Salt Lake City beckons with mountains, gorgeous scenery, and surprisingly tasty eats. I won’t lie; I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by this town. But boy, I totally was. Not only is the city beautiful, but its downtown is quaint, clean, and more than worth the trip. Use this guide to see the sights and enjoy some truly fantastic eats.
Eva’s Bakery is a true gem — it feels like a real European café. The spot comes complete with alfresco seating, white-tiled walls, and those adorable black chairs you always seem to see in every movie about Paris. The menu is true to the restaurant’s roots; you’ll find a variety of fresh breads, pastries, coffee, tea, and sandwiches. I ate a tasty panino here one day and a pastry on another. Both were outstanding.
Once you’ve finished eating here, make the short jaunt over to Temple Square. Snap your photos of this famed Mormon temple and the gorgeous landscaped grounds. Chances are, you’ll even see a freshly married couple or two. It’s also worth walking up to the State Capitol building. It was modeled after the one in D.C., and Legally Blonde even filmed a few scenes there. Head inside this free attraction before you make way downtown for lunch at Tony Caputo’s Gourmet Food Market & Deli.
There, you’ll find a large selection of local goods and a variety of perfect-for-lunch sandwiches, like the cheekily named The Soprano, a dynamic combo of Fugetaboutit! Capocollo, cacio di Roma cheese from the sunny south of Italy, roasted pepper spread, lettuce, tomato, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Browse the shelves of cheese, olive oil, chocolate, and meat. If you’re searching for a Utah-based chocolate brand, I’d recommend artisan choice Amano. Try their dark chocolate.
For a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, check out Publik Coffee, the Ace Hotel of coffee shops. The décor is sparse and industrial, and the java is great. I enjoyed my impossibly smooth latte as much as the vanilla one. It’s a bit pricy, but the truly fantastic taste makes it worth every penny.
To soak up some of the great outdoors the state is known for, make your way up to Little Cottonwood Canyon and check out Snowbird ski resort. The stunning views from the top make the steep drive up the mountain worth it. Don’t ski? No problem. Take the tram up the mountain to take in sweeping vistas. If you’ve got the time, head to on-site Cliff Spa for a dip in the pool or a treatment.
After a full day of exploring, you could probably use a hearty meal. I’d suggest paying a visit to Bambara. A few representatives from Salt Lake City tourism treated me to a meal at this spot. The restaurant is a former bank, and its heritage is still very much present in the spot’s silver-painted walls and light-filled interiors. Must-try dishes include crunchy and gooey blue cheese house-cut potato chips and smooth, thick silky corn bisque complete with crab and basil oil. For your entrée, choose from salads, sides, or dynamic plates like Pinot Noir-poached salmon and pears served with Porcini mashed potatoes, beurre rouge and Belgian endive. You can’t really go wrong with anything on this well thought-out menu.
I can’t think of a more perfect way to end your day with Salt Lake City than with a visit to the Natural History Museum of Utah. The view alone is worth the price of admission. After perusing the museum’s impressive collection of dino bones, head upstairs to the top floor. From there, you’ll enjoy a breathtaking Southwest vista that you’ll remember long after you’ve left the city.
Teresa Tobat is a travel writer and editor. View her website at teresaktobat.com. Follow her tweets @ttobat88.