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Getting the flavor of ... A newly lax Salt Lake City, and more

Hosting the 2002 Olympics has changed Utah's historically conservative capital.

A newly lax Salt Lake CitySalt Lake City is “home to a growing counterculture,” said Josh Noel in the Chicago Tribune. When the predominantly Mormon and historically conservative Utah capital hosted the 2002 Olympics, the city was “forced to open itself to a world of people, ideas, and cultures.” The evolution continues, as a new liquor law recently ended a requirement that drinkers purchase a membership for each bar they visit. Not surprisingly, “bar-hopping is in vogue now.” On a Saturday night, “almost every stool” was filled at new bar Beerhive, where “mountain youth” drank low-alcohol beers from two of Salt Lake’s microbreweries. At Pago, diners sipped Spanish wines and nibbled from a “local-centric” menu exemplifying the city’s “ever-expanding food scene.” There are still stipulations (beer on tap can’t exceed 4 percent alcohol, for instance), but Salt Lake is no longer a “buzz saw on your fun.”Contact: Visitsaltlake.com

Nantucket without the crowdsIn the off-season, Nantucket “offers itself up in rawer, more sensual form” than its summer crowds could know, said Ted Weesner in The Washington Post. Come fall, this “fancy-pants island” off the coast of Massachusetts seems to become “endless” ocean and sky, so thrillingly empty that you might feel as if you were swept ashore off a shipwrecked 19th-century whaler. Don’t be surprised if you find only a “mere scattering of passengers” on the ferry or discover you’re the only person strolling Siasconset’s “not-to-be-missed bluff walk.” You can turn up unannounced at some of the island’s “hottest boîtes” and find an open seat. Or you can mingle with the locals at Cisco Brewers, a brewery, winery, and distillery located on a “nondescript length of road” in Miacomet. Unwind at one of the outdoor tables and take in the “still-dangling sun” before the island boards up for winter.Contact: Massvacation.com

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