Although Utah hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics and is the central hub for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it’s maintained a fairly low profile.
In a ranking of the least-visited states, Thrillist says: “While it’s (easy) to make a case for Utah being America’s most stunning state, it remains criminally under-visited.”
Those who live here know what a well-kept secret it is.
But it appears the secret is out for these celebrities.
In 2018, Broadway legend Kristin Chenoweth performed with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for the choir’s annual Christmas concert. It seems Chenoweth’s love for Utah has only grown through the years.
In 2019, while filming a Hallmark Christmas movie with actor and former Utah resident Scott Wolf, the two bonded over their mutual love for the state, according to Refinery29.
“There’s something about Utah,” Chenoweth said. “And Scott [Wolf] loves it here. We talked about it a lot when we were working on [the movie].”
A year after performing in Utah, Chenoweth returned to promote her “Angels Among Us” Christmas album with the Tabernacle Choir. In an interview with the Deseret News, she called the experience of performing with the Choir “one of the best weekends” of her career.
“Top three,” she said.
Not a bad compliment from someone who originated the role of Glinda on “Wicked” and won a Tony Award for playing Sally in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
Actor, filmmaker, and conservationist Robert Redford is Utah’s OG celebrity fan. (Simply put: He’s loved the state longer than pretty much anyone else.) He first fell in love with the mountains back in the 1950s. Then he fell in love with a girl from Provo and the two of them got married, bought a couple acres of land, and made Utah their home.
Redford would go on to create Sundance Mountain Resort and the Sundance Institute, which hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City. Thanks to Redford, many high-profile people have come to appreciate Utah’s beauty and prime outdoor recreation. But his real contribution and love for the state is evident in his efforts to preserve so much of the land.
Though he recently sold Sundance Mountain Resort, Forbes reported that Redford and his family had also partnered with Utah Open Lands to put over 300 acres of pristine wildlife habitat, streams, and wetlands into permanent protection.
For his contributions to the state, former governor Gary Herbert and other officials honored Redford at a special event in 2013.
“I think we take him for granted,” Herbert said. “He’s been here for so long, and he’s been so successful. It’s really quite remarkable, and yet he calls Utah home. I’m appreciative of that. I think Utah is a better place because Robert Redford does call Utah home.”
You know him as one of TV’s funniest dads, Phil Dunphy from “Modern Family,” but Ty Burrell also happens to be a Utah bar and restaurant owner — and a big fan of the state. Burrell told Utah Business Magazine that his entrance into the food and wine industry came back at the beginning of his “Modern Family” days when he wasn’t sure if the show would be picked up.
“My wife and I were living in Utah when I wasn’t filming, and sometime after we had settled in Salt Lake. I was approached by a member of my extended family … who had a really great idea to invest in this dive bar located in the heart of the city,” Burrell said.
When “Modern Family” ended up not getting canceled, Burrell was in the middle of opening Bar X in Salt Lake and happily stuck with it, even with his busy schedule. He’d later go on to open the Beer Bar next door and the Eating Establishment in Park City.
For now, Burrell’s taking a break from acting to just enjoy his time at home.
“I’m really just loving living in Salt Lake with my family,” he says.
The actor recognized for key roles in movies like “Ant Man” and “Shooter” is a frequent visitor where he has been known to enjoy local soda shops, according to a Deseret News article. Peña is also a fan of the Utah Jazz. In fact, he is friends with new Jazz owner Ryan Smith.
You might not think of Utah as a huge magnet for rappers and rockstars, but Post Malone has proven to be an exception. While some people complain about the lack of nightlife and partying here, that’s exactly why Malone loves it. Moving to Utah from Hollywood was exactly what he needed to combat his anxiety, he says.
“I’d say since the beginning of middle school, I always felt like I was always anxious and kind of sad all the time, but I kind of came out of it,” he told Variety in 2019. “Being in Utah and being away from the grind and from everybody else and it’s just me with my video games and cold one, that feels good to me.”
Last year, Malone opened up on Joe Rogan’s podcast to share the exact moment when he knew he wanted to move to Utah.
“I don’t remember what tour it was, exactly, but there were supposed to be 5,000 people to show up and then we end up getting to the show and there’s 17,000 people, so we had to move it outside of the venue, right on the Salt Flats. And I was just like, if this isn’t a sign from God or, you know, the aliens, then I don’t know what is. So I looked at houses on Zillow and I found one and fixed it all up.”
After a couple of years living in Park City, his love for the Beehive State still seems to be going strong. You can even catch a Utah reference in his music. In the song “Wow,” Malone sings, “Everywhere I go (Hey). Catch me on the block like I’m Mutumbo (Wow). 750 Lambo in the Utah snow (Skrrt).”
Though actress Katherine Heigl is probably tired of always landing on the “Celebrities Who Were Raised LDS” list, she doesn’t seem to be tired of Utah. The star lives in Utah on a 25-acre ranch with her family and a multitude of pets and animals.
“We had big dreams of expanding our family, moving to the mountains and having a quieter life,” Heigl told Good Housekeeping in 2014. “Utah is spectacularly beautiful, the people are wonderful and kind, it’s an easy commute from L.A. — and there’s no traffic!
Earlier this year, Utah Jazz fans were elated to learn that NBA legend Dwyane Wade had decided to join the team’s ownership group.
Wade told GQ that his investment came from his relationships with Jazz owner Ryan Smith and team star Donovan Mitchell. But there’s one more reason he decided to make the move to Utah.
“We have, like, two percent African Americans in Utah, right?” he said. “So, there’s beauty in the city and hopefully more doors are opening and more of us can experience it. Hopefully, I can shed a different light on the city and this light on our community and we can start bridging the gap. And that’s all it is: a big gap. And it needs to be bridged.”
All worthy goals. (And maybe a championship next year?)
Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins
From countless Instagram stories to several posts on each of their timelines, the country singer and his author wife definitely loved spending time in the Beehive State. They visited in late 2019 while Lauren was pregnant with their third child and celebrated her 30th birthday in Moab.
One of his Instagram posts is captioned, “...If you ever get the chance, get out to Moab and do sunrise hikes every day. It will legit change your life.”
Lauren described a sunrise hike she and her friends took to Delicate Arch (very) early in the morning and concluded with, “We’ll be back Moab.”
Blake Lively and husband Ryan Reynolds
Though the couple may not live in Utah, they should be earning frequent flyer miles for how often they visit the state. According to thetravel.com, Lively’s half-sister and her husband own a bed and breakfast in Midway. The two were spotted spending time together at the bed and breakfast, as evidenced in photos obtained by the Daily Mail.
As the fastest-growing state over the past decade, don’t be surprised if many more high-profile names join the hundreds of thousands of people settling into the local mountainsides.