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Boom Town

Published: 06/28/2012
Private Clubs, by Hilary Nangle -- Development frenzy has gripped this Mormon stronghold, giving the reinvented downtown a stylish vibe. Here, six new additions you don't want to miss.

JouJou: Dragons and princesses, race cars and hot-air balloons, oh the places you'll go at this whimsical toy store at the Grand America Hotel. Although designed for pint-sized dreamers, few adults can resist building a robot, peeking into the hobbitlike dress-up room, or dancing on the candy organ's lighted pedals to "play" the jelly-bean-filled pipes. 800-304-8696;

Afterward, step into La Bonne Vie, a patisserie specializing in chocolates, macaroons, and gelatos. The bread pudding topped with rum sauce is reason enough for a visit.

City Creek Center: This $1.5 billion project, funded by the real estate arm of the Mormon church, combines residential, retail, restaurant, and office space on 23 acres adjacent to Temple Square. It not only has a creek running through it, but also two 18-foot waterfalls and a retractable roof. Just a couple of standouts on the center's name-drop-worthy retail roster: Porsche Design, a subsidiary of the German automotive company, sells innovative, technologically inspired luxury lifestyle products (watches, apparel, luggage). Sporting goods manufacturer Salomon's U.S. flagship store showcases the company's latest apparel, footwear, and soft goods for hikers, trail runners, and winter sports enthusiasts. 801-521-2012;

The Leonardo: Named after da Vinci, the Leonardo takes any preconceived notions you might have of a museum and stands them upside down. The engaging and experiential attraction encourages creative thinking with exhibits that blend science, art, and technology. Find out if you're hard-wired to multitask through blind cognitive testing in the Gene Lab or create an animated flick using the same tools as Hollywood directors. 801-531-9800;

Plum Alley: In December, Ryan Lowder opened this buzzy restaurant near the site of the city's original Asian neighborhood. Communal tables make it easy to get the lowdown from locals while you're savoring Southeast-Asian-influenced dishes and drinks. Consider pairing a pork belly satay with a Singha beer from Thailand. Find it just a couple of doors down from Lowder's Copper Onion restaurant. 801-355-0543

Finca: This restaurant from Pago's Scott Evans specializes in contemporary Spanish farm-to-table fare. Make a meal from the hot and cold tapas menus, and complement your choices with Spanish wines and Portuguese port. You'll find Finca in the Harvard and Yale neighborhood, just southeast of downtown. 801-487-0699;

Natural History Museum of Utah: Located on the University of Utah campus and built in accordance with LEED gold standards, this museum showcases the state's rave-worthy natural and cultural history collections. The Past Worlds paleontology exhibit steals the show with more than 30 skeletal reconstructions, including a Gryposaurus (duck-billed) dinosaur made of original fossil material. 801-581-4303;