21 Things To Do In Salt Lake City - Updated 2021

things to do in salt lake city
Elena
Elena
Updated

Whether you’re in town for Sundance Film Festival, visiting friends, or just passing through on your way to one of Utah’s beautiful national parks, you’re sure to have a fantastic time in beautiful Salt Lake City. If you’re exploring Utah, you’ll find many lodging options available - from the top Airbnb luxe accommodations to beautiful HomeAway & Vrbo vacation rentals. With your accommodation sorted, you can peacefully explore all the attractions of Salt Lake City. Here are the top things to do in Salt Lake City that will let you enjoy all that this destination has to offer.

1. Visit the Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake
Source: Photo by Flickr user John Morgan used under CC BY 2.0

Obviously, you can’t be in Salt Lake City and not visit the city’s namesake. So go swim, float, or fish in the Great Salt Lake! It’s the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, which means it’s cool and the minerals and salt in the water will be great for your skin. However, depending on the time of year, be sure to bring a jacket!

2. Wander around Temple Square

Temple Square - Salt Lake City Utah
Source: Photo by Flickr user m01229 used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Salt Lake city’s history is an intriguing one. The city is well known for being the site of settlement for many Mormons back in the day, which has led to lots of interesting museums and cathedrals. So, if you’re going to Salt Lake City and want to see one of its historic sites, you have to check out Temple Square. As one of the most beautiful and popular Salt Lake City attractions, you and your camera will surely be busy! Go and watch the rehearsals of the Mormon Tabernacle, which is open to the public, or take a tour.

Temple Square

Address: 50 N Temple, 84150 Salt Lake City, UT

Website: Temple Square

3. Listen to live organ recitals at Salt Lake Tabernacle

Temple Square, Salt Lake City: the Tabernacle
Source: Photo by Flickr user Robert Cutts used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Located at Temple Square, Salt Lake Tabernacle is used as a venue for meetings, concerts, and other gatherings for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brigham Young, who was then the president of the LDS Church, wanted to ensure the building had good acoustics since microphones weren’t available at the time. Once you’re inside the building, it’s said that you could hear a pin drop from 51 meters (170 feet) away. While you’re in Temple Square, drop by to see if there are any events ongoing. You may even catch a live organ recital, which is open to the public.

Salt Lake Tabernacle

Address: Temple Square, 50 N West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, United States

Website: Salt Lake Tabernacle

Opening hours: 9am - 9pm (daily)

4. Stroll around Liberty Park

Liberty Park Lake
Source: Photo by Flickr user Edgar Zuniga Jr. used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Liberty Park is the oldest park in Salt Lake City, and it’s certainly a popular one among locals. The land used to belong to former LDS president, Brigham Young. In his will, he left the land so it could be purchased by the city and opened to the public. The park today offers many amenities, including playgrounds, volleyball courts, and walking paths. Stroll around the park or bring a picnic. You can even paddleboat across the pond.

Liberty Park

Address: 600 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105, United States

Website: Liberty Park

Opening hours: 8am - 11pm (daily)

5. View ongoing exhibits at Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tricia Simpson used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you enjoy visiting museums and galleries when you’re traveling, then stop by Utah Museum of Fine Arts during your trip to Salt Lake City. Located inside the University of Utah, this museum has about 20,000 objects in its permanent collection. Ongoing exhibits include a variety of artworks from America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. They also exhibit modern and contemporary art, ancient Mediterranean art, and more. Before your visit, you can check out their website to find out about temporary exhibits that are currently ongoing.

Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Address: University of Utah, 410 Campus Center Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, United States

Website: Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Opening hours: Wed: 10am - 8pm; Thu - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed from Sun - Tue)

Price: 12.95 - 15.95 USD

6. Explore downtown Salt Lake City

Downtown Salt Lake City, Utah
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ken Lund used under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’re wondering what to do in Salt Lake City, get ready to do eat, shop, and explore when you head over to the downtown area. Downtown Salt Lake has tons of shops and eateries, as well as murals and great neighborhoods where you can snap some Instagram-worthy pictures. Catch a show at Eccles Theatre or a concert at the Depot, and get all your shopping done at City Creek Shopping Center.

7. Check out Utah State Capitol Building

Utah State Capitol in October 2010
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mangoman88 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the best free things to do in Salt Lake City is to check out Utah State Capitol Building. This stately building is hard to miss, with its Corinthian-style columns and dome. This beautiful structure is one of Utah’s most prominent landmarks, and it is also available for tours, visits, and hosting events!

Utah State Capitol Building

Address: 350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103, United States

Hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

Website: Utah State Capitol Building

8. Go birdwatching at Tracy Aviary & Botanical Gardens

pink flamingos2
Source: Photo by Flickr user Emily Allen used under CC BY 2.0

You’ll find Tracy Aviary inside Liberty Park, so be sure to plan a morning park visit if you want to go bird watching while you’re here. The aviary is home to various bird species such as the North American eagle, monk parakeets, Chilean flamingos, macaws, and more. You can catch a bird show, listen to a talk from one of the keepers, or grab a snack at Bird Feeder Cafe. Bring your kids around for a fun and educational visit to the aviary.

Tracy Aviary & Botanical Gardens

Address: Liberty Park, 589 E 1300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105, United States

Website: Tracy Aviary & Botanical Gardens

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 7.95 - 11.95 USD

9. Take your kids to Discovery Gateway Children's Museum

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

It's Thursday, which means we are OPEN and looking forward to an amazing weekend of learning through play! We are open...

Posted by Discovery Gateway Children's Museum on Thursday, February 4, 2021

If you’re thinking of heading to Salt Lake City for a family holiday, you’ll find a plethora of kid-friendly attractions, one of which happens to be Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum. This complex boasts over 5,574 square meters (60,000 square feet) of space where kids can play, interact with various exhibits, and create. If you visit during the summer, you can even sign your child up for a brief summer camp experience. This children’s museum makes learning fun, so treat your little ones to a nice day out!

Discovery Gateway Children's Museum

Address: 444 W 100 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, United States

Website: Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum

Opening hours: Wed: 10am - 4pm; Thu - Sat: 10am - 6pm; Sun: 12pm - 6pm (closed on Mon & Tue)

Price: 10 - 12.50 USD

10. Book a trail ride at This Is The Place Heritage Park

This Is the Place Heritage Park, Salt Lake City, Utah
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ken Lund used under CC BY-SA 2.0

This Is The Place Heritage Park is the place to enjoy a full day of adventures in Salt Lake City. You can book a 60-minute horseback riding session, explore acres of land, and take in a view of Salt Lake Valley. Just be sure to schedule ahead to secure your spot! Other activities you can enjoy within the park include going on train rides, watching demonstrations, and exploring Treasure House to learn about mining in Utah. This Is The Place is also open for events like parties and weddings.

This Is The Place Heritage Park

Address: 2601 Sunnyside Ave S, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, United States

Website: This Is The Place Heritage Park

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Sun)

Price: 10.95 - 14.95 USD

11. Watch the First Vision at Church History Museum

Church History Museum - Salt Lake City, Utah - 2 May 2020
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Beneathtimp used under CC0

As the religious center for Mormons, visiting Salt Lake City presents a great opportunity to learn more about the LDS Church. If you’re already planning to head to Temple Square, add Church History Museum to your itinerary, too. Here, you’ll get to watch Joseph Smith - the founder of Mormonism - and his accounts of the First Vision. During the 1820s, when Joseph Smith was 14 years old, he went to pray in a grove of trees (now called the Sacred Grove) and had a vision of God. At this museum, you’ll watch this moment take place through an immersive theater with a 240-degree screen.

Church History Museum

Address: Temple Square, 45 N West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, United States

Website: Church History Museum

12. Check out the sculptures at Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Gilgal Sculpture Garden, Salt Lake City
Source: Photo by Flickr user sporst used under CC BY 2.0

Gilgal Sculpture Garden is a small, quiet park tucked away on 749 East and 500 South, and it’s home to 12 sculptures, the most notable one being a sphinx with Joseph Smith’s face. There are also some 70 stones with poems and scriptures engraved on them. Though today it’s open to the public for free, this space was once the backyard of an LDS Bishop, Thomas Child, who painstakingly selected each stone and built the garden himself. Gilgal is the only visionary art environment in Utah.

Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Address: 749 E 500 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84102, United States

Website: Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Opening hours: 8am - 8pm (daily)

Price: Free

13. Tour Beehive House: President Brigham Young's former residence

Beehive House, Salt Lake City
Source: Photo by Flickr user alh1 used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Beehive House was once the home of LDS Church president Brigham Young and is another must-visit spot around Temple Square. It’s connected to another one of his residences, Lion House. Today, it’s a historic house museum that hosts free 30-minute-long tours where visitors will see period pieces and many furniture original to the house.

Beehive House

Address: 67 E S Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, United States

Website: Beehive House

14. Invite your family to Hogle Zoo

Rhinos, Hogle Zoo, Salt Lake City, Utah
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ken Lund used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Spend a fun day out with the family by taking a trip to Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City. Spread across a vast area, this zoo is home to about 800 animals, including lions, tigers, rhinos, red pandas, giraffes, bears, birds, amphibians, insects, and more. The zoo also has shows, exhibits and animal encounters that the kids will surely love! Hogle Zoo is definitely one of the best attractions for kids in Salt Lake City.

Hogle Zoo

Address: 2600 Sunnyside Avenue (840 South), Salt Lake City, UT 84108

Website: Hogle Zoo

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 18.95 USD

15. Have a picnic at Red Butte Garden (from USD 14.0)

Nature lovers will enjoy visiting Red Butte Garden. Considered one of the largest botanical gardens in the area, this natural space is spread across 100 acres (40 hectares) and offers visitors well-planned gardens, an arboretum, miles of walking trails, ponds, waterfalls, and more. You can make your visit an even more enjoyable one by taking a class, attending a workshop or a concert, or having a leisurely picnic in the pristine surroundings.

Admission Ticket to Red Butte Garden

Duration: 60 to 120 minutes

16. Spend an afternoon at Clark Planetarium

Clark Planetarium at The Gateway
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user An Errant Knight used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Located in the premier shopping, dining, and entertainment area, The Gateway, Clark Planetarium is for visitors with an interest in science and space exploration. All visitors are free to browse through the thousands of exhibits spread out over the massive area of this planetarium. Titled ‘Earth’, 'Near Earth’ and 'Beyond’, these exhibits provide an educational experience to visitors of all ages. Plus, you can also catch shows at Hansen Dome Theatre or IMAX Theatre.

Clark Planetarium

Address: The Gateway, 110 400 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, United States

Website: Clark Planetarium

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

17. View engaging exhibits at The Leonardo Museum

Leonardo Exterior
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user The Leonardo used under CC BY 3.0

Conveniently located in the downtown area, The Leonardo Museum follows in the footsteps of its namesake. It attempts to connect arts, science, and technology in an immersive manner. Visitors will delight in browsing through engaging exhibits like art installations, interactive displays of technology and science, and more. The museum also offers many hands-on experiences, programs for different age groups, and special exhibitions.

The Leonardo Museum

Address: 209 E 500 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111, United States

Website: The Leonardo Museum

Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 12pm - 5pm (closed on Mon & Tue)

18. Check out the exhibits at Natural History Museum of Utah (from USD 15.0)

A great activity for a rainy day, the Natural History Museum of Utah is another family-friendly attraction in Salt Lake City. Besides the amazing natural history exhibits, the museum building itself is worth checking out, too. Explore 10 galleries filled with geological objects and exhibits like dinosaur fossils, rocks, ecosystem samples, and more. Enjoy browsing through interactive displays or taking in breathtaking Salt Lake Valley views from the terrace of this award-winning museum building.

Skip the Line: Natural History Museum of Utah Entrance Ticket

Duration: 2 to 3 hours

1 review

Nearby options

19. Visit Antelope Island State Park and take in the view

Antelope Island State Park, Great Salt Lake
Source: Photo by Flickr user Matthew Dillon used under CC BY 2.0

If you’re a fan of nature or beautiful scenery that is easily accessible, then you should definitely visit the beautiful Antelope Island. This park is home to free-ranging bison, mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn (antelope), and many other desert animals. Hike, mountain bike, or horseback ride through the park’s trails for spectacular views of the lake and island. Or take a stroll along the beachside and look out at the Great Salt Lake. Then, when you’re finished, spend a star-filled night in one of the many campsites located on the island.

Antelope Island State Park

Address: 4528 W 1700 S, Syracuse, UT 84075, United States

Hours: 6am - 10pm (daily)

20. Marvel at the Spiral Jetty

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970
Source: Photo by Flickr user Retis used under CC BY 2.0

While you’re splashing around the Great Salt Lake, you should pay a visit to the Spiral Jetty, a famous piece of environmental art by American artist Robert Smithson. Created by Smithson in 1970, it is located at Rozel Point peninsula on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake and is considered one of the most important works by this artist. The Spiral was built using thousands of tons of earth and black basalt rocks and is 450 meters (1,500 feet) long and 4.5 meters (15 feet) wide.

Tip: The spiral is more visible when the tides are lower, so be sure to monitor and bring your camera along!

The Spiral Jetty

Address: Corinne, UT 84307, United States

21. Hop into the magical world of Ice Castles

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


If it’s winter and you’re in the mood for magic, check out the Ice Castles at Midway, which is one of the most fun things to do near Salt Lake City. Midway is a small town located about 45 minutes outside Salt Lake City, but the drive is worth it for the beautiful ice formations. This seasonal attraction is home to tons of ice sculptures, ice-carved tunnels, and more. On your holiday trip to Utah, take your kids here - whether or not they’re a fan of the Disney movie Frozen, they’re sure to enjoy a visit.

Ice Castles

Address: 700 Homestead Dr, 84049 Midway, UT

Website: Midway Ice Castles

Visit Salt Lake City

Salt-Lake-City
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pasteur used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Salt Lake City is an amazing place to visit and explore. Conveniently located next to many natural wonders and national parks, the city makes for a great first stop on your adventure. It also offers tourists a chance to unwind after a rigorous and satisfying vacation. But Salt Lake City is more than a stop in a journey - it has many highlights and entertaining activities all on its own. So check out some of the things to do listed above!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Elena Aguirre is a travel writer with Trip101 and a student at UC Berkeley. In the past she has worked on technical, marketing, and creative writing. Favorite pastimes include traveling (of...Read more

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