Top 20 Salt Lake City Attractions You Won't Want To Miss

Last Updated on January 04, 2024 by Nikki Jain

Salt Lake City brings together the fantastic wonders of the Wild West along with a diverse cultural scene. When planning a trip to the capital of Utah, you’ll discover there’s no shortage of things to do in Salt Lake City.

If you’re sifting through the options, then this list of Salt Lake City attractions can help you determine the best way to spend your travel time. Whether you’re looking for activities for a fun family vacation, like an afternoon at the zoo or outdoor adventures, such as visiting Antelope Island State Park, this guide covers the information for planning an SLC trip.

Logistics about how much time you should spend at each of the top tourist attractions in SLC, as well as details about seasonal activities, are all covered to help you cover all the spots that interest you.

Things To Do in Salt Lake City

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1: Temple Square

Temple Square

The five blocks which comprise Temple Square is one of the top Salt Lake City attractions thanks to the combination of history, architecture, and culture.

The historic Salt Lake Temple is the star of the show and is the headquarters for The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. 

You can tour Temple Square independently or participate in one of the guided tours to learn about some of the history in more detail.

Throughout the year, several events are held within the square, such as weekly Tabernacle Choir rehearsals or outdoor music concerts.

For an aerial view of the Salt Lake Temple, you can head to the Observation Deck at the Conference Center.

The Conference Center also holds interesting exhibits and artifacts associated with the history of the Latter-day Saint community.

In the summer, the Garden of Temple Square is full of beautifully maintained flower beds.

The square also contains several shops and restaurants to make an entire day of experience.

Address: 50 N Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

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2: Utah State Capitol

Utah State Capitol

One of the most iconic landmarks in Utah and one of the top places to visit in Salt Lake City, the State Capitol building is not only politically important but also an architectural masterpiece.

The building is open seven days a week (except for holidays), and you can pick from a self-guided or staff-led tour.

The staff-led tours typically last about 45 minutes, or you can set your own pace on a self-guided tour.

The Capitol is built on a hill surrounded by 40 acres of maintained grounds with native trees, plants, and flowers of Utah.

It’s well worth your time to walk around the grounds to appreciate the view you’ll get of downtown and the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City.

The interior of the building is perhaps even more impressive than the outside. The high domed ceilings, spectacular windows, and numerous statues and paintings give it an atmosphere like a historic church or curated museum.

Address: 350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Also Read: The Best State Capitol Buildings in the USA

3: Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake
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What’s a trip to Salt Lake City without visiting its famous namesake? The Great Salt Lake marina on the southern shore is about a 30-minute drive from downtown, making it super easy to reach.

Depending on your interests, you could spend anywhere from 15 minutes to several days exploring the lake.

It’s one of the best attractions in Salt Lake City for families, thanks to all the fun outdoor activities like paddleboarding and kayaking.

You can also take sightseeing boat tours onto the lake, which offer spectacular views of the shoreline and mountains rising in the background.

Campers will appreciate the tenting and RV campsites located around the circumference of the lake.

The campsites on the southern shore are usually the most popular spots since they’re closer to Salt Lake City and amenities, but if you prefer a quieter and more secluded camping experience, a spot farther north on the lake could be a good pick.

4: Natural History Museum of Utah

Natural History Museum of Utah
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Located on the eastern side of the city close to the University of Utah, this is one of the best places to go in Salt Lake City for families or science enthusiasts.

The focus of the museum is the history of Utah, especially the numerous dinosaur fossils which have been discovered in the rocky ground of the state.

There are lots of interactive and hands-on activities throughout the museum, which are perfect for engaging kids in fun learning experiences.

Besides the dinosaur exhibits, the museum has many other fascinating information. Check out the rooftop terrace with spectacular views and displays about astronomy discoveries.

There’s also an important exhibit detailing the history of the Native Americans who called Utah their home long before the arrival of European settlers.

You can combine your visit to the Natural History Museum with other nearby Salt Lake City attractions like Red Butte Garden and Heritage Park.

Address: 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108

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Also Read: The Best Dinosaur Museums in the USA

5: Utah Olympic Park

Utah Olympic Park
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Ever wondered what it would be like training for the Olympics? At Utah Olympic Park, you can experience all the fun and adrenaline of riding a bobsled or pushing your limits on an Adventure Course at an active Olympic Training Site.

Families, couples, or solo travelers can all enjoy one of the best Salt Lake City tourist attractions at any time of year.

To experience the fun of the Comet Bobsled (and reach over 60 mph!), you’ll need to book tickets in advance.

Other activities, such as the zip line and obstacle courses, don’t require reservations but may be subject to closing due to weather, so it’s best to check the forecast beforehand.

When you need a break from the adrenaline, you can check out the Eccles 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum, where you can view athlete memorabilia, learn about the medal winners, and even hold the Olympic Torch yourself.

Address: 3419 Olympic Pkwy, Park City, UT 84098

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Utah

6: Hogle Zoo

Hogle Zoo

Whether you’re looking for activities for kids or simply hoping to spend some time outside, Hogle Zoo is one of the best places to visit in Salt Lake City at any time of year.

The zoo is home to animals from every continent of the world, from alligators to zebras.

You can ride the Zoofari Express train through the African Savannah portion of the zoo, then check out the World of Flight Bird Show to see eagles, parrots, owls, and other amazing birds up close.

Before showing up at the zoo, check the daily schedule for when demonstrations such as the giraffe feeding time and sea lion demos will be taking place to add these to your zoo itinerary.

In addition to the animal exhibits, there are also other fun activities for kids (or adults!), such as the conservation carousel.

The Hogle Zoo is among the most popular SLC attractions for tourists as well as locals, so to skip the peak crowds, it’s recommended to show up earlier in the day. 

Address: 2600 E Sunnyside Ave, Salt Lake City, UT 84108

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Also Read: The Best Zoos in the USA

7: Red Butte Garden

Red Butte Garden
Kate Randall

One of the spots in Salt Lake City that every nature enthusiast should have on their travel itinerary is Red Butte Garden.

This site is famous for being the largest Botanical Garden in the Intermountain West region of the United States.

The gardens cover a total of 100 acres with maintained flower gardens, the state arboretum, and a large outdoor amphitheater that houses summer concerts.

Although the gardens are less than five miles from downtown Salt Lake City, you’ll feel worlds away from the busy traffic-crowed streets.

It’s a great place to relax for the afternoon and enjoy the fresh mountain scenery surrounding Utah’s capital.

Families will appreciate the Children’s Garden, which has a splash pad and playground areas for kids to burn off energy.

Some of the maintained gardens at Red Butte include the Water Conservation Garden, which holds a large collection of Native Utah plants and the Fragrance Garden, which is a popular destination for weddings or couples’ vacations.

Address: 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108

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8: Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island State Park
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This unique state park is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake of Utah. It’s home to a herd of free-ranging bison and other animals, including the antelope, which the island is named after.

The island is also extremely popular among birders-over 250 species of birds, from Canadian geese to peregrine falcons, make their home here.

It’s one of the most photographed places in Salt Lake City, thanks to the incredible scenery of sandy shores, rocky outcroppings, and the backdrop of Salt Lake and mountains in the distance.

Some trails on the island like the popular Lady Finger Point Trail, are very easy and a great option for families.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also explore the island on horseback by taking a tour with the Rhodes Valley Outfitters. Mountain bikes and electric bikes are also available to rent through one of the outfitters on the island.

Address: 4528 West 1700 South, Syracuse, UT 84075

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Also Read: 25 Best State Parks in the US

9: Trolley Square

Trolley Square

Combining a historic location with modern energy, Trolley Square is also a great place for shopping and dining in Salt Lake City.

The square has been recognized as a National Historic Site since 1973, and the unique layout of shops and restaurants housed in old trolley barn cars set this shopping mall apart from other destinations in Salt Lake City.

Trolley Square’s origins trace back to 1908 when it held the trolley car barns for Utah Light and Rail Company.

Today, the marketplace preserves the original architectural design while also adding unique modern touches.

Make sure you get a photo of the iconic water tower with its neon signs. The landmark can be spotted from miles away and is often featured on Salt Lake City postcards and memorabilia.

Address: 600 700 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84102

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10: Clark Planetarium

Clark Planetarium

Even if you don’t consider yourself a science enthusiast, the Clark Planetarium still ranks among one of the best Salt Lake City attractions.

Check out one of the immersive experiences at the IMAX theatre, where you can feel like you’re flying over the canyons of Mars or swimming in the depths of the ocean.

Kids will love the rotating schedule of 3D shows, which feature not only topics of space but also other science topics like backyard animals, alternative energy, and dinosaurs.

In the full-dome star theatre, you can learn about the night sky or for a real night-sky experience, the planetarium also hosts outdoor events where a seasoned astronomer will set up telescopes to see some of the night-sky wonders of Utah.

Make sure you check out the gift shop to pick up some souvenirs from your visit. The Clark Planetarium gift store goes way above and beyond most museum shops with a huge variety of games, toys, puzzles, telescopes, science kits, and other fun memorabilia.

Address: 110 400 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

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11: Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Utah Museum of Fine Arts
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This famous museum of Salt Lake City holds over 20,000 pieces of art and is one of the top museums in the entire state of Utah.

A trip to the museum is perfect if you’re looking for things to do in Salt Lake City on rainy days or to escape the summer heat.

Browsing through the galleries, you’ll have the chance to view everything from ancient art artifacts from Mesoamerica to modern sculptural pieces in the sculpture garden.

Facilities at the UMFA include lockers and coat check, a museum café, and a gift shop. There are also three lounges, the Trailhead, Basecamp, and Lookout areas which have comfortable furniture and charging stations.

Guided tours are available at the museum if you schedule them in advance. You can also download a Highlights Guide from the museum website if you want more information as you independently browse through the galleries.

Address: 410 Campus Center Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84112

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Also Read: The Best Art Museums in the USA

12: Liberty Park

Liberty Park
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One of the best places in Salt Lake City for outdoor activities, you’ll have your pick from tennis courts, walking or running on the well-maintained trails, swimming laps in one of the pools, or simply relaxing at the picnic area.

Entrance to the park is free, although some of the sporting facilities do require a small fee. Equipment like bikes or roller skates are available for rent if you want to cruise around the trails, but you don’t have your own gear.

There are two playgrounds for kids to enjoy, including a splash pad at the west-side playground. Nearby there are concession areas to pick up ice cream or snacks.

If you’re traveling to Salt Lake City with a group, you can hit the basketball or volleyball courts for a fun afternoon match. Afterwards, check out the aviary, home to over 400 birds, from pelicans to eagles.

Address: 600 Harvey Milk Blvd, Salt Lake City, UT 84105

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13: Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon
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One of the top reasons to visit Utah is the endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. Big Cottonwood Canyon is one of the best destinations in Salt Lake City for activities like skiing, rock climbing, and mountain biking.

It takes less than half an hour to drive to Big Cottonwood Canyon from the Salt Lake International Airport, making it easy to visit as a day trip or look for accommodation right at the Canyon in one of the lodges or campsites.

The ski resorts of Solitude and Brighton are world-famous and are one of the most popular attractions in Salt Lake City during the winter. If you plan on staying at the resort, make sure you book your reservations well in advance!

Bit Cottonwood Canyon also has tons of trails, some of which are easy and suitable for young kids, while others are best for seasoned hikers and rock climbers.

Address: Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd, Salt Lake City, UT 84121

14: This is The Place Heritage Park

This is The Place Heritage Park
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Salt Lake City has a rich history on account of its importance for early pioneers making their way west in the United States. This is The Place Heritage Park preserves that history in a dynamic and interactive way.

If you’re looking for Salt Lake City attractions for families or groups, then This is The Place is a perfect option.

Even though This is The Place is only a 15-minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the Wild West.

At The Pioneer Center, you can learn about what life was like for the first westward travelers who arrived in Utah or try some hands-on activities like candle making.

Kids can enjoy activities like digging for gemstones in the Prospectors Pick or taking a train ride on a small replica train of the historic steam engines which brought pioneers west. Bring your own picnic lunch or grab something to eat at the Huntsman Grill.

For adults or older children, you can get tickets for a trail ride across the 450 acres surrounding This is the Place Heritage Park. The ride offers impressive views of Salt Lake Valley, and you’ll get to learn more about the lives of early pioneers.

Address: 2601 Sunnyside Ave S, Salt Lake City, UT 84108

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15: Salt Lake City Tabernacle

Salt Lake City Tabernacle

There are lots of things to do in Salt Lake City to learn about the history of the Mormon Church, but perhaps top of the list is visiting the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

Open year-round, this church is world famous for its incredible acoustics. It’s said that if a pin is dropped at the front of the church, it can be heard all the way from the back, nearly 170 feet away.

Entrance to the church is free, and many of the guided tours of Salt Lake City will stop here.

More than just appreciating the incredible architecture of the building, hearing the renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform is also recommended.

The Choir practices every Thursday evening, open for visitors to attend. There’s also live music each Sunday which is broadcast on Music and the Spoken Word, one of the most famous national broadcasts in the United States.

Address: 50 N W Temple St, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

16: Ensign Peak Park

Ensign Peak Park
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On the north side of Salt Lake City, Ensign Peak rises above the city. The famous Ensign Park encompasses the peak as well as the surrounding natural area, which is full of hiking and biking paths.

The primary trail leads to the summit of Ensign Peak, where there’s a small monument dedicated to Brigham Young and other early pioneers who first arrived in the region.

Make sure you pack water on for this hike, since the uphill climb can be arduous, particularly in the summer.

To skip the afternoon heat, hike the trail later in the evening to watch the sunset. The paths are very well maintained and easy to navigate if you feel ready to tackle an up-hill climb.

Since the area of Ensign Park is prone to erosion, it’s recommended to check the current park and trail conditions on the website before embarking on this Salt Lake City outdoor activity.

Address: 1002 N Ensign Vista Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

17: Pioneer Memorial Museum

Pioneer Memorial Museum
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One of the top attractions in Salt Lake City for history enthusiasts, the Pioneer Memorial Museum is famous for holding the record for the most extensive collection of artifacts on one subject in the world!

Probably the best-known relic is the wagon which was used by Brigham Young when he first traveled to Salt Lake Valley. Other artifacts include early pioneer tools, a horse-drawn fire engine, hunting gear, old railroad spikes, and religious relics.

Unlike some of the other museums in Salt Lake City, this one doesn’t have activities or interactive displays, so it’s not as appropriate for young children.

The Pioneer Memorial Museum also ranks among the best things to do in Salt Lake City because the entrance is free!

If you’re impressed by the displays and the painstaking work which went into restoring everything from pianos to cooking equipment, leave a donation to help the museum continue its preservation work.

Address: 300 N Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

18: City Creek Center

City Creek Center
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Although the history of Salt Lake City is certainly fascinating if you’re looking to experience the modern side of the city then City Creek Center is the place to go.

This is one of the best places in Salt Lake City for shopping and dining where you can shop till you drop at one of the numerous designer brand stores.

City Creek Center is a unique shopping destination thanks to its incredible architectural design. The entire complex covers two city blocks, and it’s an entirely pedestrian-friendly area.

The glass roof of the Center is retractable, making it possible to enjoy an “open-air” excursion year-round while still counting on a pleasant, climate-moderated environment.

There are over 100 individual shops and restaurants within the City Creek Center, including Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Louis Vuitton.

In addition to the big-name brand stores, the center also has numerous boutique market shops selling local products or artistic goods.

The dining options at the Center range from upscale fine-dining venues which often require a reservation, to more casual eateries and coffee shops.

Address: 50 S Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

19: Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum

Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum
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Any Salt Lake City family trip should include a visit to the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum.

Covering over 60,000 square feet, the museum is full of interactive games and learning activities for kids to discover what it’s like to dig dinosaur bones or look at samples under a microscope.

There are exhibits designed for all ages of children from infants to teenagers.

Some of the top permanent exhibits are Water Play, where kids can construct their own river race complete with wheels and ramps, the Honey Climber playground modeled after a beehive, and the Subaru Express Service for kids to have a hands-on experience being a car mechanic.

The Museum also has sensory-inclusive afternoons with dimmer lights and less stimulus. Check the museum schedule for these times as well as other seasonal events and programs offered.

Address: 444 W 100 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

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20: Tracy Aviary

Tracy Aviary
Tracy Aviary

Among the many activities in Liberty Park, Tracy Aviary stands out among the top Salt Lake City attractions.

Over 400 birds make their home at the Aviary, from small colorful parrots to large birds of prey. Check the Aviary schedule before your visit to see when the Keeper Talks are happening to learn about the species of birds or view one of the feeding times.

One of the most popular activities at the Aviary is the Bird Shows which happen in the Indoor Bird Show Amphitheater. You can learn about the signature “Ambassador Birds” of the Aviary and watch these feathery friends fly overhead.

Pick up drinks and refreshments at the Bird Feeder Café and stop for a unique bird-themed souvenir at the Nature Store.

Address: 589 E 1300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105

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Wrapping Up

Now that you’ve gotten an idea of the top Salt Lake City attractions, you’re one step closer to planning an epic trip to the capital of Utah. Whether you’re on a road trip to visit Utah’s Big 5 National Parks or going on a winter ski retreat, there’s never a shortage of things to do in Salt Lake City. The diversity of historic landmarks, beautiful park spaces, and fascinating museums leave more than enough to occupy any trip, regardless you’re staying in Salt Lake City for a weekend or a two-week vacation.

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