Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Salt Lake City, UT

  • Published 2023/03/10

Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah and one of the most popular places to visit in the United States.

Rich in history, culture, and entertainment, this city in Salt Lake County offers a wide range of activities and attractions that are sure to keep you occupied and entertained.

From outdoor adventures to historical sites and monuments, this city is teeming with attractions and activities that will make every visit worthwhile.

However, with all the things you can do here, choosing where to go and what to do can get overwhelming rather quickly.

Fortunately, we’ve narrowed it down to the 15 best things to do in Salt Lake City, Utah, to help you make the most of your visit.

Witness a Performance by the Tabernacle Choir at the Temple Square

Exterior of the Temple Square

Grindstone Media Group /

Salt Lake City is also known for its deep roots in religion, and the Tabernacle Choir, which performs at Temple Square, is a great way to experience this piece of the city’s identity.

Located at North Temple in downtown Salt Lake City, Temple Square is a historical landmark owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It’s a magnificent complex of buildings, gardens, and monuments that’s sure to be a highlight of your visit.

When you’re there, make sure to watch a performance by the world-famous Tabernacle Choir.

Interior of the Temple Square

Nagel Photography /

The church welcomes locals and tourists to witness this group of singers playing harrowing and beautiful harmonies that will take your breath away.

Their songs and hymns are primarily original and will give you a unique insight into the city’s culture and beliefs.

You don’t have to be a religious person to appreciate the music and performances of the choir.

The rich vocal talent of this group is fantastic to hear in person, and you’ll want to make sure to catch one of their performances while in town.

Flora at the Temple Square

JVE001 /

Check Out the Utah State Capitol

Exterior of the Utah State Capitol

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Apart from being a state government office, the Utah State Capitol in downtown Salt Lake City is also one of the most popular attractions in the city and the entire state.

Standing at 300 feet tall, this building is an architectural masterpiece.

Its design is modeled after the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and it features a grand colonnade, a magnificent dome, and various intricate details.

Interior of the Utah State Capitol

Nagel Photography /

The front of the capital is a popular spot to take pictures and get a great view of downtown Salt Lake City.

The interior of the Utah State Capitol is just as impressive, and it’s open to tourists who want to see its remarkable architecture and learn more about the day-to-day operations of the business conducted by the state’s government.

One of the most notable spots inside the Capitol is the Golden Room—a massive space where the state Government hosts receptions and interesting galleries showcasing Salt Lake City and its neighboring areas.

Aerial view of the Utah State Capitol

Wangkun Jia /

Visit The Beehive House

Exterior of The Beehive House

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The Beehive House is a beautiful mansion located at East South Temple Street and provides a great insight into the history and culture of Salt Lake City.

Built in 1854, this house is one of the top tourist attractions in Salt Lake City, especially for those who want to learn more about the history of the Latter-day Saints movement.

Architect Truman O. Angell built the house for Brigham Young, the leader of the Church and first governor of Utah who lived there with his large family until his death.

Signage of The Beehive House

Kirkam /

Today, The Beehive House remains one of the best-preserved historical sites in Salt Lake City, and it serves as a reminder of the city’s religious and cultural history.

The house is open to the public, and visitors can explore its rooms, marvel at its architecture, and learn more about the life of Brigham Young and the Latter-day Saints.

Get Lost at the Salt Lake City Public Library

Exterior of Salt Lake City Public Library

f11photo /

Imagine a building the size of a mall filled to the brim with books, magazines, and other literature.

That’s exactly what the Salt Lake City Public Library is—a marriage between architecture and books guaranteed to delight any bookworm.

Located at East 400 South, the Salt Lake City Public Library opened in 2003 and has since become a beacon of knowledge and learning in the city.

The library is home to more than 500,000 books, magazines, CDs, and other forms of media, making it the perfect spot to spend a lazy afternoon reading or exploring new topics.

Interior of Salt Lake City Public Library

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This multi-level library also has many lounge areas to enjoy reading a good book or any other form of media.

Despite its large number of books and state-of-the-art facilities, the elephant in the room is by far the library’s architecture.

Made out of glass, steel, and concrete, this building is a marvel and one of the most stunning examples of contemporary architecture.

Its modern appearance alone can attract anyone, even if they’re not into reading.

The Sale Lake City Public Library also features a rooftop garden that provides breathtaking views of the city skyline and Wasatch Mountain as its backdrop.

A large dictionary in Salt Lake City Public Library

M Outdoors /

Learn the History of the Beehive State at the Natural History Museum of Utah

Exterior of the Natural History Museum of Utah

Uladzik Kryhin /

Speaking of architecture, the Natural History Museum of Utah is another remarkable example of modern design in Salt Lake City.

Located at Wakara Way, this museum showcases natural history exhibits, focusing on Utah’s unique geology and biology and the intermountain west region.

Visitors can explore various interactive exhibitions that give visitors a glimpse of Utah’s rich past, ranging from its geographic location to its native inhabitants and early settlers.

Dinosaur skeleton in the Natural History Museum of Utah

Matthew Thomas Allen /

It’s an excellent place for anyone wanting to learn more about the history of the Beehive State and those interested in science, biology, or geology in general.

The Natural History Museum of Utah also features various educational programs such as lectures, classes, and guided tours that are extremely informative and entertaining.

Exhibit in the Natural History Museum of Utah

Matthew Thomas Allen /

Explore and See Different Animals at Hogle Zoo

Lion at Hogle Zoo

Fsendek /

Zoos are always a popular attraction for families to visit and have a great time.

In Salt Lake City, the Hogle Zoo is the go-to spot for anyone who wants to see exotic animals and look closely at their habitats.

Located at E S Temple Street right at the foot of the Wasatch Mountain Range, this zoo spans 42 acres and holds more than 800 animals worldwide.

Some popular animals within the zoo include giraffes, cheetahs, elephants, gorillas, and even polar bears.

The zoo features different sections of attractions that offer animals in their natural habitats, complete with lush vegetation and an appropriate climate.

People at Hogle Zoo

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

These attractions include the Elephant encounter, the African Savanna, Primate Forest, North American Animals, the Creekside, Rocky Shores, and more.

There’s also a petting zoo and a carousel, making it an ideal place to take the kids for fun and learning.

You can also have a picnic at one of the picnic areas, and a concession stand offers food service.

Hogle Zoo is one of the biggest and most complete zoos you will ever visit; make sure to check it out if you’re looking for some fun and educational activities in South Lake City.

An owl at Hogle Zoo

Smithy55 /

Shop ’til You Drop at City Creek Center

Water fountain at City Creek Center

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

People who love shopping will appreciate the number of options in the city.

However, if you’re looking for the ultimate shopping experience in Salt Lake City, the City Creek Center is the place to go.

At 700,00 square feet, this massive shopping center features over 100 shops and restaurants, ranging from high-end brands to casual eateries.

It has everything you need: designer boutiques, clothing stores, bookstores, electronics stores, and more.

Apart from shopping, the City Creek Center is also well-known for its overall design and decorations.

Shops along City Creek Center

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

City Creek Center is designed with exquisite beauty and style, featuring a glass ceiling that functions as a retractable skylight.

This remarkable structure opens and closes depending on the climatic conditions.

The atmosphere is also vibrant, with live street performers, a water fountain show, and musical performances.

You can also find a stream inside the mall—1,200 feet long and filled with different kinds of fish.

The City Creek Center provides the ultimate shopping experience and is worth a visit.

Shoppers at City Creek Center

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Catch a Jazz Game at Vivint Arena

Exterior of Vivint Arena

University of College /

If you’re an avid NBA fan, you can’t visit Salt Lake City without catching a Jazz game.

Formerly known as EnergySolutions Arena, the Vivint Arena, located in the heart of Salt Lake City, is the home court of the Utah Jazz and one of the state’s most popular venues for music and sports events.

This 18,300-seat state-of-the-art arena is full of energy and excitement when the Jazz plays a home game.

Interior of Vivint Arena

Whortin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It offers excellent views from every seat, with 140 sections split between upper and lower levels.

The arena also features several restaurants, lounges, a club lounge and concourse bar, and a merchandise store.

The Jazz is also an exciting team filled with electrifying players like Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton, and Lauri Markkanen.

Catch a Jazz game at Vivint Arena and feel the amazing energy that radiates in the entire arena; it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Salt Lake City.

Aerial view of Vivint Arena

Felix Mizioznikov /

Appreciate Local Art at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Exterior of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Uladzik Kryhin /

Utah has a rich and diverse cultural landscape, and if you want to discover the state’s artistic talent, visiting the Utah Museum of Fine Arts is your best bet.

Located at the Marcia and John Price Museum Building on the University of Utah Campus, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts showcases and celebrates the art of Western America and beyond.

Initially opened in 1951, the museum houses over 20,000 artworks and special exhibitions from renowned contemporary and modern artists.

You can also find an incredible selection of Native American artwork, sculptures, drawings, and prints.

Facade of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Chad Robertson Media /

There are also over 20 galleries that offer various exhibits, some of which combine static and rotating collections.

The museum also features international displays from Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.

Visit the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and appreciate various classical and contemporary pieces with multiple artistic styles.

Go Hiking at Ensign Peak

Hiking trail at Ensign Peak

Leonid Andronov /

One of the best outdoor activities to do in South Lake City is hiking at Ensign Peak.

Ensign Peak is a small mountain located just 2.8 miles north of downtown Salt Lake City and offers excellent views of the city skyline.

It’s only a half-mile hike to the peak, making it an easy option for casual hikers who are more interested in the views instead of the actual hike.

Landmark of Ensign Peak's summit

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At the top of the peak, you’ll find a rocky summit and a breathtaking view of Salt Lake City.

Apart from the city views, sunsets and sunrises at Ensign Peak are also a sight to behold, as well as the various wildflowers and birds that can be found in the area.

Ensign Peak will treat you to great views and a peaceful environment—it’s truly one of the best things to do in Salt Lake City and something you should consider doing when you’re in town.

People admiring the views from Ensign Peak

BeimProductions /

Visit the Tracy Aviary at Liberty Park

The Tracy Aviary at Liberty Park

Pollardjosephd, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Liberty Park is one of the best public parks in Utah and is home to the Tracy Aviary, one of the oldest public aviaries in America.

Liberty Park houses Tracy Aviary, which features over 400 birds of over 135 species, some of which are endangered.

This eight-acre aviary also offers educational bird shows and tours, a hands-on nature exhibit, a Woodland Discovery Trail where you can spot wild birds, and a lake where you can watch ducks, geese, and swans.

Apart from the Tracy Aviary, Liberty Park also has a lot of amenities and features that make for a great day out.

It spans over 80 acres and is the perfect spot for biking, hiking, picnicking, jogging, and other outdoor activities.

Boating at Liberty Park

Faina Gurevich /

It also houses historical landmarks, such as the Isaac Chase Mill, the oldest operating mill in the area.

You can also step into the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Art to explore Salt Lake City’s vibrant culture without spending a single cent.

Instead, you’ll discover some of the most enthralling pieces from local and nearby areas—all free!

With all these activities and attractions, Liberty Park is one of the best places to visit in Salt Lake City.

Paved trails at Liberty Park

Chris Curtis /

Check Out This Is The Place Monument

Front view of This Is The Place Monument

Matthew Thomas Allen /

This Is The Place Monument is a historic landmark at The Place Heritage Park, five miles east of downtown Salt Lake City.

This monument depicts the arrival of early Mormons in the Salt Lake Valley and is a testament to their courage and faith.

The sculpture features Brigham Young leading the early pioneers and is accompanied by several figures representing different aspects of life at the time.

The monument commemorates Brigham Young’s statement in 1847 when he said, “this is the place,” after seeing the area for the first time.

Back view of This Is The Place Monument

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After a grueling 1,300-mile journey with Brigham Young, the followers of Latter-day Saints saw an awe-inspiring sight when they reached Emigration Canyon and came upon what is now Salt Lake City.

The monument was erected a century later, in 1947, by Mahonri Young, one of Brigham Young’s grandsons.

This Is The Place Monument is a great spot to learn about the amazing story of the Mormon pioneers, their journey to Utah, and many other fascinating historical tidbits.

Learn about the Latter-Day Saints at the Pioneer Memorial Museum

Exterior of Pioneer Memorial Museum

RaksyBH /

Undoubtedly, the Latter-day Saints—as the Mormons are often called—have had a profound impact on Salt Lake City and its surrounding area.

The Pioneer Memorial Museum pays homage to these early settlers and how they paved the way for the development of the area.

Located at North Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City, the museum houses the most extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and photographs of the first Latter-day Saints people who came and lived in Salt Lake City and its neighboring areas.

The museum also features a replica of the original Salt Lake Temple, Mormon handcarts, and other pioneer memorabilia.

If you’re a history buff, the Pioneer Memorial Museum is one of the best things to do in the city; it’s a must when visiting the area.

Close view of Pioneer Memorial Museum's exterior

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Other Things to Do Nearby

Salt Lake City already has more than enough attractions to fill an entire vacation, but there are more things to explore around the area.

Here are a few more unique attractions and activities that you shouldn’t miss out on:

Go on a Scenic Drive at Big Cottonwood Canyon

The road of Big Cottonwood Canyon

Harry Hu /

Big Cottonwood Canyon is a 15-mile-long canyon.

Located 12 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, the scenic drive of Big Cottonwood Canyon is perfect for a low-key day trip, as it features some of the most amazing views of the Rocky Mountains.

There’s nothing more relaxing than cruising down the canyon’s winding roads while taking in its beautiful sights.

Bicycle ride along Big Cottonwood Canyon

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It’s also perfect for hiking and biking, as there are various trails that you can take.

There are also several places to go camping, picnic, or fishing in the area.

During the winter, it also has two ski resorts which are popular destinations for snowboarding and skiing enthusiasts.

Scenic views at Big Cottonwood Canyon

Kara Arceneaux /

Spend a Day at the Great Salt Lake

The calm waters of Great Salt Lake

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Salt Lake City is located near the Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in North America.

Located 18 miles west of Salt Lake City, this 75-mile-long by 35-mile-wide lake is a fantastic sight to behold as the stunning Wasatch Mountains surround it.

The best way to experience this natural wonder is to go on a boat tour around the lake, giving you an even better view of its size.

You can also join a guided kayaking tour or swim in the lake.

Flock of birds at Great Salt Lake

Jason Finn /

Due to its high salt content, it’s much easier to float in the Great Salt Lake than in any other body of water.

The best spot to swim in the lake is Antelope Island State Park, as its beach shore provides easy access to the lake.

If you’re looking for a unique experience, this is one of the best things to do near Salt Lake City!

Sailing at Great Salt Lake

Serge Dubrouski /

Final Thoughts

Salt Lake City is no doubt one of the best places to visit in the country.

With its assortment of culture, history, and natural wonders, this city has a wide variety of attractions and activities that will satisfy everyone’s interests.

From the Pioneer Memorial Museum to the Great Salt Lake, plenty of places and activities will make your trip to Salt Lake City truly memorable.

Add these best things to do in Salt Lake City, Utah, to your travel itinerary and prepare for an unforgettable adventure!

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