The Best of Salt Lake City, Utah

The Best of Salt Lake City, Utah

Aly Leia Wein

Feature Image: Fodor’s

Salt Lake City is so much more than just the Mormon mecca of the world - the thriving Utah capital exhibits the excitement of a big city while still offering the character of a friendly, family values-filled mountain town. My mom and I took a road trip up to SLC earlier this year, and let me tell you, I was not expecting to fall in love with the place like I did! Here are a few of my personal favorites for an unforgettable Beehive State getaway:

Best Brunch

Insta-worthy latte art and scrumptious avocado toast make Campos Coffee Roastery & Kitchen more than just your typical brunch hub. This hipster-rustic-chic eatery is a definite can’t-miss while in SLC, especially since it’s within walking distance from literally everything. The Australian-born brand has only two locations in the US: one in Salt Lake City and one 40 minutes east in snowy Park City.

Best Shopping

Treat yourself to some quality retail therapy at City Creek, the giant shopping, dining, and entertainment complex across the street from Temple Square. This sprawling outdoor mall has everything from designer bags to local watercolor paintings, so there is absolutely something for everyone here. (Bonus points for the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory!)

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Best Lunch

With a name like Red Iguana, you know it has to be good. This family-run Mexican joint was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives and definitely lives up to all the hype (which is also evident thanks to its multiple awards from Zagat, Bon Appetit, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, and more). Red Iguana combines Mexican-American staples like chimichangas and burritos with more traditional fare (their Puntas de Filete is delicious). Don’t forget to try their famous mole sauces!

Best Tourist Attraction

Visit the quintessential Salt Lake City destination: Temple Square! 35 sprawling acres of gorgeous architecture, museums, historical buildings, and an abundance of arts and culture surround the largest LDS (Latter-day Saints, aka Mormon) temple on earth. Catch a free rehearsal of the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir (every Thursday at 7:30 pm, BTW), and you’ll be even more enchanted and in awe at the true heart of the city.

Best Dinner

Pick your perfect pasta, indulge in fine wine, and enjoy some honey gelato at Valter’s Osteria, a cozy Italian restaurant that is a “modern twist on Tuscany.” Valter Nassi, eccentric owner and master chef, is somewhat of a local celebrity, and most guests get a picture with him before they leave. This restaurant is a perfect blend of past and present, bringing together Valter’s authentic family recipes with inventive cuisine inspired by local and seasonal ingredients.

Best Bar

If Lake Effect’s handcrafted cocktails and Spanish-inspired bites don’t have you falling in love with the place, then the floor-to-ceiling liquor wall (complete with rolling ladders to reach the top, kind of like an alcoholic library of sorts) definitely will. This top-notch bar has become a downtown mainstay, thanks to its vintage aesthetic, trendy energy, and largest collection of liquor in the state! There is also live music every single night downstairs in their lounge, The Rabbit Hole. Drink-wise, the Mermaid Tears (complete with edible glitter) and Basic SLC Bitch (a citrus-y vodka dream) come highly recommended - who says you can’t have a good time in Utah?!

Best Hotel

Since Marriott founder J. Willard Marriott is from the surrounding Salt Lake City area, you know that there will be a Marriott or Courtyard Inn or Residence Inn on every other block. My personal pick is the Marriott City Center, which is of course, in the center of all the action. Convenience is key since most of the main tourist attractions are only a few minutes away. If you feel like splurging on even more luxurious accommodations, The Grand America Hotel is a magical palace featuring Italian marble bathrooms, lush gardens, afternoon tea, live lobby jazz, and of course, its own patisserie. Because every hotel should have its own patisserie.

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Are you really in Salt Lake City if you don’t visit East High School (aka the filming location for all three of Disney’s High School Musical movies)? Become an honorary wildcat for a while, take that obligatory jumping pic out front, and if you’re there at the right time (weekday early afternoon), you might find a nice student or staff member to give you a little tour. WHAT TEAM?

Have you ever been to Salt Lake City before?

Aly Leia WeinComment