By Christine Laroche, VitaminDaily.com -- With its seemingly endless, undeniably picturesque mountain terrain, Utah is a much-loved playground for outdoor enthusiasts. And, though the ratio of hiking boots to heels changes in Salt Lake City, the state capital nonetheless offers small-town charm amid plenty of big-city comforts.
Stay: The Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City, housed in a historic downtown building, boasts amenities galore (bikes—and even a pet goldfish!—to borrow). No stay at this plush, boutique-y inn is complete without a meal at the critically acclaimed Bambara restaurant. Our insider dinner tip: order the blue cheese chips. 15 W. 200th S, Salt Lake City, 801-595-0000.
See: Tour the Natural History Museum of Utah to see why the state is known for its fossils. This brand-new museum, perched atop a hill, brings visitors face-to-face with more than 30 skeletal dinosaur reconstructions and offers breathtaking views of the city. Once you've had your fill of history, bust out your hiking boots and head for the neighbouring 17-acre Red Butte Gardens and Bonneville Shoreline Trail, both just a stone's throw from the museum's doors. Natural History Museum of Utah, 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, 801-581-6927.
Shop: Salt Lake City’s best indie retailers can be found in the 9th and 9th neighbourhood. Think high-performance cycling gear at Contender Bicycles to American-made Zuriick shoes (pictured), Orchid Dynasty florals and Hip & Humble clothing. Be sure to visit the Chalk Garden Co-Op in downtown Salt Lake, where wares old (vintage jewelry) and new (a tightly curated selection of contemporary clothing), a spa, hair salon and a dressing room occupy space in an old bank safe. Chalk Garden Co-Op, 74 S. Main St., Salt Lake City, 801-364-4032.
Savour: Tucked into a non-descript house, chef Bowman Brown’s kitchen and teeny-tiny dining room, collectively called Forage, make for one impressive dining experience. A prix fixe tasting menu ($87, add $65 for wine pairings) takes you through a culinary journey of local ingredients that either grow wild or in farms nearby. Other must-try restaurants: The Copper Onion, Pago and, for a cut and quick lunch, Eva’s Bakery & Café. Forage, 370 E 900 S, Salt Lake City, 801-708-7834.
Sip: One of Salt Lake’s most famous part-time residents is Modern Family’s Ty Burrell. Your best chance at a Phil Dunphy sighting? Visit one of the two side-by-side bars Burrell co-owns: Bar X, a chill, speakeasy-inspired spot with a retro drink menu to match, and Beer Bar, perfect for enjoying a house-made elk meat bratwurst and one (or two) of the 150 ales on offer. Bar X and Beer Bar, 155 E 200 S and 161 E 200 S, Salt Lake City, 801-355-2287.