Utah Stories

Unveiling Provo’s Hidden Gems: Live Music, International Flavors, and Utah Lake Escape

Beyond the obvious events that BYU has to offer, Provo has several hidden gems worth discovering.


You probably know that Provo’s reputation revolves around Brigham Young University. After spending three years as a student at BYU, I know almost everything there is to know about what’s going on around campus.

Live Music Scene

A thriving live music scene in Provo keeps performers and concert goers coming back year after year. Velour, a live music gallery on University Avenue, is one of the hot spots for up-and-coming musicians. It hosts a bi-annual Battle of the Bands that brings stiff competition each year because the winners of previous years have included hits like Imagine Dragons and Neon Trees. 

Weeknights at the gallery range from new artist nights to headliner bands to open mics. Velour also helps host the music festival Fork Fest with the aid of local sponsors, including record store 3hive record lounge, showing how players in the local music scene support each other.

Another live music spot on Center Street, ABG’s Bar, hosts live bands each week. Cedric Quincey, lead singer in the band Lovingly Clad, performed for a packed house at ABG’s. When I asked him what he thought of the local music scene in Provo, he said that even though it was a small scene, the community has been extremely supportive of their band.

“I feel like there is so much room to actually get recognition for the music we make,” he said. Friends and family of the band members filed to the back of the bar by the stage until the place was standing room only. Even though ABG’s may be less well known than Velour, the food was great and the atmosphere surged with electric guitars and clapping along to the music. 

Photo of downtown Provo by Robyn Christensen.

International Cuisine

One thing Provo is known for is its charming Center Street. But beyond the surface of the historic buildings and the string lights hanging outside quaint coffee shops, is a rich opportunity to experience a new culture through food. Center Street in Provo boasts tastes from almost every continent, and with Provo ranking number one for best city to start a business, it’s no wonder that there is such a variety of options when it comes to international food spots. 

From one side of the map to the other, individuals have started unique restaurants to share the tastes of their homelands. Pogo’s is a pizza and chicken restaurant that provides a peek into flavors from Zimbabwe, while just down the street, Hruska’s Kolaches creates a unique taste of Czech Republic cuisine by introducing us to rolls of bread with both savory and sweet fillings. Every spot up and down Center Street is filled with other experiences from Vietnamese Pho houses to French pastry shops. Japanese, Salvadoran, Mexican, and of course several popular American cheeseburger spots draw loyal customers as well. The wide mix of different foods means there will be something to interest every palate, and the quantity of restaurants could keep you trying something new for your weekly date night for months. You might even find a spot that makes you say, “This is the place.”

Utah Lake

Mere miles from downtown Provo, Utah Lake might be one of the most underutilized recreational options. Despite battling a poor reputation in recent years over algae blooms and an effort to develop the lake, ongoing efforts to preserve the lake and increase accessibility make the lake an underrated outlet for Provo residents. 

Utah Lake website shows a map of access points shows where lake goers can park and enjoy the various recreational activities, including boating and kayaking. This is the perfect opportunity to get outside with family or friends and create memories that can be remembered fondly for years to come, or even to make it a yearly tradition. 

Something for Everyone

Looking beyond Provo’s stereotype as just a college town shows that at its core, it’s a city full of potential for new experiences, not just at college, but in the culture of music, food, and the beautiful outdoors. Whether you’re searching for the next big rock band to come out of Velour, curating your food critic Instagram account, or you’re in need of a new outdoor escape, there’s something in Provo for everyone.

Top photo: The Aces performing at Velour Live Music Gallery.

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