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)
15th & 15th
For those who seek a small-town feel while retaining the amenities of a big city, 15th & 15th is the area for you. Tucked away in the middle of tree-lined streets and small, friendly parks, you'll find a great little selection of locally owned shops, restaurants and even a grocery store. It's a perfect walkable 'hood for locals, but a great place for out-of-towners, too.
Points of Interest
Indulge your inner foodie with Mediterranean delights such as a falafel sandwich, shwarma, or other treats from Mazza (1515 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9259, MazzaCafe.com). Caputo's Deli & Market (1516 S. 1500 East, 801-486-6615), a Salt Lake City staple that's been expanding its menu recently to include breakfast and lunch, and Einstein Brothers Bagels (1520 S. 1500 East, 801-466-8669, EinsteinBros.com) are perfect spots to grab a quick breakfast on the way to work.
15th & 15th is a dog-friendly neighborhood; you can't walk more than a few feet without running into a four-legged friend or two. There are water dishes in front of many shops (and a few homes, too). There's even The Dog Show (1508 S. 1500 East, 801-466-6100, DogShowGrooming.com) to get your pet looking its best.
You'll find just about everything you need without ever having to leave the area. Harmons took over the old Emigration Market, and it's now called Harmons Emigration Market (1706 E. 1300 South, 801-583-3663, HarmonsGrocery.com). Jolley's Gift & Floral (1676 E. 1300 South, 801-582-1600, JolleysGifts.com) also offers a small boutique clothing store. Finally, Sea Salt (1709 E. 1300 South, 801-349-1480, SeaSaltSLC.com) boasts an Italian menu in support of the Slow Food movement, a celebration of locally sourced food and drink.
The King's English (1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100, KingsEnglish.com)—a beloved locally owned bookstore in a converted house—hosts a Lesbian Book Club meeting on the first Wednesday of every month. The club is open to gay, lesbian, bi-, transgender and family, but the readings aren't always LGBT-themed. It's a great way to get together, meet some new friends and read a great book each month.
15th & 15th is always full of surprises. Each December, for example, a neighborhood cul-de-sac (Glen Arbor St., 1735 S. 1500 East) turns into a winter wonderland called Christmas Street. Nearly every house on the block goes all out with decorations, maintaining a long-standing tradition that keeps carloads of nostalgia buffs cruising by each year. (By Trevor Hale)
Sugar House radiates out from Monument Plaza located at 2100 South and 1100 East for blocks and blocks in all directions. Once a relatively small, unique neighborhood, the past few years have brought dramatic growth and more national chains to co-exist with locally owned shops and eateries. The challenge for Sugar House during this rapid pace of change is how to maintain its identity. While newer buildings attempt to be architecturally cohesive, their sheer size and numbers dwarf mainstays like Sugar House Coffee (1100 E. 2011 South, 801-883-8867, SugarHouseCoffee.com) and Sugar House Furniture (2198 Highland Drive, 801-485-3606, SugarHouseFurniture.com).
Most of us know Sugar House for its ample shopping and eating opportunities. But what about those quirks that make it unique? Take, for instance, the high-gabled English Tudor building that houses the Sprague Branch of the Salt Lake City Library (2131 Highland Drive, 801-594-8640, Slcpl.Lib.Ut.Us) nestled smack-dab in between Whole Foods and Barnes & Noble. In front of the library, you can still find the larger-than-life sugar-beet sculptures. You also have to marvel at how Hidden Hollow at 2100 South and 1300 East, the tucked-away park located in the middle of a shopping center, is now connected with Sugar House Park (1300 East and 2100 South, SugarHousePark.org) by The Draw, a underground passageway recently built beneath busy 1300 East. (By Jacob Stringer)
Points of Interest
Now that the majority of buildings in Sugar House have become mixed use, meaning more and more people live near to where they shop and eat, the neighborhood feels more alive and vibrant. Where there used to be a handful of options for eating and drinking, the heart of Sugar House now has a lot to choose from, including Epic Brewery's local restaurant, The Annex (1048 E. 2100 South #110, 801-742-5490, TheAnnexByEpicBrewing.com), Wasatch Brewery's first Salt Lake City restaurant (2110 S. Highland Drive, 801-783-1127, WasatchBeers.com) and a slew of bars like Sugar House Pub (1992 South 1100 East, 801-413-2857), Campfire Lounge (837 E. 2100 South, 801-467-3325, CampfireLounge.com) and The Tap Room (2021 Windsor St., 801-484-6692, SLCTaproom.com).
400 South / 700 East/ Trolley Square
A 19th-century fairgrounds turned 20th-century transit hub turned 21st-century shopping mall, Trolley Square (600 S. 700 East, 801-521-9877, TrolleySquare.com), continues to serve a diverse population traveling by car, bus, bike, foot and TRAX to dine out, burn calories and stock up on niche goods. The nearby intersection of 400 South and 700 East is halfway between downtown and the University of Utah, making it a go-to spot for quick lunch breaks and errand runs.
Points of Interest
This district is "Grocery Store Central" with Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Smith's Marketplace and Sprouts conveniently located within walking distance of the city's light-rail system. Don't feel like cooking? A variety of locally owned restaurants are located nearby, including Skewered Thai (575 S. 700 East, 801-364-1144, SkeweredThai.com), a long-awaited brick-and-mortar offshoot of the food cart that gained its following at Utah festivals and outdoor markets. In Trolley Square, Desert Edge Pub & Brewery (273 Trolley Square, 801-521-8917, DesertEdgeBrewery.com) serves award-winning, handcrafted microbrews and American fare on the mall's upper level. Head a few blocks north to Caffe Niche (779 E. 300 South, 801-433-3380, CaffeNiche.com), which prides itself on a menu that's sustainably sourced, cage-free, organic and delicious.
Print books are alive and well at Weller Book Works (607 Trolley Square, 801-328-2586, WellerBookWorks.com), an independent haven for the written word since 1929. The beloved mom & pop shop is a somewhat hidden treasure well worth hunting down for its vast selection of new, used and rare gems along with knowledgeable staff members happy to help you find your next favorite read. Want (or need) to work up a sweat? Get the gear to strike a pose at Uintah Standard (680 E. 600 South, 801-554-1379, UintahStandard.com), an active-lifestyle boutique owned by two Utah natives whose Uintah Collection line of colorful workout gear is inspired by the state's great outdoors. The store also stocks goods by other homegrown brands including Stance socks and H Works jewelry. (By Jamie Gadette)
While Salt Lake City isn't nearly as much of a college town as other schools in the Pac-12, the University of Utah is seemingly omnipresent. The love for the school and its sports programs (football and women's gymnastics, notably) pours out and has a far greater reach than just to those living on campus. But if you do feel like taking a stroll around the campus, you won't be disappointed. There have been major changes in just about every section of the campus over the past decade—and aside from the still-awful parking situation, it's all been for the better. Some old buildings have undergone much-needed upgrades, while others have been torn down and rebuilt. Students love the new paths, bridges and sidewalks that make navigating the expansive campus easier than before. The best part is definitely the upgrade in the food department with restaurants like Aristo's Greek Cuisine (224 S. 1300 East, 801-581-0888, AristosSLC.com) and Indochine Vietnamese Bistro (230 S. 1300 East, 801-582-0896, IndochineUtah.com).
Points of Interest
Foothill Village (1400 Foothill Drive, 801-487-6670) is a prime shopping center, offering a mix of toy shops, sporting goods and clothing stores, such as Bloomingsales (801-583-9117, ShopBloomingsales.com). Food options abound with Vietnamese (East-West Connection, 801-581-1128, EastWestConnection.net), Mexican (Costa Vida Mexican Grill, 801-582-7873, CostaVida.net), sushi (Hi Sushi, 801-906-8320, HiSushiUtah.com), Irish (MacCool's Public House, 801-582-3111, MaccoolsRestaurant.com) as well as classic grub from Red Butte Café (801-581-9498, TheRedButteCafe.com) and Boulevard Bistro (801-953-1270, BoulevardBistroFoothill.com).
For those living on campus or staying at nearby hotels, the area has plenty to offer in the way of outdoor recreation. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BonnevilleShorelineTrail.org) extends behind the campus and stretches along Foothill Drive to East Millcreek. It's the perfect place to go running, hiking or mountain biking. Red Butte Garden (300 Wakara Way, 801-585-0556, RedButteGarden.org) has more than 100 acres of walkable grounds and trails, and it is the largest botanical garden in the Intermountain West. During the summer, Red Butte hosts an impressive concert lineup. Nearby is a living history park built to memorialize Brigham Young's arrival in Utah. This Is The Place Heritage Park (2601 Sunnyside Ave, 801-582-1847, ThisIsThePlace.org) features a petting zoo and holiday activities. The park is barely a stone's throw away from the 42-acre Hogle Zoo (2600 Sunnyside Ave, 801-582-1631, HogleZoo.org), home to more than 800 animals. Top off your adventures with pizza and beer from The Pie Pizzeria, 1320 E. 200 South, 801-582-0195, ThePie.com) (By Trevor Hale)
See that big dome perched on the hill north of downtown? That's the Utah Capitol (350 N. State, 801-538-3000, UtahStateCapitol.utah.gov). Regardless of how you feel about state government, the Capitol campus is a beautiful and worthwhile destination. Inside the Capitol rotunda are some impressive frescos on the ceiling that will captivate you while you wait to take a historical tour of the joint. Across the street is the Pioneer Memorial Museum (300 N. Main, 801-532-6479, DUPInternational.org), offering a free excursion through the times of Utah's first settlers, complete with buggies, furniture and other Old West memorabilia.
Points of Interest
You can escape downtown very quickly by heading up Memory Grove (375 N. Canyon Road, 801-521-7969, MemorialHouse-Utah.com) and through City Creek Canyon. The paved road that starts at the base of Capitol Hill runs aside City Creek for miles, giving bikers, runners and pooches room to breath and take in views of both city and country.
Even though the Utah Pride Center (255 E. 400 South, 801-539-8800, UtahPrideCenter.org) recently moved from the Marmalade to a downtown location, that doesn't mean the neighborhood is any less welcoming or tolerant, and the "Gayborhood" remains home to fun bars like Club Jam (751 N. 300 West, 801-382-8567, JamSLC.com).
It's taken a while to get it built, but the Marmalade Library, a branch of the City Library (slcpl.lib.ut.us) located at 500 North and 300 West, is slated to open this summer. Expect loads of green features and art spaces.
If you stumble even a block outside of the manicured Capitol grounds, you'll think you've time-warped about 40 years back. The Marmalade district is where the younger and older crowds embrace their counterculture ways while still respecting the history of the place. Perhaps that's why unconventional Salt Lake Acting Company (168 West 500 North, 801-363-7522, SaltLakeActingCompany.org) is based there. In the thick of it all is Em's (271 N. Center St., 801-596-0566, EmsRestaurant.com), a cozy bistro where locals enjoy farm-to-table dining while hobnobbing with elected officials and state employees who work nearby.
A walk amid the steep hills takes you by the thickest concentration of historical homes in the city, most of which feature all manner of flora, fauna and artwork in the yards. But it's not all historic. There are plenty of upscale condos that connect to the hip vibe. (By Joe Beatty)
Long recognized as a liberal enclave within a liberal enclave (Salt Lake City is to Utah what Austin is to Texas), this district bleeds blue but tolerates red. It was established in 1860 by both Mormon pioneers and Democratic shipping magnates (including Salt Lake Tribune founder Sen. Thomas Kearns), and evidence of their good life can be seen in historic McCune Mansion (200 N. Main, 801-531-8866, McCuneMansion.com). It remains a place where LDS, Catholic and Presbyterian houses of worship stand within blocks of each other, a place to take a long scenic walk, run or bike ride through the tree-lined streets of an easy-to-follow 123/ABC grid. Home prices climb as you cruise up the hill, but you can still score a wallet-friendly apartment in the lower Aves (good news for University of Utah students).
Points of Interest
Thirsty? Fuel-efficient vehicles with "Namaste" and "Lotoja" stickers queue up for drive-thru coffee at Java Jo's (401 First Ave., 801-532-2899, JavaJos.com). Or get a buzz at nearby Jack Mormon Coffee (82 E St., 801-359-2979, JackMormonCoffee.com). Hungry? In recent years, respected foodies have made the Aves a destination for craft brew and pub fare with Avenues Proper Restaurant & Publick House (376 Eighth Ave., Suite C, 385-227-8628, AvenuesProper.com); for fine wine and brunch on the patio; Avenues Bistro (564 Third Ave., 801-831-5409) / The Wild Grape Bistro (481 S. Temple, 801-746-5565, WildGrapeBistro.com); and for authentic ethnic cuisine (Cafe Shambala (382 Fourth Ave., 801-364-8558) / Saffron Valley East India Cafe (26 E St., 801-203-3325, SaffronValley.com).
In 2014, the city approved Popperton Plots (300 N. Popperton Way, WasatchGardens.org), the Avenues' first community garden, allowing residents to grow their own produce for a low $30 fee. Popperton's mission is to "grow healthy food and cultivate relationships." Such community-minded efforts come alive at the annual Avenues Street Fair, a free block party featuring timeless favorites including local radio station KRCL's vinyl record sale. (By Jamie Gadette)
Rose Park/Glendale/North Temple
The most diverse of Salt Lake City's neighborhoods, the west side of town boomed after World War II. The Utah State Fair, (155 N. 1000 West, 801-538-8400, UtahStateFair.com) on the North Temple grounds since 1902, runs for 10 days every September and is a true neighborhood affair, with nearby houses offering parking on their lawns during the fair's run. The grounds host year-round events and activities. Changes could be coming in the next couple of years, with the owners of the Real Monarchs planning on building a minor-league soccer stadium on the fairpark grounds.
Points of Interest:
Choo choo: The addition of the TRAX (Green) line to the airport has spurred a boom in apartment construction. The new buildings along North Temple cater to those who enjoy rolling out of bed and onto a train and are convenient for the budget-conscious. Stops along this route incorporate unique art that highlights local culture or industries, such as the station near the power plant with benches that look like wind turbines.
Chew chew: If there's one thing that draws people from all over town to this neighborhood, it's the food. The Red Iguana (736 W. North Temple, 801-322-1489, RedIguana.com) is a Mexican food institution so popular that Red Iguana 2 (866 W. South Temple, 801-214-6050, RedIguana.com) was built a block away to handle the overflow crowd that lines up out front.
The People's Market, aka the 9th West Farmers Market, springs up on Sundays from May to October. Located at Jordan Park adjacent to the International Peace Gardens at 1000 South and 900 West, the vendors and entertainers reflect the diverse cultures of the area. Extend your visit to the gardens themselves for one of the most interesting strolls in town. Volunteer with various cultural groups maintain plots for individual countries. Check out the Japanese garden with its stone lanterns and the Danish garden with its replica of a Viking burial mound. (By Joe Beatty)