Welcome to Salt Lake City, a vibrant and bustling city nestled against the stunning backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains. Known for its stunning natural scenery, rich cultural heritage, and exciting outdoor recreational opportunities, Salt Lake City is a must-visit destination for travelers from all around the world. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a history buff, or simply looking to relax and immerse yourself in the city’s unique atmosphere, Salt Lake City has something for everyone.
As the capital of the state of Utah, Salt Lake City offers a wide array of attractions and activities that cater to a diverse range of interests. From exploring the iconic Temple Square to experiencing world-class ski resorts, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this captivating city.
In this article, we will explore the top 10 must-visit attractions and activities in Salt Lake City. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, this guide will help you plan the perfect itinerary to make the most out of your time in the city. So let’s dive in and discover the best of Salt Lake City!
Visit Temple Square
No visit to Salt Lake City is complete without a stop at Temple Square, the iconic heart of the city. This 35-acre complex is home to several historically significant buildings, including the famous Salt Lake Temple, which is the largest and most well-known temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Temple Square offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the rich history and cultural heritage of Salt Lake City. Take a guided tour to explore the beautifully landscaped gardens, visit the historic Tabernacle, and witness the awe-inspiring interior of the Salt Lake Temple. Be sure to check out the visitor centers, which provide informative exhibits and presentations about the beliefs and practices of the LDS Church.
One of the highlights of a visit to Temple Square is attending a performance by the renowned Tabernacle Choir at the Tabernacle. This Grammy Award-winning choir is composed of 360 voices and has been captivating audiences for over a century with their incredible harmonies.
Temple Square is not only a religious site but also a cultural hub. Throughout the year, it hosts various events and festivals, including the Temple Square Concert Series and the Lights at Temple Square during the holiday season. Stroll around the square and absorb the tranquil atmosphere while admiring the stunning architecture and beautifully manicured gardens.
Visiting Temple Square is free, and guided tours are available in multiple languages. It is recommended to allocate a few hours for your visit to fully immerse yourself in the experience. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, a trip to Temple Square is a must-do when in Salt Lake City.
Explore the Utah State Capitol Building
Perched atop a hill overlooking the city, the Utah State Capitol Building is an architectural masterpiece that showcases the rich history and grandeur of Salt Lake City. Built between 1912 and 1916, the Capitol Building is not only the seat of government for the state of Utah but also a prominent landmark and a symbol of the state’s pride and heritage.
Visitors to the Utah State Capitol Building can embark on a self-guided tour to explore the stunning interior and learn about the state’s political history. Marvel at the exquisite marble columns, intricate woodwork, and impressive artworks that adorn the building. The highlight of the tour is the opportunity to step inside the House of Representatives and Senate chambers, where important decisions that shape the state’s future are made.
Be sure to take a stroll around the Capitol grounds, which offer breathtaking panoramic views of Salt Lake City and the surrounding mountains. The lush gardens and meticulously maintained lawns provide a serene setting for a leisurely walk or a picnic on a sunny day.
For a more in-depth experience, guided tours are available, providing fascinating insights into the building’s architecture, history, and significance. Knowledgeable guides will share stories and anecdotes, making the tour both educational and entertaining.
Throughout the year, the Utah State Capitol Building hosts various events, such as art exhibitions, cultural performances, and even the Utah State Fair. Check the schedule to see if there are any special events happening during your visit, as they add an extra layer of excitement and vibrancy to the Capitol Building.
Admission to the Utah State Capitol Building is free, and guided tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Make sure to allocate a couple of hours for your visit to fully explore the building and soak up the historical ambiance. The Utah State Capitol Building is a true gem of Salt Lake City and shouldn’t be missed by history enthusiasts and architecture aficionados alike.
Go hiking in Big Cottonwood Canyon
If you’re a nature lover and craving some outdoor adventure, a visit to Big Cottonwood Canyon is a must. Located just a short drive from downtown Salt Lake City, this picturesque canyon offers a wide range of hiking trails that cater to all skill levels.
With its towering granite peaks, cascading waterfalls, and dense forests, Big Cottonwood Canyon is a paradise for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Lace up your hiking boots, pack some water and snacks, and get ready to explore the breathtaking beauty of this natural wonder.
One of the most popular hiking destinations in Big Cottonwood Canyon is the Lake Blanche Trail. This moderate to challenging trail rewards hikers with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and a tranquil alpine lake at the end. Along the way, you’ll encounter wildflowers, mountain streams, and the occasional wildlife.
If you’re looking for a less strenuous hike, the Donut Falls Trail is a great option. This easy and family-friendly trail takes you to a unique waterfall that plunges through a hole in a rocky cave, resembling a giant donut. It’s a sight you won’t want to miss and a perfect spot for a picnic.
For experienced hikers seeking a challenge, the Mount Olympus Trail is a must-do. This steep and strenuous trail takes you to the summit of Mount Olympus, offering panoramic views of the entire Salt Lake Valley. It’s a rewarding hike that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment.
Before heading out on a hike, be sure to check the trail conditions and weather forecast. Bring appropriate gear, including sturdy shoes, sunscreen, and plenty of water. It’s also a good idea to let someone know your hiking plans and estimated return time.
Keep in mind that Big Cottonwood Canyon is a protected area, so always practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out your trash and respecting the natural environment. Stick to designated trails and be mindful of wildlife habitats.
Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, Big Cottonwood Canyon has something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of nature and create unforgettable memories as you explore the trails of this stunning canyon.
Enjoy a day at the Utah Olympic Park
For sports enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies alike, the Utah Olympic Park is a must-visit destination in Salt Lake City. Built for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, this world-class facility is now a year-round hub for outdoor and adventure activities.
Located in the picturesque mountain setting of Park City, just a short drive from Salt Lake City, the Utah Olympic Park offers a variety of thrilling and unique experiences. One of the highlights is the opportunity to witness world-class athletes training in action. You can watch skiers and snowboarders soaring through the air on the Nordic jumps or witness the speed and skill of bobsled and skeleton athletes zooming down the track.
If you’re looking to amp up the excitement, try some of the park’s adventure activities yourself. Take a ride on the Comet Bobsled, where you’ll be treated to a thrilling and fast-paced descent down the Olympic track. Or, soar through the air on the Zip Line Tour, where you’ll glide above the treetops and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
If you prefer a more relaxed experience, explore the interactive exhibits at the Utah Olympic Park Museum. Learn about the history of the Olympics, discover the stories of athletes who have competed in the Games, and get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be an Olympic athlete.
The Utah Olympic Park is not just for winter sports enthusiasts. During the summer months, the park offers a range of activities, including hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as opportunities to try out the exhilarating sport of summer tubing.
Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at the on-site café, where you can refuel after your adventures and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountain vistas.
Whether you’re a sports fan, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to learn more about the Olympics, the Utah Olympic Park is an exciting destination that offers something for everyone. So, gear up and get ready to experience the thrill and passion of the Olympic Games in the heart of Utah’s stunning mountain landscape.
Take a tour of the Great Salt Lake
A visit to Salt Lake City wouldn’t be complete without exploring the iconic Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. This unique natural wonder offers visitors a chance to witness breathtaking vistas, engage in outdoor activities, and learn about the lake’s fascinating ecosystem.
One of the best ways to experience the Great Salt Lake is by taking a guided tour. Several tour companies offer boat excursions, allowing you to cruise along the lake’s shimmering surface and take in the stunning surroundings. As you glide through the calm waters, you’ll have the opportunity to spot a variety of bird species, including pelicans, seagulls, and other migratory birds that call the lake their home.
Another popular way to explore the Great Salt Lake is by visiting one of the lake’s designated swimming beaches. Although the lake’s high salt content makes it unsuitable for traditional swimming, you can still float effortlessly on the surface due to the water’s buoyancy. It’s a unique and fun experience that you won’t find elsewhere.
For nature enthusiasts, the Great Salt Lake State Park is a must-visit destination. This scenic park features hiking trails that wind through salt flats, wetlands, and sandy beaches. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as antelope, jackrabbits, and various species of waterfowl that thrive in the park’s diverse habitats.
As you explore the Great Salt Lake, be sure to take in the stunning sunsets that cast a golden glow over the salt flats. The lake’s unique colors and reflections create a breathtaking sight that will leave you in awe.
Before visiting the Great Salt Lake, it’s worth checking the lake’s water levels and accessibility, as they can vary throughout the year. Additionally, bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of drinking water, as the lake’s saline environment can intensify the effects of the sun.
Whether you’re interested in birdwatching, enjoying unique natural phenomena, or simply soaking in the beauty of this incredible lake, a tour of the Great Salt Lake is an experience not to be missed. Immerse yourself in the tranquility and grandeur of this natural wonder and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Discover the beauty of Antelope Island State Park
Nestled in the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island State Park offers a unique and breathtaking natural experience. This stunning island is home to a diverse range of wildlife, incredible landscapes, and outdoor opportunities that will captivate nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.
To get to Antelope Island State Park, you’ll need to take a scenic drive across a causeway that spans the Great Salt Lake. As you make your way to the island, be prepared to be greeted by breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and shimmering waters.
Once on the island, there are several activities to enjoy. One of the main attractions is wildlife viewing. Antelope Island is home to a thriving population of bison, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and a variety of bird species. Keep your camera ready as you hike or drive through the island’s trails, and you might just catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
If you’re a beach lover, head to one of the island’s sandy shores for a relaxing day of sunbathing, swimming, and picnicking. Bridger Bay Beach is a popular spot, and you’ll be able to cool off in the incredibly buoyant waters of the Great Salt Lake.
For those seeking a more active adventure, Antelope Island offers numerous hiking and biking trails that wind through its diverse terrain. From easy strolls along the lakeshore to more challenging hikes up to the island’s mountain peaks, there is a trail for every level of outdoor enthusiast. Be sure to bring water and appropriate footwear, as the island’s weather can be hot and the terrain rugged.
As you explore Antelope Island State Park, take the time to appreciate the island’s unique natural beauty. The rolling hills, vibrant wildflowers, and reflective salt flats create a picturesque landscape that is unlike anything you’ve seen before.
There is an entrance fee to access Antelope Island State Park, and it’s recommended to check the park’s website for any updates or closures before planning your visit. Whether you’re a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, Antelope Island State Park is a hidden gem that deserves a spot on your Salt Lake City itinerary.
Experience skiing at Snowbird Ski Resort
When it comes to world-class skiing and snowboarding, Snowbird Ski Resort in Salt Lake City is a premier destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Nestled in the majestic Wasatch Mountains, this legendary resort offers exceptional powder, breathtaking scenery, and unparalleled terrain for all skill levels.
With over 2,500 acres of skiable terrain and an average annual snowfall of over 500 inches, Snowbird is a paradise for snow lovers. From wide-open bowls to perfectly groomed runs, there’s something for everyone at this renowned resort.
Advanced and expert skiers and riders will appreciate the challenging terrain options, including steep chutes, deep powder bowls, and thrilling tree runs. Intermediate skiers will find plenty of well-groomed trails to carve up, while beginners can take advantage of Snowbird’s excellent ski school and gentler slopes to learn and improve their skills.
One of the highlights of skiing at Snowbird is the breathtaking views from the mountain. As you descend the slopes, you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of jagged peaks, deep canyons, and the glittering Salt Lake Valley below.
Snowbird is not just about skiing and snowboarding; it also offers a wide array of other winter activities. Try your hand at snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on the resort’s beautiful trails, or embark on a thrilling snowmobile adventure through the nearby backcountry.
After a day on the slopes, indulge in the resort’s world-class dining and après-ski scene. From cozy mountain lodges to upscale restaurants, you’ll find a range of options to satisfy your post-skiing appetite and relax with friends and family.
When planning your visit to Snowbird, be sure to check the resort’s website for updated information on lift tickets, rentals, and lessons. Additionally, keep in mind that the resort can get busy, especially during holidays and weekends, so it’s a good idea to arrive early to secure parking and beat the crowds.
Whether you’re a seasoned powder hound or a beginner eager to experience the thrill of winter sports, Snowbird Ski Resort is the ultimate destination for an unforgettable skiing and snowboarding adventure. So grab your gear, hit the slopes, and immerse yourself in the exhilarating world of Snowbird.
Explore the exhibits at the Natural History Museum of Utah
For those with a passion for the natural world and a desire to learn, a visit to the Natural History Museum of Utah is a must. Located at the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake City, this world-class museum offers a captivating journey through the history of our planet and the diverse ecosystems that inhabit it.
The museum’s impressive architecture and stunning views provide a fitting backdrop for its extensive collection of exhibits that cover a wide range of topics. From prehistoric dinosaurs to ancient Native American cultures, the Natural History Museum of Utah offers an in-depth exploration of the natural and cultural history of the region.
One of the highlights of the museum is the “Past Worlds” exhibit, where visitors can travel back in time to learn about the dinosaurs that once roamed the earth. Discover life-size dinosaur skeletons, interactive displays, and engaging multimedia presentations that bring these ancient creatures to life.
The museum also features exhibits that focus on the diverse ecosystems found in Utah and the surrounding region. Learn about the unique geology of the area, explore the intricate balance of desert ecosystems, and discover the rich plant and animal life that thrives in the mountains and forests.
Don’t miss the “Native Voices” exhibit, which celebrates the Native American cultures of the region. Through artifacts, multimedia displays, and stories from indigenous communities, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of their history, traditions, and contributions to the area.
For those interested in hands-on learning, the museum offers interactive exhibits and educational programs for visitors of all ages. Engage in scientific experiments, explore natural specimens up close, and participate in workshops and demonstrations led by knowledgeable staff and scientists.
Plan your visit to the Natural History Museum of Utah by checking their website for hours, ticket prices, and any special exhibits or events. Parking is available on-site, and there are also public transportation options for easy access to the museum.
Whether you’re a science enthusiast, a history buff, or simply curious about the world around us, the Natural History Museum of Utah is a fascinating destination that offers a deeper appreciation for our planet’s natural wonders. Embark on a journey of discovery and exploration as you delve into the captivating exhibits and collections on display.
Enjoy outdoor activities at Liberty Park
Located in the heart of Salt Lake City, Liberty Park is a vibrant and expansive urban oasis that offers a plethora of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages. Spanning over 80 acres, this beloved park provides a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
One of the main highlights of Liberty Park is its beautiful landscape and wide-open spaces. Take a leisurely stroll along the park’s walking paths, soaking up the fresh air and scenery. Find a serene spot to relax, have a picnic, or read a book while surrounded by lush greenery and shade-providing trees.
One of the park’s main attractions is its large pond, where visitors can rent paddleboats or enjoy a leisurely paddle around the calm waters. Explore the waterways as you glide past ducks and geese, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Sports enthusiasts will delight in the range of recreational facilities available at Liberty Park. Play a game of tennis, challenge friends to a volleyball match, or engage in a friendly competition on the basketball and soccer fields. The park also features a fitness loop, perfect for joggers and walkers looking to stay active.
Children will have a blast at the park’s playgrounds, which include swings, slides, and climbing structures. The larger playground, known as the “Seven Canyons Village,” features a dinosaur-themed play area that will ignite their imagination and provide hours of entertainment.
Another must-visit attraction within Liberty Park is the Tracy Aviary, one of the oldest and largest aviaries in the United States. Home to over 400 birds representing 135 different species, the aviary offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with birds from around the world. Attend live bird shows, feed colorful lorikeets, and learn about conservation efforts to protect these magnificent creatures.
Throughout the year, Liberty Park hosts various events, including concerts, art festivals, and cultural celebrations. Check the park’s schedule to see if there are any special events happening during your visit.
Entrance to Liberty Park is free, and there are ample parking spaces available. The park also provides amenities such as restrooms, picnic areas, and public art installations.
Whether you’re seeking a tranquil escape, a place for a family outing, or an opportunity to engage in outdoor activities, Liberty Park is the perfect destination. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, enjoy recreational pursuits, and create lasting memories in this beloved urban oasis.
Visit the Hogle Zoo
For a delightful and educational experience, a visit to the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City is a must. Located at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, this popular attraction offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with a diverse range of animal species from around the world.
The Hogle Zoo is home to over 800 animals representing over 200 species, making it a fascinating destination for animal lovers of all ages. As you explore the zoo’s carefully curated exhibits, you’ll have the chance to learn about wildlife conservation and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of protecting our planet’s diverse ecosystems.
One of the zoo’s highlights is the Rocky Shores exhibit, where you can observe magnificent polar bears, playful sea lions, and captivating harbor seals. Be sure to catch the daily animal presentations, where zookeepers provide insightful information about these incredible creatures.
Take a walk through the African Savanna exhibit, home to majestic elephants, graceful giraffes, and other iconic African species. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of this unique habitat and witness the beauty of these animals up close.
For those interested in the exotic, the Asian Highlands exhibit is a must-visit. Encounter rare and endangered species such as snow leopards, red pandas, and Amur tigers, and learn about the conservation efforts being made to protect them.
Don’t miss the chance to visit the Zoo’s Elephant Encounter and the Teton Trek, where you can observe North American wildlife in a stunning mountain landscape setting. From grizzly bears to gray wolves, these exhibits provide an immersive experience into the natural habitats of these animals.
Throughout the year, the Hogle Zoo hosts various events and activities, including summer concerts, zoo camps for kids, and special themed exhibits. Check the zoo’s website for information on upcoming events to enhance your visit.
Plan your visit to the Hogle Zoo by checking their website for hours, ticket prices, and any special guidelines or restrictions. The zoo also offers dining options, including cafes and snack stands, where you can refuel during your exploration.
A visit to the Hogle Zoo offers a unique and unforgettable experience for animal enthusiasts and families alike. So come and make lasting memories as you discover the wonders of the animal kingdom at this beloved Salt Lake City institution.
Salt Lake City, with its stunning natural landscapes, rich history, and diverse array of attractions, offers something for everyone. From exploring iconic landmarks like Temple Square and the Utah State Capitol Building to immersing yourself in the beauty of nature at Big Cottonwood Canyon and Antelope Island State Park, the city is a treasure trove of memorable experiences.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Salt Lake City provides ample opportunities to enjoy activities like skiing at Snowbird Ski Resort, hiking through picturesque trails, and taking in the breathtaking views of the Great Salt Lake. For those seeking cultural enrichment, the city’s museums, such as the Natural History Museum of Utah, provide fascinating insights into the region’s natural and cultural heritage.
Salt Lake City is also a family-friendly destination, with attractions like Liberty Park offering a range of outdoor activities and the Hogle Zoo providing an opportunity to get up close to a diverse range of animal species. The city’s vibrant culture is further showcased through events, festivals, and performances that take place throughout the year.
Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, adventure seeker, or looking for family-friendly fun, Salt Lake City has it all. The city’s unique combination of stunning natural landscapes and rich cultural heritage creates a truly unforgettable experience for visitors.
So, pack your bags, embark on an adventure, and immerse yourself in the wonders of Salt Lake City. Discover the breathtaking beauty, engage in exciting activities, and create cherished memories that will linger in your heart long after you leave.