Things to do in Salt Lake City

Tucked into the valley between the Wasatch and Oquirrh mountains, the bustling city of Salt Lake City, Utah offers the best of both worlds—a rugged landscape that is popular with outdoor enthusiasts, and the cultural attractions and activities that are enjoyed by city dwellers


You can learn about some of Utah’s most powerful movers and shakers at two of the most influential sites of the Beehive State—the Utah State Capitol and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquarters.

Historic Buildings

The 35-acre Temple Square in the heart of downtown is a lavish complex belonging to the Mormon Church. While the temple itself is restricted to members only, you are free to roam the grounds and check out the visitor’s center for more information on the church’s history and beliefs. The world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir offers free weekly performances and rehearsals that are open to the public.

The ornate, dome-topped Utah State Capitol has perched high above this city since 1916. You can explore the lush grounds of the capitol, which are dotted with fountains, sprawling lawns and cherry trees; and a one-hour guided tour of the historic building is available on weekdays.

Nature Calls

Nature lovers will want to explore the breathtaking landscape of Big Cottonwood Canyon, just 30 minutes east of downtown Salt Lake City. A 15-mile scenic drive meanders through the canyon, giving people the chance to admire the lush Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and towering, jagged rocks that form dramatic shapes. In addition to sightseeing, the area offers great opportunities for rock climbing, hiking, biking, fishing and skiing.

To view a magnificent sunrise or sunset, head to Ensign Peak Park, where you can see the same panoramic image of Salt Lake that Brigham Young looked upon when considering where to build the Mormon temple. It’s a steep hike to the top, but the beautiful scenery makes it worth the effort.

Outdoor Adventures

Liberty Park caters to everybody’s sporting side with its horseshoe pits; rollerblading trails; and courts for basketball, sand volleyball, tennis and bocce ball. Your kids can bond with some feathered friends at the Tracy Aviary, and they can enjoy some small thrills on the park’s carousel or Ferris wheel. You can cool off in the summertime with a dip in the outdoor pool, and there are paddle-boats available to take on the lake, which has resident ducks.

The 100-acre Red Butte Garden at the University of Utah has 5 miles of trail that you can hike or bike through rugged hills and blooming gardens filled with daffodils, lilacs and crab apple trees. From May through September, you can catch a concert or a movie at the garden’s 3,000-seat amphitheater.

Dining Options

Mexican eatery Red Iguana (736 W. North Temple) offers three locations in Salt Lake City, including the original hot spot in the neighborhood of Fairpark. You can chow down on such beloved family recipes as cheesy enchiladas and hefty burritos. But be prepared to wait, as seating is limited in this small venue. For New American cuisine with fresh farm-to-table fare, visit The Copper Onion (111 East Broadway), where you can watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen from the comfort of your table in the bright and airy dining room.

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