Salt Lake City offers a unique blend of history, scenery, and modern tourist attractions. Throw away any preconceptions you might have about Utah's capital. This is one of America's finest city break destinations.
If you want to get away from it all, there's no better city to visit. Try out the world-class slopes at ski resorts like Snowbird, take a sailing craft out on the Great Salt Lake or hike to gorgeous mountain spots like Ensign Peak.
Back in town, you can check out historical areas like the Avenues and tour the Mormon Temple before sampling the city's exciting dining culture. With gourmet Asian restaurants like Sushi Groove and old-fashioned steak joints like Shula's 347 Grill, Salt Lake City is a wonderful place to eat.
Catch a Utah Jazz basketball match, try the award-winning local brews at the Red Rock Brewing Company and just take it easy in this welcoming state capital.
Salt Lake City is ringed by mountains, and these mountains are home to exceptional skiing resorts. If you visit in winter, head to resorts like Snowbird, Deer Valley or the Canyons (but check to see whether they allow snowboarding, as not all resorts do).
The mountains around Salt Lake City are a beautiful place to hike and climb during the spring, summer and fall. There are easy trails near the city at spots like Ensign Peak, as well as more challenging trails like Mount Van Cott. Whatever your hiking ability, it's a great place to soak up fresh air and natural beauty.
Salt Lake City is a unique place. After all, not many cities in the United States can claim to have given birth to a major religion. Mormonism dominates the city, with the Temple towering over the Downtown district. If you want to learn about this fascinating group, the Church History Museum near the Temple is the best place to go.
If you love basketball, a trip to the Vivint Smart Home Arena to watch the Utah Jazz is a must, but there's more to Salt Lake City than the NBA. Catch a Major League Soccer game at the Rio Tinto Stadium or head to the Rice–Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah to watch the Utes do battle in NCAA football.
Shoppers will feel right at home in Salt Lake City. There's the city center Gateway District, with its mixture of brand name fashion stores, cinemas and museums, and the massive City Creek Center - the best place to go for stores like Gap, H&M and American Eagle Outfitters.
Over the years, Salt Lake City has become synonymous with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or Mormons for short. The religious group was among some of the first settlers to take on the marshy landscape in Utah state, with many historical buildings and lectures celebrating that heritage. Mormons are very interested in family history, with Temple Square being the headquarters of the largest genealogical library in the world. But perhaps the most visually striking and famous monument is the Salt Lake City Temple, which rises high above the neighboring buildings with it's white, almost castle-like appearance.
Capitol Hill is an impressive Corinthian-style building which was first constructed in the early 20th century. After some recent renovations, the building has been expanded to include a base isolation system which will allow the structure to survive a 7.3-magnitude earthquake. The State Capitol is located right next to the Mormon Battalion Monument, which honors the early religious settlers who died fighting in the Mexican-American war. Weekday tours of the grounds can help visitors to learn more about Utah State History and its relationship to the Mormon religion.
The most iconic building in all of Utah, the Salt Lake Temple is a religious structure used by members of the Mormon Faith to help strengthen their relationship to each other and their faith. The Visitor's Center is open to visitors year-round, however only those Mormons with a pre-approved "temple recommend" may visit the entirety of the Temple. There are many missionaries throughout the Temple Square complex, who are ready to answer visitor's questions about the history of the religion, its core beliefs and its plans for the future. For truly spectacular views of the city, grab a bite to eat at the high-rise Temple View restaurant located adjacent to the Temple grounds.
Located near the entrance to Emigration Canyon, This is the Place Heritage Park is a family-friendly park taking visitor's through the Old American West. When visiting, you can take a ride on a reconstructed handcart which was originally used to help transport settlers to the West and learn about daily life on the road. There are also many seasonal events including Chriskindlmarket, Pioneer Day and Baby Animal Season celebrations which attract thousands of visitors from around Salt Lake. A perfect day trip back into American history.
The famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir has become famous world-wide for their pitch-perfect concerts and powerful musical accompaniment. The Salt Lake Tabernacle is where the group practices, meeting every week under a staggering array of Organ pipes. If you play your cards right, you may just be able to have a go on the ivories yourself! Fun Fact: The Salt Lake Tabernacle also hosts thousands of Mormons each Fall and Spring who come to receive guidance from their leader during what is known as a "General Conference".
If you want to avoid the crowds, think about visiting Salt Lake City between September and November. Ski season won't have started, and family groups will be scarce, leaving the major attractions free of the throngs. The weather should be fine at that time of year as well, with a September average of almost 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Salt Lake City International Airport is situated around 20 minutes to the west of the city center and has good transport connections to the rest of the city. The best route into town is to take either the light rail or bus connections, both of which cost $2.50. However, be aware that public transit finishes at 11:30 p.m., so if you arrive late a taxi will be necessary. Expect to pay around $20 for a taxi to the city center.
Salt Lake City's Amtrak hub is at 340 S 600 W, and the city is a stop on the California Zephyr service, which runs from San Francisco to Chicago. FrontRunner services also link the city to other towns in Utah, including Provo and Ogden.
Most people who drive to Salt Lake City arrive via I-80, which connects the city to San Francisco in the west, and Chicago, Omaha and New York City to the east. Take I-15 if you are driving from Los Angeles and I-84 from the Pacific Northwest.
Greyhound runs buses into Salt Lake City from most major western cities, and their Downtown stop is at the Amtrak hub (300 South 600 W). TUFESA also runs a bus service from Mexico and cities in the south, including Phoenix.
Popular hotels in the center of town include the Grand America Hotel, the Marriott Downtown at City Creek and the Hotel Monaco, all of which provide comfortable lodgings in convenient locations. If you want something more offbeat, try the boutique rooms of the Peery Hotel (which also offers stunning mountain views). Budget travelers should check out Park City Hostel, which offers dorm beds at bargain prices.
Downtown – Downtown is Salt Lake City's cultural center and includes Temple Square - the home of the Mormon church. More importantly for tourists, it also features the Gateway District, the city's shopping hub and home to attractions like the city planetarium and the Children's Museum of Utah.
Sugar House – One of the oldest parts of town, Sugar House, is home to Westminster College, so it has a large student population. Clustered around Sugar House Park (which hosts frequent fireworks displays), the area has plenty of great bars and restaurants, including the Campfire Lounge and the Sugar House Pub.
The Avenues – Built in the 19th century, the Avenues is Salt Lake City's most attractive historical area. Built in a rigid grid system, the area is full of historical attractions (including the grave of Mormonism's founder Brigham Young) and is also a creative district. There are great places to eat like Avenues Proper, and hip galleries like Williams Fine Art - all overlooked by beautiful mountain scenery.
Salt Lake City has two major public transportation options. The buses are operated by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and offer good coverage during the day. A single fare costs $2.50 and a day pass is $5.50. The TRAX light rail system is also really handy and costs $2.25 for one-way trips and $5.50 for a day pass.
Taxis in Salt Lake City cost $3 as a basic fare and then around $2.80 per mile after that, so they can be an expensive way to get around. Uber is active in the city and offers a chance to get around more cheaply, with a basic fare of $1.90, then $1.48 per mile.
Although the public transit system in Salt Lake City is excellent, having a car is a good option if you want to explore the natural beauty of Utah. Getting around the city is also pretty simple, with a clear inner-city grid layout. There are 30,000 parking spaces in the center of town as well, which should mean finding a spot won't be hard.
Salt Lake City is jammed full of shopping malls, making it one of the West's leading retail destinations. The best place to head for branded goods is the Gateway Mall, built to coincide with the 2002 Winter Olympics and home to stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, PacSun and Barnes & Noble. The City Creek Center features an Apple Store, H&M and Macy's. There are also market squares and streets with a more local feel. Trolley Square is the place to head if you want to shop at independent boutiques.
Stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's have Downtown outlets, but for the cheapest grocery shopping, visitors should look to the suburbs, where you'll find Walmart Supercenters and KMart stores in every district. One of the great things about Salt Lake City is grocery prices. The city is one of the cheapest in the U.S., and you can expect to pay around $1.90 for 12 eggs or $1.45 for a pound of apples.
Utah isn't famous for its distinctive cuisine, but that doesn't mean Salt Lake City is a boring dining destination. Far from it, in fact. There are plenty of fantastic places to eat, from superb Japanese restaurants like Sushi Groove to Vietnamese eateries like the counter diner Oh Mai, and even Nepali places like the Kathmandu. You can grab a gourmet steak at Shula's 347 Grill, snack on delicious tacos from Tres Hombres or enjoy the seafood with a beer at the laid-back Bucket'O'Crawfish restaurant. Expect to pay around $10-15 for a mid-range meal and around $40 for dinner at a high-end restaurant.