Salt Lake City is one of the best capital cities in the United States for a good reason. Utah’s capital is safe and nestled snugly in a beautiful valley surrounded by impressive mountains. There are so many fun and unique things to do in Salt Lake City. From first-class museums to famous restaurants, unique architecture and history, you’ll have a blast exploring this big little town.
Although Salt Lake City is the most populated city in Utah, it has a small-town feel and the pioneering spirit that helped settle Utah in 1847 is felt throughout the town. Most people always smile and ask how you are. Many establishments are family-run. Historical landmarks have been preserved and protected.
Do you love art? Animals? Music? Green spaces and parks? Sports? Shopping? Hiking? History? Whatever your interests are, Salt Lake City has something for you. It’s time you visit the hidden gem of the west and add Salt Lake City to your destination to visit list.
Based in Salt Lake City, Rachelle Gordon is the voice behind Adventure is Never Far Away. Her goal is to show the world that adventures are a state of mind and can be found everywhere. When she’s not playing at Disneyland or planning her next road trip, she’s discovering her current home town of Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Salt Lake City
- 20 Things To Do In Salt Lake City
- 1– Explore Temple Square
- 2– Escape To Park City
- 3– Hike Ensign Peak
- 4– See Strange Art At Gilgal Garden
- 5- See A Real-Life Replica Of The “Up” House
- 6– Experience The Bonneville Salt Flats
- 7– Go Shopping At City Creek Mall
- 8- Wade Into The Great Salt Lake
- 9– Stroll Down Historic South Temple Street
- 10– Catch A Performance Of The Tabernacle Choir
- 11– Look For Buffalo On Antelope Island
- 12– Relax At Liberty Park
- 13– Drink A Dirty Soda
- 14- Ride A Bobsled At Olympic Park
- 15– Tour The Utah State Capitol
- 16– Eat At The Red Iguana
- 17– Explore This Is The Place
- 18– Tour The Public Library
- 19– Ruth’s Diner
- 20– Learn About Your Roots At The Family History Library
- 20 Things To Do In Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City
20 Things To Do In Salt Lake City
If you haven’t made it to Salt Lake City yet, it’s time you put these items on your bucket list.
Salt Lake City is continuously growing and adding more culture, activities, food and adventure to its repertoire.
This eclectic and unique list of things to do in Salt Lake City will keep you coming back for more. So what are you waiting for?
1– Explore Temple Square
It’s impossible to go to Salt Lake City and never step foot in Temple Square.
Not only was Salt Lake City designed initially with Temple Square at the centre focal point, but the buildings and grounds are also beautiful.
Exploring Temple Square is one of the top things to do in Salt Lake City for its history, unique architecture and it is beautiful no matter what time of year.
No matter what your religious affiliation may be, Temple Square should be at the top of your list when visiting Salt Lake City.
Temple Square is the headquarters for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and has various monuments and historic buildings that tell the story of the founding of Salt Lake City.
Take a selfie and marvel at the gothic architecture of the Temple, the focal point of Temple Square, knowing that it took 40 years to complete!
During the Christmas season, join the crowds and check out the festive lights and Nativity displays from around the world.
Volunteer missionaries offer free guided tours, can answer almost any question you can think of and are happy to assist visitors.
Visiting Temple Square is free of charge and open every day but remember that this location is a religious site for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and should be treated with respect.
The Salt Lake City International Airport has a free shuttle that takes visitors from the airport to Temple Square every day.
Special note: Temple Square is currently going through a four-year-long renovation project, scheduled to be completed in 2024. Some buildings and access points might be affected during your visit.
Temple Square is at 50 N Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150.
2– Escape To Park City
One of the best things about visiting a major city is the option of having a break from it.
20 minutes east of Salt Lake City lies the quaint ski town of Park City.
Home to world-class ski and snowboard resorts, the famous Sundance Film Festival and some of the best back-country activities in the country, Park City offers visitors a much-needed breath of fresh air.
During the summer and fall months, the rolling hills and towering mountains come alive with lush vegetation, perfect for hiking and climbing.
Mountain bike trails criss-cross the mountains like spider webs, offering adventure around every corner.
Park City is a great place to visit if you want to be pampered and experience luxury at its finest.
Book a massage and steam at any number of spas.
Dine with classically trained chefs as they showcase the best that Utah has to offer. Play golf on one of Park City’s famous mountain-backed golf courses and mingle with local celebrities.
You never know when you’ll run into Post Malone or Robert Redford!
To reach Park City, you can either hire a car in Salt Lake City or take an Uber. Park City’s free bus system makes it cost-effective to get around and ridesharing is another popular option.
3– Hike Ensign Peak
Salt Lake City is in a beautiful valley, surrounded by mountains and the Great Salt Lake.
The best view of the entire valley is at the summit of Ensign Peak, a mountain top directly behind the State Capitol building.
The Ensign Peak hike is the most popular urban hike for both Salt Lake City residents and visitors as not only is the trail easily accessible, it is also only .5 miles long.
Once you reach the summit of Ensign Peak, you will be rewarded with unobstructed views of the entire Salt Lake Valley, so get your cameras and selfie sticks ready.
Your Instagram feed will blow up with likes and comments when you post a picture from Ensign Peak.
Things to keep in mind: Although the trail is short, there is very little shade, so bring water.
The best way to get to the trailhead is by car but if you don’t want to hire a car, you can use Uber or Lyft.
The trailhead is in a residential area, so please be courteous to the neighbours.
The vista is most stunning at sunset, but popular any time of day.
Ensign Peak hike trailhead is at 1002 Ensign Vista Dr., Salt Lake City.
4– See Strange Art At Gilgal Garden
Are you a fan of the weird and strange? Gilgal Garden might be just the thing for you.
See abstract art, giant sculptures of body parts backed by biblical scripture and a giant sphinx sculpture with the head of Joseph Smith (the first prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
Gilgal Garden is a feast for the eyes everywhere you look and questions will fill your mind.
Tucked away in a residential area of downtown Salt Lake City, Gilgal Garden is a must-see.
Thomas Child built Gilgal Garden in the mid-1900s as a way “to give physical form to his deep-felt beliefs.”
There are tons of biblical scriptures accompanied by sculptures that Child and local artisans produced.
What a way for a rich man to spend 18 years of his life!
One of the most unique and thought-provoking displays in Gilgal Garden has to be the dedications plaque.
Among the list of long-deceased ancestors and random people from the community, Thomas Child included Queen Victoria.
No one knows why and it remains a mystery to this day.
Gilgal Garden is free to visit and as it will take you less than an hour to see, wandering the garden is a great way to break up your day and stretch your brain.
Gilgal Garden is at 749 E 500 S, Salt Lake City.
5- See A Real-Life Replica Of The “Up” House
Did you know that there’s a replica of the house from Disney and Pixar’s movie “UP,” just south of Salt Lake City?
In 2011, local builders from Bangerter Homes completed construction on their unique entry to the local Utah Parade of Homes.
Soon after completion, the Hamblin family from California moved in, fulfilling their dreams!
Today the famed “UP House” is a local gem, gracing the backdrops of many Instagram and various social media posts.
Since the family lives in the house full time, they ask for visitors to respect their privacy and there’s a notice on the front gate outlining photography guidelines.
If you’re a fan of Disney and Pixar, take the short drive south of Salt Lake City and pay homage to the “UP House.”
It’s one-of-a-kind and unique.
How many of your friends can boast that they’ve seen the “UP House?”
Tips when visiting UP House:
Although the Up House is straight out of the movie, people live in it, so do not approach the front door.
This is private property, the owners have a right to their privacy and a community surrounds the house, so please be respectful when visiting.
Children usually play around the neighbourhood, so observe the speed limits (25 mph unless otherwise posted).
If you’re going to be using the photos for marketing or have balloons, props, or are dressed up, you will need to contact the homeowner directly.
The Up House is at 13218 S Herriman Rose Blvd, Herriman.
6– Experience The Bonneville Salt Flats
West of downtown Salt Lake City is the famous Bonneville Salt Flats.
Millions of years ago, Salt Lake City was covered by the ancient Lake Bonneville but when it dried up, it left a 30,000-acre salt pan in its wake.
Land speed records have been set on the Salt Flats and it is known by locals and visitors alike as the “Bonneville Speedway.”
The property is currently under the care of the Bureau of Land Management, which means that it is free to visit.
Hire a car and head west towards Nevada to reach the Bonneville Salt Flats and bring a few props to take some crazy perspective-bending pictures.
Make sure your vehicle has 4-wheel drive and head out onto the salt pan for some race time.
Head out at night to get in some epic star-gazing, free of light pollution from Salt Lake City.
Things to keep in mind: The salt pan is a desert ecosystem, which can be unpredictable so go prepared with extra clothing, sunscreen, food and extra water.
There is a gas station close to the salt flats but make sure your vehicle has enough gas to get out there.
7– Go Shopping At City Creek Mall
Every shopping centre and mall in Salt Lake City is fun to visit but the best is City Creek Center.
City Creek isn’t just a shopping centre but a lifestyle destination, which opened in 2012 and is across the street from Temple Square.
The walkways are lined with lush vegetation and a creek runs through the shopping centre, giving the impression that you’re someplace special.
During inclement weather, the retractable roof protects shoppers from rain and snow.
Every night, shoppers can watch the nightly fountain shows next to the Nordstroms’ outdoor escalators.
It offers world-class shopping, right in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City with brands like Anthropologie, Tiffany & Co, Michael Kors, Macy’s, Coach, Disney, H&M and Louis Vuitton.
Grab a refreshing drink at the food court and stroll along the pathways that line the creek.
Take a few selfies as you cross the bridges, catch the fountain show and get lost in luxury.
City Creek Center is at 50 Main St, Salt Lake City.
8- Wade Into The Great Salt Lake
Curious about how Salt Lake City got its name?
The Great Salt Lake lies just to the west of downtown Salt Lake City and is visible for miles around.
Chances are, you flew over the Great Salt Lake as your plane descended into the Salt Lake City International Airport.
The Great Salt Lake is considered a dead lake, so water does not flow in and out of the lake, but it remains stagnant.
Because of this, the salt content is higher than most other small bodies of water.
As water evaporates into the clouds, the salt gets left behind and accumulates.
You can float in the Great Salt Lake better than most lakes on earth, similar to the Dead Sea in the Middle East.
The best places to float in the Great Salt Lake are along the I-80 towards the city of Tooele, or by heading north towards Antelope Island.
A word of caution: the Great Salt Lake smells the closer you get to it.
9– Stroll Down Historic South Temple Street
South Temple Street houses some of the most historic buildings, mansions and edifices Salt Lake City has to offer.
Since Salt Lake City’s founding in 1847, an address on South Temple Street has meant prestige and sophistication.
The state of Utah and other organisations have worked hard over the years, preserving the stately homes, churches and clubhouses that dot South Temple Street.
Grab your camera and walking shoes for a walk down historical Salt Lake City, starting at Temple Square, head east along South Temple Street.
For 12 blocks, you will see impressive architecture, colourful palettes and a free trip down Salt Lake City’s memory lane.
If you don’t feel like walking, one of the best things to do in Salt Lake City during the summer and fall months is to rent an e-bike or e-scooter from one of the many locations downtown and cruise down South Temple Street.
Many houses have historical landmark plaques so do stop and have a read.
10– Catch A Performance Of The Tabernacle Choir
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (formerly known as The Mormon Tabernacle Choir) was dubbed “America’s Choir” by former US President Ronald Reagan.
The Choir has performed around the world, for US Presidential inaugurations, at the 2002 Winter Olympics hosted by Salt Lake City and holds various concerts throughout the year.
The Choir is magnificent, performing both secular and spiritual pieces, usually accompanied by the Orchestra at Temple Square.
On Sundays (at 9.30 am) in the Conference Center just north of Temple Square, the Tabernacle Choir performs “Music and the Spoken Word.”
One of the best decisions you can make during your trip to Salt Lake City is to catch a performance by the Tabernacle Choir.
Extra concerts occur during the Easter and Christmas seasons and are free of charge.
Special concerts celebrating local holidays and celebrations require tickets that can be found on the Choir’s website, also free of charge.
Fill your visit with uplifting music and enrich your experience.
The Tabernacle Choir is at 60 N Temple, Salt Lake City.
11– Look For Buffalo On Antelope Island
Just a short drive north from downtown Salt Lake City lies Antelope Island, situated in the Great Salt Lake.
Not only can you watch the buffalo herd roaming, but take advantage of world-class bird-watching, unique hikes over rugged terrain.
Learn about the history of the island, how it was formed and how it came to be named.
Marvel that even though you can see downtown Salt Lake City, you’ll feel worlds away.
Antelope Island is full of adventure.
Whether you bring a boat, bike, or just some sturdy hiking shoes, there will always be good times on the horizon.
Visit the visitor’s centre in the middle of the island to learn about the wildlife and the conservation efforts happening to the ecosystem.
If you want to camp on your visit to Salt Lake City, bring a tent and your sense of adventure.
Camping on Antelope Island is a unique experience in that you can have buffalo wandering into your campground to check out the new visitors.
Antelope Island is a State Park and costs $10 per vehicle to enter. It’s at 4528 West 1700 South; Syracuse, Utah.
12– Relax At Liberty Park
Liberty Park is a vast green space in urban Salt Lake City and a respite from the grit of downtown.
Bring a blanket for a picnic, rent a bike and cycle around the Park as you wave to the dogs.
Join in a game of pickup volleyball, sit by the lake and feed the geese.
Liberty Park is also home to the Tracy Aviary (tickets are less than $10), where you can learn about the dozens of birds that call the aviary home.
During the summer months, Liberty Park is home to the Friday Night Farmers Market and a great place to dine on food truck fare.
Stop by to check out the handmade arts and crafts from local artisans or stock up on local organic produce from farmers around Salt Lake City.
If you have a hammock, bring it and join the community of locals as they relax under the trees with a book.
Liberty Park is at 600 East 900 South, Salt Lake City.
13– Drink A Dirty Soda
Boston has baked beans, Chicago has pizza, New York has bagels, Salt Lake City has dirty sodas.
A dirty soda is a simple concept: a drink with a soda (or soda water) base, with added flavour shots, syrups and purees.
The first dirty soda shop opened in St. George, a town four hours south of Salt Lake City.
Today, there are dozens of dirty soda shops around Salt Lake City such as dirty soda shops include Thirst, Swig, Sodalicious, Fizz, and Quench.
Each location has a unique menu and different dirty soda names and every local has a personal preference of shop and dirty soda drink.
Some soda shops also offer cookies, popsicles and sell other local businesses’ food items.
Some popular dirty sodas are:
Dr Pepper, raspberry puree, coconut cream
Mountain Dew, mango puree, strawberry syrup
Diet Coke, fresh lime, half-and-half cream
Do yourself a favour and try a signature mixer at whichever location you choose. Ask for the local favourite!
Thirst is at 38 E 1300 S, Salt Lake City.
14- Ride A Bobsled At Olympic Park
Want to experience the biggest thrill of your life? Ride a bobsled on an Olympic bobsled track.
Salt Lake City was where the 2002 Winter Olympics were held and is set to host them again, as many structures are still standing and in operation today.
At the Olympic Park between Salt Lake City and Park City, visitors can fulfil their bucket list dreams by riding a bobsled with a professional pilot.
If you’re not that daring, wander around the track and visitor’s centre to learn more about the bobsled, skeleton, and luge events that took place during the 2002 Winter Olympics.
It costs $195 per rider and riders must be 16+ years old, over 100 pounds and each passenger must attend an orientation before the ride.
Reservations are required and rides may be cancelled during extreme weather conditions and special events.
Olympic Park is at 3419 Olympic Pkwy, Park City, UT 84098
15– Tour The Utah State Capitol
As Salt Lake City is the capital of the state of Utah, one of the places to visit is the Utah State Capitol building, which presides over Salt Lake City from a raised platform on the north side of the city.
The capitol building was completed in 1916 and underwent reconstruction and refortification in the early 21st century.
During the summer, Lululemon offers free yoga classes on the lawn of the capitol building.
How many of your friends can claim to have a yoga session on a state capitol lawn?
Free tours are offered daily, with reservations required for parties of 10 or more.
Engage in a self-guided tour of the lovely sweeping grounds, taking in the dozens of monuments and statues.
Sit under the trees and look out over downtown Salt Lake City.
The interior of the state capitol building is so beautiful it has starred in movies, YouTube channels and music videos!
Utah State Capitol building is at 350 State St, Salt Lake City.
16– Eat At The Red Iguana
In the mood for some killer Mexican food?
The Red Iguana is a local haven for authentic Mexican food and has been featured on the Food Network show and won many local awards.
If you take the time to ask a local for a restaurant recommendation, you’ll hear “The Red Iguana” escape their lips.
The restaurant has become so popular, a secondary location was built around the corner from the original building.
With mole, enchiladas, tacos and cochinita pibil on the menu, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something less-than-delicious.
If you’re visiting on the weekend, visiting for lunch might be the best option but even during the week, the wait for a table can take more than an hour during the dinner time rush.
The Red Iguana is at 736 W North Temple, Salt Lake City.
17– Explore This Is The Place
This is the Place Heritage Park is a fantastic place to go when you’re visiting Salt Lake City.
Mormon pioneers escaped religious persecution and entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.
This is the Place Heritage Park marks the location when they first arrived and declared this was the location for the future town.
There are so many activities you can experience at This is the Place Heritage Park.
Pan for gold, just like they did during the gold rush.
Learn about the Native Americans that still call Utah home, and check out a replica of their village.
Travelling with little kids? Take them on a pony ride, just like children did back in the 1800s.
Pioneer activities and demonstrations are scattered throughout the Park so take some time to learn how things were done in the 1800s and try a few out for yourself.
There’s nothing better than a fully-immersive history lesson that is fun for the whole family.
This is the Place Heritage Park is at 2601 East Sunnyside Ave, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
18– Tour The Public Library
You might not think that visiting a public library is a must-do in any city, but the Salt Lake City public library, in particular, is an architectural gem.
Located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, the public Library is a treat for the eyes.
The building is five stories tall and situated in a curved wedge shape.
The north-facing wall of the Library is comprised entirely of windows.
Pretend you’re in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and take a ride to the roof in the glass elevator.
Once you reach the rooftop, take a look around at one of the few rooftop gardens in the city (the other larger one sits atop the LDS Conference Center).
Salt Lake City public library is at 210 E 400 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
19– Ruth’s Diner
Tucked into Emigration Canyon is a famous restaurant called Ruth’s Diner.
If you’re craving tasty classic American diner fare, Ruth’s Diner is the perfect stop for you.
Built out of an old trolley car, you’ll find yourself dining on mile-high homemade biscuits, omelettes for days, hash, sandwiches, eggs and every other diner food you can think of.
You’ll be surrounded by scenic mountain views that will make you feel like you’re a world away from the outside world.
During the springtime, drive up the canyon and get a respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown Salt Lake City.
If you can make it up in the winter, enjoy a winter wonderland of icicles and animal footprints.
Although the menu includes lunch and dinner items, the best time to visit Ruth’s Diner is for breakfast. Their menu is also vegetarian- and vegan-friendly.
Ruth’s diner is a beloved local favourite restaurant that should be high on your list of places to visit in Salt Lake City.
Ruth’s Diner is at 4160 Emigration Canyon Rd, Salt Lake City.
20– Learn About Your Roots At The Family History Library
The Family History Library in Salt Lake City is the largest genealogical centre in the world.
Are you interested in your family history?
Do you know where your family originated?
Can you trace your ancestry back further than your parents or even grandparents?
The Family History Library is located conveniently across the street from Temple Square.
The Library has five floors packed with over two million rolls of microfilmed records, over 300,000 books, and over 4,000 periodicals.
Don’t know how or where to start? Think your family story is too complicated or untraceable? Stop by and try to stump any one of the 400+ professional staff and trained volunteers.
The Library is free of charge and worth stopping by when you visit Salt Lake City.
The Family History Library is at 35 N West Temple, Salt Lake City.