By Jaillan Yehia, SavoirThere.com -- Utah’s capital may be best known for the Church of The Latter Day Saints, but this one million-strong metropolis makes an equally suitable city break setting for would-be sinners in search of urban indulgence.
From quirky shopping to secret street food, luxury hotels to lattes, it’s time to check-in your preconceptions at the door and check-out the fun you can have in 24 hours in Salt Lake City.
Here’s my hand-picked guide to spending…
24 HOURS IN SALT LAKE CITY
MORNING – FORGET NYC, TRY A VINTAGE SHOPPING SPREE IN SLC
First stop on your day of indulgence in Salt Lake City is shopping downtown at Decades, a treasure trove of hand-picked vintage pieces packed with quirky one-offs, fun finds and cool and kitsch displays including a characterful collection of American memorabilia.
One of the best things about the shopping scene here is the price tag: with vintage leather bags for about $20. Decades is guaranteed to give you a classic ‘wish I’d brought a bigger suitcase’ moment – but don’t panic as retro suitcases are on sale here too.
Still got some spending money? Move on to Deseret Industries; the LDS Church’s version of a Salvation Army thrift store. This vast discount warehouse is packed with everything you can imagine, and makes for some amazing and unique souvenir shopping. I exited clutching an Eastpak backpack – good as new – for $1, and a plethora of CD’s (most under a buck apiece) to keep me amused on the long drive north after my 24 hours in Salt Lake City.
TAKE A BREAK – COFFEE & CAKE AT THE ROSE ESTABLISHMENT
Planted between Pioneer Park and the Gateway Mall in a historic 1918 meat-packing plant, this contemporary café is all exposed brick, clean lines and cool coffee culture.
They pride themselves here on brewed-to-order beverages (and yay! they offer soy milk and other alternatives) and baked goods with a Parisian twist, so settle in and chow down.
The Rose is actually a purveyor of vegan-friendly, locally-sourced and made from scratch fayre, so even if you’re chomping on a PB&J sandwich washed down with hot chocolate and marshmallows you’re being good by supporting a real local business.
KEEP ON TRUCKING & TUCKING IN – AT THE FARMER’S MARKET
What could be a better introduction to a new city than a visit to the local Saturday morning Farmers Market? Here you’ll find handmade and locally grown products from 100 farms and ranches within a 250 mile radius of Salt Lake City and there’s an arts and crafts section for serious shoppers.
As well as supplying delicious goodies to locals, the market works with local charities and is staffed by an army of volunteers who oversee everything from recycling to kids workshops.
LUNCH – SOAK UP SLC’S STREET FOOD SCENE AT TORO TACO
The block at State Street & 800 South is home to a couple of unassuming street food stands, each serving the same menu of tacos, quesadillas and burritos.
They are easy to overlook, but once you notice the steady stream of customers, including plenty of Latin American locals, making their way towards the junction to the sound of salsa filling the air, you’ll know there must be some superior snacks and even if you’re limited to 24 hours in salt Lake City you can do a lot worse than joining the queue – it’s time well-spent.
I’ll let you into a secret – Toro Taco may not be physically streets ahead of its competitors but metaphorically it sure is – this is the place to grab lunch on the hoof and get a bargainous midday cheesy treat.
AFTERNOON – ART MEETS SCIENCE AT THE LEONARDO
The Leo as it is known locally is a multi-disciplinary museum, art gallery and science and tech space that was named after Leonardo da Vinci, as a nod to his unique desire to learn.
Here you’ll find plenty of creativity from permanent installations to changing exhibitions and there’s also a range of hands-on and interactive displays that kids will love.
Visitors can get the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass for free entry to The Leo as well as 12 other local attractions like the Planetarium, Olympic Park and Natural History Museum. Whether you have 24 hours in Salt Lake City, an entire weekend or a few days this is well worth looking into, especially if you have your own set of wheels as all the major attractions are included.
DINNER – HIPSTER ‘NEW AMERICAN’ SUPPER AT PALLET
A reference to the local history of the building which now houses this very European-style modern eaterie, Pallet is named after the loading bay’s wooden frames which occupied this very space way back when it was a turn of the century creamery.
The food, along with the vibe, is now very representative of this century – with innovative dishes on offer – some more successful than others – enjoyed in an atmospheric space which is usually jam-packed with locals – from businessmen to families.
Some of the larger tables are communal – fun if you fancy meeting new folks, but if you’re after a romantic dinner, make sure you let them know.
BEER O’CLOCK – SQUATTERS CRAFT BREWERY
Ask almost any Salt Lake City dweller where to go for an authentic locally-brewed beer and you’ll most likely be pointed towards Squatters.
The playful slogan ‘good for what ales you’ is the first sign that there’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun afoot here, and that theme continues with an ever-changing selection of beer such as ‘Wellied Irish Stout’ and ‘Chasing Tail Golden Ale’ which is recommended for a little hair of the dog.
If you find yourself addicted to the Squatters beers after your own 24 hours in Salt Lake City you can enjoy one last batch before you fly out, as the company has a branch in the international airport.
If you want to carry on drinking after Squatters closes up for the night head to Bar X and Beer Bar, the trendy hub of SLC drinking. I can’t offer you any photos of these establishments as I was genuinely too busy drinking.
AND FOR THE ULTIMATE INDULGENCE: STAY THE NIGHT AT THE GRAND AMERICA
The word ‘grand’ appearing in the name of a hotel is no longer any guarantee of the quality on offer once you step inside. Not so at the Grand America, to which your step will be onto perfectly polished marble floors, accompanied by the aroma of freshly cut lilies, and to the soundtrack of string instruments accompanying afternoon tea.
This is an establishment which sets its stall high from the outset – and indeed from the outside, it is one of the most imposing buildings in the entire city – and absolutely lives up to its name as a modern day palace of luxury and opulence.
The way to be holier than thou at the Grand is to eschew the complementary macaroons and in-house shopping for a few hours in favour of laps in rooftop spa pool while checking out the views.