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Salt Lake Valley's diverse spread of shops: big and small, familiar and new



The Wasatch Front is home to roughly 80% of Utah's 2.8-million-person population - meaning nearly 2.3 million people live within a short drive of Salt Lake City! Stretching from Provo to Ogden, this urban area is home to all types: Mormons, skiers, artists, bikers, musicians, and video-gamers. Some are 5th-generation Utah natives, and others are first-generation immigrants.

The point? This eclectic a population demands a diverse selection of shopping. And this large a population supports a thriving shopping scene - one so active that people travel from around the state to experience it.

Despite its density of businesses, restaurants, and residences, Downtown Salt Lake City has found room within itself to hold a number of major shopping centers and districts. The newest of these, City Creek Center, is a result of a multi-year renovation project in central Salt Lake. Occupying approximately 20 acres and containing 500,000 square feet of retail space, this newest center cannot be missed.

Also near to downtown is The Gateway, one of Salt Lake City's most upscale and generally pleasant shopping malls. This outdoor shopping center stands just a few minutes west of Downtown and contains a number of restaurants, a movie theater, and a children's museum. Trolley Square stands just a few blocks southeast of Downtown proper, and contains numerous clothing shops, food stores, restaurants, and a brewpub within its historic walls.

Toward the southern end of the valley, you'll find classic malls like the South Towne Center and Fashion Place Mall. These contain more than a hundred shops each, and all the familiar amenities of a modern-day mall.


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Guthrie Bicycle
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren


In business since 1888, Guthrie Bicycle is not only the oldest bike shop in Salt Lake City, but is also among the oldest (and is possibly the oldest) in the entire nation. In fact, Guthrie was in operation for eight years before Utah even became a state. During its tenure, Guthrie has seen every type of bike from the high-wheelers of the 19th Century to the 15-lb super machines of modern times. Today Guthrie sells Santa Cruz, Raleigh, Cervelo, and Trek bikes. Their models include mountain, road, and commuter/ comfort bikes, as well as children's models. For really young kids, they also offer trailers. Guthrie also services all type of bikes and offers a fitting service.

Local Expert tip: Check their website for special maintenance and bike buying tips.

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Wasatch Touring
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren


Wasastch Touring is Salt Lake City's staple store for outdoor goods. In operation since 1972, this has been locally-owned for four decades. Selling goods for both summer and winter "out of bounds" mountain play, they offer equipment totally in line with their name. For snow sports, they offer split boards, telemark skis, and avalanche safety equipment. In summer they sell biking, kayaking, and climbing equipment and accessories. You can also purchase and rent bikes, kayaks, and climbing shoes here. Wasatch touring operates a service shop for bikes in need of repair. If you're looking for a little of everything, this is the shop for you.

Local Expert tip: This is downtown Salt Lake's best and most diverse shop for exploring the Wasatch Mountains during any season.

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West Jordan


Built in 1877 on the banks of West Jordan Canal, Gardner Mill was a prominent site for flour-milling in its original time. Today it serves as the centerpiece of an appealing shopping center and stands as a reminder of the mill's importance in the development of Salt Lake Valley's southern side. As you walk through the village, keep in mind that these historic buildings - a grist mill, mattress factory, blacksmith shop, and general mercantile store - once served as the meat and bones of an early Utah pioneer settlement. Today the village contains Archibald's, a top local restaurant, and a host of specialty shops. Here you'll find everything from Christmas ornaments and quilts, to antiques and children's books.

Local Expert tip: Group and bus tours are available seasonally for those interested in the village's history.

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Foothill Village
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren


Located on the benches of Salt Lake City's posh east side, this fashionable shopping center - Utah's first - provides discriminating shoppers a range of upscale venues. Whether you seek ski gear, running shoes, or groceries, you'll find what you're looking for - or at least the high-end version of it. The shops of Foothill Village don't set out to be snobby; they simply have some of the best goods and most knowledgeable staff in town. The Sports Den outfits local ski racers, and the Salt Lake Running Company is the best place in Utah for expert running shoe advice. The village offers numerous shops specializing in toys, jewelry, and candy, and also contains a handful of restaurants. Well-known retailers include Stein Mart, Hallmark, and White House/Black Market.

Local Expert tip: Foothill Village has the best running store in Utah.

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South Towne Center


South Towne Center, billed as "Utah's largest shopping destination," offers more than 150 shops and restaurants. From Bath & Body Works to REI, the mall delivers just about anything you might need. Familiar names include The Buckle, Express, Pier 1 Imports, Forever 21, Dillard's, JCPenney, and Macy's. Plenty of food options ensure that you're sustained throughout any shopping adventure. Rock climbers and yoga practitioners will even find themselves satisfied at Momentum Climbing, a full-scale, indoor rock climbing center with yoga classes, as well as weight training and cardio equipment. Located immediately off of I-15 Exit 293, this mall is easy to reach, no matter where you're located in Salt Lake Valley.

Local Expert tip: Many of the mall's businesses, like REI, Momentum, and Texas Roadhouse, are located outside of the main building.

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Sugar House


Sugarhouse is one of Salt Lake City's most magnetic neighborhoods for shoppers, diners, and home-buyers alike. Offering a number of locally-owned and national-brand retail shops, restaurants, galleries, and cafes, Sugarhouse attracts all walks of life. Big-name stores include Old Navy, Men's Warehouse, Walgreens, and Famous Footwear. However popular these shops, it's Sugarhouse's local boutiques and restaurants that really draw the crowds. Hip second-hand shops, a tobacco outlet, burger joints, beer bars with billiards, and coffee shops attract everyone from highschool punk rockers to middle-aged couples. Sugarhouse is also the location of a Utah State Liquor Store - the one with the longest open hours in Salt Lake Valley.

Local Expert tip: One of Sugarhouse's most beloved stores is its Patagonia Outlet.

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Located toward the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley, Fashion Place Mall is *the* area's classic shopping mall. As one of Salt Lake's premiere shopping destinations, Fashion Place contains a host of familiar stores such as Dillard's, Macy's, Nordstrom, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer, and Sears. In addition to these big names, the mall boasts 100-plus shops and restaurants. Given the staggering number and wide variety of its shops, this mall is among Utah's best. Hungry shoppers have a similarly vast number of eateries from which to choose. Restaurants at Fashion Place include pizza joints, steakhouses, chocolatiers, espresso bars, brew pubs, sub shops, and frozen yogurt stands.

Local Expert tip: Though most shops don't open until 10am, the mall itself opens at 8am, allowing mall walkers a few hours of uncongested time.

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Trolley Square


If you've ever driven the length of 700 East Street, you couldn't have helped but have noticed Trolley Square's100-foot-tall, light-up water tower, just a few blocks southeast of downtown proper. Marking one of the city's more central shopping centers, this tower once serviced a yard of trolley car barns. Housed within the historic brick walls of these structures today are numerous shops and eateries of various sizes. Among the potpourri of boutiques and national stores, you'll find a Pottery Barn, Whole Foods, Williams Sonoma, American Apparel, and Lululemon Athletica - as well as a collection of locally-owned and operated outfits. On the dining end, you'll find the Desert Edge Brewery, a Rodizio Grill, and The Old Spaghetti Factory.

Local Expert tip: If you can't find parking in the lot or garage, street parking is available to the west.

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The Gateway
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren


Located on the west end of downtown, The Gateway offers a large number and variety of shops - ranging from modern furniture, to teen boutiques and an Apple Store. This open-air center has a high-end feel, with its curving streets and walkways, attractive architecture, fountains, and tree-studded courtyards. Resident stores suit nearly any shopper's taste and include Barnes & Noble, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Brookstone, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor Loft, and Victoria's Secret. The upscale Gateway also boasts an excellent food court that serves as a great place to cool your heels and do a little people-watching. Among the center's more popular attractions is the Discover Gateway, a colorful, state-of-the-art children's museum.

Local Expert tip: If street parking is unavailable, simply park in the onsite parking garage.

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Anyone who's lived in - or visited - Salt Lake City in recent years has witnessed one of the largest urban redevelopment works in the Rocky Mountain West. During a massive project called "Downtown Rising," numerous buildings, including the former ZCMI center, were razed, with an entirely new development rising in their absence. Covering approximately 20 acres, the new City Creek Center contains an interconnected, walkable community of residences, offices, and retail stores. Here, Nordstrom and Macy's find themselves surrounded by more than 500,000 square feet of retail space, including a supermarket, bakery, and numerous locally-owned restaurants and boutique shops.

Local Expert tip: Park your car to visit this pedestrian-friendly center.

Read more about City Creek Center →


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Meet Christine Balaz

Christine Balaz began her unexpected writing career in Salt Lake City with her first book on Wasatch Skiing and Travel in 2006. On the subject of Utah, Christine has written numerous...  More About Christine

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