Things to Do in Salt Lake City

About Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah and its most populated city.  It was founded in 1847 by the church followers led by Brigham Young who fled the east to escape persecution.  It is now home to the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints. 

The immigration of church members, mining booms, and construction of the first transcontinental railroad spurred Salt Lake City’s growth.  Now Salt Lake City has developed a strong outdoor recreation industry based around skiing, and it is known for hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Watch a Horse Show

The Salt Lake County Equestrian Park and Event Center, located south of Salt Lake City, always has something happening.  There are hunter/jumper shows, cart races, and Arabian horse shows.  The equestrian park is not limited to horse events either.  It features seasonal festivals, BMX races, and dog trials too.  Check its calendar for options.

Equestrian Center in Salt Lake City

Browse a Farmers Market

There are several farmers markets around Salt Lake City.  I swung by one in the South Jordan Towne Center where vendors sell melons, salsa, chips, honey, vegetables, bread and the like.  Though quiet, locals line up to support their community.

farmers market in salt lake city

Take a Hike

There are several canyons just a short drive from Salt Lake City including Emigration, Mill Creek, Little Cottonwood, Big Cottonwood, and American Fork.  Though Emigration and Mill Creek are the closest, my favorite hikes are in Little Cottonwood and American Fork.

Drive a Scenic Byway

The Alpine Loop Scenic Byway attracts over 1 million visitors a year.  The 20-mile route passes through the Wasatch Range and by Robert Redford’s Sundance.  Check out the towering glacier carved peaks and colorful aspen along the way with many hiking options.

Stewart Falls in American Fork Canyon

Visit Temple Square

The Temple Square is impressive!  Paid parking is available on the street or beneath the Joseph Smith building which used to be a hotel, but is now a hospitality building owned by the church.  Be sure to visit the 10th floor of the Joseph Smith building for views of the Temple to the West and the mountains to the east.

It also provides a good view of other places to visit on the square including the South Visitor Center, the Tabernacle, the Convention Center, the Church History Library, the Church History Museum, the Family History Library, the Beehive House and the Lion House.

Salt Lake City Convention Center
convention center

The temple is not open to public, but all the other buildings are and there are many volunteers that will provide free tours or visitors may just poke their head in and ask a few questions.

Salt Lake Temple
Salt Lake Temple

It is definitely worth taking a look in the Tabernacle where the choir performance is televised every Sunday at 9:30am.  The Church History Library displays some very old Latter-Day Saints documents including Joseph Smith’s journal and a first edition Book of Mormon.  Both the Beehive House and the Lion House were homes of Brigham Young and now a café operates in the Lion House.

Finally, anyone searching for lost relatives should stop in the Family History Library.  It is for everyone, not just Mormons.  It has the largest ancestry database in the world and is used by many of the internet companies like Ancestry.com

Family History Library

It is easy to spend several hours or even a whole day in the Salt Lake City attraction.

Swing by Olympic Park

Though it doesn’t warrant a tour and isn’t that exciting, it is kind of cool to say you’ve been to an Olympic Park.  Make a five-minute stop to take a picture of the cauldron.

Eat at Ruth’s Diner

Ruth’s Diner is just a short drive from Olympic Park, so plan the two visits together.  The diner is in located in an old trolley car and having been open since 1930 is one of the oldest restaurants in Salt Lake City.

Next door to Ruth’s Diner is Emigration Brewing Company.  Stop in and try one of Utah’s local beers.

Emigration Brewing Company

Explore the Natural History Museum of Utah

Another popular attraction nearby the Olympic Park is the Natural History Museum of Utah.  The building is located in the foothills of the Wasatch Range outside of Salt Lake City.  The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is a popular hiking path next to the museum, so it is easy to spend the whole day in this part of Salt Lake City.

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Published by

Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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