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15 Ways to Experience Salt Lake City

When you think of Salt Lake City, Utah, what comes to mind? Skiing or the Olympics? Maybe Mormons? Or no alcohol? For me, Salt Lake will always be home, and I’m excited that ALA’s 2020 Annual Conference & Expo will be held here.

Chase Hunsaker

In recent years, Salt Lake City has undergone a renaissance of sorts fueled by one of the nation's best economies. We’ve seen world-class shopping malls open, amazing theaters and concert halls take shape, and a huge building boom that’s trying to keep up the demand of new businesses and residents. 

And I know I’m biased, but it really is hard to find a prettier view. Salt Lake City in the spring is idyllic, surrounded by gorgeous mountains, lush trees and fragrant blossoms. Throw in the pioneer architecture and a diverse offering of restaurants, and your work trip can feel like a getaway.

With that in mind, I’d like to welcome you to my city with a list of places — many within walking distance of the Salt Palace Convention Center — for you to discover, entertain colleagues and business partners, and fill the hours in between Annual Conference.


Red Iguana
736 W. North Temple, 1.3 miles
This family-run, laidback restaurant offers traditional Mexican café fare. Be sure to order mole — trust me. It’s worth the Uber.

202 S. Main St., 0.2 miles
Located in the Hotel Monaco, this bistro serves up seasonal New American fare paired with cocktails and fine wines. Be sure to make a reservation.

Valter’s Osteria
173 Broadway, 0.2 miles

You’ll definitely need a reservation at this upscale Italian restaurant. It would also make the perfect location for a business dinner. 


Bourbon House
19 E. 200 South, 0.3 miles
As the name suggests, this cocktail emporium and craft kitchen offers a wide array of bourbon options that will suit any bourbon-lover’s palate. The menu offers a more upscale take on traditional bar food, including vegetarian options.

326 S. West Temple, 0.3 miles

Located in the heart of Salt Lake City, this is a gastropub with scenic views of downtown. They often have live music, too.

Keys on Main
242 S. Main St., 0.3 miles

Take a seat, Piano Man. Come to Keys for dueling pianos and cocktails you might not see anywhere else.


City Creek Center
50 S. Main St., 0.1 miles

This upscale open-air shopping center features foliage-lined walkways and streams covering three blocks in the heart of downtown Salt Lake. You’ll also find fine-dining options here. Just make sure you come with space in your suitcase!

The Gateway
400 W. 100 South, 0.9 miles

The Gateway is an outdoor mall that offers shopping, dining and entertainment options like Wiseguys Comedy Club and Mystery Escape Room. Fun fact: It was originally built for the 2002 Winter Olympics and was where the medal podium was located.

Trolley Square
602 S. 700 East, 1.9 miles
An eclectic, one-of-a-kind shopping and dining center built in 1908. Plus, there’s a Whole Foods.


Temple Square
50 N. Temple, 0.2 miles

Iconic, classic Salt Lake City — at the center is Salt Lake Temple, the gem of the city. Unfortunately, it’s currently closed for the first time while it undergoes extensive renovations. Not to worry, though — start your stroll at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Conference Center, just north of Temple Square. It’s filled with beautiful art, artifacts and, if you’re lucky, you’ll hear the organ fill the theater.

The Family Discovery Center
35 N. West Temple, 0.2 miles

It houses the world’s largest library of family and genealogical records, with data for over 3 billion deceased ancestors from around the world. Ask one of the guides for help getting started — you might find someone in your family tree!

Park City Main Street
528 Main St., Park City, 33 miles

This town is the home of the Sundance Film Festival, many 2002 Winter Olympics venues and ski resorts, as well as over 90 shops and more than 50 restaurants all within the historic Main Street area. It’s a quick 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City and will be the cherry on top of your visit — after the conference, of course.


Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Drive
About 20 minutes from downtown Salt Lake
Drive this 15-mile route to visit two world-class ski resorts, rock climbing routes, hiking and mountain biking trails and picnic areas straight out of an outdoor magazine. Pack a picnic and maybe your hiking boots — or just your tennis shoes — to stretch your legs.

Ensign Peak Trailhead
2.2 miles

The trailhead is in a residential area north the Capitol Building — another pretty sight in the spring. This hike is a short (but steep!) 1-mile round trip, but you’ll gain an amazing, clear view of the entire Salt Lake Valley.

City Creek Canyon and Memory Grove Trailhead
300 N. Canyon Rd., 1 mile

Memory Grove Trail is a 5-mile round trip, but you don’t have to go far for beautiful war memorials and a little peace and quiet. It’s in the heart of the city, but the canyon blocks out the urban buzz, creating a great spot for a little me time.

These are just a few ideas of many places that I love. Have a question? Looking for something else? Send me an email!

Invest in your professional development while you take in all that Salt Lake City has to offer. With more than 70 sessions to choose from — and an expansive Exhibit Hall to find solutions to your firm challenges in — you’ll come back from the 2020 Annual Conference & Expo with fresh ideas for tackling the daily challenges at your firm. Visit for complete conference details, including a link to register.