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Salt Lake City is known for its beauty and cultural attractions, and it’s cradled between the Great Salt Lake, the Wasatch mountain range and the Oquirrh mountain range. The area around the city offers an abundance of natural beauty and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Inside the borders of the city, there’s a variety of historical, educational and fun things to do and see. Consider setting up home base at a conveniently located vacation rental to make the most of your trip; that way, you get to enjoy the comforts of home while exploring all the wonderful things to do and see in this Salt Lake City vacation guide.

The Great Salt Lake

When you’re deciding what to do in Salt Lake City, be sure to include a visit to the lake that’s the city’s namesake. The Great Salt Lake has a higher salinity level than the ocean, and it’s known for supporting people who want to experience floating in it. The high salt content limits fishing opportunities, but visitors enjoy casting a line in areas where freshwater streams feed the lake and around the marina. You also have the opportunity to head to the Great Salt Lake Marina to catch a sunset cruise, go kayaking and rent a sailboat for a day on the lake.

The Islands and Wetlands of the Great Salt Lake

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The islands in the Great Salt Lake have trails where guests can hike, mountain bike and go horseback riding. The white sand shores at Antelope Island State Park provide some of the area’s top swimming. Seasonal activities like the Annual Bison Roundup are also hosted on this island. The wetlands around the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve are part of an area where birdwatchers and nature photographers visit to enjoy the setting. The preserve is handicap accessible so that everyone is able to enjoy an up-close view of the wildlife.

Temple Square

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Temple Square takes up 35 acres of downtown Salt Lake City, and it’s one of the area’s most popular destinations. Tours of the temple are free and are offered in 40 different languages to accommodate visitors. Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints guide visitors through the tour. There’s a number of tours available, so you have choices in learning about the temple’s architecture, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Utah’s first governor, Brigham Young, who was also a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prophet.

Family History Center Library

The Family History Center library is a genealogist’s delight, and it’s also interesting for those who have never considered exploring genealogy. This part of Temple Square is known as the world’s largest genealogical research source. The Discovery Center tour takes guests through the Family History Center library in approximately an hour. In the Discovery Center, there are interactive displays that add a fun element to exploring your family history. This adds an entertaining element that keeps the entire family engaged in the tour.

Museum of Ancient Life

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Travel back in time for a glimpse of prehistoric life with a visit to the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point. Stroll among exhibits of dinosaurs and check out life under the sea with marine life displays. Many of the exhibits feature interactive parts to keep youngsters enthused, and there’s a 3D theater where you can relax and enjoy a show when you want a break from all the walking. Kids even have the chance to feel like true archaeologists uncovering remnants of the Jurassic era at interactive displays where they can dig for bones.

Natural History Museum of Utah

Another of the popular things to do in Salt Lake City is to take a visual trip through time at the Natural History Museum of Utah. This is set up as a multistory indoor canyon where you can see layers of prehistory as you navigate your way up from the canyon’s floor. The visible layers help put the passage of time into perspective. You get to enjoy glimpses of the cultures of those who lived in past ages along with fossils of the creatures who thrived in prehistoric times.

Clark Planetarium

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Take in views of the night sky and 3D sky shows at the Clark Planetarium. The planetarium is where you’ll find the only IMAX theater in Utah. Space exploration and natural science exhibits bring learning to life. Plus, the planetarium is next door to one of the city’s popular indoor-outdoor shopping areas.

Red Butte Garden

Red Butte Garden spans 150 acres, and it delivers views of landscaped and natural settings. The gardens lead into trails at the base of the Wasatch mountain range. During the summer months, guests have the opportunity to enjoy concerts in the garden. There are year-round activities and exhibits, so there’s something unique to see here no matter what time of year you visit.