Local Highlights

Downtown Salt Lake City: A Complete Guide


Established as a religious epicenter way back in 1847, Salt Lake City today is far more than Utah’s capital. Aptly nicknamed “The Crossroads of the West,” SLC today is a thriving gateway between the West Coast and the Rocky Mountains. 

The city represents the best of a rich, evergreen mountain culture, unbridled entertainment, and some of the best food in the country.

Whether you’re planning a trip or considering dropping an anchor here full-time, let’s get to know this Great Basin town by zeroing in on the heart of it all: Downtown Salt Lake City.

What to Eat in Downtown Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City Downtown is a rapidly growing city, and along with that growth has come a tide of new restaurants serving both local and international cuisines. Similar to Portland’s food culture, Salt Lake county restaurants are modern, globally inspired, and unforgettably delicious.

Breakfast Bites

Whether you’re a regular on the slopes or prefer to kick back at home, you’ll find Salt Lake is an active town—which means there’s no skipping the most important meal of the day here.

Check out these top spots to break your nightly fast in downtown Salt Lake City:

  • Oasis Cafe – Come for the food, stay for the scenery. Here, you’ll find a menu full of classic breakfast fares, like huevos rancheros and eggs benedict. This cafe’s best offering, though, is the outdoor patio with vast mountain views.
  • Feldman’s Deli – This authentic Jewish deli only serves breakfast between 8:30 and 10:30 am. We recommend getting there on time because their pastrami-filled Feldman’s omelet is to die for—and the crowds know it.
  • Hub and Spoke Diner – Is there anything more comforting than an old-school American diner? At Hub and Spoke, you’ll find all of the staples at their best, bravest, and butteriest—eggs, bacon, pancakes, period. Plus, their chicken and waffles are considered some of the best in the state.

Lunchtime in Salt Lake

Whether you’re craving a hearty BLT or something a bit more vegetable-centered, downtown Salt Lake has no shortage of options for your mid-day meal break:

  • Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli – Straight from the old salt lake county, this classic Italian deli serves up all your sandwich needs. We’ll have the gabagool, please.
  • Himalayan Kitchen – The Rockies may not reach as high as the Himalayas, but you can have at least a taste of the elevation at this cozy eatery. For only $10, fill your belly with all-you-can-eat curry and naan at the lunch buffet.
  • Boltcutter’s – Boltcutters are Salt Lake City’s mecca for vegans—contemporary Mexican but hold the meat. We recommend plant-based tacos, burritos, and nachos.

Make Room For Dinner

Salt Lake City’s food scene truly comes alive after the sun sets behind the Wasatch mountain. Here are just a few restaurants helmed by some of the best chefs out West:

  • Copper Onion – Credited for putting Salt Lake City on the culinary map, Copper Onion is a hip yet upscale joint serving elevated American fare. Their burgers, spinach lemon ricotta dumplings, and cast-iron chicken are some of the most celebrated items on the menu.
  • Cucina Toscana – Cucina Toscana represents everything you want in an Italian restaurant. They’re known for their handmade pasta and other hearty classics—just the thing for a cold winter night.
  • Takashi – Sushi might not be your first thought when you think of Utah, but Takashi is here to change your mind. A favorite among locals, this constantly-packed establishment flies in fresh fish every day.

Make A Night of It

Contrary to popular belief, Utah is not a dry state—and it boasts some of the best Salt Lake City nightlife in the West from places like Squatters Pub Brewery to Beer Bar, all within walking distance. 

From après ski to a night out, here’s where to hit the town:

  • Beer Bar – Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or a casual sipper, Beer Bar’s lively atmosphere and menu of over 130 beers are sure to peak (mountain pun intended) your interest.
  • Whisky Street – Just down the way from Beer Bar, Whisky Street offers expertly crafted cocktails and some seriously delicious eats.

Endless Activities

Now, what is Salt Lake City known for the most? Salt Lake’s proximity to the mountains is known to draw in tourists, as ski resorts like Snowbird, Park City, and Alta are among the best in all of North America. Even so, there are plenty of ways to spend your time here, whether or not you’re hitting the slopes yourself.

Relish Outdoor Festivities

Since the winters here can get quite frigid, every day of summertime in Salt Lake is a cause for celebration. With the warm sun shining, locals shut down the main streets for festivities like:

  • Pioneer Park Farmers Market – Every Saturday, downtown Salt Lake hosts an incredibly versatile city farmers market. In addition to farm fresh produce and meat, you can find delish eats and crafts from local artists.
  • Gallivan Square – This central location hosts some of Salt Lake’s best activities, such as concerts and an outdoor ice rink in the winter. Our favorite, though, is Food Truck Thursdays—need we say more?
  • Utah Beer Fest – Each year, over 50 breweries participate in the coveted Utah Beer Fest. Take your pick of more than 200 different beers.

Have A Taste of the Arts

If you’re in the mood for a bit of music or theater, the performing arts scene offers some of the best things to do in downtown Salt Lake City. To dip your toe into the finer things, start with:

  • Utah Symphony – Based in downtown Abravanel Hall, this renowned orchestra travels throughout the Intermountain West.
  • Ballet West – This ultra-talented dance company puts on such classic performances as Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Snow White.
  • Eccles Theatre – Some of the biggest shows, both on and off Broadway, have performed here (yes, including Hamilton).

Get Jazz Fever

No, not the music (although the Rabbithole Lounge is an excellent jazz bar if that’s your thing). 

We mean Salt Lake City’s only professional sports team, the Utah Jazz of the NBA. All season, Vivint Arena gets packed with diehard local fans, and we don’t blame them: the Jazz are one of the best teams in the NBA today—and they’re also the only professional sports team in the state.

That said, college sports offer just as lively an atmosphere. Competing in the Pac-12 division, the University of Utah’s Utes are considered a top-tier competitive football team, with a spate of impressive wins in recent seasons.

Sights to See: Enjoying the Mountains from Downtown Salt Lake

It’s no secret that Utah is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. Part of the greater Rocky Mountain range, Salt Lake City is surrounded by the stunning Wasatch Mountains. This puts Salt Lake City downtown within less than an hour’s drive from some of the best winter sports, mountain biking, hiking, and nature-admiring in the state.

Ski and Snowboard Areas

Without exaggeration, Alta Ski Area draws winter athletes from around the world. This resort is revered by skiers because:

  • Founded in 1939, it’s one of the oldest ski resorts in the United States
  • It receives an average of 538 inches of snow per year
  • It has a skiable area of 2,614 acres
  • It’s one of just three ski resorts in the United States that prohibits snowboarding

Snowboarders, we have something special for you: Snowbird. 

Located right by Alta, this massive snowboard-friendly resort is often considered one of the best in North America—and there’s a scientific reason why.

Because the Great Salt Lake never freezes, storms get colder and drier as they pass over it.1 This results in snowfall with a denser base at the bottom and a fluffier, lighter lay of snow on top. And what does light, fluffy snow mean for skiers and snowboarders? Powder with superior floatation.

Summer Activities in the Mountains

The Wasatch Mountains aren’t just for winter sports (though we’d be remiss not to mention that Snowbird’s season has lasted as late as July 4th). 

There is non-stop action happening on the mountainside year-round. Summer activities include:

  • Mountain biking
  • Scenic tram rides
  • Hiking
  • Alpine slide and mountain coaster rides
  • River rafting

No matter the time of year you’re in the area, adventure is in your backyard when you live in Salt Lake.

How to Get From Downtown Salt Lake to the Mountains

For some of the most beautiful nature scapes in the country, getting to the Wasatch Mountain from downtown Salt Lake City is remarkably convenient. If you have a car, you can drive yourself to Snowbird in just over half an hour—but if you don’t have a car, don’t sweat it.

There are several shuttles that go straight from downtown Salt Lake to each of the nearby resorts. Canyon Hop, Utah Mountain Shuttle, and Canyon Transportation will all get you to Snowbird in under an hour. 

From there, you can alpine to your heart’s desire—or sit back, crack open a craft beer, and admire the vistas right in downtown SLC’s backyard.


  1. Alta. So, Exactly What Makes Alta’s Snow So Good? https://www.alta.com/stories/so-exactly-what-makes-altas-snow-so-good

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