Whether you're visiting Salt Lake City for the first time or a resident looking for something new to try, Salt Lake City offers an amazing number of cultural and recreational activities. Here are a few of the best.
Temple Square is Salt Lake City's most popular attraction, and you could spend anywhere from an hour to a day or two visiting the square itself - with its grand six-spired temple, two visitor's centers, lovely flower gardens, and fountains - and nearby sites related to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Area attractions include the Assembly Hall, Tabernacle, Museum of Church History and Art, Family Search Center, Beehive House, Lion House, Brigham Young Historic Park, LDS Conference Center and Joseph Smith Memorial Building—all of which are free. Temple Square offers hundreds of free movies, dramatic programs and music events every year. Temple Square Hospitality runs several popular restaurants.
City Creek Center is a 20-acre residential, shopping and office complex featuring more than 90 stores and restaurants, including Nordstrom, Macy's, Tiffany, Michael Kors, Coach, Cheesecake Factory, and Texas de Brazil Churrascaria. It's designed to be a walkable shopper's paradise, with six acres of green space, the namesake creek, three fountains (one with a choreographed fountain show), two 18-foot waterfalls, and a massive retractable roof.
The Gateway on the west side of downtown Salt Lake is the city's best outdoor shopping center and a lot more, with a nice mix of upscale shops and restaurants, a twelve-screen movie theater, and two of Salt Lake's most popular museums: The Clark Planetarium and Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. Salt Lake's historic Union Pacific Building hosts art exhibits and serves as an entrance to The Gateway's Olympic Plaza and popular Olympic Snowflake Fountain. Part of the Union Pacific Building has been renovated as The Depot, one of Salt Lake's most exciting music venues.
Just east of The Gateway is EnergySolutions Arena, home of the Utah Jazz and Salt Lake's biggest event arena.
The Utah State Capitol, at 300 N. State St., sits atop a hill overlooking the Salt Lake Valley. The building was constructed in 1912-1916 and renovated in 2004-2008.
Free guided tours of the Capitol are offered on the hour between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. Tours begin just inside the Capitol's east doors. Evening tours may be reserved on Wednesdays at 5, 6 and 7 p.m. by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 801-538-1800. Self-guided tours are available any time the capitol is open, Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Visitors to Capitol Hill can also enjoy the Capitol's beautiful grounds, the free Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum and the picturesque White Chapel.
Utah's Hogle Zoo dates from 1931 and is located at the mouth of Emigration Canyon at 2600 E. Sunnyside Avenue. The Zoo is one of the most visited attractions in Utah and the top paid-for tourist attraction in Salt Lake City. It covers 42 acres and includes more than 800 animals.
Hogle Zoo's top exhibits include Asian Highlands, Elephant Encounter, Rocky Shores, and African Savanna, which is currently under construction. Don't miss the World of Flight Bird Show during the spring, summer, and fall. From Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve, Hogle Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland with the popular Zoolights display.
This is the Place Monument in Emigration Canyon marks the spot where Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers first entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. Looking over the Salt Lake Valley, Young declared, "This is the right place." One hundred years later, a heroic bronze sculpture of Young and two of his colleagues were placed atop a 60-foot pedestal to commemorate the pioneers' arrival.
This is the Place Heritage Park includes a restored pioneer village with live demonstrations of pioneer life and a restored Brigham Young farmhouse.
This is the Place Heritage Park is directly across from Hogle Zoo at 2601 Sunnyside Ave. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. spring through fall, 11 am - 4 pm in winter. Programs are limited in winter and on Sundays.
The University of Utah is not only one of the state's leading educational institutions but also an important cultural and sports center for the city and the state of Utah. The U of U campus includes two of Salt Lake's favorite museums, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Natural History Museum of Utah The campus is also home to Salt Lake's favorite garden spot, Red Butte Garden.
Top performing arts venues on the U of U campus include Kingsbury Hall and Pioneer Memorial Theatre. The U of U's top sports venues are Rice-Eccles Stadium and the John M. Huntsman Center. Just south of Rice-Eccles Stadium is the Olympic Cauldron Park including the Salt Lake 2002 Visitors Center.
Liberty Park is Salt Lake City's second-largest public park and includes trails, playgrounds, a pond, paddle boat rentals, tennis courts, picnic facilities, amusement rides and a water play area. Liberty Park includes the Chase Home Museum of Folk Arts and the excellent eight-acre Tracy Aviary, one of two free-standing aviaries in the United States.
Library Square, at 210 East 400 South, includes not just the award-winning Salt Lake City main library, but also shops, a cafe, a Salt Lake Community College Writing Center and the studios of KCPW, a local NPR affiliate. Library events include art exhibits, lectures, film screenings, cultural performances, book groups and kids' activities.
Near Library Square, at 451 South State Street, sits the impressive Richardson-Romanesque-style Salt Lake City and County Building, headquarters of both city and county governments. Tours of the building are offered every Tuesday during the summer.
Also near the Library is The Leonardo, a multi-million-dollar science museum.
Thanksgiving Point is a huge recreation area near the Point of the Mountain that includes spectacular themed gardens, a farm, and agriculture center, movie theaters, an IMAX, shops, restaurants, a golf course, party and reception facilities, and the world's largest indoor dinosaur museum. There's so much to see and do at Thanksgiving Point that it's difficult to describe, but Thanksgiving Point definitely offers an escape from the everyday.
Thanksgiving Point is located about halfway between Salt Lake City and Provo just off Interstate 15 at the Point of the Mountain. For detailed driving instructions from your location, call 801-768-2300.