OGDEN — Although there's an old rumor that the notorious gangster Al Capone once said that Ogden was too rough a town even for him, the city has moved beyond its rough-and-tumble reputation. In fact, in recent years, Ogden has gained national attention as a good place to raise a family, even while many Salt Lake residents have continued to eye it warily.
Ogden is bursting with interesting places to go, good restaurants and a vibrant arts scene that rivals Salt Lake's best neighborhoods. In fact, Sugar House hipsters looking to relocate to a less expensive area would feel right at home in Ogden's Historic 25th Street area with its juice bar, boba tea shop, and many shops and restaurants.
8 a.m.: Breakfast at Jeremiah's
Prepare for a serious meal (and a serious wait) at Ogden's most popular breakfast spot. If your party is small, you can sit at the bar on log swivel seats and eat the same food without the wait, but no matter where you sit, the trick with Jeremiah's is to come hungry. If you like your breakfast sweet, try the stuffed French toast ($8.99): two thick pieces of Texas toast battered, golden fried, and then slathered with cream cheese and a bright berry compote. They don't skimp on the berries, so every glorious bite is rich with fruit. If it's savory (and possibly a heart attack) you're after, Peter Skeene Ogden's Biscuits and Gravy ($8.59) is a good choice on both accounts. Served with two eggs, two sausage links and shredded hash browns, the biscuits are light and flaky, and the sausage gravy slightly sweet and creamy.
When: Open Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
Where: 1307 W. 1200 South, Ogden
9:30 a.m.: Ogden Botanical Gardens
We needed to move around after Jeremiah's, so we took a quick drive up the road to the free and beautifully situated Ogden Botanical Gardens. With a rose garden, paths that wind through well-thought-out flowerbeds and a big lawn for romping, this an ideal place for families with small kids who need to run or grown ups who like their walks with plenty of flowers. The gardens sit immediately next to the Ogden River and the Ogden River Trail, making this a good launching spot for running, walking or biking along the river.
How much: Free
When: Open Monday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Where: 1750 Monroe Blvd., Ogden
10:30 a.m.: George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park
After an hour in the garden, we decided to trade in flowers for hulking creatures with plenty of teeth. Just around the corner from the Botanical Gardens is the George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park, a roughly 8-acre park that has more than 100 life-sized dinosaur models scattered throughout. The museum, though small, is the perfect size for kids who want to learn about rocks, fossils and bones but may not have lengthy attention spans. Pay extra for activities like panning for gold or just sit in the shade of a carnivorous T-Rex while your kids play on the playground.
How much: Adults, $7; students (13-17), $6; children (2-12), $5; Children under 2, free.
When: Open Monday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: 1544 E. Park Blvd., Ogden
12:30 p.m.: Eccles Community Art Center
We started to flag a little by this point in the day, but still couldn't quite face a full lunch — I'm not kidding about Jeremiah's — so we stopped in at the beautiful Eccles Community Art Center on our way from the Dinosaur Park to Ogden's Historic 25th Street area. This restored 1893 mansion is now the home of an art gallery and community art space where patrons can wander three floors of this Victorian-era mansion (with a turret!) looking at wonderful local art.
How much: Free
When: Open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: 2580 Jefferson Ave., Ogden
1:30 p.m.: Pig and a Jelly Jar
With three Utah locations, Pig and a Jelly Jar is bringing soul food to the Beehive state. Specializing in pork dishes, our server recommended the ham hash ($11 for full, $7 for half), which proved to be a mound of deliciousness. A pile of flavorful potatoes, sautéed greens, peppers, onions, bacon and diced ham were covered in a bright lemon aioli and topped by a sunny-side-up fried egg, cooked perfectly so that the yolk, when pierced, oozed over the hash. If you want something (slightly) lighter, try the cob salad ($10). A bed of fresh romaine came with generous portions of grilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs, blue cheese and thick crispy bacon, and we added shredded pork for good measure.
When: Open Monday-Wednesday, 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Thursday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Where: 227 25th St., Ogden
2:30 p.m.: Wander 25th Street shops
There was a time when "Two Bit Street," as it used to be known, was the seedy home to bars and brothels. Now, 25th Street makes its living off of boutiques and bakeries. We were most tempted by the gift shop The Queen Bee, which sells a good selection of Utah-made chocolates and adorable gifts and books we didn't need but almost bought anyway. We also browsed new and used books at Booked on 25th, admired antiques at Boo And Son's Paragon, and checked out clothes and jewelry at 25th Street Boutique.
When: Store openings dates and times vary.
Where: 2500 South, Ogden
3:30 p.m.: Union Station
Union Station would be worth visiting even if it wasn't home to four different museums. Trains have been coming through this location since 1869, with the current beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival structure built in 1924. We started with the Utah State Railroad Museum, the entrance to which is just to the north of the main hall. Although slightly dated, the exhibitions are informative and tell the fascinating story of the railroad's history as it made its way across America. Children will love the Wattis-Dumke Model Railroad near the end of the exhibition, and starting this fall, the museum is working on a new children's museum. Don't miss the outdoor Spencer S. Eccles Rail Center, where you can walk among and even inside real-life, massive train engines and other rail cars.
The Utah Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is simply a room just off Union Station's main hall and probably not of much interest for children, but anyone with knowledge of Utah's cowboy history will enjoy seeing the small collection. The John M. Browning Firearms Museum is likewise just for fans, but there is no denying that its antique gun collection is extensive. The Browning-Kimball Classic Car Museum is located at the northern end of Union Station and made us want to don big hats and go for a joy-ride. Beautifully restored, these cars are the true classics: a 1929 Packard, a 1911 Knox and a 1929 Graham-Paige, among others. The space is small and the cars are close together, but patrons are able to get up close to these gorgeous old cars.
How much: Adults, $5; students with valid ID, $4; seniors, $4; teens (13-17), $4; children (3-12), $3; children under 2, free.
When: Open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: 2501 Wall Ave., Ogden
5:15 p.m.: Pearl Milk Tea Club
I admit it: we failed on dinner. Still stuffed from lunch, we opted to duck into Pearl Milk Tea Club on 25th Street instead of going out for a full meal. If you've never tried boba or bubble tea, it's an experience worth trying. Fruity flavors are mixed with milk and tea (optional), with a nice scoop of chewy tapioca balls thrown in just to make it something different. You slurp it all up, tapioca and all, through a big straw, making this as much a snack as a drink. In addition to the traditional boba, Pearl Milk Tea Club also offers fruit jellies and popping jellies for their drinks. The vibe in the place is self-consciously hipster with a good dose of guru pretension, but we were glad to settle into a deep couch with our drinks (medium $4.50 or large $5.50) — an Orange Sunrise (orange and strawberry) with boba and coconut jellies and a Strawberry Burst (strawberry and blueberries) with boba — and rest up before heading to our final activity.
When: Open Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
Where: 110 25th St., Ogden
7:00 p.m.: Peery's Egyptian Theater
This gorgeous Egyptian Art Deco revival theater was built in 1924 and thankfully has been restored over the years. It houses a Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ, seats up to 800 patrons, and regularly hosts dance, music, movie and theatrical performances. Although the theater was closed the night we visited, we could still admire the Egyptian motifs — inspired by archaeologist Howard Carter's 1922 discovery of the ancient and intact tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun — around the entrance.
Where: 2415 Washington Blvd., Ogden
Note: We didn't stop at two of Ogden's most beloved spots, the Hill Aerospace Museum and the Treehouse Museum, simply because we didn't have time to do everything that Ogden has to offer in one day, but neither should be missed. Happily for us, that means another trip north.
What are your favorite Ogden spots? Let us know in the comments!