Salt Lake City (SLC) is the bustling capital of Utah and home to multiple Army, Navy, and Air Force bases, including U.S. Army Reserve Centers, the Salt Lake City Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, and the Utah Army National Guard. However, Salt Lake City is not just a Military hub. SLC has a fast-growing tech and business scene, as well as top-of-the-line performing arts, an award-winning culinary, brewing and distilling culture, and a rich history that colors the city.
If you and your family are new to the area, check out our list of 10 things to do near Salt Lake City:
1. Utah State Capitol Building
The State Capitol is one of Utah’s most prominent landmarks. Since its opening in 1916, the Capitol building has been home to the chambers and offices of the Utah State Legislature, as well as the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and the State Auditor.
Thousands of people visit Utah’s State Capitol each year. Take a tour or host an event at the building to learn more about the processes and procedures of your local government!
2. Red Butte Garden
Connect with the natural beauty around you at Red Butte Garden, a community-funded, 21-acre botanical garden with over five miles of hiking trails. Red Butte Garden is visited by more than 200,000 people each year, including more than 10,000 members and 300 active volunteers.
Red Butte’s award-winning floral displays — including its springtime display of 450,000 blooming bulbs — community events, and outstanding educational programs have made the gardens a treasured SLC attraction.
3. Hogle Zoo
Journey across the world at the Hogle Zoo, which houses more than 800 animals from the African Savanna to the deep sea. Watch giraffes and zebras mingle on the grasslands as the lions look on from Lions’ Hill, or explore the Elephant Encounter, another one of the zoo’s must-see exhibits.
Kids will love learning about wildlife conservation on the Conservation Carousel, composed of unique, hand-carved and painted models of endangered animals. During the summer months, visitors can cool down at the Lighthouse Point Splash Zone and catch a glimpse of the seasonal World of Flight bird show. Hogle Zoo is a can’t-miss destination perfect for the whole family!
4. Beehive House
Take a tour of Beehive House, which was home to Brigham Young, the second president of the Mormon Church and Utah’s first governor. The Church believed that the beehive symbolized the Latter-day Saints’ strong sense of community and work ethic as they settled in the West in the late 1800s.
Today, Beehive House operates as a museum, displaying important belongings of Brigham Young and his family, as well as other notable leaders of the Mormon Church. Half-hour tours are available throughout the week.
While you’re there, be sure to take a stroll around the Brigham Young Historic Park, which neighbors Beehive House. Its statue memorials, gorgeous landscaping, and serene wooden water wheel paint the perfect backdrop for a romantic walk with your spouse. The park also hosts the free Concerts in the Park summer concert series, which feature local and international artists on Tuesday and Friday evenings throughout the summer months.
5. Millcreek Canyon
Salt Lake City is known for its scenic mountain views. One of the best places to catch a glimpse of some of that beauty is Millcreek Canyon, situated in the Wasatch Mountains on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley.
Millcreek Canyon contains dozens of hiking, mountain-biking, and skiing trails suited to the abilities of people of all ages. Other popular activities the canyon offers include camping and birdwatching.
Plan a quiet, weekend retreat with your servicemember at the Millcreek Inn, or take a quick hiking break to eat a packed lunch at the Elbow Fork Picnic Area.
6. Liberty Park
Get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Liberty Park offers SLC residents recreation and relaxation with access to running paths, a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a playground. The park also hosts a variety of free community events throughout the year.
The main attraction of Liberty Park is the Tracy Aviary, which houses a large variety of birds. For a small entrance fee, visitors can explore and interact with some of the region’s most common bird species.
Another popular attraction during the summer months is Seven Canyons Fountain, designed to represent the seven canyons in Salt Lake. Check out the man-made waterfalls, lakes, and other fun water spaces for kids to splash around in.
7. Salt Lake City Public Library
Salt Lake City’s Main Library is one of the most architecturally unique structures in Utah. The 240,000 square-foot building serves as a rainy day retreat for young children, a study spot for students, or even an office space for those who work remotely.
The library houses a large audiovisual collection, a technology center, a creative lab, special galleries, public art, a children’s wing, and much more. It’s the perfect place to enjoy some much-needed peace and quiet, and catch up on your book club reading list!
8. Ensign Peak Trail
Ensign Peak Trail is a hiking trail just outside city limits that offers incredible views of downtown Salt Lake City. This trail follows the path of Brigham Young and other settlers in the 1800s. Two days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, these pioneers climbed through the mountains to survey the valley and begin building their plan for the city. A monument now sits at the summit of the mountain dedicated to these pioneers.
The entrance to the Ensign Peak Trail is located at the north end of the Salt Lake Valley, above the State Capitol building. The trail is accessible year-round and is one of the few dog-friendly trails in the area. Round up the kids, pack a picnic basket, and hike to the summit to watch the sunset over the SLC skyline!
9. Salt Lake Temple
Temple Square is the global headquarters of the Church of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church. The 35-acre plot contains more than 15 attractions related to Mormon history and beliefs.
One of the most impressive attractions is Salt Lake Temple. The structure is sacred to members of the Church of the Latter-day Saints, so it is not open for public tours. However, you can stroll around the surrounding grounds and stop in the Visitor Center to see a scale model of the temple and its interior.
The public is also welcome to attend performances by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, including the choir’s free, weekly Music & the Spoken Word broadcast on Sunday mornings.
10. The Leonardo Museum
Located on the southwest corner of Library Square in downtown Salt Lake City, The Leonardo is a non-profit, community-operated museum inspired by the life and work of Leonardo Da Vinci.
The museum’s exhibits and hands-on activities blend technology, engineering, and art to create compelling experiences that spark curiosity in visitors of all ages. You can attend drawing classes, explore interactive exhibitions, and even enroll the kids in summer camp. Let your creativity and imagination run free with a visit to the Leonardo.
Take advantage of all the incredible opportunities Salt Lake City has to offer. Whether you just moved to town or have called this beautiful city home for years, there’s so much to do, see, and explore.
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