Nestled right at the foot of Utah valley’s most wildfire-friendly mountains (we’re looking at you, G), Pleasant Grove is everything you wouldn’t want it to be—and more! Sure, you’ve got endearing small-town vibes, kitschy shops and diners galore, and a Strawberry Days Festival that practically screams “Hallmark movie,” but just wait until you hear what the locals have to say about not-so-Pleasant Grove.
17.) Archaic Architecture
The only thing more prominently lopsided than Pleasant Grove’s ever-aging demographic is its impressive array of antiquated architecture. Sure, you’ve got riveting historical sites like the old Town Hall, a pioneer school house, and Grove Fort, in all their crumbling glory. But barns and bungalows can only fall apart so much longer before the word “historic” becomes a euphemism for the phrase “haunted health hazard.”
If a conglomerate of disheveled shacks, overgrown trailers, and suffocated split levels is totally your scene, then read no further. It’s time to pack your bags and head for these quaint little hills! Just ignore the local insistence that everything here is haunted. Exorcise daily, and you’ll be in good spirits!
16.) Tense Politics
Alright, this one’s gonna be huge. Yuge, I’m telling you. Absolutely tremendous.
That’s right, Trump lovers unite! Pleasant Grove will welcome you and your compensation truck with open arms. With armed arms, even.
You can fly whatever flag or banner your aggravated little heart desires, and rest easy knowing that almost nobody cares. For all its moderate city council politicking and civic savagery, radical right- and left-wingers alike are thriving in this tense little political bubble.
15.) Poorly Funded Schools
Nobody wants their children to be too well-educated. That’s why Pleasant Grove’s schools are perfect! With minimal windows and minimal funding, their complete lack of natural lighting bespeaks the complete lack of enlightenment within. From elementary to high school, the average percentage of students proficient in math is 38.9%, and in reading & language arts is 42.9%. Sure, there are accelerated programs and AP classes for the try-hards, but who wants that? (My husband and his siblings, apparently.)
Oh, and unless you’re among the beloved athletes, you can absolutely count on having the sort of uphill-in-the-snow school experience that your future grandchildren will undoubtedly admire you for recounting!
14.) Pick-Me Vibes
Did you know that there are places called Pleasant Grove in California, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee? Which one is the most pleasant? Which one still has any groves to speak of, in this ever-industrializing suburban puddle? The world may never know. Google Maps certainly doesn’t. But as any Utah Valley MLM momma will reassure you, with a wave of her manicured hand, “We’re not like other Pleasant Groves.”
13.) Eerie Permanence
If you’re planning on moving to Pleasant Grove, be absolutely sure about your decision beforehand. In fact, don’t set a single toe over the threshold of a new home unless you’re ready to settle in for the foreseeable future. Why? Because no one ever leaves Pleasant Grove. Ever.
Call it something in the polluted air or in the seasonally diseased water. Whatever the unseen force is, it’s the local mystery that binds ancestral spirits to the forsaken buildings, that weds high school graduates to their high school sweethearts, and that dooms first-time homeowners to retire on the same property decades later.
Like a well-used sofa, Pleasant Grove will insist on becoming your forever home, slowly pulling you in until you either don’t want to leave or until you just can’t.
12.) Babies and Monkeys Everywhere
Pleasant Grove’s history is rich with honorable nicknames and indelible associations, like its perpetually pregnant population, or its unruly packs of adolescents that roam the streets like… primates? Yes, that’s the word that comes to mind.
Because roughly 90% of the population belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Pleasant Grove is renowned for its menagerie of young married couples and rapidly growing families. “Pregnant Grove” is ever-expecting, but at least new residents are giving that stereotype a wider berth.
And as for the nickname “Monkey Town”—can be attributed to groups of concerned, 20th-century mothers congregating in solemnity to address the issue of teenagers gathering on street corners after hours. Supposedly these adolescents regularly engaged in such unspeakable activities as “jumping up and down” and “hanging out.” Neighboring cities were more than happy to weaponize the nickname, and residents still throw it around today. After all, what sounds more diverting than loading up your minivan and ‘visiting Grandma and Grandpa in Monkey Town’?
11.) Temperamental Weather
Because Pleasant Grove is nestled into a little smoke pocket along the Wasatch range, the weather that gets trapped there can be finicky at best.
Winters are windy, grey, and brutal. But for the four months of the year when Utah Valley happens to be almost pleasant, you’ll generally enjoy scalding summer weather or smoggy grey cloudiness. Or both! The mood of the weather teeter-totters back and forth with as much predictability as that of a teenager. In other words, plant a garden and cross your fingers. You never know when the next random windstorm or cold front is going to sporadically take over.
Fun fact: Did you know that the air quality index for Pleasant Grove indicates that only 64% of the days in the year can boast of breathable air? For the rest of the year, polluted inversion is the only reliable element of the forecast.
10.) Rachet Roadways
Ask any resident of Pleasant Grove. Any. Old or young, new to the neighborhood or seventh-generation ties. Every single one of them will tell you that the number one problem in Pleasant Grove, (at least the most apparent problem), is the roads.
Get this—the roads in Pleasant Grove are so bad that the residents have rallied to create a Facebook hate page, resplendent with passive-aggressive memes posted by bitter empty-nesters. Peruse the page a bit; you’re in for a good time. And by the sound of it, this Facebook group singlehandedly represents the most time and attention that the roads in Pleasant Grove will ever receive.
Real talk: Pleasant Grove’s infrastructure is embarrassingly lacking, with a smattering of mismatched sidewalks and a makeshift grid system of rachet roadways. Don’t drive a car you care about; the potholes, cracks, and rubble will have the best of it before you will. When we go to visit my in-laws, there are at least three separate times when we have to slow down dramatically to avoid bottoming out our car in a major dip, not to mention the random part of the road that drops off near the fire station. You could roll your car if you took it fast enough! But don’t worry. Local officials put an orange cone within general proximity. Problem = solved.
There’s also no easy access to the highway, meaning running errands or coming home during rush hour is nothing short of a nightmare. I could go on, but the fact of the matter is: The roads in Pleasant Grove are terrible, and it doesn’t look like the city council is going to do anything about it anytime soon.
9.) False Advertising
When you hear the name “Pleasant Grove,” perhaps the image that arises in your mind consists of serene, young saplings, quaint cottages, and bunnies that hop through lush green undergrowth to nibble on the vibrant wildflowers… keep dreaming. Pleasant Grove is nothing more than a dry grid of underdeveloped neighborhoods. Think everything in sepia tone and you’ll have a visualization that more accurately resembles the dusty little place.
What’s more, Pleasant Grove is continuing to expand like the rest of Utah Valley. This means that any areas of wildlife or natural landscape have long since given way to neighborhoods and MLM McMansions. The city can barely keep up with its own growth, and the name itself has been reduced to nothing more than what my father-in-law would call “false advertising.”
It’s a lackluster small town with none of the small-town charms you would hope to expect.
8.) Sketchy Parks
With no more natural areas to play in, where are parents supposed to bring their kids for some outdoor fun? Well look no further than that broken-down playground across the street—Pleasant Grove has an abundance of kid-unfriendly play equipment that’s sure to supply your children with enough injuries to constitute a proper childhood. My sister-in-law fondly recalls being launched off of the rickety wooden bridge at one park, any time a bigger kid would run past. Or getting splinters and bee stings when going down the slides or crossing the monkey bars.
But the best part is that these playgrounds, with their vandalized tunnels and depleted woodchips, comfortably host any and every teen drug user looking for a place to hide. Which, apparently, is a lot.
7.) Kitschy Clutter
Whenever we’re driving to my in-law’s house, I can pinpoint the exact moment that we enter Pleasant Grove, even with my eyes shut. How, you might ask? My husband, who usually drives when we go to his parents’ house, sighs. You would think that one’s childhood hometown would elicit some level of nostalgia or fond emotion, but no. Nothing but a big sigh from him, every time.
This is because he hates kitschy, cluttery yard junk. And boy, is that Pleasant Grove’s style of choice. From mangled bird houses and rusty windchimes to cowboy fence decals and handmade acrylic lawn creatures, they’ve got it all. Literally. All of it. Sure, you’ve got the nice, clean-looking houses up on the hill, but the majority of the city’s decorating style could be described as “yard sale.”
To make matters worse, there’s a house on one of the main streets that go all-out for every single holiday, plastering its windows with smiley faces and rainbow pinwheels, or filling every inch of the haggard front lawn with life-size clown dummies for Halloween and massive inflatables for Christmas. Where do they get all of this rubbish? Local ma-and-pa shops. As you drive into Pleasant Grove, you’ll notice run-down stores that continue to enable cluttery nonsense, like Ginger Ella’s, UGLY Closet, and Rosebud Antiques, and let’s just say that the names speak for themselves.
6.) Suburban Superiority
The neighboring cities of Pleasant Grove love Pleasant Grove. At least, they love to make fun of it. Residents of Lindon, American Fork, Lehi, and Cedar Hills alike never miss the opportunity to take a jab at the sad little place. (Thing is, none of those cities are significantly better!) But you and your children will constantly be reminded, at work and at school, that your hometown is the butt of all the jokes. It gets old after a while.
“Where are you from?”
5.) MLM Heaven
Silicon Slopes is not only renowned for an unusual amount of plastic surgery and antidepressants, but it’s also inseparably associated with social climbing and Multi-Level Marketing companies. My husband calls it ‘the land of the Hons.’
(Hon: /hən/noun – a member of any cutthroat pyramid scheme ravaging 21st-century society; prone to belittling dialogue and manipulative flattery, especially the excessive use of the term ‘honor ‘honey.’)
Something residents will readily agree on is that neighbors in Pleasant Grove can either be the absolute best or the absolute worst. There’s no in-between. If you’re not deeply trusting, lifelong friends, then you’re doomed to be competitive enemies. You’ll constantly be belittled by stay-at-home supermoms who are positively patronizing. Well, unless you let them make money off of you. Then the patronizing talk has a financial purpose!
If you know, you know.
4.) Sporadic Speed Limits
Everything in Pleasant Grove is slow: openness to change, developmental progress, the drivers…. Residents often rant about sporadic, seemingly arbitrary speed limits. And keep your eye out; cops have little better to do than lurk near the roadside and ticket you for not stopping at a stop sign that doesn’t exist. (That’s on record.)
3.) Disappointing Dining
There are a handful of good places to eat in Pleasant Grove, but that means that everyone goes to those locations and they’re constantly inundated. Everywhere else is a dismal old diner or a questionable restaurant that may or may not pass a health code test. Pleasant Grove is particularly famous for a sub-par burger joint called The Purple Turtle.
2.) Terrible Water Quality
One thing I dread about going to Pleasant Grove is having to drink the water there. The water supply is so hard that it has to be treated with all kinds of softeners that distort the flavor and leave your tastebuds downright sad. Water shouldn’t have an aftertaste, right?
To make matters worse, apparently, local boil orders are totally normal, meaning that at least once or twice a year, E. coli is discovered in the water supply and residents are warned to boil any water they plan on using for the next week or two. My mother-in-law casually dismisses boil orders as a normal, if inconvenient, occurrence.
Needless to say, I make sure to fill up my own water bottles before we go visit.
1.) Nothing to Do
Last but not least, Pleasant Grove is an inherently boring place to live. Most people spend the day at work or school, but if you’re looking for something fun to do on the weekend, your options are limited. You can only hike the dirt road to Battle Creek Falls so many times before it grows underwhelming, and unless you happen to frequent Hee Haw Farms or Evermore Park (the former is a petting zoo and the latter is a nerd zoo) you’re out of luck.
And sure, there’s the rec center (with no pool) or the annual Strawberry Days festival (which is the exact same every year), but you know it’s bad when a resident fondly reflects that her favorite childhood memory from living in Pleasant Grove was the day they got to paint the Kiwanis water tank. What a once-in-a-lifetime thrill.
Basically, if you’re thinking of moving to Pleasant Grove, apply the one-word advice many locals will honestly offer: Don’t.
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