For the latest installment of Creative Coordinates, our travel guide series that charts the world’s creative hotspots, we chose not to focus on one city, but to embark upon a road trip across the great state of Utah. Read on to see what we found.
While Mormon settlers may be on record for arriving in Utah and declaring “This is the place,” a force much greater than man declared that long before. Driving from north to south, you’ll watch the scenery change from dense forest, to mountains, to a vast desert landscape. In one day, you can encounter all four seasons without crossing state borders. And while on the outside it may appear all serenity and nature, the nitty-gritty heart of Utah beats in the Underground.
The beehive is Utah’s state symbol. While a heavy religious influence might normally cause conflict, instead the community stays true to the hive essence. Maybe it’s the mountains, maybe it’s the desert, maybe it’s the combination — but there’s something about this place that keeps you open to alternative perspectives.
Stay — Airbnb In addition to considering some of the wonderful hotels Utah has to offer, check out the rustic mountain homes available throughout this great state. The cozy castle pictured above is situated right off the road at Alta Ski Resort, just a 20-minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City, and 30 minutes from SLC International Airport.
Morning Motivation — Blue Star Juice and Coffee Cafe Nestled on the cusp of Canyon Rim, just southeast of Salt Lake City, this spot has just about everything you need to get off to a great start. Sip your beverage of choice while you debate which peak you’ll conquer today. Just 10-25 minutes from any trail along Utah’s Wasatch Front, it can even service your bike while you wait.
The Sights — Bonneville Salt Flats Although it doesn’t fall under the National Park category, the Bonneville Salt Flats are definitely worth seeing. An hour west of Salt Lake City, the scenery transitions from the ordinary to the surreal. The best viewing point is a rest stop just off the side of the highway — about ten miles before you get to Wendover. If you’ve ever wondered how Salt Lake City got its name, this landscape will answer that question.
The Sights — The National Parks Utah is home to thirteen National Parks. In other words, if you’re not in a National Park, you can probably see one in the distance. From desert cliffs littered with cacti to dinosaur-age arch formations, the adventure options are endless. Make sure you’ve packed plenty of reserves; you won’t want to have to turn back early.
Eats — Lone Star Taqueria With an old-school car covered in tags parked outside, this Salt Lake City staple is hard to miss. While the car may scream for your attention, the food speaks for itself. The fish tacos change daily; the rest of the menu is set in stone. While nearby Barbacoa is another great option for some Tex-Mex, the locals tell us Lone Star is the spot.
The Desert Air Has Us Parched — Squatters Pub Brewery // Red Rock Brewing Co // Porcupine Pub & Grille Utah has some funny liquor laws, but don’t let that discourage you — they’ve figured out some tasty ways to keep you buzzing. What the bar scene in Salt Lake City may lack in alcohol by volume, it makes up for in altitude and craftsmanship. Plus, it doesn’t really lack the ABVs; it just has to bottle them up if they’re over 3.2.
Chill — Zuriick // The Stockist // Publik Kitchen So you’ve adventured to your heart’s content and now you’re craving some civilization. Head on over to the 9th and 9th area of Salt Lake City. This block is home to shops and restaurants owned by locals only. This is where that fierce humility comes in; rather than compete, every door opens to a different experience that all come together to offer up the ultimate chill zone. Zuriick’s has the specialty men’s shop up front, barber shop in back. The Stockist has your fashion-forward favorites. Publik has your specialty coffees and delicious healthy eats. And that’s just to name a few. You could easily spend an entire day on this single block.
Art — SFK Gallery You’re going to have to keep your ear to the ground for this one. With a studio in the back for designing and building furniture and motorcycles, a gallery up front for well-known and up-and-coming artists, the location of this Salt Lake City pop-up is subject to change. So once you get there, you better ask somebody.