Salt Lake City has been my home for over a decade, and nothing makes me appreciate my hometown like enjoying it as if I was a tourist. I spent this past weekend on a little staycation before the crazy holiday madness really begins. Stay tuned because I am going to be traveling quite a bit through the month of December, and can’t wait to share.
Getting to Salt Lake City from the airport is extremely easy. It’s one of the first things I mention to people who aren’t from here. You can easily jump in a Lyft or Uber and you will be in the heart of downtown in less than 15 minutes. Cost for a Lyft is about $15. You can also take public transportation (Trax) that runs every 20 minutes. The cost to take Trax is $2.50 one way.
Where to Sleep in Salt Lake City
Hotel Monaco: My staycation was spent in one of my favorite hotels, The Hotel Monaco. If you are looking for a luxurious stay with one of the friendliest staff, then this is the spot for you. Since Christmas is right around the corner, they are offering some exciting things at the hotel. I stayed in their Christmas Suite, which is decked out with a tree, twinkle lights, and candy canes. They also deliver cookies and a nightcap of your choice every night. It truly felt like a I was living in a Christmas fairytale. Some other amenities I really enjoyed during my stay included the wine hour in the lobby (also a great place to get work done) from 5pm-6: 30 pm, and the life-size Scrabble board!
Where to Eat in Salt Lake City
Bambara: In search of a delicious meal in Salt Lake City? Bambara’s New American Cuisine has what you are looking for. Everything from the menu to the interior design echoes a beautiful twist on old meets new. I highly recommend trying the bone marrow. It was my first time having this dish and it is now one of my favorites. For dessert, I took the waiter’s recommendation and tried their take on a deconstructed carrot cake. The sweet sauce on this is something that I would put on everything.
TableX: Table X is one of the best dining experiences in Salt Lake City, if not THE best. Run by three chefs, they have thought through everything from the atmosphere, tableware, and of course, the delicious meals. Their seasonal menu is rapidly changing to keep up with the produce available but one staple remains and that is the sourdough bread and freshly churned butter. I got to take a loaf home and have been savoring it ever since. If you get a chance to try their Sweet Potato Gnocchi, don’t think twice. This appetizer has every flavor you’ve ever wanted. The sweetness from the potatoes pairs well with the fermented serrano peppers. Be sure to save room for dessert because it is too gorgeous not to see. I had the olive oil cake and compressed Fuyu persimmon and even though I said I couldn’t eat another bite, I ate the entire thing.
Takashi: Say hello to the best sushi I have ever had. Takashi is by far my favorite place to take friends that come in from out of town. If you have some money to spare I recommend getting the Omakase. Omakase is a Japanese phrase that means, “I’ll leave it to you.” At Takashi, you set a dollar limit somewhere around $50 per head and leave it to the sushi chef to bring out rolls, appetizers, and sashimi. You will walk away stuffed and amazed by all the unique flavors. P.S. the BBQ rice is a hidden gem.
Pretty Bird Chicken: Let’s talk hot chicken! This small spot opened up on Regent Street in the summer and it has been on repeat for me ever since. Their spicy chicken sandwich is to die for, served on a fresh brioche bun with their special seasoning. You will walk away extremely full and in need of a power nap after eating here. Be sure to arrive early, because they often sell out.
Where to Drink in Salt Lake City
Miracle Pop-Up Bar at Hotel Monaco: This bar is only in town for the month of December. If you are an SLC local or traveling through during the holiday season, definitely check it out. The bar (normally known as The Vault) is decked out with wrapping paper walls, twinkle lights, a 12-foot nutcracker, and even more surprises added every day.
I had the opportunity to try a couple of their festive cocktails and my favorites were the Yippie Ki Yay Mother F*** and the Christmopolitan. If you are feeling adventurous I recommend trying the Partridge in a Pear Tree. It has an interesting smokey flavor that felt like drinking a warm cocktail even though it was served on ice. All drinks are served in festive cups you can purchase for your own home.
The Post Office Place: Craft cocktails that are sure to become your favorite. This new bar opened up a few months ago and has some of the prettiest and most flavorful drinks in Salt Lake City. I recommend staying for a little dessert here too.
Waterwitch: Although this bar isn’t in the center of downtown, you can easily grab an $8 Lyft. Waterwitch is known for having no menu and the most creative bartenders. Just let them know what kind of liquor you would like and the mood you are in and they will whip something up. This small bar has excellent cocktails for an even better price.
BTG: Whether you are a wine connoisseur or still figuring out your favorites, BTG has you covered. This local wine bar has excellent flights and a wine list that goes on for days. My favorite is the bubbles flight, of course.
Beerhive: If you are in search of a good beer and a fun, laid-back atmosphere, this is the spot. It’s located right downtown and offers a wide selection of beers and cider. Be sure to sit at the bar. It’s the best seat in the whole place.
What to See & Do in Salt Lake City
Ballet West: If you are here during December, definitely try to fit in a trip to see The Nutcracker. It’s always such a fun way to get in the holiday spirit and the Capitol Theater is beautiful.
Eccles Theater: Check to see what plays are on when you are in town. I have been fortunate enough to see Hamilton and The Book of Mormon in this theater and it has been such a treat.
Temple Square: Located in the direct center of downtown, you won’t want to miss Temple Square. You can take a tour or stroll through and see the gardens, reflection pool, and temple. If you are here during the holidays, go at night or early in the morning to see the festive Temple Lights.
Ensign Peak: There are so many amazing hiking spots located close to Salt Lake City, but this one is less than a 15-minute drive from downtown and has a beautiful overlook. I recommend going at sunset and don’t forget to bring your camera.
Cooking Class: Tony Caputos is a small market in Salt Lake City that has everything Italian you could ever want. If you have a little extra time, sign up for one of their cooking classes or wine and chocolate tastings. Don’t forget to take a box of chocolate truffles to home with you.
Where to Shop in Salt Lake City
Katie Waltman: When anyone asks me where to find great clothing and jewelry in Salt Lake City, I recommend Katie Waltman without thinking twice. I have been a long time customer at this store and always look forward to popping in to see what’s new. Local jewelry maker, Katie Waltman will definitely have something for you to remember SLC by. I in love with her little Honey Bee Rings.
City Creek Center: A gorgeous indoor/outdoor mall, this space is filled with all your usual shops. Great for a rainy day in SLC.
Cotopaxi: I love shopping local when I can and Cotopaxi is one of my go-to spots for outdoor gear that will last. If you are looking for gifts that will get some use, I recommend one of their Luzon Backpacks.
Thank you to Kimpton Hotel Monaco, Bambara, and TableX for having me. All opinions are my own.
Photos by Camber Weiss.