Discover the best things to do in Salt Lake City

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Nestled between the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains, Salt Lake City offers an irresistible blend of natural wonders, rich history and mouthwatering delights. So pack your bags, lace up your shoes and let’s review some of the best things to do in Salt Lake City.

A capitol building and skyscrapers create the skyline of Salt Lake City.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Outdoor adventures in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. From vast lakes to rugged trails, there’s something to satisfy every nature lover’s cravings. Whether you’re seeking serene landscapes or thrilling encounters with wildlife, you’ll find it all here.

Skiing in Salt Lake City

As you might expect from a city that hosted the Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City is home to several world-class ski resorts. Winter temperatures hover around freezing, and Salt Lake City’s mountains receive nearly one foot of perfect powder every five days, ensuring that hitting the slopes is one of the best things to do in Salt Lake City in winter. Even more exciting is that you can land at Salt Lake City International Airport and get on the slopes at one of four resorts within an hour of arrival.

Great Salt Lake

Just west of downtown, the Great Salt Lake is a must-see. It’s the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, and due to its high salinity, swimming here is more of a floating experience. For a unique perspective, consider a guided tour, which often includes transportation from the city​​.

A bison statue decorated with colorful handprints stands on an island facing the water.
Photo credit: Sage Scott.

Antelope Island

Accessible via a causeway, Antelope Island offers nearly 20 miles of trails with stunning views of the lake and the Wasatch Mountains. It’s also home to one of the oldest and largest publicly owned bison herds in the U.S., along with other wildlife like pronghorn antelope​​.

Red Butte Garden

Located at the University of Utah, Red Butte Garden spans 100 acres and features over 20 acres of developed gardens. With five miles of hiking trails, it’s perfect for a relaxing stroll or a vigorous hike. The garden is especially stunning from May to September when everything is in full bloom​​.

“Red Butte Garden is a must-visit spot for nature lovers! It’s got tons of amazing plants and water features, and the volunteer guides are so friendly and knowledgeable.” 

— Tory Mather, My Trails are Many
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Urban attractions

Salt Lake City’s urban attractions offer a mix of history, culture and architectural beauty. From the iconic Temple Square to the bustling city library, there’s plenty to explore without venturing very far from the city center.

“City Creek Mall is right across the street from Temple Square. You can catch a movie and then walk over to the food court for a bite to eat.”

— Micah, Home Faith Family

Temple Square

No visit to Salt Lake City is complete without exploring Temple Square. After all, with more than five million visitors a year, it is the most popular destination in Utah, attracting approximately two times more visitors than Utah’s most popular national park. The 10-acre complex is located in the heart of the city, featuring stunning architecture and serene gardens. Free tours are available, offering insights into the area’s history and significance​​.

A domed government building with an American flag flying in front.
Photo credit: Sage Scott.

Utah State Capitol

The Utah State Capitol provides fantastic views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Free guided tours are available hourly, giving you a deeper understanding of the state’s history and government​​.

Family fun

Salt Lake City offers a variety of family-friendly attractions that will keep both kids and adults entertained. From interactive zoos to captivating aviaries, there are plenty of activities to ensure a fun-filled family day out.

Hogle Zoo

Spanning 40 acres, Hogle Zoo is an excellent destination for families. You can see African lions basking in the sun, elephants taking dust baths and you can even feed giraffes. Seasonal events like BooLights! and ZooLights! add extra fun during the fall and winter​​.

Tracy Aviary

Bird enthusiasts will enjoy Tracy Aviary, the oldest aviary in the U.S. and home to over 100 species. It’s open year-round except on major holidays. The aviary offers educational programs and interactive exhibits perfect for visitors of all ages​​.

A wooden board with meats and cheeses sits on a wooden table next to a plate of mushroom crostini.
Appetizers at Provisions in Salt Lake City. Photo credit: Sage Scott.

Dining in Salt Lake City

Because I spend approximately six weeks a year in Utah’s largest city, I’ve had the opportunity to try a lot of coffee shops, bakeries, bistros, cafes and restaurants in Salt Lake City. You won’t want to miss these eateries when you visit this beautiful high-desert destination.

Eva’s Bakery

Just a short walk from Temple Square, Eva’s Bakery stands out with its French-inspired blue facade. Enjoy a continental breakfast with a flaky croissant and hot coffee, or indulge in a breakfast sandwich on a buttery croissant filled with ham, scrambled eggs, Gruyere cheese and tomato. The roasted golden beet salad and croque sandwiches are top picks​​ for lunch.

Bruges Belgian Bistro

After years of living in Europe and searching for Belgian-style frites in the U.S., I can confidently say Bruges Belgian Bistro offers some of the best fries on this side of the Atlantic. Their fluffy yet crispy fries come with a variety of dipping sauces like mayo and aioli. Pair them with a Belgian-style lamb sausage or a Liege waffle topped with delicious options like bananas and Nutella​​.


Provisions is a cozy neighborhood eatery that focuses on locally sourced, organic and sustainable ingredients. Their menu changes regularly, but every dish is delicious. I recommend ordering two to three items from their small plates or one small plate and one large plate, and be sure to save room for dessert.


For an upscale dining experience, head to Franck’s. Nestled in a renovated brick home in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, a dinner here is one of my favorite things to do in Salt Lake City. The avant-garde French-American bistro offers a seasonally inspired menu. If the crispy Brussels sprouts are on the menu, don’t miss them. Another favorite is Franck’s meatloaf, a delightful blend of whipped potatoes and blueberry-lavender sauce topped with crispy onions​​.

Red Iguana

Red Iguana is renowned for its mole and margaritas. Start with the mole sampler to try all six sauces, then dive into your favorite mole with chicken, turkey or carnitas. Their signature margaritas, like the tamarindo with a chile rim, are also a must-try. Be aware of Utah’s unique liquor laws to avoid any surprises during your visit​​.


Gourmandise is known for its European-inspired desserts. Their white chantilly strawberry cake and strawberry mille-feuille are crowd favorites. The bakery also offers a variety of croissants and other pastries that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Salt Lake City sendoff

Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer, a culture buff or a foodie who’s ready to eat your way through town, Salt Lake City has so much to offer. So pack your bags and get ready to work your way through the best things to do in Salt Lake City.

Sage Scott was bitten by the travel bug as a preschooler when her family moved abroad for the first time. Now settled in America’s Heartland, Sage is a travel writer, world wanderer and photographer whose favorite color is golden hour. Follow her adventures at Everyday Wanderer.

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