Even other longtime retailers like Contender Bicycles (989 E. 900 South, 801-364-0344, ContenderBicycles.com) have opted to enlarge and stay in the area when they've outgrown the older, smaller spaces typical of the neighborhood. But, what the buildings lack in space, the sidewalks make up for, especially when summer rolls around. That's when eateries such as Pago (878 S. 900 East, 801-532-0777, PagoSLC.com) and Mazza (912 E. 900 South, 801-521-4572, MazzaCafe.com) open their outdoor patios.
As 9th & 9th has grown, it has managed to hand on to its charm, as the street sculptures and murals attest. Eateries and retailers are tucked into spaces you can easily miss, so it's best to explore by foot. East Liberty Tap House (850 E. 900 South, 801-441-2845, EastLibertyTapHouse.com) is one of the first bars to open in the neighborhood, setting yet another benchmark for other areas of town to live up to. (By Jacob Stringer)
Gateway/400 West/Granary District
Once considered an industrial wasteland of vacant lots and empty warehouses , this district, with its diverse locally owned businesses and mixed-use developments, offers a promising glimpse of the city's future.
Points of Interest
In warmer months, Pioneer Park (300 S. 300 West) is the place to be for Saturday's Downtown Farmers Market and Thursday's Twilight Concert Series, which brings in such headliners as Beck and My Morning Jacket with tickets at $5 a pop. If crowds aren't your thing, head across the street to Tin Angel Cafe (365 W. 400 South, 801-328-4155, TheTinAngel.com) and enjoy the concert sounds while eating tapas on the patio. Throughout the year, grab a giant mortadella sandwich at Caputo's (314 W. 300 South, 801-531-8669, CaputosDeli.com) and don't forget to purchase something from its cheese cave. Neighboring eateries Carlucci's Bakery (314 W. 300 South, 801-366-4484, CarluccisBakery.com), Bruges Waffles (336 W. 300 South, 801- 363-4444, BrugesWaffles.com) and Ekamai Thai Curry (336 W. 300 South, 801-363-2717, EkamaiThai.com) are equally popular lunch and dinner options. Coffee lovers, make a date with The Rose Establishment (235 S. 400 West, 801-990-6270, TheRoseEstb.com), whose unsung heroes of the kitchen work behind the scenes to complement French press and pour-over brew with an inspired menu featuring seasonal produce.
Great minds powering the Granary District's redevelopment are working with locals to transform the neighborhood into a walkable, mixed-use space that retains the "gritty" urban character that's long defined its borders. A business currently on board with Central Ninth's progression includes Blue Copper Roasters (917 S. 200 West, 385-222-7046, BlueCopperSLC.com), a small-batch roasting company that recently merged with No Brow Coffee Werks as part of the area's planned expansion, which could also bring a grocery store and 85-unit apartment building in 2015. (By Jamie Gadette)
Points of Interest
The Grand Theatre (1575 S. State, 801-957-3322, The-Grand.org), on the campus of Salt Lake Community College, was originally the auditorium for South High School but has since been transformed into a professional live theater hotspot. Seasons normally run from October through May, with a focus on famous plays and musicals. The Grand recently got nudged further into the spotlight, becoming a Sundance Film Festival screening location, for the first time, in 2015.
You can stumble upon any number of interesting shops amid a sea of State Street pawn shops, but the real tug on your wallet is the array of hole-in-the-wall eateries. Within the same strip mall at 1300 S. 145 East, hit up Frisch Compassionate Eatery (801-906-8277, FrischEats.com) for vegan food, then hop across the Pacific for Korea House (801-487-3900, KoreaHouseSLC.com), Shanghai Café (801-322-1841, ShanghaiCafeSLC.com) and House of Tibet (801-364-1376, HouseOfTibetSaltLakeCity.com).
Liberty Park (600 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-972-7800) is the epicenter of the neighborhood for all things cultural, zoological and cardiological (as evidenced by the joggers and tennis players who frequent the 80-acre park on a daily basis). Drum circles and squawks from Tracy Aviary (801-596-8500, TracyAviary.org) make up the soundtrack to many a picnic at the park. Skateboarders and dog walkers encircle it all. Show up in the summer and watch some Olympic medalists during a stop on the AVP Beach Volleyball tour. There are several great dining and coffee options just a crosswalk away on most sides, including The Park Café (604 E. 1300 South, 801-487-1670, TheParkCafeSLC.com).
The anticipated development boom has been slow to arrive here, but at the very least, the year-old Sugarhouse Streetcar (RideUTA.org) has made getting around easier. Stops are every two blocks just off 2100 South, going from Central Pointe Station (where you can connect with other TRAX lines) to Fairmont Park. (By Joe Beatty)