By Stephanie Smith, CheapOair — Let’s play a game of word association: what comes to mind when you think of Salt Lake City?

Some of the top answers in an extremely non-scientific poll included ‘Mormons,’ ‘no alcohol,’ ‘not sure,’ and … ‘no alcohol.’ On the right track?

If so, you’re completely … wrong.

Salt Lake City: Myth vs. Reality

Salt Lake is actually bursting from every seam. From food to music, mixology to the great outdoors, there’s unique color peaking around every corner.

Here are four of the reasons Salt Lake City is on its way to becoming the next hyped U.S. city.
(Spoiler alert: what we experienced at one of the city’s coffee establishments blew our minds!)

Creme de la Creme of Cuisine

It’s not surprising that Utah’s chefs take their meat (and meals, in general) very seriously. But what might be surprising is just how creative they get.

Take Rich’s Burgers-N-Grub. While the decade-old shop is a haven for locals, its understated placement in a downtown storefront belies the gem within.

From their high-demand mac’n’cheese burger, to the show-stopping garlic burger (literally — this could be a show stopper if you’re not careful), it seems impossible for these guys to make anything less than incredible.

Creative Cocktails

When it comes to artistry in mixology, some of the U.S.’s best and brightest have planted roots in SLC, and they’re doing a lot more than just creating a feast for taste buds. They’re educating the community.

Many people mistakenly take Salt Lake for a “dry” city due to its Mormon roots. However, alcohol laws were re-vamped in 2009, and the codes still on the books force SLC’s mixologists to get even more creative with the cocktails they concoct.

With 59 on their menu, Under Current has the largest cocktail selection in the state of Utah. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they see themselves as serving a larger mission, according to UC partner Amy Eldredge.

"We’re very focused on educating the community about what it’s like to [experience] a real cocktail bar."
— Under Current’s Amy Eldredge

Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee

As more cities grow exponentially, the artisanal coffee scene once isolated to parts of the Pacific-Northwest and, well, Brooklyn is now stretching far and wide — from Miami to Austin, from Baltimore to Salt Lake. And while Salt Lake’s collection of brewers might be smaller than some of the others, it just might dominate when it comes to quality.

One big difference that makes SLC stand out? It has a treasure only a handful of spots in North America can claim: a dedicated siphon bar — Caffe D’Bolla. A cup of this coffee is unlike any you’ve ever tasted, as owner John Piquet has perfected the centuries-old method. His expertise in the craft and the unique experience of drinking it made his cafe top on our list.

A warming aspect of the Salt Lake coffee community is that after talking to the workers at some of the other shops in town, you truly do feel that they’re all “in it together,” ready to enthusiastically promote each other.

Colorful Counter-Culture:

While SLC’s religious roots can still be felt throughout the city, a growing and powerful presence is that of the city’s counter-culture movement. These are some must-see stops for a true taste of local flavor.

Diabolical Records
Color bursts from the city as artists and artisans bring their crafts into the landscape. One such artist is SLC-born and bred Adam Tye, owner of Diabolical Records in Downtown Salt Lake. Tye has gained a reputation among some musicians and music-lovers in town as the “godfather” of the local music scene. Tye, who opened his doors in 2013, focuses on fostering local musicians, encouraging them to hone their craft and develop a following.

Cathedral Tattoo
Cathedral Tattoo is just one of a handful of go-to spots for the growing ink community in SLC. Housed in a warehouse adjacent to Caffe D’Bolla (see above), the shop is leading the pack when it comes to the growing ink craft in Salt Lake. A bonus: the manager and artists don’t fall into the “too cool for school vibe” trap that a lot of established shops do. So go on — get that impromptu tattoo you never knew you always wanted!

The Living Room Hike
You can’t have a conversation about Salt Lake without talking about the obvious – the beauty that surrounds you at every angle. Another unique aspect of SLC’s great outdoors is that regardless of your age or fitness level, there’s always an amazing nature experience awaiting.

One hike accessible to climbers of almost all levels is known as The Living Room hike. It’s about a two-hour hike from start to finish, and at the peak rock formations allow you to sit back,, eat a packed lunch, and take in a panorama of serenity (sorry, gushing now).

By now, your appetite should be whet for exploring Salt Lake City, so we’ve created a generator that’ll build a personalized SLC itinerary just for you! Check it out, and book your trip to Salt Lake today with the promo code SLC20 to get savings! Let us know how much you’re enjoying your time in SLC by using the hashtag #CheapOair on all your pics! Most importantly — have fun exploring!