Guide to Playing Outside + Eating in Salt Lake City, UT

“Hey Katie, I’m heading to SLC [this week/next summer/tomorrow] and was wondering if you had advice on good trails for [running/skiing/hiking], places to adventure that are near town, can’t-miss restaurants and coffee shops…”

I get this message multiple times a week–and I love it. Salt Lake City is one of the greatest cities in America–if you ask me at least–and I fell deeply, madly in love with it the summer before I moved here. Sharing my beloved city’s best brings me joy, and I figured I ought to just write all my SLC advice and recommendations down since it’s one of my most frequently asked topics.

Getting Outdoors in SLC

Access to the outdoors is part of the reason I moved to Salt Lake. I’m not going to tell you all of the best spots, because they’re getting super crowded and need a bit of a break from all the upticks in traffic–but if you do enough homework you’ll find ’em. They’re right there. Here’s what I will spill the beans about:

  • The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is over 100 miles of continuous trails running through the foothills. You can run to it right from downtown, or drive a bit near the hills and hop on.
  • Liberty Park is my favorite outdoor public space in the city. A big ‘ole running/biking/rollerblading/dog walking loop, tons of fields, a big pond, an aviary, tennis courts, picnic tables with chessboards built in, the works. In the summertime, there’s a farmers market on Friday evenings. If you’ve been to Denver, it’s basically the SLC equivalent to Wash Park.
  • The canyons. Essentially, there are three main canyon hubs for outdoor recreation in SLC: Millcreek, Big Cottonwood, and Little Cottonwood. The Cottonwoods are where you’ll find all the ski resorts and climbing areas. And each of these canyons has hiking trails, backcountry skiing, picnic spots, and scenic drives. Millcreek is the only place you can bring pups (and there’s a $3 entrance fee).
  • Antelope Island is an amazing spot to see the Great Lake, hang out with some bison, and get the best sunset photo you’ve ever taken.

If you’re getting outside in SLC, please read up on Leave No Trace ethics and practice them diligently while you’re playing in our precious Wasatch Range. There has been so much growth in this community, and while I love seeing so many people getting outside, I hate to see my beloved landscapes getting trampled. Pack out all trash + dog poo, stay on the trails, don’t pick the wildflowers, and watch out for summertime afternoon thunderstorms. 

Where to Eat in SLC

  • Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurants: Surprisingly, SLC is a treasure trove of plant-based eateries. If you’ve ever watched my Instagram stories, you already know about Big O Doughnuts, a totally plant-based donut shop with flavors like churro cake and orange cardamom. Buds has the best vegan sandwiches (get the pesto ‘chicken’!) and outdoor seating. Boltcutter is what’s up for tacos + nachos, and has Monkey Wrench next door serving ‘anti-dairy’ ice cream. Other vegetarian + vegan-friendly spots include Vertical Diner for breakfast/brunch, Seasons for pasta and polenta dishes, and All Chay for the ‘shrimp’ omg.
  • More Restaurants: This list will not be extensive, because there’s just too much good food in SLC. For breakfast, head to Publik Kitchen, Roots Cafe, Blue Plate, or Eggs in The City. You will wait 30+ minutes at all of these places on a weekend morning, prepare accordingly. If you’re into ramen, check out Yoko. For the best Indian in town, make the quick drive out to Bombay House. I get nachos at Lone Star on a weekly basis in the summertime. Mazza and Laziz are your go-to for hipster Mediterranean food (try the labneh!) and Juanita’s is my pupusa spot. (For what it’s worth, these places all have good vegetarian food too.)
  • Coffeeshops: Literally pick any coffeeshop and you’ll be happy–there are so many cool spots to grab an espresso or hunker down to do some work. My favorites are Publik, Three Pines, Blue Copper, and Sugarhouse Coffee. If you just want to work, go to the downtown SLC Public Library.

 

Farmers Markets

I live for farmers market season. And here in SLC, you can get three in a weekend–in the summertime. On Fridays, head to Liberty Park for a farmers market with the most food truck choices. Saturdays are the best market of all, the downtown SLC farmers market at Pioneer Park. If you’re still in the market mood, Sundays are for the Park Silly craft + food market in Park City.

In the wintertime, the downtown market moves to the Rio Grande train station, on Saturdays.

Getting Active (Inside)

There are two climbing gyms in SLC, and a fierce divide between which gym is better: The Front and Momentum. I’m a member at The Front, and Brody is a member of Momentum. The Front 10/10 has the best ambiance and facilities, including a sauna, vastly better bouldering, comfy seating areas, an outdoor patio, and soon-to-be third floor cafe. Momentum has better sport climbing. So, priorities–I obviously chose the sauna.

For yogis, I can’t recommend Seek Studio enough. If you’re there in the summertime, drop in on a rooftop sunset session.

Other SLC Local Biz You Should Patronize

Stockist is where I go for expensive-but-worth-the-investment hipster clothing and planters. Cotopaxi is headquartered downtown, and their HQ sits right above a rad retail shop that you should pop into. For anything bicycle related, heat to Saturday Cycles. If you need pillows/towels/etc. check out Maewoven.

I’ll keep this list updated as I remember all of the magical Salt Lake City shops and trails and eateries I’m inevitably missing from this list–but it’s a start, and a lot more extensive than the usual recommendations I try to type out in DMs on Instagram.

What am I forgetting? Where’s your favorite spot in SLC? Holla in the comments!

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