It’s not news that SLC remains in the crosshairs of folks from coast to coast who are looking to get away from bigger cities without abandoning the comforts of city living altogether. Whereas some call us “mid-sized,” we like to think this town aligns more with the Goldilocks standard of measurement: “just right.” It’s difficult to remember a time pre-COVID, but it’s not so long ago now that folks nationwide were buzzing about the liveliness of this city in which we live, and the national list-making levels of both happiness and up-and-coming-ness our locals were constantly landing us on.
And though many of us have been turning our focus inward these last few months, the truth is that the global pandemic that’s rocked planet Earth for the greater part of 2020 has done little to deter folks from packing up and heading toward Zion (in fact, there have been a few stats that have suggested just the opposite). As we potentially sit on the brink of another 49er-esque migration, we’ve been doing a bit of reflecting on our neighbors, both current and incoming.
There’s a lot to love about this city, but we also know that there’s more than potholes that need repairing along this salty grid. And so, as more and more folks from the 714 to the 212 discover what’s so lovable about SLC, we’ve compiled a little letter to all you newbies; it’s a list of the things we love about our town, the things we hope can change, and the things we hope never, ever, do.
Without further ado...welcome home.
Eat Out: While our culinary community has expectedly taken a hit during COVID times, we’re astounded at the passion and resilience of our local eateries and those who keep them up and running. Sure, we’ve got a ways to go before our city as a whole can go toe-to-toe with bigger metropolises, but at the pace we’ve set, we don’t think it’ll be long at all. (Looking for a place to start where takeout is concerned? We’ve got your list right here. Support them now so they can support our cravings for years to come!)
Support Local: Nobody loves SLC quite like SLC does, so any chance we get to support our neighbors, we hop to it. From eateries, bars, and galleries to markets, musicians, and coffee kiosks—you name it, we’ll show up for it (just ask Starbucks about their notorious run-in with the 9th & 9th ‘hood). Our little ecosystem may be small but we’d like to see it thrive, so keep your ducats to the 801 whenever you can, please.
Kick Back: Just before COVID lockdowns, our bar and brewery scene was at its peak, and we’ve no doubt that it'll bounce back with the best of them (make a donation to Tip Your Server to see that it does!). Whether you’re looking for a dark rendezvous space or a place to get dancey, the ‘tenders of this town have got you covered—and we just can’t wait to belly up ASAP.
Hit the Slopes: ’Tis true: Utah truly does have the greatest snow on Earth. Take your pick from the handful of resorts (we’re counting 10) within an hour of Downtown and get to shredding. Play nice—there’s room for all—and, while we admit newcomers muck up the lift lines a bit, we can think of a few ways you can make penance (see below)
TO NOT DISTURB:
State + National Parks: Along with the Mighty 5 national parks, Utah is also home to 43 (count ‘em!) state parks. This is where you’ll find all the “big, beautiful backyard” you’ve been hearing about. The key to keeping it so awe-inspiring? DON’T TOUCH! Every year that we hear of red rock being tagged or hoodoos being toppled we shed a giant tear and shake our collective heads at the sheer stupidity of some folks. Take only pictures, leave no trace. It costs nothing to be respectful, y’all.
Small Town Vibes in a Big City: Few places in the US remain where one can find both an international airport and a drive-in movie theater within 20 minutes of downtown. There’s a slew of goodly ‘hoods around here that are walkable to others (Aves/Federal Heights/University, Liberty Wells/Liberty Park/9th & 9th/Harvard & Yale), and we’ve got plenty of outdoor community green spaces for your social distancing pleasure. Our worst traffic is still (for now) akin to coastal cities’ best, and for that we’re eternally grateful. Walk as often as you can and let this big little city capture your heart completely.
Neighborliness + Sense of Community: Not a day goes by that we don’t thank our lucky stars for the friendliness of our neighbors in this city of seagulls and segos. “Please,” “thank you,” and “good morning” aside, our locals made some stellar strides this summer in terms of looking out for each other, including SLC Covid Mutual Aid, biz-to-biz raffles and fundraisers, and many-a peaceful march during a time fraught with tension. SLC Skate Babes continue to host outdoor/masked roller nights to the public, Utah Diné Bikéyah continues to fight the good fight, and the 300 W. murals stay inspiring us. Organizers and activists have done big things for this little city in 2020. We invite you to pick a cause (or two or three) you believe in and hop in the ring.
Environmental Attention: We know that SLC’s dirtiest secret has as much to do with geographical factors as it does pollution, but we’d like to nip our contribution to the Inversion in the bud. Here’s to more efforts in the ways of public transportation, carpooling, and clean energy use in the years to come. For now: carpool to the slopes, be mindful of cold starts, and reduce waste whenever possible.
Diversity + Inclusivity: We think one begets the other, because diversity isn’t worth much if folks don’t feel comfortable enough in their communities to walk proudly through it. Utah may still be fire hydrant red, but SLC’s one of the gayest cities in the US. Our annual Pride Parade grows in attendance and gayety every year, and we’re brimming with pride for the local shops and eateries that proudly display their acceptance of folks of all colors, creeds, and walks of life. We’ve certainly seen progress in the last decade, but we can’t wait to see where this town is at in another 10.
Reckless Development: This one might be small potatoes next to the other issues at hand, but we think it’s worth mentioning, lest the right ears be listening. Salt Lake City is a beautiful one, brimming with history and possibility in equal measure. While we’re thrilled with the growth it’s seen in the last decade or so, we can’t help but get a little nervous about the speed with which many developers are getting projects commissioned, approved, and built. The face of our city will always be changing, but we’d definitely like to see a bit more diversity, care, and craftsmanship go into the new structures that are cropping up. (You can read more about our thoughts on the matter here.)