Salt Lake City is at the urban heart of the metropolitan Wasatch Front. In 1847, Brigham Young famously led Mormon pioneers into the valley declaring "This is the right place." Later, the joining of the transcontinental railroad in nearby Ogden and the Pony Express route in Salt Lake City cemented the area’s importance as a transit hub and economic center in the development of the American West. The area’s ideal geography led to the nickname “Crossroads of the West.”
SLC continues to be the gateway for travelers making the quick trip to Utah's ski resorts, southward to Utah’s renowned red rock country or northward to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Increasingly, SLC is giving travelers reasons to stay and enjoy a Salt Lake City Vacation thanks to the comfortable urbanism of this vibrant city. Utah’s capital provides all the amenities and events you expect to find in a thriving metro area and the convenience and affordability of a place that hasn’t yet been “discovered” by the masses.
A compact downtown makes for easy walking among the many things to do in Salt Lake City. Restaurants, bars and other attractions bring life to the city center. Visit the historic and spiritual heart of Utah, Temple Square, shop at City Creek Center or curl up with a book at the soaring glass atrium of the Moshe Safdie and Associates-designed City Library.
Just off downtown, leafy, tree-lined streets on SLC's famous grid system lead to hip neighborhoods like the 9th and 9th district, home to bustling espresso bars and bakeries like Coffee Garden and Tulie as well as a burgeoning food scene exemplified by Pago, famous for artfully crafted American cuisine showcasing locally-sourced ingredients.
A brisk trip on TRAX, SLC’s light rail system, takes you from city center past The Leonardo science museum to the University of Utah campus district, home to Red Butte Garden and Arboretum and the Natural History Museum of Utah. The campus area is also adjacent to multiple access points to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, a sprawling network of trails lacing the foothills behind the city with nearly 100 miles of hiking, running and biking trails, an after-work favorite for locals.
Looking to the south, the foothills surrounding the University give way to the airy peaks of the Wasatch Mountains, home to the world-renowned ski areas of Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude, just 30 minutes from downtown. One key element in the appeal of a Salt Lake City Vacation is the close proximity to spectacular outdoor recreation. It is difficult to find any place on earth that marries the comforts, culture and attractions of a metropolitan city with the trails, tranquility and recreation of mountain living.
SLC is the intersection of two major Interstate highways, the east-west artery of I-80 and north-south I-15 artery. Downtown Salt Lake is less than an hour from 11 major ski resorts and roughly 4 hours to Utah's five national parks. Due to its convenient location and easy access to Salt lake International Airport, many travelers use SLC to combine their trips to Utah with Yellowstone (6 hours), Grand Teton (6 hours), the Grand Canyon (6 hours) or Las Vegas (5.5 hours).
Utah is accessible to the world via Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). Located just 5 miles northwest of downtown Salt Lake City, it is a primary travel gateway to your Utah adventure. The airport ranks 27th busiest in the United States and 80th busiest in the world in terms of passenger numbers, yet the airport consistently receives high marks for on-time arrivals and departures.
Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, United and US Airways and their affiliates serve SLC, including 86 cities with nonstop flights. International nonstop flights include Paris, Amsterdam and multiple cities in Mexico and Canada.
The spiritual center for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Temple Square offers free walking tours of the Temple grounds available in forty languages. The nearby Family History Library houses one of the most extensive collections of genealogical records in the world. Temple Square is also home to the renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir with frequent performances and dress rehearsals open to the public.
Natural History Museum of Utah
Dubbed the “Trailhead to Utah,” the Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU) is one of the most popular things to do in Salt Lake City. It features an expansive collection of dinosaur skeletons, interactive biology, geology and Native American cultural exhibits housed in one of the most architecturally distinctive buildings in the state. Nestled in the foothills, with trails starting from NHMU’s front door, the museum makes for an ideal launchpad for children and curious adults to appreciate Utah’s remarkable natural history.
City Creek Center
Satisfy your shopping fix with a stroll through City Creek Center and browse Apple, Anthropologie, Coach, Nordstrom and more. On the many warm, sunny days in SLC, the center opens its retractable roof to let fresh air and sunlight spill onto the walkways making for an inviting experience as you walk past the gentle waters of City Creek stocked with local brown trout. No Salt Lake City vacation is complete without experiencing shopping in true Utah style.
Utah State Capitol
Driving up State Street, the Capitol rises into view as you climb the hill revealing the massive granite facade and Corinthian-style lines. The 40-acre capitol complex is a delightful place to stretch your legs and savor the views southward across the city to the rugged spine of the Wasatch Mountains. The Capitol is free and open to the public, with regular tours of the building’s striking interior. The marble floors and sweeping stairways are often a draw for Hollywood filmmakers looking to depict the U.S. Capitol. Council Hall, across the street, houses a visitor center and bookstore with daily business hours.
Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon
Around 20 miles from Salt Lake City, Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood canyons are natural gems of the highest order. Home to the four incredible Utah ski resorts mentioned above, the Cottonwoods in summer are safe havens for incredible climbing, bouldering, hiking, trail running, cycling and mountain biking, both on and off the resorts. (As protected watersheds, dogs are not permitted.) Both canyons are designated scenic byways. Albion Basin at the top of Little Cottonwood is a centerpiece of the Cottonwoods’ summer Wasatch Wildflower Festival.
You may know Park City for its winter attractions: premier downhill skiing at three world-class resorts and cutting-edge independent films at the Sundance Film Festival. Park City is also a summer mountain sanctuary combining luxurious hotels and lodges for a relaxing escape or extensive adventure on more than 400 miles of trails. Park City is the world's only International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Certified Gold Level ride center. In Park City, you'll find shopping, dining and adventure for all budgets no matter the season. Also check out the national acts at the Deer Valley Music Festival and a range of activities at the Olympic Legacy Park.
Like Salt Lake City, Ogden is an outdoor recreation mecca, 45 minutes north along the I-15 corridor. Companies like Amer Sports and Scott Sports are part of a thriving outdoor industry while nearby trails and mountain resorts are the foundation for endless adventure. Ogden's downtown is pedestrian friendly and features indoor climbing, indoor skydiving, numerous restaurants and bars, and a rich Western heritage. Three world-class ski resorts are 20 minutes from downtown Ogden in the neighboring Ogden Valley, including Snowbasin, the site of men’s and women’s Olympic downhill during the 2002 Winter Games.
Antelope Island State Park
Spectacular birding, free-range bison and convenient wildlife viewing on craggy Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake are accessible via a scenic causeway from Syracuse, north of Salt Lake. Several trails popular with hikers and mountain bikers traverse the mountainous island and the park serves as a great launch point to explore the Great Salt Lake by boat or kayak. Historic Fielding Garr ranch house is a well-preserved and entertaining pioneer ranch house.
Great Salt Lake
On the drive through Davis County, north of Salt Lake, look west and you can't miss the Great Salt Lake. It’s also visible from the Natural History Museum of Utah and the hike up Ensign Peak north of the Capitol. The Great Salt Lake is the concentrated salt-water remnant of ancient Lake Bonneville. Though its shores from the mainland are unusual places known for brine flies and a distinctive aroma, you can escape the shore by chartering seafaring vessels or renting kayaks and paddleboards from the Great Salt Lake and cruising the lake’s often-tranquil waters.
Salt Lake City
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Salt Lake City - Utah's Capitol
Salt Lake City has everything a traveler needs from a compact urban city — great food, wonderful accommodations and outstanding attractions.