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Neighborhood: Brigham City, Utah

A small town north of Salt Lake City offers great food, history, and wildlife.

Waitress with ice cream, Idle Isle Cafe, Brigham City, Utah, image
Photo caption
Sweet tooth? Hit Brigham City's Idle Isle Cafe for a treat.


Nostalgia and a hint of Hitchcock’s The Birds flavor this pioneer town 60 miles north of Salt Lake City. Millions of migratory fowl stop each spring at an 80,000-acre wildlife refuge a few miles west. Meanwhile, on tree-lined Main Street, travelers find shops and good eats. Area code is 435.

  • A grandfather clock procured from the town’s old land and title building keeps time at the Idle Isle Cafe, described by one local as a “nostalgic island in time.” Try a helping of roast turkey with sage dressing and a slice of the café’s trademark idleberry pie. 24 S. Main St., 734-2468.
  • Across the street, Idle Isle Fine Candies has been fusing sweet ingredients batch by batch in copper kettles since 1921, carrying on the classic art of making hand-dipped chocolates. The candy shop’s legendary nut balls—almond cream toffees—can sweeten any Great Salt Lake road trip. 41 S. Main St., 723-8003,
  • Two dozen local artisans sell their wares—quilts, honey, knitted hats, alphabet trains—at Just Bee Scrap’n, where you can also sit and create a card to accompany a gift. 80 S. Main St., 695-2337,
  • The Golden Spike National Historic Site 32 miles west of town keeps railroad history alive. In the museum at the Historic Brigham City Depot, a chugging model train charms kids. Reopens on May 1 after a winter break. 833 W. Forest St., 723-2989.
  • Cattlemen routinely stop at Maddox Ranch House for thick, free-range steaks and bison burgers. What started as a seven-stool counter joint after World War II is now a sprawling restaurant and drive-in serving an average of 1,230 meals a day. When you see the red crown sign and the giant bison out back, you’re there. 1900 S. Hwy. 89, 723-8545,
  • In early March, the first of up to 40,000 shorebirds begin arriving at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, dazzling viewers on the deck of the education center. Visitors may also spot eagles and swans along a 12-mile auto route that follows raised dikes. 2155 W. Forest St., 734-6425,

Photography by Nicole Morgenthau


This article was first published in March 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.