17 Free Things to Do in Salt Lake City, UT

Free Things to Do in Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City, renowned for its diverse activities and attractions, offers an abundance of delightful experiences often right at one's doorstep.

Overlooking the inexpensive joys amidst the bustling city can be easy, but a closer look reveals a wealth of free experiences waiting to be discovered.

The city's atmospheric charm and historic sites, along with the natural splendor of the surrounding landscapes, create a captivating blend of urban and natural beauty.

Offering a range of pastimes that won't break the bank, Salt Lake City is a treasure trove of free experiences.

Whether one is a resident, a newcomer, or just passing through, exploring the free things to do in Salt Lake City, Utah, promises a memorable journey.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Helena Wiley, Geraldine Maize, Armando Mills, Mary Harrison, Francis White, Iola Glass and Charles Chavez.

Rediscover Serenity at Memory Grove Park

Scenic view of Memory Grove Park
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Isn't it amazing how a simple stroll in a park can refresh your mind and body?

That's exactly how I feel about Memory Grove Park.

It's always been my haven.

Nestled in Salt Lake City, this park is my favorite spot to unwind after a long, hectic day.

What I love about Memory Grove Park is the tranquility that it offers.

Surrounded by monuments, fountains, and creekside paths, the park feels like a cocoon away from the city's hustle and bustle.

The park is always clean, inviting those who want to throw down a blanket and relax.

It's such a welcoming sight to see families picnicking under the towering trees, their leaves rustling with the whisper of the wind.

Benches at Memory Grove Park
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As a dog owner, one of our favorite pastimes is to let my furry friend off the leash and watch him frolic around the designated area.

There's even a tiny hiking trail at the end of the park, which we love to explore.

The park is usually quite serene.

But if you prefer the hustle and bustle, walk up the stairs from the entrance, and you'll find yourself at the capital building.

It's a perfect blend of solitude and city life.

This is a pocket of peace in the city's heart where I can relax and reconnect with nature.

So, if you're ever in the area, do visit.

And who knows? You might make some memories of your own at Memory Grove Park.

A stream at Memory Grove Park
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Discover the Church History Museum

Exterior of the Church History Museum
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I've always been fascinated with history, and living in the lap of it doesn't lessen the intrigue. It only amplifies it.

I've visited the Church History Museum countless times, but every visit feels like the first.

The museum boasts a beautiful presentation and an atmosphere that transports you right into the past.

You find yourself immersed in recounting the first vision and basic information on all the last dispensation prophets.

The knowledge you gain here is worth every bit of time and effort!

This museum stands out because of its unique blend of history and interactive engagement.

It's always a joy to see the little ones absorbed in the interactive children's sections while the adults marvel at the carefully curated art exhibits.

Signage of the Church History Museum
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The history demonstration is so engaging that you can't help but feel a part of it.

Moreover, the museum offers an in-depth look at the early roots of a uniquely American religion.

The journey begins from its origins in New York and takes you through the path of the Mormon pilgrims to Ohio, Missouri, and finally, Utah in their relentless search for Zion.

It perfectly depicts dedication and spirituality, blended with the resilience and determination of the forefathers.

Every visit to the Church History Museum is a journey through time that inspires and educates.

It's an experience I would recommend to anyone looking to delve a little deeper into the rich tapestry of history sewn into our community's very fabric.

Unleash Joy at Parleys Historic Nature Park

My four-legged companions and I know Parleys Historic Nature Park like the back of our hands.

This place is a canine paradise in the heart of Salt Lake City.

The park sprawls over 68 acres of lush greenery, where I often escape the city's hustle and bustle for a serene jog.

Meanwhile, my furry pals are free to romp, sniff, and chase to their heart's content in the off-leash area.

One feature that makes Parleys Historic Nature Park stand out is its two fun water areas.

During the summer months, when Parley’s Creek is swollen due to the snow melt, my pups love to paddle and splash around, although I always watch them to ensure their safety.

Shaded walking paths crisscross the park, making it a favorite spot for us to explore.

The trees offer a cool respite from the sun, and the rustling leaves set a tranquil soundtrack for our hikes.

Parleys Historic Nature Park is not just for dog lovers.

It’s also an excellent place for individuals and families who enjoy embracing the beauty of nature on their walks or jogs.

So, if you want to adopt the great outdoors, pack your bag, leash up your dog, and set off for a day of fun and relaxation at Parleys Historic Nature Park.

Take a Stroll Through Sugar House Park

Sunny day at Sugar House Park
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On one of those charmless days when everything seemed to weigh you down, I found solace in Sugar House Park.

The serene lake, nestled amidst the sprawling green space, lured me for a much-needed long walk.

As I strode on, I couldn't help but notice the rich diversity of birds enjoying a peaceful swim in the lake.

The mountains, performing their eternal duty as a majestic backdrop, added to the park’s tranquil demeanor.

I saw a bubbling brook flowing through the park and couldn’t resist pausing to take in the scene.

The setting sun reflected off the water's surface, creating a breathtaking spectacle of light and shadow.

Moreover, the beauty of this scene was so captivating that I lost track of time and space, not even realizing that I had not explored the entire park.

The cleanliness of the park was commendable, although the sight of scattered trash cans did slightly mar the otherwise perfect landscape.

But with the pleasant weather and friendly atmosphere, it’s easy to see why this park is an enchanting date spot.

Being a regular visitor for nearly 35 years, I love this park.

Today was no different.

I took my dog along, who shares my enthusiasm for the park, especially for its population of squirrels.

He seems to have a knack for tracking them down, and the park’s lush greenery offers plenty of scope for the chase.

With its blend of serene and energetic elements, Sugar House Park truly offers something for everyone.

Whether the call of nature or the thrill of a sports game, the park is a testament to the perfect balance between tranquility and activity in our bustling city life.

Take Your Daily Dose of Divine Inspiration at Temple Square

Exterior of the Temple Square
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Just another Tuesday, I found myself stepping into the serene tranquility of Temple Square.

Nestled in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, this place is more than just a landmark for me.

It's a sanctuary, a slice of history, a platform for cultural exchange, and a testament to the community's spirit.

I love watching people's eyes light up as they take in the impressive architecture of the temple, which is over 175 years old.

Even though it is currently under restoration, one cannot miss its grandeur.

The energy is palpable, and I often see visitors leaving with a newfound appreciation for the place.

My regular visits also include a stop by the Tabernacle, a marvel in its own right.

Interior of the Temple Square
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I vividly remember an evening when I returned there for choir practice.

You could hear a pin drop, and your voice could fill the entire space.

It was magical.

Every stroll around the square is an opportunity to enjoy the sight of beautiful flowers and intricate statues, paying homage to various aspects of our culture.

I often spend hours in the FamilySearch Library and the Church History Museum.

It's always a pleasure to see visitors engrossed in our history and our library's treasures.

In Temple Square, I've made friends with compassionate folks who are ever ready to lend a helping hand, answer queries, or share a warm smile.

Whether showing a visitor around or just soaking in the ambiance on a leisurely walk, Temple Square is that comforting space where I feel at home amidst the city's hustle.

Flora at the Temple Square
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Discover Nature's Magic at Wasatch Hollow Preserve

The first time I stumbled upon the Wasatch Hollow Preserve, it felt like uncovering a hidden treasure.

Nestled right in the city's heart, this place offers an oasis of tranquility and a refreshing break from the concrete jungle of Salt Lake City.

I remember it being a hot day when my son and I decided to explore a new place for our regular nature walks.

That's when we discovered this gem.

The preserve offers a well-maintained nature walk loop with a charming little bridge.

Yes, it tends to get a bit muddy during the wet season, but the mud only adds to the fun for a curious 3-year-old on an adventure!

It also houses a kid and dog park area, making it a hit with the entire family.

I remember taking my son to the kid park area while our pet dog romped around in the dog park area.

Today, it is a testament to how a simple city park can transform into a wild, beautiful haven of nature.

Admittedly, the park does get a little busy during the summer, with playful children exploring the bushes by the playground and dogs frolicking in the grass.

But that only adds to the charm of the preserve.

It's a reminder of the vibrant, lively community we have around us.

And the best part? It's just a stone's throw away from home.

A genuine emerald gem, the Wasatch Hollow Preserve is a slice of nature that feels genuinely natural, right in the heart of Salt Lake City.

Take a Stroll Through History at the Utah State Capitol

Exterior of the Utah State Capitol
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Every time I walk up the grand staircase of the Utah State Capitol, I'm struck by the sheer elegance of the neoclassical revival architecture.

Built in 1916, this magnificent building has been renovated to preserve its historical charm while adding modern amenities for visitors.

Stepping inside feels like a journey back in time, with original murals depicting significant moments in Utah's history.

The Capitol is a treasure trove of educational exhibits, providing a window into the state's past and present.

Prepare to rack up some steps as you explore the vast expanse of the Capitol - from its marbled halls to its lush green surroundings.

My advice? Wear comfortable shoes to appreciate the scenic walk, especially if you park a little farther.

My favorite time to visit is during the cherry blossom season.

Seeing the Capitol framed by a burst of pink blossoms is a sight.

Interior of the Utah State Capitol
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It's like the city itself is celebrating its heritage most beautifully.

The entire area takes on a dreamlike quality, with the pristine cleanliness and comfort of the city only adding to this charm.

While I've never had the chance to visit the Capitol in Washington, DC, many say our local building is a close match.

And it's hard to disagree when you're standing under the dome, gazing up at the intricate design of the dome, feeling the echo of the past resonate with the present.

It's an experience that never loses its thrill, no matter how often I do it.

Whether you're a history buff or appreciate beautiful architecture, the Utah State Capitol is always a delight.

Each visit is a unique adventure, filled with discoveries and memorable moments. After all, it's not every day you get to step into a piece of living history.

Aerial view of the Utah State Capitol
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Visit Fort Douglas Military Museum

Signage of Fort Douglas Military Museum
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Walking through the history-laden grounds of the Fort Douglas Military Museum, I couldn't help but feel a sense of awe.

It is a treasure trove for history enthusiasts like me, punctuating major events from 1863 through World War II to the tragic 9/11 terror attack.

Time almost stands still here as you get lost in the maze of over 100 original structures that hark back to a different era.

The sheer historical significance of this place is palpable, and it's not just about the structures but also the stories they hold.

Moreover, the museum narrates Utah's history through a military lens, an enriching and enlightening perspective.

I was particularly moved by the outdoor display where tanks, helicopters, and canons stand as a testament to the sacrifices of those who served.

The World Trade Center artifact, a section of the 9/11 slurry wall, struck a deep chord, reminding me of the resilience and spirit of our great nation.

Visiting the Fort Douglas Military Museum is always an immersive and reflective experience.

Despite its rich history, it remains one of Salt Lake City's hidden gems.

Although admission is free, I usually leave a donation as a small token of my appreciation for their efforts to preserve our history. I truly believe that places like this deserve more funding and recognition.

Explore the Chase Home Museum

You wouldn't believe what you can stumble upon while strolling Liberty Park!

Nestled amidst the verdant embrace of this beautiful urban park is the Chase Home Museum - a compact treasure trove of traditional art by Utah natives.

And the best part?

It may only be a four-room museum, but every corner is brimming with beautiful handcrafted items, folk music, and dance exhibits.

One can't help but marvel at the variety - from an extraordinary quilt with cattle brands to a European-style hand-painted wooden bowl.

And the architecture! The museum is housed in a mid-19th-century property that has its charm.

But trust me, the folk art collection makes all the effort worthwhile.

And it's not just the quantity; the quality of the displays is mind-blowing.

You'll even find a special section dedicated to female artists!

What truly captivated me was the indigenous Native American art and their rich cultural tapestry.

Apart from that, one of the rooms upstairs has a surprise element with an international and pleasantly varied collection.

And the piece de resistance is the hand-embroidered Hmong History Quilt - an exquisite work of art that speaks volumes about the artist’s dedication and skill.

Indeed, the Chase Home Museum is a testament to Utah's rich and diverse cultural heritage.

So, if you happen to be in the park for a picnic or a game, stop by this little gem. It's completely free, and trust me, you won't regret it.

Discover History at the Pioneer Memorial Museum

Exterior of Pioneer Memorial Museum
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"Uncovering the past in my backyard" is how I describe my visit to the Pioneer Memorial Museum.

This massive manor in Utah holds an incredible collection of paintings, photographs, manuscripts, and memorabilia from our early founders.

The magnitude of the historical treasure trove is astonishing.

I found myself engulfed in a vivid journey through time.

The museum's vast collection of pioneer artifacts and personal items of our ancestors blew me away.

It wasn't just a glimpse into the past but a leap into a different era.

Every corner I turned, and every new room I entered felt like stepping into a new chapter of history.

The museum is also very accommodating.

Close view of Pioneer Memorial Museum's exterior
Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

It's wheelchair accessible, with elevators on each floor, ensuring everyone can explore this historical treasure.

The layout is extensive, covering four floors, which includes a basement full of artifacts and exhibits.

One particular highlight was the carriage room, a unique exhibition that took me back to the pioneer era.

I highly encourage you to visit this museum, especially if you're interested in the history of our region.

It offers a captivating journey through time and provides valuable insights into our past.

The Pioneer Memorial Museum is a gem hiding in plain sight, waiting for history enthusiasts like us to discover its treasures.

Remember, the doors close at 4:30 p.m., so arrive early and make the most of your day.

Take a Walk Through Liberty Park

Boating at Liberty Park
Faina Gurevich / Shutterstock.com

Having spent my childhood in the vicinity, I have countless memories associated with Liberty Park.

Even though the park has changed over the years, it still holds a special place in my heart.

The park is home to an aviary and a museum and features a beautiful lake dotted with ducks.

Families can enjoy a day paddle-boating on the lake, an activity that never fails to bring smiles.

The park also offers a playground, rides, a pool, tennis courts, and a network of trails for leisurely walks.

Paved trails at Liberty Park
Chris Curtis / Shutterstock.com

Growing up, Sundays at the park were a family favorite, but the vibe is slightly different now.

It's still a beautiful hangout spot most days, but it can get overwhelming on Sundays.

If you're a fan of community gatherings, though, the park has a drum circle every Sunday that has become quite the magnet for the free-spirited.

It's a space that has grown and changed with me.

Liberty Park remains a historic landmark, a serene escape right in the middle of the bustling city, a testament to the past, present, and future.

Take a Stroll Down History Lane at Pony Express National Historic Trail

Now and then, I wander down the rich paths of the Pony Express National Historic Trail, feeling the crunch of gravel under my shoes and the breath of history narrating tales of interstate horseback mail trails.

There's something about the place that transcends time, and I can't help but feel like I'm re-walking the footsteps of those legendary mail carriers.

One of the key highlights here is the commemorative plaque, standing as a testament to the brave souls who undertook this risky but essential job.

It's a simple structure, but it resonates deeply, echoing the significance of the Pony Express in American history.

But it's not just about the past.

The Trail is also a live and thriving activity hub with many things to do.

For the little ones, there's a petting zoo and pony rides - it's a delight to watch their faces light up with joy as they interact with the animals.

There's also a splash pad where they can cool off after an exciting day.

Several buildings take you back in time for adults or history enthusiasts like me.

The blacksmith, tinsmith, and barber shop have their own story.

And let's not forget about the multiple cabins that dot the landscape, each a snapshot of a bygone era.

Whether it's a long, peaceful walk, a family outing, or just a day out exploring history, the Pony Express National Historic Trail is always an experience.

Take a Stroll Through Washington Square Park

Water fountain at Washington Square Park
M Outdoors / Shutterstock.com

Checking the time on my wristwatch, I thought it was the perfect afternoon to take my usual stroll through the heart of our city, Washington Square Park.

As I walked towards the park, the first thing that caught my eye was the beautiful architecture of the main building, surrounded by a lush green, park-like setting.

The fountains added a soothing charm, dancing in sync with the playful breeze.

There were many benches, some occupied by families sharing picnics, some by couples lost in their world, and a few by solitary sojourners.

Its tranquility provides a refuge for anyone seeking peace in the city's hustle and bustle.

The grounds of Washington Square Park
M Outdoors / Shutterstock.com

One of the many perks of this park is the free parking for an hour right out front, a godsend in a city where parking can be a nightmare.

It's a small detail that makes a big difference, especially when you need that quick lunch break or a moment to catch your breath from the city's fast pace.

As day turned to dusk, the park's beauty was amplified, with the setting sun casting a warm glow on the park's landscape, making the building stand out even more.

The shift in ambiance was subtle yet surreal—another day in paradise, another afternoon well-spent at Washington Square Park.

An Extraordinary Day at the Salt Lake City Public Library

Exterior of Salt Lake City Public Library
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You wouldn't think a library could be the highlight of a city, but the Salt Lake City Public Library isn't your average library.

This place has been one of my favorite spots for years.

With its 60s-era architecture, a walkable wall made from high-UV glass that floods the library with natural sunlight, and six stories of literature and knowledge, it's more a monument to the joy of learning than a simple repository for books.

Walking in, you're greeted by indoor shops that offer everything from exotic plants to coffee and even a bookstore.

It feels like a mini market right at the entrance!

The library is well-organized and easily accessible, making finding whatever book you want a breeze.

And it's not just about books.

The library has evolved over the years to become a hub for the community.

One of the recent additions I absolutely love is the underground full-art gallery.

Interior of Salt Lake City Public Library
stellamc / Shutterstock.com

It's always a delight to explore, and honestly, it's more enticing than the neighboring museum, The Leonardo.

But what leaves me in awe every time is the children's library.

It's a dreamland for kids, with nooks dedicated to various themes like camping, nature, and treehouses.

They even have free snacks for kids because we all know how quickly a fun day can turn sour when little ones get 'hangry.'

Moreover, they also have art activities and even a knee-high chessboard.

It's a magical place that sparks imagination and creativity in kids.

There's an outdoor space for nature lovers, and if you're into gardening, you can participate in the seed exchange.

The Salt Lake City Public Library is a beacon of knowledge, art, community, and imagination.

It's a place that I, and many others in our community, hold dear. So, if you're in the area, I highly recommend visiting.

A large dictionary in Salt Lake City Public Library
M Outdoors / Shutterstock.com

Discover the Enigmatic Charm of Gilgal Sculpture Garden

There's an eccentric little pocket of nature that I often retreat to when the urban hustle gets too much.

The Gilgal Sculpture Garden is a whimsical public green space slightly off the beaten path.

Nestled within the city's heart, the garden is a sanctuary for my senses and imagination.

My favorite time to visit the garden is in the middle of the day when the sun is at its zenith.

Sure, it can get pretty hot, but benches are tucked away in the shade, providing an excellent spot to sit, relax, and soak in the serene environment.

You could also visit in the evening when the place takes on a magical quality, with the setting sun casting long shadows and creating a spellbinding atmosphere.

One of the main attractions of the Gilgal Sculpture Garden is the original statues and engravings that populate it.

They are the creation of a talented man who pursued his vision with vigor, and his passion is palpable in each piece.

I often find myself lost in thought, admiring the intriguing sculptures, each with a unique story.

The garden isn't too vast, which makes it perfect for a stroll.

You can quickly circle it in about 45 minutes, but I often linger longer, entranced by the ever-present pollinators flitting from one plant to another.

It's a sight that never fails to put a smile on my face.

The Gilgal Sculpture Garden is so much more than just a park.

It's a testament to the power of creativity and the enduring beauty of nature right here in the heart of our city.

Discover the Tranquility of Jordan Park

France garden at Jordan Park
Ladanifer / Shutterstock.com

Every evening, I am drawn to the serene embrace of Jordan Park, a sprawling city park spanning 33.5 acres.

The venue, featured on the Salt Lake City Parks website, is a haven for nature enthusiasts like myself.

It is also home to the International Peace Gardens, a symbol of unity and tranquility, which I highly recommend to anyone needing a peaceful retreat.

The International Peace Gardens, nestled within the park, represent different countries with unique charm and beauty.

Amid the lush greenery and beautifully manicured landscapes, I often find myself lost in thoughts of peace and unity.

Japanese garden at Jordan Park
Ladanifer / Shutterstock.com

I delight in the plethora of trees, artistic bridges, and walls that dot the park, offering an appeal that's hard to resist.

Moreover, Jordan Park is the perfect gateway to the Jordan River Trail.

As an avid cyclist, I find the trail to be a thrilling experience, offering breathtaking views of the river and the surrounding wildlife.

Starting a bike ride from this park, following the river's rhythm, is an adventure I look forward to each day.

The park’s tranquility and beauty make it a place I recommend to both locals and visitors seeking a peaceful escape within the city.

Lebanon garden at Jordan Park
Ladanifer / Shutterstock.com

Discover History at the Brigham Young Monument

Daytime view of the Brigham Young Monument
Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

Every morning, as I stroll through the bustling city streets, I make it a point to walk past the Brigham Young Monument.

This towering figure is a staple part of my daily routine, and I can't help but feel a sense of awe each time I see it.

The monument, which features a bronze statue of Brigham Young, a prominent leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stands as a beacon of the city's rich history and religious heritage.

During the day, the monument is often vibrant, with tourists from around the globe eager to learn about our city and the Church's history.

I've watched as they pose for photographs or quietly contemplate the figure of Brigham Young.

I find it most tranquil when the city wakes up in the early mornings.

Close view of the Brigham Young Monument
blvdone / Shutterstock.com

The sunlight gently illuminates the monument, creating a warm glow on the bronze figure.

During these moments, I truly appreciate the intricate details of the statue, from the folds in Brigham Young's attire to the determined expression on his face.

I highly recommend visiting the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square for those interested in discovering more about the monument and the Church's history.

Here, you can delve deeper into our city's fascinating history and the people who shaped it.

It's an experience not to be missed in this well-known city that I am lucky to call home.

Final Thoughts

Exploring Salt Lake City, Utah, doesn’t necessarily require a hefty budget.

Many of these locations offer a beautiful insight into the city's history, culture, and natural beauty - all for free.

Whether you're a resident or just passing through, these free attractions in Salt Lake City will leave a lasting impression on your heart.

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