Best Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Utah

Road-tripping through Utah? Carving out time to tackle all the best things to do in Salt Lake City is a must! Utah’s state capital, Salt Lake City is a vibrant and vivacious Southwest USA travel destination with a never-ending list of entertainment options.

If you’re traveling to Utah with little ones, top tourist attractions in Salt Lake City, like the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum and This Is The Place Heritage Park, show off the city’s family-friendly side. Or, if outdoor activities are more your jam, beeline to points of interest like Ensign Peak Nature Park or Antelope Island State Park to experience Utah’s blissful nature.

Wondering what to do in Salt Lake City on your upcoming holiday? Get the inside scoop with this guide to the best places to visit in Salt Lake City, UT.

Best places to visit in Salt Lake City, UT

Hogle Zoo

Watch giraffes roam the African Savannah and polar bears navigate arctic waters without even leaving Utah at the Hogle Zoo! With hundreds of exotic inhabitants, behind-the-scenes animal encounters, and multiple daily showtimes, this top Salt Lake City attraction is a must-see for animal lovers.

Hogle Zoo

If you’ve got a little loose change burning a hole in your pocket, you can splurge on a Zoofari Train Tour—with its fare coming in at a whopping $3. Or board your favorite animal on the conservation carousel.

Have kids with excess energy to burn? Bring them down to the Lighthouse Point Splash Zone for an afternoon of fun. Feel the power of the geyser-style blowhole or search for mysterious aquatic creatures in the tide pools; there’s enough to keep you busy for an entire day at the Hogle Zoo playground alone!

Temple Square

One of the most frequented areas of downtown Salt Lake City is Temple Square. This five-block neighborhood is home to several Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints temples, as well as many other church-focused attractions.

Temple Square

Even if you’re not one to observe religion, you’ll love observing the extravagance of their places of worship and learning about the faith. 

During your visit to Temple Square, plan a stop at the Conference Center Rooftop Gardens for stunning views of Salt Lake City. Finish off your visit by heading over to the Family History Library where you can research your ancestry for free.

Salt Lake Utah Temple

For a bit of cultural tourism, plan a visit to the Salt Lake Utah Temple. One of the most beautiful points of interest in Salt Lake City, it’s the largest temple for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and also one of the most opulent.

Salt Lake Utah Temple

Though you can’t enter the Salt Lake Utah Temple unless you’re a qualified member of the LDS faith, it’s absolutely worth a visit to admire the grand architecture from the outside and snap a photo or two of this prestigious place of worship.

Located downtown in the heart of Temple Square, Salt Lake Utah Temple makes for easy addition to any Salt Lake City itinerary and was the first pillar to form the city’s worship-centered downtown core.

Liberty Park

Are you the kind of park-goer that cannot sit still? If so, a trip to Liberty Park might just be the perfect solution for your Salt Lake City vacation.

Liberty Park

Outdoor activities at Liberty Park are plentiful. Take a dip in the community pool, rent a paddleboard, or try your hand at bocce ball. There are even a few rides for the kiddos to enjoy.

Professional picnickers will love the BBQ grills available at each pavilion and the smattering of picnic tables underneath the large oak trees. What a lovely place to relax!

There’s even a concession stand at Liberty Park for satisfying your afternoon snack cravings without all the work.

Natural History Museum of Utah

Listen to tales of the trials and tribulations of the Salt Lake Valley throughout the years at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Located in the Rio Tinto Center at the University of Utah, this educational attraction is one of Salt Lake City’s coolest places to see.

Natural History Museum of Utah

As you wander your way through the permanent exhibitions at the Natural History Museum of Utah, you’ll learn about the region’s first peoples, marvel at glittering gemstones, take in the world’s largest collection of horned dinosaur skulls, and honor the indigenous voices of SLC today. 

The Natural History Museum of Utah can be easily combined with a trip to the This is the Place Heritage Park if you’re traveling with kids or the Red Butte Garden if the adults-only holiday calls for a relaxing afternoon.

Sugar House Park

Once the Old State Prison site, Sugar House Park has risen from its less-savory former self to become one of Salt Lake City’s finest outdoor destinations. With over 110 acres of hiking trails to choose from, this Salt Lake Valley regional park promises sweeping views of snow-capped mountain tops, lovely lakes, and lush green space.

Sugar House Park

If you happen to be visiting Salt Lake City during the winter months, bring along a sled: The sleigh-riding hill is one of the park’s most raved-about attractions. Locals also suggest a pair of cross-country skis when hitting the trails at Sugar House Park.

Tracy Aviary & Botanical Gardens

Whether you’re an avid birder, animal lover, or even just a tourist who loves a good zoo, the Tracy Aviary & Botanical Gardens make the perfect pit-stop on your Salt Lake City trip.

This indoor/outdoor aviary features winger critters from every corner of the planet, from tropical toucans to domestic pelicans. As the name suggests, lovely botanical gardens also pepper the site, making the Tracy Aviary & Botanical Gardens a colorful and exciting backdrop for your morning stroll. 

To enhance your experience at the Tracy Aviary & Botanical Gardens, add on a behind-the-scenes Avian experience such as meeting a flamingo or feeding the resident raptors and owls.

One of the aviary’s most popular and unique experiences, though, is the Hornbill Painting experience. Join in to let these peculiar birds help you paint a masterpiece that you can bring home. Talk about a quirky souvenir that comes with an unforgettable memory!

Red Butte Garden

Take a lovely walk, practice your amateur photography skills, or gain some inspiration for your gardening projects back home at the Red Butte Garden.

Red Butte Garden

An impressive State Arboretum and botanical gardens at the edge of Great Salt Lake, Red Butt Garden straddles over 100 acres. The space is divided into several themed gardens and protected natural areas, which you can take at your own pace. 

To get the most out of your visit to the Red Butte Garden, take a complimentary 20-minute horticulturalist-led train tour. Afterward, you can tour through the gardens on foot or leave satisfied with your quick little pit stop. You’ll have never seen so much beauty and learned so much in less than half an hour!

This Is The Place Heritage Park

Live the lives of weavers, homemakers, and farmers of Salt Lake Valley way back in the day at This Is The Place Heritage Park. At this pioneer village, you’ll tour historic homes to participate in interpretive “day-in-the-life” experiences and interactive exhibits. You can even visit a schoolhouse and a blacksmith shop, plus you can help with daily farm chores.

This Is The Place Heritage Park

The earliest inhabitants of Salt Lake also have a place to tell their stories at This Is The Place Heritage Park. After watching a traditional native American dance performance, you can make an arrowhead necklace or learn traditional beadwork and make a souvenir with your own two hands! 

As if that’s not enough, This Is The Place Heritage Park also tells the story of the region’s mining history. Try your hand at panning for gold or sift through a dig site in search of a geode, which you’ll be able to crack open yourself.

Utah State Capitol

One of the best places to go in Salt Lake City for a true Utah experience is the Utah State Capitol. Take a guided tour through the state legislature and take in the grandeur of the architecture. If you visit during the springtime, you’ll also be treated to a walk through the grounds, peppered with over 400 cherry blossom trees. 

Utah State Capitol

Besides the prominent government landmarks, the Utah State Capitol is home to several of Salt Lake City’s top tourist attractions. Lining the streets of Capitol Hill, you’ll find places to visit like Memory Grove Park and the Pioneer Memorial Museum.

Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum

When everyone needs to blow off some steam, head to the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum. For a fun and educational experience with kids, this family-friendly museum is one of the best places to visit in Salt Lake City—guaranteed!

Discovery Gateway Children's Museum

Get inside the hood of a car and make your own comic strip before heading to the Honey Climber for some real rough-and-tumble playtime.

Do not miss out on a visit to the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum “I Dig Dinos” exhibit, where they can get a hands-on experience with real dinosaur fossils.

Yep, that’s right: No stuffy museum ropes and glass panels here! You and your kids will be able to touch bones they find in the dig pit and then bring them to a real microscope for observation.

Gilgal Sculpture Garden

For a quiet moment of reflection in an otherwise bustling city, plan a stop at the Gilgal Sculpture Garden. This free Salt Lake City attraction is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Wind your way through paths of boulder sculptures and flagstones, donning thought-provoking quotes. If you’re looking for a relaxing spot for prayer, wander through the faith-based devotionals set amongst pretty flower gardens.

Many past guests state that a walk through the Gilgal Sculpture Garden is a meditative experience; arrive with an open mind!

Utah Olympic Park

For a day full of thrills, head on down to the Utah Olympic Park. Located 20 miles outside of Salt Lake City proper, this outdoor recreation park has all the adrenaline-inducing attractions you could wish for.

Utah Olympic Park

Fly through the sky on exhilarating zip lining and ropes courses or speed down the slopes with summer tubing and alpine slide experiences. Or get a jolt of adrenaline at the unique airbag jump experience where you can toss yourself off of 15-foot platforms like a real-life stuntman onto a giant pillow.

Though a trip to Utah Olympic Park is most suited to those with an adventurous spirit, there’ll still be plenty for you to do if you prefer a more leisurely activity. Plenty of previous guests rave that the park’s scenic chairlift ride is worth the trip alone!

Ensign Peak Nature Park

If you’re looking for an epic place to take in the sunset over the Salt Lake Valley, Ensign Peak Nature Park can’t be beaten.

Ensign Peak Nature Park

Embark on a walk through the foothills and dazzle at one of the most spectacular views in the region as the sun sinks down over the horizon.

Not a big hiker? You can also rent a bicycle nearby to reach the summit at Ensign Peak Nature Park a little faster. Plus, if you pivot just 180 degrees, you’ll enjoy a stunning view of the Salt Lake City skyline.

The hike at Ensign Peak Nature Park is fairly short and easy, so it’s suitable for young families and homebodies, too!

Memory Grove Park

One of the most popular local trails for joggers, Memory Grove Park is a fantastic addition to your Salt Lake City itinerary if you’re looking to sneak in a workout.

Memory Grove Park

With beautiful mountain views to enjoy, you’ll hardly notice you’re breaking a sweat as you work your way over the incline of the foothills. Of course, you could always take the trails at a slower pace if you fancy yourself more of a walker.

Traveling with your dog? Memory Grove Park has a large off-leash area for your furriest family members to run around and play; your pet will be sure to enjoy their holiday, too!

Antelope Island State Park

During your trip to Utah, don’t hesitate to cross the bridge over the Great Salt Lake to Antelope Island State Park and explore!

Antelope Island State Park

As you trek through the network of 36 miles of trails, you’ll some extraordinary wildlife viewing opportunities that you can’t find anywhere else around Salt Lake City. From bison and antelope to longhorn sheep and bobcats, Antelope Island State Park is a fantastic place to spot big animals in the wild.

Antelope Island State Park is a designated Dark Sky Park, making it a lovely spot to post-up overnight. Even if you’re not interested in backcountry camping, one of the best things to do in Salt Lake City is to gather under the night sky with your family for an unparalleled stargazing experience.

The milky way and several major constellations are visible from the island; be sure to pack your camera!

Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Located in the heart of downtown, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts is a bucket-list-worthy stop for any art lover visiting Salt Lake City. In addition to its rotating exhibitions, the museum’s permanent collection spans over 20,000 pieces; you’re sure to find artwork you love here!

Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Part of the University of Utah, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts often offers opportunities for global arts showcases, up-and-coming artist galleries, and public educational talks.

The Natural History Museum of Utah is also located on campus; consider combining the two for a fun-filled day of museum-going.

City Creek Center

Need to add a little retail therapy to your Salt Lake City trip? Get ready to shop ‘til you drop at the City Creek Center. From artisanal jewelry shops to boutiques exclusive to the region, this shopping mall is one of the top Salt Lake City points of interest for every fashionista.

City Creek Center

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, be sure to stop at the City Creek Center’s extensive food court. It serves up all your favorite international fast food, plus some inspiring dishes from local restaurants.

Getting to City Creek Center is as simple as hopping on a city bus or taking the TRAX. The mall is also just 10 minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport, making it the perfect place to kill time before a connecting flight.

Treksplorer

Treksplorer is a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. Originally launched in 2011 by founder & editor Ryan O'Rourke to document his travels in East Asia & Central Europe, Treksplorer now includes things to do, where to stay, when to visit, and hiking & walking guides spanning over 30 countries from Japan to Spain and Canada to New Zealand.

DISCLAIMER: Treksplorer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and its affiliated international sites.

DISCLAIMER: You'll notice that from time to time I link out to recommended hotels/tours/products/services. If you purchase anything through these links, I'll receive a commission. It won't cost you anything extra, but it will help keep me trekkin' on and delivering more free (and unsponsored!) travel information to you. Thanks :)