Top 10 Things to Do in Salt Lake City

Top 10 Things to Do in Salt Lake City

By Ash Sanders
April 03, 2017 | Updated November 07, 2023

New York. London. Paris. Tokyo. Salt Lake City.

Yeah, you heard us. Coastal metropolises are cool and all, and Europe is OK, but we’ll take our towering mountains, high-elevation deserts and salty inland seas any day. And you can, too! With this top 10 cheat sheet of our salty city’s savory attractions, you might just agree that this really is the place.

10. Snowbird

Most birds fly south for the winter, but most birds are birdbrains. If they were smart, they’d stay put and buy a season pass to Utah’s world-famous ski resort, flying down snowy chutes or catching turbulence on some choice moguls. But hey, this resort doesn’t discriminate. Even summer birds can catch the worm here, in field after field of high-alpine wildflowers. Take that, migration!

9. Red Butte Garden

When Brigham Young told the pioneers to make a salty desert blossom like a rose, he was probably imagining something like Red Butte Garden, an oasis of wildflowers, shaded alcoves and trickling streams in the foothills of the city. What he wasn’t imagining was the gardens’ sheer variety, where landscaping enthusiasts are equally busy making the desert blossom like Bigtooth Maples, Queens Anne’s Lace and Fernleaf Biscuitroot.

8. City Creek Center

You can throw away your babydoll dress and put your velvet chokers on mothballs, ’cause City Creek just took the American mall straight outta the ’90s and into the 21st century. Seriously, people, this mall is sleek and hip and stuffed with stores, and there’s a retractable roof and a stream running through it. Yeah, this place is classy. (On second thought, wear that velvet choker.)

7. Antelope Island

You're a real deal, all-American cowboy type, but it’s been awhile since you felt at home on the range. Call you old-fashioned, but you’re searching for a home where the buffalo still roam, and the deer and the antelope continue to play. You just never thought you’d find it on an island in the middle of the largest inland sea in North America. So come on over and stay awhile. (Just don’t embarrass yourself: They’re bison, not buffalo.)

6. Hogle Zoo

Just because your subscription to Ranger Rick magazine expired a few decades ago doesn’t mean you can’t still be obsessed with rhinos, parrots, giraffes and apes. Just head to Hogle Zoo, where you can commune with a world’s worth of wild creatures, learn the latest in animal conservation and ride the Zoofari Express to the Lighthouse Point Splash Pad. (On second thought, bring a kid or two as cover.)

5. Eccles Theater

Move over New York! There’s a new kid on the block. Well, not a kid, really, but a giant arts center smack dab in the middle of downtown that plays host to touring comedians, Broadway shows and art exhibits. So hey, big spender, come spend one enchanted evening with your memories (all alone in the darkness) at Salt Lake’s version of 42nd Street.

4. Millcreek Canyon

You want to get away from it all, but you want to do it somewhere, um, not that far away. And maybe somewhere you can ski in the winter and hike in the summer, and also bring your dog off-leash on odd-numbered calendar days? May we recommend Millcreek Canyon, a hop, skip and a jump from the city center, where you can hop, skip and jump along miles of mountain trails.

3. Utah Jazz

If you want to see Stockton dropping dimes to Malone, you’ll have to go to their Honda dealership. But down at the Delta Center, the pros are still yo-yoing the dribble, and the old cowhide globe is still hitting home. So dust off that foam finger and turn on your jock jams, ’cause the overachievers are always ready to rumble.

2. Temple Square

Hundreds of Tabernacle Choir members can’t be wrong: Temple Square is the limit. Whether you like strangely shaped buildings, major world religions or cross-sectional museum dioramas of strangely-shaped buildings, you’ll want to run — reverently — to the dead center of Salt Lake City. Because what is a tabernacle, really? (Just get over here already. We’d really rather show you in person.)

1. Natural History Museum

Are you like us? Do you think Homo sapiens are fine, but you’d sometimes just rather spend your days with dinosaurs, triassic plant fossils, arrowheads and whole entire walls of rare gemstones? Some would call it self-loathing, but we call it diversifying. #sorrynotsorry. Head to the gigantic copper building in the foothills and bag some geology facts in the morning, recreate the human genome in the afternoon, then eat a panini near a wall of windows as the setting sun paints you gold.