Gentrified, it is not. This is not Oglandia. It is O-Town, according to the t-shirts. People are Ogdenites — like rocks, an aggregate of unique minerals bound together … and a little gritty. To me, this place is a gem. Read Paula Colman's full story
In 1869, workers for the Central Pacific and Union Pacific drove the ceremonial “golden spike” into the ground connecting the First Transcontinental Railroad. Nearby Ogden experienced the economic prosperity, fame and a colorful reputation so often found in Western cities following an influx of money. At the height of the boom, Ogden was home to more millionaires per capita than any other place in the country. During prohibition, hidden tunnels allowed booze to flow in the speakeasies and brothels along 25th Street. So prevalent was vice and avarice in these days that even the notorious gangster Al Capone allegedly found Ogden to be too rough and lawless for his taste. Things are different today.
In the last 20 years the city has advanced a reputation as an outdoor recreation mecca. Companies like Amer Sports (Salomon, Wilson, Atomic, Arc’teryx), Scott Sports, ENVE and QBP have established operations in the city and lured employees with the city’s enticing mountain biking, skiing and hiking trails only minutes from downtown — also essential for outdoor industry product testing. Ogden is an a great city stay for visitors to the trails and uncrowded powder at the city’s three ski resorts: Snowbasin, Powder Mountain and Nordic Valley.
Along the way, Ogden has worked to restore its historic architecture and buildings and blend in new development toward a charming and vibrant downtown. A few walkable blocks north of the city, a $6 million restoration project cleaned up the Ogden River Parkway, creating a peaceful urban fishery with kayaking, floating and running trails.
In fact, Ogden’s downtown is very pedestrian friendly and a short stroll from both the modern and adventurous Salomon Center, which features an indoor climbing wall, surfing wave and skydiving complex, and the restaurants, art galleries and bars that line historic 25th Street. Many of the businesses today pay tribute to Ogden’s notorious past. Alleged, a nightclub on 25th Street, names each of their signature cocktails after the colorful characters who used to frequent the area. And if you're fortunate, you might find a spot with local 98-year-old, jazz saxophonist Joe McQueen belting "Georgia on My Mind."
Less well known are Ogden’s unique attractions for kids and families. The Treehouse Museum is an interactive wonderland for kids 2–10 to make music, dress up in costumes and romp through the dozens of mini exhibits that range from a Mongolian yurt to a 50s diner. Younger kids will also love the Eccles Dinosaur Park and Museum, where life-size (and life-like) dinosaur statues prowl the gardens and kids can run around and climb on many of the statues.
One of the best-kept secrets in Utah, Ogden offers a diverse range of activities for travelers with numerous restaurants, bars and amenities to allow you to tailor your visit to the needs of just about any traveler. While you’re there, keep an eye out for the openings to the underground tunnels. Who knows what secrets lie beneath the city’s streets?
Ogden is a quick, 45-minute drive along I-15 from Salt Lake City and Salt Lake International Airport. Ogden is also near the junction of I-84, an east-west interstate that begins in Portland, Oregon and terminates at the junction with I-80. While Ogden is a destination in its own right, it is also a convenient stop for visitors traveling northward to Yellowstone or Grand Teton national parks.
Historic 25th Street occupies three blocks and features restored Victorian buildings and whispers of art deco. Photo: Barry Gutierrez
"Still Untamed” is Ogden's motto reinforcing the independence and diversity established by railroad lines intersecting downtown during the 19th century. Photo: Barry Gutierrez
A mural promoting Ogden's annual Pioneer Days rodeo, celebrating Utah's statehood. Photo: Jeremiah Watt
Waffles on 25th Streeet
Food truck turned restaurant sharing the love of the Belgian Liege Waffle. Photo: Jeremiah Watt
In addition to great fishing and kayaking, Ogden's River and Parkway allows you to bike, walk or run miles of paved trails. Photo: Barry Gutierrez
Historic Union Station
In addition to the appropriately located Utah State Railroad Museum, you can explore the John M. Browning Firearms Museum, Browning Kimball Classic Car Museum, and Utah State Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Photo: Barry Gutierrez
New World Distillery
This destination distillery serves up Utah’s first agave (tequila) and an award-winning super-premium Oomaw Gin. Photo: Jeremiah Watt
Grounds for Coffee has an extensive list of caffeinated concoctions matched by variations on lemonade. It also rents bicycles to tour the city’s miles and miles of paved trails from its 25th Street location. Photo: Jeremiah Watt
Shooting Star Saloon
Located in scenic Ogden Valley, Shooting Star Saloon is the oldest continuously operating saloon in Utah. Photo: Jeremiah Watt
A Snowbasin gondola ride warms kids up in between runs. Photo: Jeremiah Watt
Nordic Valley Ski Resort
Enjoy Nordic Valley's annual average of 300 inches, a full mountain of night skiing and inexpensive lift passes. Photo: Jeremiah Watt
Beloved Powder Mountain limits its daily ticket cap to 1,500, and with 7,900 acres of skiable terrain between traditional lift-served runs and cat-accessible powder country, that means there’s about three acres per skier. Photo: Jeremiah Watt
With American eats and unique sodas on tap, Union Grill is a family favorite. Photo: Jeremiah Watt
Bites & Beats
Tasty pizza served up at Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub, such as "The Hulk," which features a green cilantro-lime cream base, avocado, tomatoes, fresh jalapeños and a blend of cheeses. Photo: Jeremiah Watt
Things to Do in Ogden
From the parkways right in town or the nearby mountain trails, Ogden has a robust trail network, for hikers, equestrian riders and mountain bikers. Learn more about hiking in Ogden
Mount Ogden Via Ferrata
Via Ferrata (Italian for "iron road") is a protected mountain climb that lets less-experienced climbers enjoy views and experience adrenaline rushes from rugged Mount Ogden that are usually only available to elite climbers. If you can climb a ladder, you can climb the Via Ferrata. You're always attached to the safety cable. No ropes or knots required. Wear comfortable hiking shoes and you’ll enjoy the guided adventure. Reserve an individual, private or group climb.
Historic Union Station
In addition to the appropriately located Utah State Railroad Museum, you can explore the John M. Browning Firearms Museum, Browning Kimball Classic Car Museum, and Utah State Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. There are also two galleries and regular events in the classic train station, whose iconic neon sign keeps watch over historic 25th Street.
iFly Utah Indoor Skydiving
Maybe you've come to Ogden for its proximity to three incredible ski resorts. Maybe you're enjoying a great meal downtown during a stopover en route to Bear Lake or Yellowstone. Whatever your itinerary, you must plan a stop at iFly Utah Indoor Skydiving. Great instructors get you oriented to the unique sensation of indoor skydiving, then set you and your family free to feel the rush in a controlled environment.
Hill Aerospace Museum
Airplane buffs will love the Hill Aerospace Museum near Hill Air Force Base. Part of the United States Air Force Heritage Program, the museum features more than 90 military aircraft, missiles and aerospace vehicles from around the world. Knowledgeable volunteers support well-maintained exhibits tracing the history of flight starting from the beginning and moving through World War II, Dawn of the Jet Age, The Cold War, and Keeping the Peace.
Get more ideas for things to do in Ogden
Antelope Island State Park
Spectacular birding, free-range bison and convenient wildlife viewing on the craggy Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake are accessible via a scenic causeway. Several trails popular with hikers and mountain bikers traverse the mountainous island and the park serves as a great launch point to explore the Great Salt Lake by boat or kayak. Historic Fielding Garr ranch house is a well-preserved and entertaining pioneer ranch house.
Brigham City Fruitway
In late summer, northern Utah’s famous peaches reach their peak and many of the finest make their way to the fruit stands along Highway 89, just south of Brigham City. Epicureans will enjoy eating their way through the many fruit, homemade pie and preserves from vendors along the drive.
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Also near Brigham City, the Great Salt Lake is one of the premier migratory bird flight paths in North America. The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is among the finest spots in the area for bird watching, including the American white pelican, blacknecked stilt, American avocet, white-faced ibis and snowy plover. As many of 200 species of birds make a seasonal stop in Bear River.
The massive earthwork sculpture Spiral Jetty by famed artist Robert Smithson is in a remote but accessible area of the Great Salt Lake. The earth art is popular with photographers and travelers who enjoy exploring off the beaten path and is an internationally known earth art piece.
For more information on attractions, accommodations and dining, go to Visit Ogden www.visitogden.com
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