Once upon a time, the south end of Salt Lake County had a reputation for little more than sprawling cookie-cutter neighborhoods, big box stores and family-friendly chain restaurants (perhaps due to its closer proximity to Utah County). But a little exploration will reveal bright spots of local color and culture, both old and new, and experiences you can’t get anywhere else in Utah. For instance, where else can you chant “olé, olé, olé!” at the top of your lungs while at a pro soccer match but while cheering on Real Salt Lake playing at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy? And one cannot overstate the natural perfection that is Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Who Lives There?
Median household income: $95,715
Median age: 36.0
Black/African American: 0.9%
American Indian/Alaskan Native: 0.6%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0.7%
2+ Races: 3.1%
What’s the Rent?
Median home price: $676,000
Median rent for one bedroom: $1,399
Where Do You Eat?
You’ll find The Charleston Draper, the Jazz Age-inspired creation of Chef Marco Silva, in a beautifully renovated 150-year-old Victorian home. Start off a magical night with Artichoke Soufflé, Chef Silva’s personal recipe and end it deliciously with Alice’s passion fruit mousse (adapted from one of Chef Silva’s mom’s recipes) or ask about the evening’s selection of fresh cakes and tarts. Adding to the magic, The Charleston is a true fine dining establishment with a dress code and a policy of no children under 11-years-old. Music to our ears.
Where Do You Drink?
At the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon sits one of Utah’s newest distilleries, in a beautiful modern structure made of glass, steel, exposed planks and dreams. Eight Settlers Distillery was established in 2020, and the new dining space is pretty cool. They have semi-private tables hidden behind Old West-style jail bars, but the modern touches mean it’s anything but hoaky. Similarly, their food menu consists of modern American cuisine with traditional twists. The name is an allusion to the eight families that settled in the Cottonwood Heights area, and all of their spirits fit within that theme, like Devil’s Gate Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Butler Vodka and Green Ditch Gin.
Where Do You Play?
There might be no better place to play outdoors than Little Cottonwood Canyon. From gorgeous trails, campgrounds and scenic drives to year-round fun at mountain resorts, you can take your pick. Snowbird hosts Oktoberfest every fall, where you can sample Bavarian-inspired beer and music (and find killer deals at the KUHL tent). You won’t want to miss a ride on the Snowbird Tram, which transports visitors up Hidden Peak and has been outfitted with new cabins—complete with a rooftop balcony and glass floor panels. (The tram is not to be confused with the contentious fight over The Gondola that would ferry visitors to the resorts, skipping the traffic, but could also turn the mouth of the canyon into a bigger parking lot than it already is.)
Best Places to Get Your Brunch On
The south end of the valley has one of the few places you can get brunch seven days a week—Sunday’s Best, from restaurateur duo Michael McHenry and Chef Tyler Stokes, is a stylish brunch joint where you can get a solid avocado toast, standard diner food…or an ’06 bottle of Cristal and caviar. For a stunning view with your brunch cocktail and eggs benny, reserve a seat on Cliff Dining Pub’s patio. It might be a little hard to get to, but Ridge Cafe is worth the drive for the pancakes and warm atmosphere. For the anti-brunch crowd, head to Hog Wallow for some smoked wings and brisket with a pint and live music to wash it down.
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