Salt Lake City's nightlife might not be up there with New York or New Orleans when it comes to lists of America's biggest party towns, but there's plenty to be said for Utah's capital city. The town offers up family-friendly saloons that channel the spirit of the Wild West next to fancy bistros stacked with crisp American wines.

    You'll also discover a distinct passion for beer brewing in the more youthful and student districts, with all sorts of strange hops creations to get through. Meanwhile, the areas nearer the Wasatch Range have bars filled with hikers fresh from the trails, and even ski taverns where post-ride après drinks are the order of the evening. Check out our guide to the best nightlife in Salt Lake City.


    State Street

    At least 3 miles of venues to pick from

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    State Street cuts through the very middle of Salt Lake City, running for more than 3 miles all the way from Downtown to South Salt Lake. It's a hubbub of activity from north to south, with everything from car dealerships to strip malls up its sleeve. On top of those is a myriad of dining and drinking establishments.

    You could start with the spicy Cajun wings and selection of over 400 beers at The Bayou – an SLC legend. Then, move on to the whisky and dancing hole of Piper Down and Olde World Pub, an English-style tavern with regular live music and events. Between the 2, you'll find Korean BBQ joints, pancake houses, meatball kitchens – you name it.



    Where creative brewhouses mingle with sleek eateries

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    Downtown Salt Lake City is roughly bounded by State Street to the east and John Stockton Drive to the west, with Pioneer Park poking out on the side. It once had a reputation for more staid institutions, banks and offices, but there's been rejuvenation afoot in more recent years.

    Cue the medley of microbreweries and gastropubs that now peppers the whole area. A lot of them meet at the intersection of 300 S and 200 W, where you'll catch popular names like Red Rock Brewing Co. and the Squatters Pub. When the tummy starts to rumble, you'll also discover acclaimed steakhouses and Neapolitan pizza places.


    Main Street

    Cosy wine bars close to the beating heart of the city

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    Main Street runs through the heart of Downtown, but also pushes on a little to the south and north, all the way to the grand complexes of Temple Square. On one end, closer to the Joseph Smith Memorial and the other prestigious icons of the city, it's got shopping malls and boutique retail areas. On the other, there are plenty of cafés and bars you can look to after dark.

    South of E Broadway is where the best mix is. Down there, you've got gruyere-scented fondue houses that slosh with crisp white wines, rollicking sports bars, and chic bistros with refined food menus.


    Capitol Hill and the Avenues

    Enjoy an evening drink with a view

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    The area of Capitol Hill and the Avenues is a chic and stylish corner of the Salt Lake City metropolis. It's probably most famous for the grand Utah State Capitol Building, but there's much more to get through as you head to the districts north of Downtown.

    The neighbourhood is firmly established as a breeding ground for creative American cuisine. You can check out Avenues Proper or Avenues Bistro on Third to sample Mediterranean-US fusion food and farm-to-table burgers. From there, you could drift across to one of the sleek local wine bars to sip a drink while the sun sets across the Wasatch. 



    Low-key nightlife with morning hikes in mind

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    The city of Holladay takes you away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Salt Lake City, out to where the Wasatch Mountains crash skywards with soaring Mt Olympus. Still, it's only about a 17-minute drive to the spot from Temple Square, so the bars and cafes are still accessible.

    The vibe is something different, though. In these parts, you'll share pub tables with tanned hikers and climbers. You'll swap tales of your adventures through nearby canyons or up the pine-peppered peaks of Mount Raymond and the Twins. It's usually an early night – there are walks to be had in the morning…


    zdjęcie: Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0) zostało poddane edycji



    Après ski in abundance

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    Alta is not only one of the best ski towns in the Salt Lake City area – it's one of the very best in the USA. Spread over Sugarloaf Mountain, within a 40-minute drive into the Wasatch from Downtown SLC, it's a favourite of local snow lovers during the winter months.

    Lots will linger after a long day of whizzing down the slopes to partake in the après scene. There are some darn enticing places for that – Alta Peruvian Bar is an excellent example, where stuffed buffalo heads keep watch on the wood-panelled walls as folk music drifts through the craft beer taps. Then there's the Gulch Pub on Little Cottonwood Road, touting tasty sourdough pizzas and cold pints.


    Park City

    Cowboy saloons right by snow-dusted peaks

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    Park City is just under 40 minutes by car from Salt Lake City, but the trip itself is an adventure. It takes you through the heart of the Rockies, past the lake waters of Mountain Dell and the green forests of Mount Aire. There's plenty of rewards once you arrive, too.

    The skiing is obviously worth a mention, but an après vibe caps that off. Hit Main Street in the early evening to be in the middle of it all. There are creative New American eateries, along with Argentine bodegas that have rich red wines. However, you can have the most fun at Park City’s rancher saloons, like The Pig Pen Saloon and High West Saloon.


    zdjęcie: Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0) zostało poddane edycji



    Cheer on the Utes with the city's college crowd

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    The district of Foothill is a vibrant mix of student dives and upscale residential areas. Wedged between the Wasatch Range and the sprawling buildings of the University of Utah campus, its varied roster of pubs and bars and eateries is ready and waiting for folk fresh from the lecture halls or fresh off the mountain trails to the east.

    Regular hotspots include The Pie Pizzeria, where cushiony Chicago-style deep pans are the name of the game, and the Porcupine Pub, with its breezy alfresco terraces that gaze towards the Utah peaks. The morning after the night before should all be about a long brunch – there are some great morning diners in family-friendly Foothill.


    Sugar House District

    SLC's artsy neighbourhood in the shadow of the Wasatch Range

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    In the lively Sugar House District, you'll wave goodbye to the chain stores and big-name brands. Also known, simply, as the Sugarhouse, it's an area that stretches along 2100 S, all the way to the meadows and lakes of Sugar House Park. Within are some of the most happening nightlife spots SLC has to offer.

    On warm summer evenings, things start early, as locals fill the gardens of the gastropubs to munch on spicy fried chicken and slow-roasted meats straight off the BBQ. Later on, you can move to cool and collected Wasatch Brew Pub for hops-heavy beers or delve into Fiddler's Elbow to watch the game with a cold one and the crew.



    Discover Salt Lake's upcoming brewing scene

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    In Granary, at first glance, the old industrial sprawl of the district certainly isn't what you'd expect of a Salt Lake City nightlife hub. But mosey down to the blocks that spread from 600 S and the I-15 and you might just be surprised by what's on offer amid the redbrick depots.

    Afternoon coffees at the eco-minded Publik roastery could kick you off. Then, move over to Lucky 13 to sample one of the town's most iconic burgers – be sure to bring the appetite. Afterwards, it's got to be a brewery, because Granary boasts some of the most boundary-breaking craft pubs this side of the Rockies.

    Joseph Francis | Autor

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