Salt Lake City is working hard to lose its image as a quiet town where the sidewalks are rolled up at night. Check the Friday editions of the Salt Lake Tribune or Deseret Morning News for listings of upcoming events. For additional entertainment news and listings, pick up one of the city's free papers, including the Salt Lake City Weekly, which also offers alternative news articles. The Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau also publishes event calendars.
Among the top entertainment venues in Salt Lake City is the E Center, 3200 S. Decker Lake Dr., West Valley City (tel. 801/988-8800 for the box office; www.theecenter.com), an arena-style venue that also hosts big-name touring entertainers in its 3,700-seat theater.
The Normalization of Utah's Drinking Laws
The cumbersome private-club-membership requirements for entry into bars, nightclubs, and some restaurants are a thing of Utah's past, thanks to legislation that went into effect on July 1, 2009. Tipplers no longer need to pay membership fees or fill out applications before entering an establishment to buy an alcoholic drink.
But perceptions are hard to change, and several things about Utah's liquor laws beg for explanation. Much of the confusion comes from the terms used to define the different types of liquor licenses held by different businesses. There are three primary types of liquor licenses: tavern, restaurant, and private club. Taverns serve beer only; restaurants serve beer, wine, and liquor; and private clubs -- which are no longer private -- also serve beer, wine, and liquor.
In a press release, the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau had this to say: "Utah's liquor laws are becoming more normalized and the perceptions about 'not being able to get a drink' should no longer be used as a reason for not taking full advantage of all that Utah has to offer. Rest assured, however, that we are not looking to 'normalize' the Greatest Snow on Earth, nor are we going to try and 'normalize' our incredible scenery."
The Performing Arts
Tickets for performances at a variety of venues can be obtained from Art Tix (tel. 888/451-2787 or 801/355-2787; www.arttix.org).
The highly acclaimed Utah Symphony & Opera (tel. 801/533-6683; www.utahsymphonyopera.org) combines one of the country's top symphony orchestras and the well-respected Utah Opera Company. It presents four operas a year plus a year-round symphony season at Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, an elegant 2,800-seat venue known for its excellent acoustics.
The nationally acclaimed Ballet West (tel. 801/323-6900; www.balletwest.org) performs at the historic Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South. The October-to-May season usually brings four or five productions, ranging from classical to contemporary, as well as holiday stagings of The Nutcracker. Modern dance is presented by the Repertory Dance Theatre (tel. 801/534-1000; www.rdtutah.org) and the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company (tel. 801/297-4241; www.ririewoodbury.com), with performances at the historic Capitol Theatre, located at 50 W. 200 South; the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, located at 138 W. 300 South; and other venues.
The Pioneer Theatre Company, 300 S. 1400 East, Room 325 (tel. 801/581-6961; www.pioneertheatre.org), is Utah's resident professional theater. Located on the university campus, the Pioneer has a repertoire that ranges from classical to contemporary plays and musicals. Recent productions have included Twelve Angry Men and A Chorus Line. Producing edgier contemporary fare, the Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North (tel. 801/363-7522; www.saltlakeactingcompany.org), stages about six plays by local and national playwrights annually. The family-oriented Hale Centre Theatre, 3333 S. Decker Lake Dr., West Valley City (tel. 801/984-9000; www.halecentretheatre.org), just down the road from the E Center, features locally produced and performed plays and musical comedies.
Jordan Commons -- An Uncommon Experience
The Jordan Commons complex encompasses 2 city blocks at 9400 S. State St., south of downtown Salt Lake City in Sandy. The complex boasts 16 35mm movie theaters plus one 70mm large-format super-screen theater -- all with digital sound. The theaters surround a food court that has a stupendous variety of edibles: cuisines from Australian to Chinese to Italian to Mexican, plus a deli, coffee shop, and, of course, popcorn. The theaters are equipped with chairs large enough to accommodate food trays, so you can bring your dinner in with you! Call tel. 801/304-4577 or check the Web at www.megaplextheatres.com for movie information and tickets.
The Club & Music Scene
As Salt Lake City grows, it's shedding its strait-laced image and beginning to hold its own with other Western cities in catering to the party crowd. Some of the following establishments were once so-called private clubs, but as of July 2009 you no longer have to buy a short-term membership to imbibe.
One of the city's more with-it and cosmopolitan nightspots is Mynt Lounge, 63 W. 100 South (tel. 801/355-6968), an upscale bar with an extensive martini menu. This place attracts one of Salt Lake City's hippest crowds. The Jackalope, 372 S. State St. (tel. 801/359-8054), is a funky, edgy bar attracting the tattooed and restless. Squatters Pub Brewery, 147 W. Broadway (tel. 801/363-2739; www.squatters.com), brews top-notch suds and thumbs its nose at local conservatism with such beer names as Provo Girl and Chasing Tail. The Red Rock Brewing Company, 254 S. 200 West (tel. 801/521-7446; www.redrockbrewing.com), is another solid downtown brewpub, and a good spot to eat if you're looking for pub grub.
For one of the best martinis around, stop at Kristauf's Martini Bar, 16 W. Market St. (tel. 801/366-9490; www.martinibarslc.com), a favorite of business types and other well-dressed tipplers. On the other end of the cultural spectrum, Burt's Tiki Lounge, 726 S. State St. (tel. 801/521-0572), is a legendary punk-rock dive, with kitsch-bedecked walls and loud music most every night. For dueling pianos and perhaps too much revelry, hit the Tavernacle, 201 E. 300 South (tel. 801/519-8900; www.tavernacle.com).
On the east side, the Canyon Inn, 3200 E. 7200 South (tel. 801/942-9801), is a long-standing favorite of the après-ski and -snowboard crowd, and makes a pretty good pizza to boot. It's a good place to catch a game, and the dance floor is the place to see and -- more important -- be seen.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.