Nightlife has a strong connotation with partying. However, Salt Lake City has a reputation around the nation for sparse bars and restrictive laws - leaving visitors wondering: what do do for nightlife?
Though this scene is ever-improving (and the regulations ever-loosening), it never hurts to think creatively, and try something different after dark. Especially if you have minors in your group, avoiding 21+ establishments in favor of all-ages events can provide a stimulating alternative to a drink in a bar.
Though Salt Lake City feels more like a big town than a city, it has all the attributes of a major metropolis, including professional and university sports teams. During the winter, many of these happen to be fully in-season. In a city with multiple basketball teams, a pro hockey team, and a record-breaking gymnastics team - all competing during the winter months - you're quite likely to find a game or meet that lines up with your visit.
A Utah Jazz NBA Home Game — Photo courtesy of SPM435
The Utah Jazz NBA team have been a Salt Lake City institution since 1979, when they relocated from New Orleans. And though the name clearly comes from its originating city in Louisiana, the team actually only spent five seasons there; the rest has been in Utah. Between the months of November and April every winter (and spring), you can catch six or more home games each month at the Energy Solutions Arena, immediately in the center of downtown.
The Utah Grizzlies is the Salt Lake Valley's own professional hockey team. Actually located in West Valley City, in The Maverik Center, this team requires about a 15 minute drive from downtown to witness. Though this westward commute from Salt Lake City can prove tricky during rush hour, face-offs usually happen at 7pm - giving the post-work congestion ample time to clear out of your way. And because games usually start at that time, they also end at a rather humane hour. Catching a game might save you from staying out until 1am.
Utah Grizzlies vs The Gulls — Photo courtesy of Catchpenny
The University of Utah also has numerous options for high-quality sports spectating. Their most popular winter teams are the women's and men's basketball, and women's gymnastics teams. In fact, their women's gymnastics team meats are so popular that their team beat the NCAA's single season average attendance record, packing the Jon M. Huntsman Center with an average audience of 13,861 members per meet.
Their record largest crowd came to watch them beat Brigham Young University in 2008... and was 15,447 people large. Basketball games also take place in the Jon M. Huntsman Center and - for some - are more exciting to watch than NBA games. Between the men's and women's teams, you can expect at least a dozen games every month to choose from.