Nicholas DeRenzo

If you’ve never been to Salt Lake City, it’s understandable that you might have some preconceived notions. Truth be told, many of them are probably pretty accurate: Yes, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an outsized influence here. Yes, seemingly everyone is preternaturally friendly. And yes, Utahns love to ski. But SLC has spent the past decade or so in a state of constant change, embracing its newfound status as a regional hub for creativity and progressive ideals; the Mormon Church, in fact, even publicly supported an LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination law, and Salt Lake City now often ranks among the top 10 gay-friendliest cities in America. The 2002 Winter Olympics are widely considered one of the most successful in recent memory, and those games left the city cleaned-up and open for new businesses. In the years since, the area has welcomed new museums, luxe shopping centers and a host of restaurants that have grabbed the attention of the national food media. Perhaps best of all, updated liquor laws have eased up on the state’s famously restrictive alcohol policies, meaning you can toast to the city’s new chapter with a proper beer or well-made cocktail.