When looking at lodging options for the Sundance Film Festival, we decided to book in the historic site of Salt Lake City. Park City may be the hopping spot for the Festival, but Salt Lake City is home to over 100 screenings and events. It is also more affordable when it comes to lodging, since Salt Lake City is bigger and has more options at the consumer’s fingers.
Sundance in Salt Lake City
We managed to catch three screenings in Salt Lake at various venues around town.
“The Night House,” a tense horror movie about a widow’s dead husband coming back to haunt her, played at the Broadway Centre Cinema. The first stop for indie and foreign movies, Broadway Centre is a welcoming, expansive theater that any film enthusiast should stop by in.
Another horror film we got in to see was “Possessor,” a mind bending sci fi thriller where a corporation has the ability to possess other humans. This film showed at the theater in the Salt Lake City Public Library, which was a treat just to wander around. Designed by Moshe Safdie and opened in 2003, this architectural marvel incorporates bends and glass into its look and is one of the best looking modern libraries in the nation.
But the most impressive venue may have been the appropriately named Grand Theatre, where we saw the legal drama “Worth.” Originally the auditorium of South High School, this 1930’s era building received a renovation in the nineties and is continuously the home of local theatrical productions. Other theaters in the area include the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, and the Tower Theatre.
So the movies are all great fun, but what can you do in between screenings? Never fear. Sundance thought of this possibility by setting up several lounges where festival attendees can relax, chat, or have a drink. Copper Common on Broadway has the added appeal of live music, and a whole lineup of upcoming performers can be found on their website.
The East Liberty Tap House is very close to the Tower Theater, and is the perfect place to sit down and have a pint in. Finally, there’s the Queer Lounge at the Daily, which has its own lineup of exclusive entertainment. Specializing in an LGBTQ+ friendly environment, this dive is perfect for any visitor who wants something different.
Where to Stay in Salt Lake City
Located in the center of downtown sits a historic landmark of Salt Lake City, The Peery Hotel, a Hilton property. Perfect for Sundance Film Festival attendees, this hotel is just within a few miles distance from all the SLC Sundance festivities. With the Peery Hotel just a short 10 minute drive from the SLC airport, a 45 minute drive to Park City or a 1.5 hour trip by bus, we were never too far away from the center of the action.
Built in 1910, the hotel is completely gorgeous to look at both outside and in, and reflects a classical style architecture. The lobby has an open and welcoming set up with lots of chairs and tables, including a fireplace and around the clock coffee, water and tea station.
The property has two restaurants attached to the hotel which is perfect for all your dining needs. Breakfast is from 7-10:30am adjacent to the lobby and offers a breakfast buffet, complimentary to all silver and gold Hilton Honors members. For those with late night munchies after coming back from a late Sundance screening, The Peery Hotel has a small spot called ‘Sundries’ in the lobby where you can grab some snacks.
What to do in Salt Lake City
A neat museum appropriate for kids and adults, The Leonardo educates all visitors on the various scientific phenomena we encounter in life. From the wonder to sound waves to the shocking truth of electricity, to even the principles of optical illusions, there’s plenty to get lost in at the Leonardo.
Their featured exhibit concerns the eruption of Mount Vesuvius over the town of Pompeii almost 2000 years ago. It’s an eye opening look at ancient Roman life, and the extraordinary preservation of the town that occurred when it was buried under volcanic ash. The exhibit runs through April 26.
Tucked in the basement of the historic Lion House, this spot has plenty of food and comfort for all patrons. The Lion House was built in 1856 to house the large family of Mormon Church President Brigham Young. Then, the basement was the kitchen for the residents.
Today, the Lion House Pantry, is a home cooking cafeteria style restaurant, featuring homemade bread rolls with honey butter and a variety of other desserts in addition to their daily menu specials. We tried their salmon and chicken plate, served with a side salad and bread roll. It was delicious and you’ll be sure to leave with a full stomach.
For those looking for a nice drink after a long day of screenings, Salt Lake City is the perfect spot to grab some friends and grab a beer. The downtown nightlife is quite hopping and we enjoyed visiting Squatters Pub which is located just across the street from The Peery Hotel. It offers a variety of handcrafted beer and has a good bar food menu too, with some epic pizzas.
Since our schedule was quite backed we are disappointed that we weren’t able to check out more dining and breweries in Salt Lake, but I guess that just calls for a second visit. Visit Salt Lake has a great list of recommendations for places to grab a drink or dinner. Some we recommend are: Current Fish & Oyster and Pallet and Takashi for seafood and sushi, Lake Effect and Whiskey Street are great breweries to cleanse your thirst.
Visit Salt Lake offers a few neat passes called Connect Pass, including their newest addition the Salt Lake City Brewery Pass. This pass offers $5 off your bill at 13 of Salt Lake’s best breweries and brewpubs. They also offer a basic SLC Connect Pass that offers free or discounted admission to some of the cities best attractions, including The Leonardo!
Surrounded by mountains and historical buildings, Salt Lake City is a jewel of a town. Whether the Sundance Film Festival is the big event or not, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this historic center. We look forward to our next visit!