12 Best Things to Do in Salt Lake City (with Photos)

The state capital of Utah, Salt Lake City, is where you will find an enthralling mix of religious culture and outdoor adventures. Named after the Great Salt Lake, the city comes with outdoor parks, nearby mountain ranges and, of course, one of the largest salt lakes in the country to explore.

But you will also find mesmerizing architecture that is unique to America. With a strong connection to the Mormon religion, discover a beautiful world of temples and choirs. Exploring all the spiritual things to do in Salt Lake City is an experience that transcends faith, one that any traveler can enjoy.

12. Clark Planetarium


For both an educational and entertaining afternoon, head to the popular Clark Planetarium. The multidimensional complex comes with a hall of interactive exhibits to start off the fun. Here you can learn about outer space, the solar system and the human experience in space.

However, those experiences pale compared to the Hanson Dome. This is where visitors can immerse themselves in a 360 degree screen that shows many fascinating short films. These include insights into black holes, space travel and the lives of astronauts. There are even sensory light shows backed by famous tunes for a unique experience.

For those traveling to Salt Lake City as a family, the Clark Planetarium is also home to an IMAX theater. Where you can watch a rotating collection of prominent feature films on the gigantic screen.

11. Salt Lake City Public Library

Salt Lake City Public Library© dreamstime

The public library system in Salt Lake City is extensive, with several branches placed throughout the city. The main public library is located downtown and the building is a striking piece of architecture that stands out in the skyline of Salt Lake City.

At five stories tall and somewhat wedge-shaped, you will find over 500,000 pieces of literature, including classic magazines, newspapers and period features. As well, of course, literary luminaries from Dickens to Kerouac.

The Salt Lake City Public Library also features a large children’s library. The young ones will love the spacious creative area that comes with reading and activity sessions each day. Once everyone has their literary fix, head to the rooftop garden for a relaxing afternoon with superb views.

10. Liberty Park

Liberty Park© dreamstime

Salt Lake City has several impressive green spaces, but none are larger and more popular than Liberty Park. The size of the park makes it a perfect spot for locals and visitors to enjoy walking, hiking or biking in the outdoors.

The scenery throughout the park is wonderful, with the lake surrounded by bird life, native flowers and large shady trees that are centuries old. It should come as no surprise that Liberty Park is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Aside from leisurely strolls, you can play basketball, volleyball or swim in the public pool. While the oldest commercial building, the Isaac Chase Mill, is also found within Liberty Park. For those interested in birds, visit the Tracey Aviary, home to 135 different species.

9. Red Butte Garden

Red Butte Gardenflickr/Shaan Hurley

Opposite the University of Utah, a beautifully maintained botanical garden and arboretum is waiting to be explored. Red Butte Garden is open year round and also comes with a stunning amphitheater.

The extensive garden space offers five miles of hiking trails. But before putting on your hiking shoes, jump on the garden tram tour. This way you can get the low-down on the history of Red Butte Garden and the hundreds of plants that are found throughout.

As you walk along one of the many trails, you will be able to put this knowledge to good use while taking several breaks to peer up at the impressive Wasatch Mountain Range.

Throughout the year Red Butte Garden hosts educational presentations, art exhibits and concerts. Be sure to see what events are on when you are in town.

8. Salt Lake Temple

Salt Lake Temple© dreamstime

Despite being the first temple to break ground on construction, the Salt Lake Temple was the fourth of its kind in Utah. Built from quartz monzonite found 20 miles out of Salt Lake City, this stunning temple features six spires each with a statue of the angel Moroni.

The completion of the Salt Lake Temple after four decades was the fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah’s foretelling that the Lord’s house would be established on the top of the mountains. Today, not only is it the headquarters of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, but also one of the top attractions in Utah.

Stroll around the temple to get an up-close look at its incredible design. You can see a scale model of the temple and the interior at the South Visitor’s Center.

7. Snowbird Ski Resort

Snowbird Ski Resort© dreamstime

After completing a picturesque 40-minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City, you will arrive at Snowbird Ski Resort. The resort comes with 3,240 vertical feet of memorable terrain and Utah’s longest ski season.

Each year, the Snowbird Ski Resort averages 500 inches of fresh powder. The mountain boasts a balance of beginner to experienced runs that will make skiers of all skill levels happy. During the snow season, you will also have the options of enjoying heli-skiing in the backcountry, embarking on a snowcat excursion, or joining a snowmobile tour.

As for the summer, you will find scenic tram rides up the mountain along with the adrenaline pumping Mountain Coaster for a self-driven experience back down the mountain.

6. The Tabernacle

The Tabernacle© dreamstime

One of the most awe-inspiring experiences in Salt Lake City is seeing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Tabernacle. Whether you are religious is irrelevant, as the hauntingly beautiful harmonies from the choir will stick with you for a long time.

They broadcast every performance from the Tabernacle choir live at 9.30am each Sunday. However, you can’t beat seeing it in person. The Tabernacle building features 44 separate sandstone pillars beneath the dome roof. Here, crowds of 6,000 gather to watch the talented singers.

If you aren’t able to get a seat for the Sunday show, then between September-November and January-May you can see them for free during their Thursday rehearsals.

5. Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake© dreamstime

No time in Salt Lake City would be complete without a trip to the Great Salt Lake, the natural body of water that gave the city its name. Great Salt Lake is the largest of its kind in Utah and one of the biggest in the country.

On the shores of the salty lake, you will find a great number of activities to try. You can head out onto the lake for a spot of fishing, enjoy some water skiing or simply dive into the water for a dip.

Out of the lake, you will be able to hike trails that will lead you deep into nature with the chance to spot wildlife. For epic sunset views of the lake, be sure to hike to the summit of Ensign Peak.

4. Utah State Capitol

Utah State Capitol© dreamstime

The imposing Utah State Capitol building is in downtown Salt Lake City and is one of the top attractions in the city. Beyond being a beautiful piece of architecture, the Capitol is open to visitors so you can explore the Golden Room, and a series of prominent galleries.

The art galleries found within the building come with quality rotating exhibits and collections from around the Salt Lake City area. They help to tell the story of Utah from its history to its modern-day culture.

For a fantastic midday picnic, pick up some to-go food and head to the Capitol Grounds. Here you can kick back under the cherry trees and enjoy the sights.

3. Natural History Museum of Utah

Natural History Museum of Utah© dreamstime

One of the top things to do in Salt Lake City is to visit the Natural History Museum of Utah. As you roam the museum, you will get first-hand insight into the rich history of Utah, from the early days through the most critical moments along the journey.

There are 10 permanent exhibits that are found within the museum, many of which are interactive and let you use all five senses. Here you can learn more about the Great Salt Lake, and over 500 million years of geographical information on the region.

Another permanent exhibit focuses on Salt Lake City’s original inhabitants from prehistoric communities to the five Native American nations that call Utah home.

2. Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon© dreamstime

For more opportunities to explore the amazing outdoors around Salt Lake City, then a day-trip to Big Cottonwood Canyon should be on your itinerary. The canyon is within the Wasatch Mountain Range and only a short drive from downtown.

From the canyon you can go on a variety of hikes that will take you through the stunning scenery. There are also several mountain bike tracks for those that want to up the ante.

The two lakes, Mary and Blanche, also provide their fair share of water activities to enjoy on a sunny day.

1. Temple Square

Temple Square© dreamstime

As an iconic part of Salt Lake City, Temple Square is a must-visit. Found downtown, the square is home to the Salt Lake Temple, mentioned above.

As you explore Temple Square, you will see other notable locations such as the Tabernacle, along with several museums and prominent Mormon sites. But without a doubt, you will spend much of your time exploring the grounds around the spectacular temple.

One of the best ways to elevate your experience is to join one of the many volunteers on a tour of Temple Square. With an expert guide, you will get an insider’s look into the history of the faith along with information on the gardens and construction.

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