Salt Lake Undergoes Renaissance

Utah’s capital city invests in new infrastructure and tourism products while garnering awards along the way By: Skye Mayring
Salt Lake City International Airport took first place on the Major Airport On-Time Arrival Performance list. // © 2012 Visit Salt Lake
Salt Lake City International Airport took first place on the Major Airport On-Time Arrival Performance list. // © 2012 Visit Salt Lake

The Details

Visit Salt Lake

Salt Lake City is undergoing a renaissance of sorts. In March, City Creek Center — a $2 billion, 23-acre mixed-use redevelopment featuring retail, residential and office space — opened its doors in the heart of downtown. Two world-class museums, the Natural History Museum of Utah, located at the University of Utah, and The Leonardo, an art, science and technology museum in the downtown area debuted in the fall of last year. And, in terms of infrastructure enhancements, a TRAX light rail line will soon connect the airport to downtown, further simplifying access to/from the capital city. Upon completion, and in conjunction with the vast network of existing TRAX lines and public transit lines, visitors will be able to access the best of the city in an environmentally friendly manner. The city is also enjoying a substantial growth in the restaurant and nightlife scene, a welcome addition for locals and visitors alike.

“A constant misconception about Salt Lake, and Utah in general, is that there is no nightlife and you cannot get a drink — that is anything but true,” Shawn Stinson, director of communications for Visit Salt Lake, told TravelAge West. “Utah has no dry counties and, surprising to many first-time visitors, Salt Lake has a number of award-winning breweries and brew pubs. In fact, a number of Salt Lake brewers have been winning award after award for their beers at prestigious international beer competitions for years now, all of which can be enjoyed in any number of restaurants and pubs throughout the state.”

In 2009, legislature normalized Utah’s liquor laws, doing away with the archaic membership requirement. Since then, the restaurant and bar scene has flourished — downtown Salt Lake has more than 140 bars, pubs and restaurants.

“It’s amazing how often we hear first-time visitors say they never knew [our destination] has so much to offer, from endless outdoor recreation and our line-up of cultural arts to our history and our now-impressive dining scene,” said Stinson. “Like any successful tourism town or community, our best promotion comes from longtime visitors, those who have experienced the coming-of-age of Salt Lake as a true tourism destination.”

Visitors and travel experts agree that Salt Lake is among their favorite U.S. destinations for the great outdoors, luxury accommodations, affordable getaways and more. It’s no surprise that this Western destination recently received these accolades for its tourism product: 

• Salt Lake ranked number one as Best U.S. Hiking City in America (May 23, 2012, National Geographic)
• The capital city won Best City Sunrise (Feb. 2012, AARP The Magazine)
• Salt Lake ranked number two on CNBC’s Best States for Business (July 17, 2012, MSN Money) 
• Salt Lake City International Airport took first place on the Major Airport On-Time Arrival Performance list (July 2012, RITA Bureau of Transportation Statistics)
• Utah ranked fifth on the Happiest State in the U.S. list (Feb. 28, 2011, Huffington Post)
• Salt Lake was named number two for Best U.S. Cities for Affordable Getaways (Feb. 2012, Travel + Leisure)
• Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake rated number two in the Top 25 Luxury Hotels in the U.S. (Jan. 2012, TripAdvisor)
• Salt Lake ranked number one in The Gayest Cities in America (Jan. 2012,
• Alta/Snowbird was named the Top Ski Resort in the U.S. (Dec. 13, Forbes)
• Salt Lake won first place for being the American Bargain for Skiing (Dec. 13, 2011, TripAdvisor)

“Salt Lake, and Utah in general, planned and invested a great deal over the past decade or two to offer an excellent year-round tourism product,” said Stinson, “and recognition of those efforts is rewarding, reinforcing our belief that tourism promotion is critical to our long-term success and remains an economic driver in our community.”

Adventure Travel JDS Africa Middle East JDS Destinations