12 Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Utah

From a thriving performing arts scene to the world's largest collection of genealogy records, it's a fantastic place to start your Rocky Mountain adventure.
By Tori Peglar ,

An overhead view of Salt Lake City in Utah

Courtesy Visit Salt Lake

Go to museums, browse galleries, go shopping, and sample delicious eats in Utah's capital city.

A convenient gateway to some of America's most stunning national parks, Salt Lake offers endless options for outdoor enthusiasts as well as cultural art lovers, families, and history buffs.

At the heart of downtown, visitors can browse museums and galleries, sample endless dining and shopping options, enjoy an arts festival, attend a Broadway musical, visit the zoo, catch a symphony or planetarium cosmic light show, or enjoy some picking at a farmers market. Nestled at the base of the Wasatch Range, you are also only minutes from streams and trails to hike and bike.

City Creek Center

Courtesy Visit Salt Lake

A recent addition to the bustling Salt Lake scene is City Creek Center. This 23-acre, sustainably designed mixed-use development includes retail stores, restaurants, and residential and office space. City Creek offers a unique shopping experience featuring 90-plus stores and restaurants, including Nordstrom, Macy's, Michael Kors, and Coach in a pedestrian-friendly environment.

City Creek is an outdoor-oriented shopping center, but features two fully retractable glass roofs spanning 500-plus feet total to ensure a year-round, climate-controlled environment as well as a pedestrian skybridge over Main Street connecting the two primary blocks of the project. Combining City Creek with the openings of two ground-breaking museums, Natural History Museum of Utah and The Leonardo, is proof that Salt Lake City is in the midst of an urban renaissance with a strong cultural slant.

And rounding it all out, Salt Lake City is also enjoying an explosion of incredible new restaurants featuring award-winning chefs, as well as new nightclubs and bars. Located just minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport, Salt Lake and its cosmopolitan downtown provide the ideal gateway to and from America's most treasured national parks.

Getting Around Town

Utah Transit Authority provides transportation throughout the Salt Lake City metro area and surrounding region, including SLC airport, ski areas, and a free FLEX light rail system downtown. (rideuta.com)

Top 12 Things to Do in Salt Lake City Area:

Capitol Theatre

Capitol Theatre

Paul Swansen via Flickr

Built in 1913, this elegant theatre is home to the Utah Opera but hosts everything from comedians to large-scale productions.

Historic Temple Square

Temple Square in Salt Lake City

Steve Greenwood courtesy of Visit Salt Lake

This iconic attraction includes the temple, gardens and historic tours, although the temple itself is closed to tours. 

FamilySearch Center

This is the place to go for beginners wanting to research their family.

Family History Library

To really dig deep, head here where more than 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records live.

Gilgal Scupture Garden

Sculpture of Joseph Smith's head on a sphynx at the Gilgal Sculpture Garden


Filled with 70 eccentric sculptures, including Joseph Smith's head on a sphynx, this small city park is free.

Natural History Museum of Utah

Exhibit at the Natural History Museum

David Krause

Located at the University of Utah's Rio Tinto Center, the Natural History Museum of Utah features exhibits and interactive displays about Utah's geology, ecology, and paleontology. The site of the museum in the Wasatch foothills adjoins several trailheads, and displays invite visitors to step outside as part of their tour. Admission is $11 for adults; $8 for children ages 3-12. Location: 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wed. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (nhmu.utah.edu)

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra

Public Domain

This world-famous group holds free, public rehearsals on Thursday evenings in Temple Square.

Hogle Zoo

Hudson the Seal at Salt Lake City's Hogle Zoo

Courtesy Visit Salt Lake

Home to more than 800 animals, this easy-to-navigate zoo offers opportunities to feed a rhino.

Antelope Island

Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake, Utah

Dollar Photo

As the largest island on the Great Salt Lake, Antelope is a major Pacific Flyway stop. The 28,000-acre Antelope Island State Park offers bird-watching information at the visitor center and a network of trails. Admission is $9 per vehicle. The island is located 41 miles north of Salt Lake City and accessible via causeway. Take exit 332 off I-15 and follow signs to Antelope Island. Open daily 7 a.m. to dusk.

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City in Utah

Deposit Photos

A National Scenic Byway, the 15-mile drive (one way) up Big Cottonwood Canyon climbs from Salt Lake high into the mountains. Trailheads on this road are part of Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Hike to Dog Lake, Lake Blanche under Sundial Peak, or Donut Falls. From Salt Lake City, take I-215 to 6200 South (the "Canyons" exit). Continue east on UT 152, following signs for Brighton Ski Area.

Red Butte Garden

The Middle Pond area of Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City

Andrey Zharkikh/Flickr

Located in the Wasatch foothills, this botanic garden offers outdoor yoga seasonally and live concerts.

Utah Olympic Park

A father and daughter ride the alpine slide at Utah Olympic Park.

Courtesy of Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation

Ride on a bobsled, alpine slide or zipline at this fun, family-oriented park.

For more information:
Visit Salt Lake
(800) 541-4955