Wondering what activities and attractions you can’t miss in the City of the Saints? Our guide to the best things to do in Salt Lake City is just what you need!
Salt Lake City, Utah, is the best travel destination for a perfect blend of outdoor and indoor activities. The mountainous valley scenery makes for a breathtaking experience and picturesque backdrop as you explore this stunning city.
Salt Lake City is home to many unique attractions, including the Family History Library, which stands as the most extensive genealogical library in the world.
It was also here in Salt Lake City, Utah that the first Kentucky Fried Chicken was established before it spread across the globe to satisfy the world’s fried chicken cravings.
We’ve created a designated list of what to do in Salt Lake City so that you can take part in the best activities and tourist attractions to visit on your trip to this hot spot travel destination.
From hiking Big Cottonwood Canyon to checking out the local fossils at the Natural History Museum Of Utah, Salt Lake City has it all!
Table of Contents
- The Best Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Utah
- 1) Explore Downtown Salt Lake City
- 2) Bask In The Admirable Views Of Great Salt Lake State Park
- 3) Hike The Big Cottonwood Canyon
- 4) Check Out The Local Fossils At The Natural History Museum Of Utah
- 5) Shop At The City Creek Center
- 6) Get Away From The Hustle & Bustle At Liberty Park
- 7) Awaken Your Finer Senses At The Utah Museum Of Fine Arts
- 8) Join The Olympians At The Utah Olympic Park
- 9) Tour The Impressive Grounds Of Temple Square
- 10) Stroll The Stunning Red Butte Garden
- 11) Scour The Family History Library
- 12) Hike The City Creek Canyon Hiking Trail
- 13) Find A Hidden Gem At The Gilgal Sculpture Garden
- 14) Walk Back In History At The Pioneer Memorial Museum
- 15) Take A Guided Tour Of The Utah State Capitol Building
- 16) Learn About The Early Pioneers At This Is The Place Heritage Park
- 17) View A Theater Performance At The Joseph Smith Memorial Building
- 18) View The Memorial Of Fallen Soldiers At Memory Grove Park
- 19) Bask In The Outdoors At The Wasatch Mountain Range
- 20) Sit Back & Relax At Sugar House Park
- 21) Visit One Of The Last Historic Farmsteads At Wheeler Historic Farm
- Where to Stay in Salt Lake City, Utah
The Best Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Utah
There are boatloads of Salt Lake City activities and attractions waiting to be explored that will suit any traveler. There are free activities for budget travelers, outdoor hikes for adventurous travelers, and plenty of cultural and historical sites to see.
From Salt Lake Trolley Tours, to historic museums, stunning gardens, and more, there are so many fun things to do in Salt Lake City, Utah!
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1) Explore Downtown Salt Lake City
Centered on Temple Square in the Capitol Hill area, which encompasses five city blocks of exhibits and historic sites, downtown Salt Lake City is filled with fun activities and attractions waiting to be explored!
Hosting a range of farm-to-table restaurants boasting fresh and delicious ingredients, heading downtown is recommended to satisfy your cravings for an unforgettable meal. For those that enjoy drinking as they eat, downtown also boasts plenty of Irish pubs and wine bars to bask in live music and great company.
Buy a ticket to bask in a ballet, opera, or Broadway show at the Capitol Theatre, or catch a performance of the incredible Utah Symphony.
Or book one of the iconic Salt Lake Trolley Tours. These sightseeing tours will take you to all the best attractions around the city in a historic trolley.
There are plenty of things to do in Salt Lake City, so hop over to downtown to explore historic sites, quench your appetite, or dance the night away—the options are endless!
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2) Bask In The Admirable Views Of Great Salt Lake State Park
A remnant of Lake Bonneville that spanned 20,000 square miles during the last ice age, the Great Salt Lake is a popular Salt Lake City attraction for locals and tourists alike.
Now the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, the Great Salt Lake is also the eighth largest lake in the world! Though the lake is top-rated for its immensity, people travel from all over the world to visit its stunning shores, scenic nature, and refreshing atmosphere.
At Great Salt Lake State Park, visitors can explore one of the best bird-watching and bison spotting places. Many come to the park to swim, hike, camp, and bask in the wildlife of this unique spot.
If you’re a nature lover, then visiting one of Utah’s best state parks is definitely one of the best things to do in Salt Lake City.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset, and you can find a full list of hiking trails, campgrounds, and more on the website.
3) Hike The Big Cottonwood Canyon
A prevalent outdoor activity of Salt Lake City Utah, Big Cottonwood Canyon boasts prime scenery that is perfect for hiking, rock climbing, fishing, camping, mountain biking, and more.
This stunning location is reached by driving up The Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway (SR-190) to the top of the canyon at Guardsman Pass, a popular hiking spot.
In addition, many go out of their way to hike to Big Cottonwood Canyon’s mountain lakes, like Lake Lillian, Lake Florence, Lake Mary, and Lake Blanche.
Though the trail is only 3.1 miles, it is deemed a strenuous hike, so prepare adequately for this rewarding hike. Then, if you visit Salt Lake City at the right time, join a guided backcountry ski tour of the canyon to witness undeniably inspiring mountain range views!
4) Check Out The Local Fossils At The Natural History Museum Of Utah
The Natural History Museum Of Utah illuminates the natural world, presenting exhibitions emphasizing Utah and the Intermountain West.
The museum is committed to serving as an education centerpiece in Utah by offering plenty of interactive exhibits that explore minerals, metals, flora, fauna, and much more.
If you didn’t know, Utah is one of the most prosperous destinations in the world for dinosaur-fossil discovery. It’s no question, then, that the Natural History Museum Of Utah would present these impressive finds to its guests.
- Address: 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
- Hours: 10am – 5pm
- Cost: $19.95
5) Shop At The City Creek Center
Boasting world-class shopping and dining, City Creek Center has over 100 restaurants and stores from Louis Vuitton to Kendra Scott and Lululemon.
Local favorite restaurants include Bocata and A Taste of Red Iguana, but there are other dining options, including the food court.
This unique shopping center is a must-visit when traveling to Salt Lake City. The center’s tractable glass roof opens and closes, a sky bridge connects the two city blocks of the center, and a fish pond is inserted with local trout, all to create a one-of-a-kind shopping center popular with locals and tourists alike.
- Address: 50 S Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
- Hours: 10am – 9pm (Closed Sundays)
6) Get Away From The Hustle & Bustle At Liberty Park
Liberty Park is the second largest public park in Salt Lake City, which is incredibly popular for homing the Tracy Aviary and two islands.
Containing more than 80 acres of green landscapes, many stop by this scenic park for a getaway from the bustle of city life.
The Tracy Aviary and Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Art are on the park’s grounds. The aviary houses more than 135 avian species from around the world. The Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Art exhibits the arts of Utah’s indigenous peoples, European pioneers, and other historical artifacts.
Go for a jog on one of the jogging paths, power through a game of tennis at the tennis courts, set up for a picnic in the grass by the ponds, or explore the museum and aviary at Liberty Park!
- Address: 600 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
- Hours: 8am – 11pm
7) Awaken Your Finer Senses At The Utah Museum Of Fine Arts
The primary resource for the region’s culture and visual arts, the Utah Museum Of Fine Arts showcases the exhibition of contemporary works to ancient artifacts.
Presenting the magnitude of human history and creativity through over 20,000 original works of art.
With over 74,000 square feet of space, the museum has plenty of room to present a range of exhibitions and arts, including sculptures, photographs, paintings, and more.
In addition, the Utah Museum Of Fine Arts presents works from local artists and those worldwide, including ancient Greeks and Romans, Native Americans, Scottish, Thai, and much more.
Stop by the Utah Museum Of Fine Arts for a film screening, tour, or artist talk for a unique experience of the arts.
- Address: 410 Campus Center Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84112
- Hours: 10am – 5pm (Closed Mondays, open until 8pm on Wednesdays)
- Cost: $17.95
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8) Join The Olympians At The Utah Olympic Park
After Utah hosted the XIX Olympic Winter Games and the VII Paralympic Winter Games in 2002, the Foundation designated Utah Olympic Park and the Utah Olympic Oval as the official U.S. Olympic Training Site.
This task was completed to involve Utah’s youth in winter sports and continue the legacy and positive impact of the 2002 Winter Games.
The Olympic Park spans almost 400 acres, including a sliding track, six Nordic ski jumps, a 2002 Winter Games museum, the Spence Eccles Olympic Freestyle Pool, and a host of other fun activities.
The multi-use facility has plenty of hands-on, family-friendly activities to explore, including tubing down the runs for a thrilling experience. This is one of the most fun things to do in the area with kids.
- Address: 3419 Olympic Pkwy, Park City, UT 84098
- Hours: 9am – 6pm
- Cost: Free (special activities and sports cost extra – check prices online)
9) Tour The Impressive Grounds Of Temple Square
Another one of the best things to do in Salt Lake City is checking out the temple grounds at Temple Square. Owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Temple Squares is a 10-acre complex located in downtown.
Temple Square comprises five city blocks of historic sites, interactive exhibits, and other activities centered on the Church’s mission to worship Christ and serve God’s children. In addition, visitors can tour Temple Square’s refreshing gardens, majestic architecture, and historical space.
The tours are led by missionaries and are available in over 40 languages to allow as much diversity as possible to those that wish to learn about the historic buildings.
Even if you’re not a religious person, it’s a cool place to check out.
- Address: 50 N Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150
- Hours: 9am – 9pm
- Cost: Free
10) Stroll The Stunning Red Butte Garden
The Red Butte Garden is a magical Salt Lake City attraction. Its amphitheater, botanical garden, and arboretum are all operated by the University of Utah campus, and its doors are open to the public year-round.
Red Butte Garden is one of the largest botanical gardens in the Intermountain West.
It is renowned for its themed gardens, impressive plant collections, world-famous outdoor concert series, teeming 500,000 springtime blooming bulbs, 22 acres of display gardens, and its award-winning horticulture-based educational programs.
The official state arboretum is a wonderful place to stop for a relaxing stroll through the beautiful gardens.
- Address: 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
- Hours: 9am – 7:30pm (Closes at 5pm on Sunday and Tuesday)
- Cost: $14
11) Scour The Family History Library
Located in downtown Salt Lake City, the Family History Library is a genealogical research facility with a library that is open to the public—free of charge!
The library spans five floors and 142,000 square feet with a collection of over 1.3 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records, 340,000 books, 125,500 periodicals, 190,000 microfiche, and houses the names of more than 8 billion deceased people from over 100 countries.
The library is operated by FamilySearch, the genealogical arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, dedicated to connecting families across generations.
As one of the largest genealogical libraries in the world, this attraction is one of the best things to do in Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Address: 35 N W Temple St, Salt Lake City, UT 84150
- Hours: 9am – 6pm (Closes at 8pm Tues-Thurs, Closed Sundays)
- Cost: Free
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12) Hike The City Creek Canyon Hiking Trail
One of Salt Lake City’s top outdoor attractions is the City Creek hiking trail, which is accessible from downtown on foot. For those that have a car, it is possible to park on Canyon Road if traveling from your stay.
Before the City Creek Hiking Trail is City Creek Road, a paved trail that is a popular spot for walking and hiking. The first 3.6 miles of this refreshing hiking trail travel alongside a trickling mountain stream on this paved trail.
The last few miles end at Rotary Park is a great spot to sit down for a refresher under the pavilions and picnic tables.
For City Creek Hiking Trail, this will be found running adjective to City Creek Road. It stretches about three miles up to the water-treatment plant and conjoins with the Bonneville Shoreline Trail that veers up into the hills for picturesque scenery.
13) Find A Hidden Gem At The Gilgal Sculpture Garden
Another one of Salt Lake City’s gems, the Gilgal Sculpture Garden is a small park settled behind houses and businesses, personifying a sense of discovery when first-time visitors discover the garden.
Presenting 12 original sculptures and more than 70 stones engraved with literary texts, scriptures, and poems, the garden is committed as the only identified “visionary art environment” in all of Utah.
Gilgal Sculpture Garden was created by Thomas Child when he was 57 in 1945. Child’s passionate mission to arouse curiosity and thinking as he was during his life-long spiritual quest.
Until his death, Child spent much of his time personally traveling to Utah for huge stones that weighed up to 62 tons for his sculptures.
Open seven days a week, visiting the sculpture garden is free of admission. All visitors are welcome to tour the grounds of this enigmatic and artistic gem.
- Address: 749 E 500 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84102
- Hours: 8am – 8pm
- Cost: Free
14) Walk Back In History At The Pioneer Memorial Museum
Home to the world’s largest collection of artifacts on one subject, the Pioneer Memorial Museum displays collections and memorabilia set from the earliest settlers. This includes settlers who entered the Valley of the Great Salt Lake until the railroads joined at Promontory Point in 1869.
Stepping into the Pioneer Memorial Museum is a step back into history. Exhibits explore the belongings and memorabilia of the pioneer people who migrated over 2,000 miles west from Nauvoo, Illinois, and other parts of the world to seek religious freedom.
From gorgeous pine furniture to ornate decorative arts, there are plenty of preserved items and memorabilia to investigate and learn about at the Pioneer Memorial Museum.
- Address: 300 N Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103
- Hours: 9am – 4:30pm, closed Saturdays and Sundays
- Cost: Free
15) Take A Guided Tour Of The Utah State Capitol Building
One of the most prominent landmarks in Utah, the state capitol building has stood as the home of state government since its establishment in 1916. And from 2004-2008, the building underwent one of the largest historical preservation projects in the United States!
The project was done to repair and restore the historical beauty of the building. Since then, people worldwide have visited the Utah State Capitol Building to explore its historical beauty and significance.
Its design combines Corinthian style and Neoclassical Revival architecture, earning the building a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
The capitol building is open seven days a week. It offers free guided tours every hour of the common areas that feature paintings of the state’s early history and the picturesque park outdoors that houses various memorials and a stunning reflecting pond.
Check the website for more info about scheduling a tour.
- Address: 350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103
- Hours: 7am – 8pm (Closes at 6pm Fri-Sun)
- Cost: Free
16) Learn About The Early Pioneers At This Is The Place Heritage Park
Located at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, This Is The Place Heritage Park offers a chance for guests to step back in time to witness how early settlers lived.
A family-friendly and educational activity, the park is a worthwhile entertaining experience of the early settlement stages. The park was named after a phrase spoken by Brigham Young 1847, who led a group of pioneers to the valley.
When Young saw the valley, he declared, “This is the right place. Drive on.” This Is The Place Heritage Park honors and represents the pioneers’ early settlements and hard work accomplished in the Utah territory.
There is a range of activities, including the Heritage Village, which features buildings and cabins to explore where guests can watch leatherworkers, blacksmiths, spinsters, and more work. It’s like a living history museum, and it’s one of Salt Lake City’s top attractions.
- Address: 2601 East Sunnyside Ave, Salt Lake City, UT, 84108
- Hours: 9am – 5pm (Closed Sundays)
- Cost: $15.95
17) View A Theater Performance At The Joseph Smith Memorial Building
Named to honor Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building is a social center that now houses various restaurants, a 500-seat theater, and an event space.
Previously called Hotel Utah, the building was established in 1911 to bring a world-class hotel to Salt Lake City. Welcoming guests from over the globe for more than 75 years, in 1987, the hotel closed and reopened in 1993 as an administration space by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Since its expansion of purpose, the building now houses a theater that hosts various film and theatre performances. Visitors can come for a performance, sit at one of the many dining options, or come for the congregation on Sunday.
- Address: 15 E S Temple St, Salt Lake City, UT 84150
- Hours: 9am – 9pm, Closed Sundays
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18) View The Memorial Of Fallen Soldiers At Memory Grove Park
Dedicated as a memorial to America’s fallen military men in 1924, Memory Grove Park homes various memorials and structures built to honor these fallen soldiers.
The Pagoda is the first memorial established in the park. The classical marble structure is constructed of eight columns, each supported by a circular entablature.
The marble used for the Pagoda is the same used to create the Lincoln Monument in Washington, D.C.
Other stunning memorials are speckling the park grounds, like the Meditation Chapel. The chapel was built by a mother and father to memorialize their son and other sons who died in World War II.
Walk the grounds of this sobering historical park to view the many impressive memorial structures that honor fallen soldiers.
- Address: 300 N Canyon Rd, Salt Lake City, UT 84103
- Hours: 5am – 11pm
- Cost: Free
19) Bask In The Outdoors At The Wasatch Mountain Range
Spanning 160 miles from the Utah-Idaho border to central Utah, the awe-inspiring Wasatch Mountain Range is the western edge of the greater Rocky Mountains.
As the backyard playground of Salt Lake City, many come to explore its encompassing wilderness, inspiring views, and the towns Park City and Haber that cradle the mountain.
Seven canyons feed into Salt Lake Valley, where the glacier-carved Little Cottonwood, a 15-mile-long adventure land, resorts like Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, and other popular activities like mountain biking, cycling, hiking, and more are explored.
Exploring this corner of the Salt Lake Valley is one of the most fun things to do in the area! And if you’re here during the winter, try something new and book a guided ice climbing tour.
20) Sit Back & Relax At Sugar House Park
In the heart of the Sugar House neighborhood, Sugar House Park is fondly known as the “crown jewel” among regional parks and the historic Sugar House area.
Spanning 110 acres, the park empowers luscious greenery, picturesque views, and plenty of space to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Previously the site of Utah’s first state prison, the space has been reformed into a popular park with tourists and locals alike.
Visitors can hike Parley’sTrail, sled the hilly areas, or simply sit back and relax surrounded by a serene landscape at Sugar House Park.
- Address: 1330 2100 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
- Hours: 7am – 10pm
21) Visit One Of The Last Historic Farmsteads At Wheeler Historic Farm
One of the few remaining late 19th century farmsteads, the Wheeler Historic Farm is placed on the National Register of Historic Places to protect the historic site.
A family-friendly attraction, the farm is 75 acres in size and includes a working farm, museum, and park with several hiking trails.
Visitors can hop on a wagon or cow train ride to join an educational tour of the property that encompasses the history of Utah family agriculture.
Explore the historical exhibits and the working farm, let the kids play in the massive playground, and picnic under the shaded pavilion for a refreshing day in Utah life!
- Address: 6351 S 900 E, Murray, UT 84121
- Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk
- Cost: Free
Where to Stay in Salt Lake City, Utah
Now that we know all the most fun things to do in Salt Lake City, it’s time to figure out the best places to stay!
Best Hostel in Salt Lake City, Utah
Park City Hostel offers upscale hostel accommodations in an affordable stay that has various lineups of lodging options to maximize comfort for its guests.
Salt Lake City’s top-rated hostel is perfect for adventurers, backpackers, and travelers who wish to be surrounded by like-minded individuals and fellow travelers.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah
Providing free shuttle services to Salt Lake’s International Airport, Comfort Inn & Suites Salt Lake City Airport provides its guests optimal accommodations.
Guests are served complimentary breakfast daily, serene mountain views, and an indoor heated pool and hot tub to rejuvenate and increase relaxation during your vacation.
Best Luxury Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah
Located in the prime location of downtown Salt Lake City, Grand America Hotel features a full spa, a dine-in cafe, an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, and a gym.
Every room includes a stunning marble bathroom with bathrobes and slippers to dive into a relaxing mood for vacation.
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