Salt Lake City: Our Home, Part 13

The beautiful Main Street in Park City really lights up the night. Photo credit: pinterest.com
The beautiful Main Street in Park City really lights up the night. Photo credit: pinterest.com

One reason why Salt Lake City is becoming a popular destination is the airport’s proximity to the city itself as well as the neighboring areas. While some places require a lengthy drive to attractions and resorts, this does not. The crown jewel of these hides a mere 40 minutes away: Park City.

Officially founded as a city in 1884, Park City was named after Mormon Pioneer Parley P. Pratt after a few families “parked” there in the late 1840s and Pratt himself explored the canyon leading up to the area in 1848. Park City’s prominence came into play in the 1860s with the discovery of ore, and thus the beginning of the local mining industry. The mines dominated the economy of Park City for about 100 years, including some of the wealthiest mines in the world, but the tide turned in the 1950s and the city fell into decline with the dropping price of silver.

Right at the economic tipping point, the miners proposed “Treasure Mountain,” a ski resort opening up on the former mining acreage behind the town. The original resort featured a lift which combined a mining train with an elevator to take skiers to the summit; it may have terrified its occupants, but it showed those brave enough to step inside what treasure awaited them. Today’s resort, known as Park City, sits adjacent to the downtown and neighboring communities, and it also features a ski lift and runs which go right into the historic downtown.

Speaking of the downtown, Park City has a beautiful Main Street, which functions as the main attraction besides the ski resorts. The town has accolades and attractions in spades; Forbes ranked it as the #1 ski town in the United States, and while we might be biased, it deserves it. Main Street has over 5 dozen buildings registered on the National Register of Historic Places; the sidewalks neighbor many of them and showcase beautiful small restaurants and local stores. Each one is a treat to the senses.

Besides Main Street, there is an unincorporated area near Park City which tends to be somewhat quieter; the bulk of this area is known as Kimball Junction. It is home to the Tanger Outlets, the Redstone Center, and Newpark Town Center. Each of these locations contain local amenities and shopping, such as movie theatres, outlet stores, and even a community athletic center.

Tucked above this western neighboring area is the Utah Olympic Park, a fully-functioning former Olympic event venue and training center with a bobsled track, ski jumps, and a museum dedicated to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. While they were officially held in Salt Lake City, Park City was a major contributor to the success of the Games, with the usage of two ski resorts and other amenities. The park also features a zip line from the top of the ski jumps and other activities for guests, making it a great summertime stop.

All of the wonders of Park City are fairly easily accessible, whether one lives in Utah or not. For driving, Interstate 80 runs up Parley’s Canyon (also named after Parley P. Pratt) right next to the town, which can be accessed either via Kimball Junction or US-40 a few miles further up. The Utah Transit Authority also runs buses, PC-SLC Connect, up to Kimball Junction from downtown Salt Lake City, which then connect with the Park City Transit system. This local high-frequency bus system includes the new Electric Xpress route, featuring a fleet of 100% electric buses. Not only is Park City a historic and lovely place to visit, it’s also easy to access and get around.

Whether staying for a few hours, a few days, or a few months, Park City is arguably one of the ultimate tourist and local destinations in the United States, and we at VIP Limousine love taking clients up there and visiting it ourselves.

Going Local: Avant Groove

One of the newest hot spots in Salt Lake City, this gem shines on Pierpont Avenue in downtown. Photo credit: www.avantgroove.com
One of the newest hot spots in Salt Lake City, this gem shines on Pierpont Avenue in downtown. Photo credit: www.avantgroove.com

At Going Local and VIP Limousine, we’re taking a moment to deviate our attention from the ski resorts and impending winter season to have a look back at downtown Salt Lake City. Most of the local establishments we have and will be highlighting are mainstays here in Utah, often having been around for decades. For this write-up though, we’re looking at a place which has an age that can still be measured in days, but which also has a promisingly bright, jazzy future ahead.

Avant Groove is the latest and greatest to hit the Salt Lake City nightlife scene. It’s a jazz club that even skin-deep could be straight out of La La Land, but it’s a bit cleverer than that. Owner John Vecchi moved to Salt Lake City several years ago and had contemplated opening a club in his native Bay Area, but he decided to launch Avant Groove a bit further inland here in Utah. As far as we’re concerned, we’re all the more fortunate for it. He successfully created an atmosphere and vibe that befits both the casual and the classy.

Walking up to the premises, Avant Groove’s initial impressions and appeal center around one word: cool. The establishment is in a renovated historic building on Pierpont Avenue just west of the downtown business district. Outside, there’s a large deck framed by big glass windows, which in turn sit next to an old-fashioned revolving door that takes patrons back in time. Inside, the original bare ceiling is left to show itself and the structure within, but has updated additions where needed which meld different periods of design together. The main room is peppered with modern touches and period-style furnishings that wouldn’t look out of place in the 50s and 60s. Definitely cool.

The icing on the decor cake, though, is two-fold. First is the central bar, which resembles an iceberg sculpted by the 20s or 30s; the second is the chandeliers, which have been made to imitate brass instruments. It’s a unique touch that could be interpreted as a physical manifestation of what jazz music can be: twists, turns, and unexpected moments, and thus definitively cool and classy.

A main floor to brag about! The stage is just off to the right of this picture. Photo credit: catalystmagazine.net
A main floor to brag about! The stage is just off to the right of this picture. Photo credit: catalystmagazine.net

And what cool and classy music it is. On the night which Going Local first went to Avant Groove, the club featured a local ensemble which was celebrating the 100th birthday of jazz icon Thelonius Monk. In addition to guest artists, the owner of Avant Groove himself performs with a quintet called Elastic. The music played on center stage here is great fun and is executed beautifully by enthusiastic and knowledgeable musicians.

The architecture, ambience, and sounds should tickle your senses, but Avant Groove isn’t done yet. The kitchen, wait, and bar staff is continually whipping up and serving delicious food and drinks on the ready to delight noses and taste buds. They will even make non-alcoholic versions of classic drinks. The food is excellent and can be easily shared, and is great for satisfying one’s appetite instead of overindulging.

In order to stimulate one’s five senses at Avant Groove, it’s a quick walk west from the Utah Transit Authority‘s Gallivan Plaza TRAX station (on the Green and Blue lines) to Pierpont Avenue, just off of West Temple between 200 and 300 South. There’s also a good amount of parking in the area; for chauffeured patrons, there’s also a spot on the curb for quick loading and unloading.

This establishment’s time in Salt Lake City has so far been very short; as that time gets longer, it will determine how well it does. One thing is for sure though: we at VIP Limousine and Going Local are rooting for Avant Groove’s success and placement on the map of local hot spots. Salt Lake City: listen up and take a bite of this place!

Going Local: Cherry Peak Resort

Located near Logan and the Utah-Idaho border, Cherry Peak is definitely a hidden gem. This image shows the base lodge just after completion before the area opened for business. Photo credit: fox13now.com
Located near Logan and the Utah-Idaho border, Cherry Peak is definitely a hidden gem. This image shows the base lodge just after completion before the area opened for business. Photo credit: fox13now.com

At VIP Limousine, we understand what it’s like to start a business and work towards your dream. We started small before becoming #1 years later. Every business has a story and a dream, and Going Local loves to highlight these establishments. As we continue our series on Utah ski areas, we wanted to write about Utah’s newest pick: Cherry Peak.

Located just outside of Richmond, Utah, up north by Logan, Cherry Peak was the brainchild of local property owner John Chadwick. He dreamed of opening a ski area on the property, and skiers and boarders alike had already gone up to the slopes. The dream became a reality in 2014 with the completion of the beautiful base lodge.

Upon opening in December of 2015, Cherry Peak became the newest ski area in the state of Utah, and the first all-new area established in a long time. The resort has a commitment to keeping their skiing basic and pure, and initially operated with two triple chairlifts bought from other resorts and given a second lease on life. A third chairlift, the Summit triple, was installed the following year. It’s an environmentally-friendly option that enables Cherry Peak to maintain consistent service and pass on savings to customers.

These three triple lifts give skiers and boarders access to 200 acres and 1,265 vertical feet of Utah powder. Cherry Peak’s size does mean it is for the faint of heart; the front side has only one easy run, with the beginner pod located up higher. From the summit of 7,050 feet, there are only intermediate and advanced runs. There is also a copious amount of night skiing here, the most in northern Utah.

In addition to the alpine arena, Cherry Peak has summertime activities including a music festival. The winter also is home to a nordic skiing loop, tubing, and an ice skating rink.

There are a few other reasons, however, we think that Cherry Peak is worth a look. The first is the price. Season pass prices top out at only $239 and they include access in the summer, as well as other perks such as access to other mountains, such as Eagle Point Resort. The second is the atmosphere. This is an honest, simple resort populated primarily by locals up away from the crowds. These alone make Cherry Peak worth the trip.