March 24, 2008

Mindful Guide to Salt Lake City: The Best Organic, Local Food, Parks, Yoga Studios and Indie Businesses

Numbered streets draw a grid over downtown Salt Lake City, similar to a stretched out Manhattan. Once you “grock” this system, navigating the city is pie and you can get anywhere in 10 minutes. Many of these streets pipeline into the numerous canyons and mountain ranges that make Salt Lake City a hub for the many outdoor enthusiasts that choose to satisfy their travel bug here. From mountain biking, trail-running, rock climbing to skiing, Salt Lake has it all within a shorter hike than most big cities. People here care about their bodies and the environment they shape them in-and many local businesses cater to their concerns. You may know this is the land of Mormons, of limited access to alcohol. What you may not know is where to…

eat! Skip Mickey D’s and go local. You can actually wash dishes for your meal at One World Everybody Eats Café, which is dedicated to serving organic food and feeding all members of the community. This café lets you choose how much you want to eat-and pay-in an effort to eliminate wastefulness. You’ll find great organic and veggie cuisine at Sage’s Café. And at Oasis Café, a portion of your food’s cost is donated to the reachthechildren.org. Mazza satisfies cultural cravings with Middle Eastern falafel, shawarma, kebabs, dips and salads. Living Cuisine (also known as Omar’s Raw Food) won’t make you feel like you just undid your morning workout-they offer an all-raw, organic menu prepared with “absolute love” in mind. I’m there.

move! be! There’s Salt Lake’s Kanzeon Zen Center‘s meditation gardens, classes and workshops. For a more agro way to release stress, get in a high-energy, fast-results thrash session at The Front Climbing Gym. The gym comes fully loaded with climbing walls, workout areas and yoga/pilates classes. Salt Lake City Bikram Yoga offers Bikram’s classic (patented!) 26 asana series in a hot room, which helps to relax your muscles. For traditional yoga, take a Hatha, Kundalini or Ashtanga class with one of SOMA Yoga‘s top-notch instructors (concerned with matching your yoga pants to your mat? Go elsewhere). Or, create some inner heat practicing vinyasa (flow) yoga at…yes, Flow Yoga-located in the Sugar House neighborhood, a mini melting-pot.

shop! Every Saturday from June to October, conscious consumers descend on Salt Lake’s historic Pioneer Park for The Farmers’ Market-a fun, practical way to support local business while getting-to-know the S.L.C. community. Fight for fair-trade-shope at Ten Thousand Villages, which works with 100 artisan groups in Africa, Asia, Latin America and 30 other countries to bring you mindfully-sourced jewelry, home décor and gifts. Liberty Heights Fresh offers high-end specialty groceries, homemade soups, sandwiches, fresh meats, local and organic dairy, fruits and vegetables (remember your tote). Whew! At Earth Goods General Store, you’ll find eco clothing, baby products, office and pet supplies. For more: localfirst.org.

see! If you don’t rent or borrow a bike, hop the local Trax (public light rail) and keep your emissions low. Get hyped at scenester java joint Coffee Garden, where you can grab a hearty, fair-trade cup of joe and people-watch the alternative Salt Lake crowd (yes, there is one-from punks tattooed up to their elbows to 30-something running buddies). Time for Salt Lake’s venerable The Avenues, the progressive, artsy side of the city. Beautiful homes line the streets, with chattering coffee shops and bars on many a corner. Get lost in and educated at the Public Library for a well-earned leg stretch. After your brain food, a midday growl fix is in order. Try the decidedly quaint Beehive Tea Room with its grand collection of teas and treats. On the third Friday of every month you can get your art fill during S.L.C.’s gallery stroll at galleries like Artspace and Tivoli. If all else fails, just take a look around-the Wasatch Front hugs the edge of the valley, making for a beautiful view just about anywhere you go.

go! Perhaps the best part of this valley is the ability to get out of it when you need a jog or hike after work, or on the weekends. Little Cottonwood Canyon, a mere 15-minute drive out of downtown, offers stellar hiking and biking trails and world-class bouldering right off the road. When snow begins to dump, head up the canyon further to Alta and Snowbird, two indie family-run ski resorts just a short haul from your doorstep. Mill Creek Canyon is where you’ll find Rattle Snake Trail, a favorite trail-run where strong winds and rolling hills give your calves and quads a good burn for days after. Can’t make it to the mountains for an afternoon run? Stay super-local at Bonneville Shoreline Trail, a 90-mile hiking and bike path across the foothills of the Wasatch down through such beautiful locations as The University of Utah and parts of the Red Butte Botanical Gardens. Grab a rope and harness and head a little farther up to Big Cottonwood Canyon for sport climbing or traditional pitches (also known for year round skiing, snowshoeing and cross country at local resorts Brighton and Solitude). Still want more? Take a short drive up to the quaint mountain town Park City for Olympic-approved shredder conditions (log onto trails.com and get the down-low on biking, hiking and running trails anywhere around S.L.C.). After a full day in the mountains, sit back with folks who care about the places that made your weekend rock at Salt Lake Green Drinks, or swing by the historic Tower Theater for a new indie flick. Run by the Salt Lake Film Society, it’s one of the venues for the Sundance Film Festival (you may’ve heard of it) in January.

Colette McInerney grew up in Nashville Tennessee. Surprisingly it was while at college in The Bronx, New York, she discovered her first love: rock climbing.

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