Salt Lake City is bordered by the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. The four-season city offers outdoor activities that range from sunny water park fun to snowy tubing thrills. Founded in 1847, this city also has an abundance of historical and cultural attractions.
Places to visit in Salt Lake City include Hogle Zoo, Eccles Theater, The Wairhouse Trampoline Park, Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, Chase Home Museum, Clark Planetarium, Fort Douglas Military Museum, and the following attractions. There’s a ton of wonderful options in this opulent city, so we’ve broken down the must-sees below. Keep reading to hear more about all that Salt Lake City has to offer.
Natural History Museum of Utah
The Natural History Museum of Utah originally opened in 1969 and has kept its doors open ever since. It’s located on the campus of the University of Utah and boasts an enormous collection of over one million objects. The museum is packed with objects and artifacts from various ages and stages of humanity. With such a variety of pieces, it’s no wonder that it has been the proud recipient of many awards over the years. The museum is housed in the Rio Tinto Center, notable for the standing seam copper that wraps the exterior of the building. The three-story-high Canyon, the main lobby area, features a collections wall that displays more than 500 objects. From the Canyon, you can view the Salt Lake Valley or find ways to explore the museum with its mobile guide, Trailhead to Utah.
Pro Traveler Tip: The museum has always got something going on. You’ve got to check out their calendar for a full list of all the great offerings apart from the fabulous normal exhibits.
Great Salt Lake State Park
Great Salt Lake State Park provides boat slips and interpretive exhibits in addition to panoramic public viewpoints of the Great Salt Lake. This impressionable lake is the largest saltwater lake in the entire western half of the globe. It’s home to a ton of fun outdoor things to do. Be sure to check out Gonzo Boat Rentals and Tours, located adjacent to the Visitors Center, which rents stand-up paddleboards, paddleboats, and kayaks. The venue also offers Sunset Dinner Cruises and Jet Boat Tours. Bird watching is a popular pastime in the park since the lake is a stop for millions of migratory birds. In addition, the park also offers a ton of great camping options for the true outdoorsman.
For those of you looking for something a bit more sophisticated, the park restaurant offers a breakfast and lunch menu with items such as a delectable crab benedict and a wonderful seafood omelet. For something a little lighter, be sure to check out The Park Café for a quick cup of coffee before the hike.
Pro Traveler Tip: If on a tighter budget or simply looking to take advantage of the budget-conscious offerings, be sure to check out all these free events here.
Utah Museum of Fine Arts
The Utah Museum of Fine Arts displays the culture and visual arts on a rotating basis. The museum’s permanent collection includes about 20,000 objects. Figurines, oil paintings, woodblocks, tapestries, jewelry, amulets, and etchings are some of the objects in the collection. Things like “Power Couples: The Pendant Format in Art” and “Spencer Finch” are temporary exhibitions. Docent-guided tours are offered, and talks and lectures are presented on a regular basis. The Museum Café offers a lunch and beverage menu.
As this is an art museum, the normal rules of ‘look but don’t touch’ still apply. In addition, the museum encourages its visitors to only use pencils for note taking when in the museum, no pens. The staff at the museum also ask that you leave larger bags at home or in the car, as there is generally not enough space to check these prior to entry. They do, however, offer free lockers for storing most items.
Pro Traveler Tip: Only areas marked with a “No photography” symbol are off-limits for photos. Generally speaking, the museum is fairly lenient with the taking of photos. If you enjoy an installation, snap a quick pick to share with your friends.
Big Cottonwood Canyon
Big Cottonwood Canyon is a must-see when you visit Salt Lake City, regardless of the season. Steep canyon walls open up to reveal magnificent views. The 15-mile-long ancient canyon, located in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains, is a great place to picnic, rock-climb, hike, bike, camp, and fish. Come in comfortable shoes and be ready to get active.
Two ski resorts are popular destinations in the winter. Hiking to Donut Falls, with its easy, wide trail and little elevation gain, is fun for all family members. Choose from four picture-perfect picnic areas.
Pro Traveler Tip: While there is absolutely no shortage of hiking in the canyon, for those of you who would prefer to enjoy the scenery from the comfort of your car, you’re in luck! The canyon has an incredible 15-mile scenic drive for you to enjoy.
Downtown Salt Lake City
Temple Square, including the castle-like Salt Lake Temple, is the focal point of Downtown Salt Lake City. There are other attractions in the area. The Gateway is an open-air destination for entertainment, dining, shopping, and work.
The Leonardo is a science and art museum, and the Capitol Theatre stages ballet, opera, and Broadway shows. Gallivan Center hosts events and festivals all season while the City Library often provides festival space in its landmark building. Shopping and dining spots are numerous. With too many great restaurants and boutiques to mention here, we encourage you to take a look for yourself. A couple of our favorite restaurants are The Blue Iguana, a great little Mexican joint, and Caffe Molise, an elegant Italian eatery.
Pro Traveler Tip: If you’re a downtowner, the best advice we can give you is to plan to walk. There’s no shortage of transportation; however, strolling around the city is a great way to discover the next hidden gem and take in more of it while you’re there.
Red Butte Garden
Red Butte Garden includes a botanical garden, arboretum, and amphitheater. The Daffodil Display, located in the Four Seasons Garden, blooms each spring while the Rose Collection features 150 distinct species of roses. The Ornamental Grass Collection, Conifer Collection, and Penstemon Collection are interesting habitats. Three Terrace Gardens, the Medicinal Garden, Fragrance Garden, and Herb Garden are popular spots. Red Butte Garden Natural Area features a trail, stream, ponds, and a waterfall.
Pro Traveler Tip: If you can’t wait to see till you get there, the garden offers its visitors the ability to click here and see what’s blooming. You won’t be disappointed with the selection.
There’s lots to do on Salt Lake City’s Capitol Hill. You can tour the Capitol, which houses the chambers of Utah’s three branches of government, and learn about its history and view the magnificent artwork. The Capitol grounds are a great place to have a picnic or take a hike on the trails. You can also walk through Memory Grove Park, where you’ll find a river, monuments, and picnic tables as well as trails. Check out the artifacts at Pioneer Memorial Museum, then head to historic Council Hall.
Pro Traveler Tip: Utah’s State Capitol is beautiful. So beautiful in fact that we encourage you to take a tour of the historic building. You’ll be blown away by the history and architecture as you meander through this incredible structure. Click here for details on how to request more information today.
Salt Lake City Awaits!
Salt Lake City offers a ton of great things to do for all ages and group sizes. Whether you’re looking for nature and the great outdoors, some sophisticated culture, or a phenomenal downtown, this city won’t disappoint. Head over to VacationRenter to book your trip today!