Surrounded by mountains and filled with natural spaces to explore, Salt Lake City is, in a word, beautiful. While the area is known for its ski resorts, canyons, and hikes aplenty, the fact is you can enjoy the city’s green spaces without even leaving, well, the city (or at least not going too far out of it). From fun playgrounds to quiet spots for some respite in nature, Salt Lake City’s parks include a bit of everything.
At 80 acres, Salt Lake City’s second largest park functions like Central Park thanks to its close proximity to downtown, classic beauty, and breadth of activities. Here, you'll find Tracy Aviary (which houses more than 400 birds), a large playground for the kids, and a variety of sports (including basketball, tennis, and volleyball). Simply walking around the park is a pleasure, as there are towering trees lining the walkways and often interesting things to check out, such as drum circles and community events.
Located within the wider Jordan Park and spanning 11 acres, the International Peace Gardens are practically a park in their own right. In an effort to foster friendships and connections around the world, SLC has invited 26 countries to design and decorate a section of the gardens. The end result is a variety of plants, sculptures of world peace leaders, and garden art for visitors to ponder.
Ready to jump immediately into a great local hike? Make your way to Parley's Gulch. You’ll enjoy pleasant elevation, interesting historical sites (including an old wine cellar, part of an old aqueduct build in the 1800s), a creek, and great views. The trails are mostly paved and not too challenging, so kids can hike them just fine. The area has become incredibly popular with people with dogs, so keep an eye out for off-leash dogs coming up to say "hi."
If you want to kick back and relax afterwards, Tanner Park—adjacent to the trailhead into Parley's Gulch—has a playground and picnic facilities so you can kick back and relax afterwords.
Sugar House Park
Salt Lake City’s largest park, Sugar House Park is 110 acres and has a little something for everyone.
If you have kids in tow, you can take them to one of two playgrounds or feed ducks with them at the large central pond. In the winter, they can sled down the park's hills, or go ice blocking (which is literally when kids sit on an ice block and slide down a grassy hill) come summer.
Of course, the park is a lovely place to walk any time of year. There are wide-open views of the Wasatch Front to enjoy, as well as a loop trail around the pond and a longer, 1.8-mile trail that circles the park.
City Park in West Jordan
While West Jordan’s City Park is not within the city limits of Salt Lake City, it's worth the short drive if you have kids, simply because it houses the Wild West Jordan Playground.
Kids can pretend to be in the Old West at this Wild West-themed park, which features a jail façade, bank, and other Western motifs. There are two play areas; one has fun blocks for toddlers to climb on and a slide that looks like a steam train, while the other has tons of big slides, bridges, and play equipment.
Sometimes what you need is just a regular, old park, with lots of grass to play on, a playground, and good picnic facilities. If you’re looking for a nice spot to have a family reunion or birthday party, Canyon Rim Park in Mill Creek should do the trick well.
Memory Grove Park and City Creek Canyon
Right near downtown, the adjoining Memory Grove Park and City Creek Canyon make for a great twofer. Start with Memory Grove Park, which features a series of memorials to Utah’s veterans (generally taking the form of large sculptures and structures you can venture into) as well as a replica of the Liberty Bell. The Capitol is also next door and accessible via a set of steps.
Head up a set of switchbacks on the east side of the park to hop onto the City Creek Canyon trail. While it's not like any of the canyons outside of town, it is nonetheless a pleasant hike.