Outdoors and Nightlife Merge in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah and the state’s largest city. Photograph courtesy of Visit Salt Lake © Austen Diamond Photography

Salt Lake City captured the international spotlight when it hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. Since then, travelers have flocked to this northern Utah metropolis to explore its walkable streets, partake in its thriving food scene, enjoy its burgeoning nightlife, and discover the great outdoors. The city is peppered with pockets of eclectic neighborhoods that have a vibe all their own. It’s also just a short drive from Park City, making it easy to take a day to ski.

Sleeping at the Bank
The Kimpton Hotel Monaco is in a 1924 bank building with a lobby that still brandishes original marble floors, heavy vault doors, and teller windows. The hotel’s exterior features original architectural elements—including carved stone faces, cartouches, and cornices—that have been meticulously restored. Rooms and suites ($142 and up) offer such appointments as separate sitting areas, wet bars, and dramatic draped archways. Situated a half block from the city’s ski shuttle, the hotel is also within walking distance of City Creek shopping center, Temple Square, and a plethora of downtown bars and restaurants.

Square at the Center
Encompassing several city blocks with the spired and Angel Moroni-crowned Mormon Temple as its centerpiece, Temple Square is both the cartographic hub of Salt Lake City as well as the pulse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While it is Utah’s premier attraction, it is not a tourist trap. Three of the square’s buildings—the six-spired granite temple, the domed Tabernacle, and the stained-glass Assembly Hall—were built by pioneers. Two visitors’ centers include art galleries, interactive exhibits, and an 11-foot replica of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s Christus.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco is in a former bank building. Photograph courtesy of Kimpton Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City

SLC is Hoppin’
For decades, Utah has had a reputation (rightly so) as having some of the strictest laws regarding alcohol. With the fall of the Zion Curtain—opaque partitions designed to shield the public from glimpsing bartenders mixing alcoholic drinks—regulations have loosened a bit. In 1986, the state’s first microbrew, now called Wasatch Brewery, was founded, leading the way for others. Today, the city is home to more than a dozen. The best way to experience the town’s budding beer scene is with a Salt Lake Brewery Pass, which allows you to visit up to 14 breweries, enjoying a $5 discount on food or beverages at each one.

Go for the Themes
To add a little whimsy to your stay, check into the Anniversary Inn. The 13 themed suites—such as the Phantom of the Opera or the Wild West, where a covered wagon doubles as the bed—make it feel as if you’ve time traveled. The most sought-after chamber is the Rio Grande Suite, which captures the essence and romance of rail travel with its train car theme. Each stay ($169 and up) includes a daily breakfast and sparkling cider.

Photograph courtesy of Wasatch Brewery

Research Your DNA
Those addicted to ancestral searches can visit the largest repository of genealogical records at the admission-free Family History Library at Temple Square. Use of the Family History Library, which features some 500 computers, is available to everyone, and the digital collection focuses on those who lived before 1930. One-on-one assistance from family history experts is available along with hands-on activities for kids and teens.

The Books of Mormons
Gustav and Margaret Weller, German immigrants and Mormon converts, opened Salt Lake Bedding, Furniture & Radio in 1925. After purchasing a large collection of used Mormon books, they renamed their shop Zion’s Bookstore in 1929. After a few more changes, Weller Book Works is now located at Trolly Square. It is still owned by the original family and managed by the third generation of Wellers. The store carries some Mormon-centric tomes along with a large inventory of new and used titles, bestsellers, and rare books.

Foods to Brag About
Utah loves to showcase some of its iconic culinary offerings. There’s Crown Burger, a local chain known for its charbroiled patty topped with cured pastrami finished with Thousand Island. The Fried Mormon Funeral Potatoes are to die for at Garage on Beck, featuring Idaho potatoes, cheddar cheese, jalapeno, bacon, and scallions.

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