Salt Lake City is Sharpening its Creative Edge

Main Street, Salt Lake City

Word is out that Greater Salt Lake has been quite rapidly transforming from a highly traditional, tranquil place to a much more diverse, lively metropolitan scene. The towns that comprise the area boast cutting-edge features and attractions that would do New York City and Los Angeles proud.

“Salt Lake is not the quiet, conservative town of yore,” says Scott Beck, president and CEO of Visit Salt Lake. “Far from it—in fact, we’ve experienced a sea of change in dining, nightlife and culture over the past decade. And to the uninformed bellyachers whose conception of Salt Lake is 10 years old, we say, theresnothingtodoinsaltlake.com.” The website features a plethora of exciting options.

The transformation perhaps is most vividly displayed in the area’s entertainment scene, which features intriguing bars and clubs, as well as a wide array of music and inventive comedy venues.

Visitors may be surprised by the many unusual, captivating—and in some cases, downright bizarre—entertainment options in Salt Lake City and Park City, both very popular cities among meeting groups.

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is nestled between the Wasatch Mountains on the east and the Great Salt Lake to the west. The city is home to 191,180 people, and the Greater Salt Lake area has a population of 1,153,340. The area has an impressive array of hotels, resorts and conference centers that can accommodate all types of meetings.

“It’s an attractive area to groups because of its accessibility, affordability and the welcoming, service-oriented nature of the hospitality community,” Beck says. “Not to mention the incredible venues and space for groups of any size to gather, connect and make progress on their collective goals.”

Also luring meeting groups are the exhilarating outdoor recreational possibilities only about an hour’s drive away. The area boasts some of the country’s best ski and snowboard resorts, and miles of terrific mountain trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

Still unbeknownst to many, when the sun goes down, the metropolitan area offers a variety of unusual entertainment options, from eclectic clubs to burlesque shows.

Offbeat Clubs & Bars

beerhive-pub-salt-lake-cityBeerhive Pub, Salt Lake City

Beerhive Pub boasts elegant, vintage decor and offers a wide range of craft beers and haute pub grub. The Main Street spot boasts 24 taps and more than 200 bottled beers from around the world. In fact, many customers are delighted to rediscover beers they enjoyed years ago from faraway places. But the establishment’s main attraction is an ice strip running the length of the bar. “Everyone loves it,” Beck says. “It keeps your beer nice and cold, to the very last drop.” Beerhive Pub is large enough to accommodate a big group but maintains an intimate, friendly atmosphere.

Situated in the heart of downtown, Metro Bar is at the forefront of Salt Lake’s underground scene, catering to the varied tastes of diverse party crowds. The venue features eclectic live bands, DJs, cabaret shows and more. The third Friday of every month, Metro Bar presents Sketch Cabaret, an interactive experience designed to inspire and provoke the audience. Artists, musicians, engineers, architects, stylists and designers are among the participants, and include some of the top talent in Salt Lake City.

tavernacle-social-clubTavernacle Social Club

Downtown Salt Lake City’s most wild dueling piano/karaoke show has been taking place at Tavernacle Social Club for more than 11 years. Ideal for groups, the content and theme of the show—essentially a singalong party—is determined by the audience. The dueling piano show also is available for private parties.

The Urban Lounge features a variety of music, including electronic, rock and metal. The club owners opened Rye Diner & Drinks next door in 2014, providing munchies such as shoyu fried chicken and truffled mac and cheese. The diner is smack-dab in downtown Salt Lake City, but has a look and feel that would be well-suited to trendy up-and-coming neighborhoods such as Williamsburg in Brooklyn or Silver Lake in Los Angeles. The lounge and diner were meant to complement each other—on nights when the lounge hosts concerts, audio and video from the shows are pumped into Rye’s dining room.

Salt Lake City definitely gets weird at Area 51, a downtown dance club. Themes are taken seriously there, change regularly and include nights for hip-hop,’80s, carnival, heavy metal, time-traveling vampire and much more. The club hosts special events including Fetish Ball, held the last Saturday of each month. A different theme, from sinfully sexy to fantasy flirtatious, is featured every month. The ball also features fetish vendors, exotic burlesque, cage dancing and piercing demos.

Groups looking for a venue where almost anything goes often head to Bar Deluxe on State Street. Shows run the gamut, including metal, punk, hip-hop, soul and even burlesque, with feather boas, fire jugglers, ribbon dancers and, of course, tattooed ladies. Bar Deluxe also hosts noted national and local acts at least once a month.

Other Exciting Options

Surprising to many, stand-up comedy is one of the most popular forms of evening entertainment in Greater Salt Lake City. Wiseguys is an all-ages comedy club in West Valley City, 10 miles west of Salt Lake City. It features a variety of well-known—and often irreverent—comics, as well as open-mike nights, bar bites and beer. Wiseguys offers plenty of options for private group gatherings, including private shows and parties, and any event can include food and beverage packages.

Granary Row, Salt Lake City’s funky, urban, pop-up street festival, returned this summer after an unexpected one-year hiatus due to city ordinance issues. The festival, which took place every weekend in August this year, featured local musicians, food trucks, a beer garden and artists selling their works. To prepare for the festival, organizers took old, dented shipping containers and rehabbed them into attractive storefronts with drywall, lights and air conditioning.

Park City

Park City, located 35 miles southeast of downtown Salt Lake City, is a vibrant mountain community of 7,962 people that is filled with upscale shops, galleries and restaurants.

Meeting attendees enjoy Park City’s fresh air, open space and gorgeous scenery. After their work is done, there are plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities, including skiing and other snow sports in the winter, and hikinghot-air ballooningfly-fishing, horseback riding and river rafting in the summer.

The small city also features a surprisingly active nightlife scene.

“Historic Main Street has a long list of restaurants and bars to please any palate and budget,” says Carolyn Creek-McCallister, national sales manager for Visit Park City. “Looking for something a little more active? Try night skiing at Park City Mountain Resort. Not really a drinker? Stop by Atticus
Coffeehouse for some great coffee, conversation and music.”

And now, for something a bit more unusual…

Offbeat Clubs & Bars

downstairs-park-cityDownstairs, Park City

Downstairs is a cool, intimate Vegas-style martini-bar-cum-music venue. The downtown establishment features a chic gathering of nooks and sofas with a fireplace and wood decor. A well-stocked bar includes classics such as mai tais and kamikazes. Downstairs offers a wide array of events and music to suit all different social tastes.

A former mining town, Park City is littered with the ghosts of lost souls who met untimely deaths, whether at the hand of another or in mining shafts. Some believe that No Name Saloon and Grill (formerly known as the Alamo) is haunted by a miner who fell 600 feet to his death. Another famous ghost, Lizzy, reportedly still drinks at the bar. No stories have surfaced about her discussing the meetings industry with visiting groups, though.

Other Exciting Options

Advertised as “anything but your typical bowling alley,” Jupiter Bowl offers costume-themed and dance party bowling parties. It features 16 luxury lanes of ultra-modern bowling, with a state-of-the-art sound system and mosaic of high-definition video screens. It also has an arcade and a billiards lounge with three pool tables. Jupiter Bowl’s Black Diamond Bar, a local nightclub, offers a 360-degree view of all the activities.

the-viking-yurt-park-cityThe Viking Yurt, Park City

The Viking Yurt, located above Park City Mountain Resort, offers one of the most unique dining experiences in Park City. Guests begin by taking a 23-minute sleigh ride that provides incredible views of the night sky, giant trees, city lights and the surrounding mountains. Upon arrival at the yurt (a circular, domed structure), they are served a gourmet six-course Norwegian meal. The evening concludes with a sleigh ride down the mountain, with attendees nestled under heavy blankets. The Viking Yurt serves ski-in, ski-out lunches and dinners every day from mid-December though March. It can accommodate up to 40 people, and groups can buy it out and customize their experience.

Summing Up

These are among the most interesting places for groups in Salt Lake City and Park City, and virtually all of them can be experienced year-round. And as groups are discovering, there are plenty of other unusual places to visit in the Beehive State.

Those Weird Nearby Cities

Plenty of other places in the Greater Salt Lake City area offer unusual and cutting-edge entertainment for groups.

If you want to surprise attendees, take them to Enliten Bakery and Cafe in downtown Provo—to enjoy a night of blues dancing! Every Friday at 8:30 p.m., the bakery is transformed into the only exclusively blues dancing venue in the city. Dubbed Light Blues, the evening begins with a 30-minute dance lesson, then the lights turn down and the music turns up for dancing until midnight. Everyone, from beginners to experienced dancers, is welcome.

Another Provo spot, ComedySportz, features an inventive approach in which the audience chooses and directs the comedy acts and games comedians play. The humor is sharp and rapid-fire, but a referee makes sure it’s suitable for all ages and tastes.

Alleged in Ogden, a stylish lounge, offers an eclectic mix of music and drinks. The design elements and drinks pay homage to the vast array of nefarious activities that allegedly took place not only in the building, but also at other locations on historic 25th Street. Apparently, the last establishment in the building was the notorious Rose Rooms Brothel. The Weber County property has a roof deck bar and three different floors, each with a different vibe. It accommodates private events.

owl-barOwl Bar photo by Matt Morgan courtesy of Sundance Mountain Resort

In Heber County, Sundance Resort’s famed Owl Bar (pictured) is a great place for groups to have a drink and unwind—and enjoy live music on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s a cozy spot with fireplaces inside and a fire pit outside. So what’s unusual about it? The restored 1890s bar is the original Rosewood Bar once frequented by Butch Cassidy’s Gang. It was


Major Meeting Venues

Davis & Weber Counties

Courtyard Ogden

Formerly the Summit Hotel & Conference Center, rebranded this year; 193 guest rooms; new state-of-the-art lobby; indoor pool; fitness center; more than 17,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Davis Conference Center

In Layton, 20 minutes north of Salt Lake City; attached to Hilton Garden Inn Hotel; Fahrenheit Lounge; more than 70,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 18,000-square-foot Eclipse Expo Hall and 12,562-square-foot Meridian Grand Ballroom.

Ogden Eccles Conference Center & Peery’s Egyptian Theater

Downtown facility; theater was built in 1924 and has been restored to its original elegance; 70,000 sq. ft. of event space.

Heber Valley

Homestead Resort

Historic property in Midway, a 45-minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City; 125 guest rooms; restaurant; outdoor pool with hot tubs; natural geothermal pool in a crater; 13,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Zermatt Resort & Spa

AAA Four Diamond, Swiss-inspired chateau in Midway; all 329 guest rooms provide alpine views; wellness center; 39,728 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Park City

montage-deer-valleyMontage Deer Valley

Features hundreds of original paintings and sculptures; all 220 guest rooms include gas fireplaces and patios or balconies; five restaurants; spa; 55,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Park City Marriott

Majestic Wasatch Mountains provide backdrop; 192 guest rooms; two restaurants; pool; 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space divided among 11 rooms.

Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley

Only Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond property in Park City; 180 guest rooms; Glitretind restaurant; 23,000-square-foot Mountain Oasis Spa; 26,384 sq. ft. of meeting space.

The St. Regis Deer Valley

the-st.-regis-deer-valleyHigh-end property carved into a mountainside; 181 guest rooms, all with mountain views; two restaurants; bar and lounge; wine vault; infinity-edge pool; 23,257 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Waldorf Astoria Park City

Situated at the base of Park City Resort; 175 guest rooms; spa; fitness center; pool; 8,158 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 4,000-square-foot Pavilion.

Provo & Utah Valley

Provo Marriott Hotel & Conference Center

Steps from Utah Valley Convention Center; 330 guest rooms; Slate restaurant serves traditional American food with a modern twist; 28,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Sundance Mountain Resort

Nestled at the base of 11,752-foot-tall Mount Timpanogos; 95 guest cottages; classes and workshops for team building; 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Utah Valley Convention Center

LEED Silver certified facility located in historic downtown Provo; 83,578 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 19,620-square-foot Exhibit Hall and 16,894-square-foot grand ballroom.

Salt Lake City

Hilton Salt Lake City Center

Located in the heart of the city, near Salt Palace Convention Center; 499 guest rooms; three dining options; 24,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Hotel Monaco

Boutique Kimpton hotel situated within walking distance of Salt Palace Convention Center; 225 guest rooms; more than 3,100 sq. ft. of event space.

Salt Lake City Marriott City Center

Some of the 359 guest rooms provide views of Wasatch Mountains; La Bella Piastra serves continental cuisine with Italian overtones; indoor pool; fitness center; 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting space divided among 17 rooms.

Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek

Adjacent to dining and shopping at City Creek and next to Salt Palace Convention Center; 510 guest rooms; Elevations serves urban American cuisine; fitness center; pool; 22,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Salt Palace Convention Center

Downtown meetings hub; 515,000 sq. ft. of contiguous exhibit hall space and 164,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 45,400-square-foot grand ballroom divides into 10 rooms.

Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel

Situated downtown, three blocks from the convention center; 362 guest rooms; two restaurants; business center; fitness center; outdoor pool; 33,000 sq. ft. of meeting space divided among 22 rooms.

Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort

snowbird-ski-summer-resortNestled between peaks in Little Cottonwood Canyon, 29 miles east of Salt Lake City International Airport; 800 guest rooms; excellent winter and summer activity options; 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. 

The Grand America Hotel

AAA Five Diamond, sister property to Little America Hotel; 775 guest rooms; Garden Cafe features American cuisine; 75,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 35,000-square-foot center courtyard and 22,813-square-foot grand ballroom

The Leonardo

Cutting-edge science, technology and art venue; Event Center offers breathtaking views of city skyline; 4,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

The Little America Hotel

AAA Four Diamond luxury property with 850 plush guest rooms; two restaurants; fitness center; Salt Lake City’s largest indoor/outdoor pool; 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 8,867-square-foot grand ballroom.

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