The Foothill Cultural District is a high-energy hub for fine art, creative food, historical museums, elegant shops, and even a zoo.
In town? Time to head for the hills. The Foothill Cultural District, a two-square-mile area of Utah's capital that includes the University, Yalecrest, and Sunnyside neighborhoods, is a high-energy hub of fascinating art and history, tasty food, and diverting shopping. Area code is 801 except where noted.
- The walking paths at Red Butte Garden turn romantic in winter as serviceberry trees create crimson canopies. Cottontail rabbits, red foxes, and quail scamper to and fro against the stark beauty of fresh snow. 585-0556, redbuttegarden.org.
- Found-object artist Tony Feher, whose witty sculptures include Mountain Home, a pyramid of green plastic produce baskets, shows his latest work under the soaring ceiling of the Great Hall at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. 581-5163, umfa.utah.edu.
- The traveling exhibit The Horse visits the Natural History Museum of Utah. A specially curated display of Ute Indian items, such as a beautifully beaded contemporary woman's saddle, adds a local dimension to this exploration of all things equine. 581-4303, nhmu.utah.edu.
- The menu at Taqueria27 lists some unconventional tacos—duck confit with roasted veggies, for instance—but the delicious results speak for themselves. The house margarita blushes pink with blood-orange juice. (385) 259-0712, taqueria27.com.
- At the newly expanded Fort Douglas Military Museum, a mountain howitzer recalls armed conflict between federal troops and Mormon settlers during the Utah War of 1857-58. Meanwhile, a 41/2-ton piece of slurry wall from Ground Zero speaks to more recent hostilities. 581-1251.
- All aboard the open cars of the Hogle Zoo replica steam train, which loops past giraffes, zebras, ostriches, and lions in the new African savanna exhibit. During December's annual ZooLights festival, more than 200 animated wildlife and holiday-themed displays illuminate the grounds. 584-1767, hoglezoo.org.
- Diane Etherington's boutique and bookstore the Children's Hour is one of the best places in town to browse. Her whimsical yet elegant style comes across in everything from pleated skirts and classy peacoats to the tea towels printed with Utah motifs. 359-4150, childrenshourbookstore.com.
Photography courtesy of Hogle Zoo (lions); courtesy of Natural History Museum (view from museum)
This article was first published in November 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.