Summer time in Ogden, LGBTQ+ Style
About the Author Hey I'm Colt! As a gay man in Ogden, Utah I hope to share my experience, offer opinions, give recommendations and of course crack some jokes in this blog entry. Born and raised here (besides that brief sabbatical in college) I love this town almost as much as I love brunch. I know you will too.
Nestled just North of Salt Lake City and hugging the mighty Wasatch Mountain Range you will find Ogden, Utah. Known for its outdoor recreation, historical downtown and amazing bars, and eateries. Not necessarily known for men hugging other men. Les-be honest, you don’t think of it as a top destination for those of us who claim a letter in the LGBTQ+ community. I am here to set the record gay, (not straight, that would be homophobic) from the can’t miss brunch spots to the best breweries (for the lesbians). This is your Gay’s Guide to Ogden Summer.
Let’s talk about the extremely well-dressed elephant in the room. Ogden is, and always will be, located in Utah. A state known for, well fewer rainbows than one might expect despite the occasional flood. When searching for a vacation spot, members of the alphabet elite (I am just getting started on these names) quite often gravitate towards coastal states and large cities for obvious signs of LGBTQ+ inclusion. As tacky as I find the rainbow color scheme, the sign of a rainbow flag shows me I am safe in that place of business. Believe it or not, you can and will find that in Ogden. For your convenience I have divided up my recommendations into four, equally important, categories, brunch, (duh), activities, iced coffee, and nightlife.
All vacations (as well as Sundays) should include brunch. A morning libation is a perfect way to know you are here for a good time and not a long time. Stay as long as you like but know there is too much to see and too much do to spend all day at your brunch place, you will get FOMO. For brunch there are two musts.
First is Harp and Hound located in the old courthouse downtown, this gastropub has one of my personal favorite drinks of all time. The Ogden Train Wreck (this is also my nickname in high school, but we can discuss this later). With tater tots available all times of day and a plant-based menu for those of you who actually try to diet on vacation, this is a great place for a Sunday brunch.
Second is WB’s Eatery. Located on Historic 25th St. inside one of the community’s public art centers, The Monarch. This wine bar and restaurant with dishes like the Fig & Pig (a fig and fresh honey bruschetta I highly recommend) and lattes in mugs that require two hands and an Instagram photo shoot. After you can take a stroll through The Monarch and view many of Ogden’s local artists and their work, or make a personalized candle (for the inevitable personal rebrand you’ve been contemplating) at the Art Box (that was my nickname in college but again, later) and view the area’s public murals outside.
Now if you brunch like I do I know that you may need to relax before we jump into the next good time (enough with college nicknames), lucky for you downtown Ogden is very walkable either back to your hotel or to the Municipal Garden near the Ogden Amphitheater where large trees offer a nice, shaded relaxation spot.
For those for whom the call of adventure speaks, but the amenities of downtown call louder, a trip to The Front Climbing Gym will be on par (sports joke if you get it). The Front offers indoor rock climbing on every level, from closeted climbing enthusiasts to fully out experts. You’ll get to learn a new skill while working off those brunch calories.
If you are here during Pride (you should be) I suggest you stop by the Monarch (yes, I did mention this already, it's that good). Along with countless other events, the Monarch hosts a Pride Kick Off! Which features a local artists and music and vendor market, great food and cute people (I mean, I'll be there). Here is your opportunity to support local LGBTQ+ artists and musicians and to spend money during pride on locals that put rainbows on stuff instead of huge corporations that put rainbows on stuff. Or, you can give your money to me, a gay, directly (venmo posted below). Not to mention you are in the middle of the city's art district where you can get some AMAZING mural shots for your insta.
Now, we all know you need some candid shots of your time here, not to mention present the illusion (true or not) that you are outdoorsy in this mountain town. A scenic drive up Ogden Canyon and to Pineview Reservoir will offer just that. On your way you will see caves, a waterfall, and an adorable restaurant along the river, The Oaks. If you have time be sure to stop in, good food and great lighting. And ice cream for those of you who will buy it for the photo and wont eat it. But you should eat it.
Finally, if you are here during a weekend in the summer months be sure to check out Ogden’s Farmers Market. Not only can you pick up some fresh fruit as snacks for the rest of your day, you will see Ogden’s creators out on display selling their art, woodworking (for the lesbians in the back) and so much more. You will have an opportunity to stroll down Historic 25th St. and pick up a one-of-a-kind gift for that boy you call your boyfriend after one date, or that girl you moved in with too soon.
As I sit here and drink my iced bean water, I realize I may I have a problem, too many coffee places to tell you about. Some will say iced coffee is not good, some will say that iced coffee is only for hot days and summer mornings. Those people are straight. Don’t listen to them. Ogden is home to a myriad of coffee places, and I mean actual coffee, not milkshake companies who sometimes pour coffee (I’m looking at you coffee shop chains). The following are some of the best coffee houses in Ogden to get your ice-shaking accessory.
Daily Rise Coffee has two locations, both located on Washington Blvd. in Ogden. Not only do they have some of the best vegan burritos (seriously they don’t even taste vegan) but the staff is always in such an uplifting mood. As someone who is not a morning person, I really notice how remarkably chipper they are and always try to wear my cutest sunglasses so they compliment me. Trust me, they will compliment you. Daily Rise offers more than one type of pick me up. You will leave believing you have acquired a new romantic partner. Just like that guy at the gym you consider your gym boyfriend, do not fall into this classic pitfall as they treat everyone as great as they treated you.
My second recommendation is Coffee Links. Located in the Ogden River District, this coffee house has an aesthetic ripe for the writing you’ve been telling everyone you’re going to do. You’re so deep and introspective. With tons of plants and greenery for those of us who prefer plants over people and within walking distance of the Ogden River Parkway, this coffee joint is perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up. Not to mention Coffee Links is Mexican-American owned and you often see this influenced in menu items and décor.
Last but not least is Grounds for Coffee on Harrison Blvd. There are two locations for Grounds for Coffee, one on Historic 25th St. and this one on Harrison Blvd. Grounds on Harrison has plenty of seating and non-coffee drinks for our budding homosexuals not fully formed yet. Located close to Weber State University, it is not uncommon to find students working on projects, art and discussing the missing group assignment member not pulling their weight (I hope you read this Adam). Grounds is great for a late-night cup of coffee or tea and you might catch some live music, poetry or comedy on a Friday night.
I just have one thing to say. Twilight. Although we do not have an event dedicated to Robert Pattinson, yet (permits pending), we do have the best outdoor concert series in the Rocky Mountain States. Taylor Lautner might be there. I can say that, he might be anywhere. The only place we know he is, is the closet.
The Twilight concert series has hosted bands such as The National Parks, Portugal The Man, Matt and Kim, and the Flaming Lips. With local breweries supplying beer and bands often finding themselves in a bar on Historic 25th St. the Twilight Concert Series is an opportunity to have a much more personal experience with some of your favorite bands, even have a drink with them. You know how jealous that will make that straight boy that’s just your “best friend?”
After Twilight or on a cool summer evening there are two types of nightlife experiences depending on your preference. For an urban club and bar experience head down 25th St. to Alleged and Unspoken, and no, I am not talking about your time in the closet. Alleged offers dancing on the first floor, a cocktail lounge on the next and a rooftop bar. Just next door you will find Lucky Slice Pizza to grab a late-night slice of carbs (don’t worry you’ll work it off) and can then head one door over to Ogden’s Speakeasy, Unspoken. You’ll know it by a photo of that guy that stopped texting you on the door, a Ghost. This underground bar offers signature cocktails (these dang old nicknames) and an aesthetic worth a short wait on a weekend. Also, you’ll find it much quieter down here so planning where you will go for brunch in the morning will be much easier.
For another option you and your gaggle of gays can head to Ogden's River District towards Slackwater and Ogden River Brewing. Now I know what you’re thinking. Breweries? Are we going to play ultimate frisbee with the bros later too? No. Calm down. Both of these locations are located along Ogden River and have outdoor dining options where you can get a cocktail or beer. I recommend the Black Current Gose and the fried brussels sprouts from Ogden River Brewing and any pizza from Slackwater. Enjoy a quieter evening with your group on the rooftop bar of Ogden River Brewing or on the patio of Slackwater.
Ultimately Ogden is a great place for anyone who has too much in common with a young Harry Potter (he lived in a cupboard but close enough to a closet). Members of the LGBTQ+ community can find a welcoming, safe and enjoyable experiences while branching out from a stereotypical “gaycation” (last nickname I swear). Ogden is here to welcome you with the experience you are seeking, you may even gain a fitting nickname while here.