What to See and Do in Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City has been growing and changing over the past several decades. Known for its Mormon heritage and nestled along Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, the state capital has five national parks and is the third-best spot for skiing in the U.S.
The city itself has theatres and restaurants, many of which have acquired liquor licenses, in addition to aquariums and basketball stadiums. Don’t know where to start? Read on to find out what to do in Salt Lake City.
Fast Facts about Salt Lake City, Utah:
Salt Lake lies in a mountain valley and has the Wasatch Mountains to its east and its north. The Oquirrh mountains, which are pronounced like “oaker,” lie to the western edge of the valley. The eastern and northern parts of the city are located on former beaches, which locals call “the benches.”
- Population: 2,325,531
- Average high/low temperatures: 63.8° / 41.6°
- Median age: 29.8
Check out the Salt Lake Temple at Temple Square
The three-block walled neighborhood has nearly 20 attractions related to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Salt Lake Temple houses the Tabernacle and Gothic-style Assembly Hall. The largest genealogy library in the world, the Family History Library, is also there. You can take a free, guided tour of the square anytime from 9 am to 9 pm. Continue exploring and you’re sure to end up in a scenic garden or near a beautiful fountain.
See the City’s Namesake -- The Great Salt Lake
The Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi. It’s 1,700 square miles has salty mineral deposits, which gives it its name.
There are hiking trails and picnic spots for visitors to enjoy. You can take a swim or look out for bison while on the way to the park.
Be One with Nature in Liberty Park
Want to escape to nature without leaving the city? Check out all 80 acres of Liberty Park where you can enjoy the pond, biking, tennis, volleyball and fresh mountain air. There’s a greenhouse and an aviary where you can connect with nature. Located in the center of Salt Lake, Liberty Park is open from dawn to dusk at no charge. Keep in mind that some sporting activities may require a fee.
Take a Trip Underwater at The Living Planet Aquarium
There are plenty of exhibits at the aquarium, including the mammoth electric eel, stingrays, free-flying birds, reptiles, and the river giants. You can also pay an additional fee to meet penguins up close and there’s a 40-foot-long shark tunnel that’s sure to amaze. The aquarium is currently finishing up a section for their South American toucans in order to successfully breed them as part of the conservation efforts of the center. Tickets are $19.95 for adults.
Root for the Home Team at a Utah Jazz Basketball Game
If you’re into basketball, you’re in for a treat. Later this fall, the Vivint Smart Home Arena, which is home to the Utah Jazz, will reopen after a $125 million renovation. The project will bring significant improvements to the arena from food to technology in addition to a 12,000-square-foot atrium and new plaza. The Utah Jazz compete in the NBA as a member club of the league’s Western Conference Northwest Division.
Absorb Arts and Culture at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts
After reopening at the end of August, you can wander through the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah and peruse nearly 20,000 artifacts from around the world, including pieces from ancient Greece and Egypt and paintings from the Italian Renaissance. Open from 10 am to 5 pm on Tuesday through Friday, and 11 am to 5 pm on the weekends, admission is $13.
Meet the Locals Enjoying the Bustling Downtown Scene
Salt Lake City’s downtown is a hub for arts, entertainment, dining and nightlife and is experiencing an influx of young professionals. Lest you forget you’re in Utah, you’ll almost always be able to see the Wasatch Mountains from every spot.
Some local favorites include Takashi, which is reportedly the city’s best sushi bar. If you’re in the mood for a speakeasy-style bar, visit The Rest, which has classic cocktails and yummy small plates.
Current Fish & Oyster’s menu includes delicious seafood creations staged in a refurbished antique shop. Looking for something more casual? Stop by Argentina’s Best Empanadas.
Salt Lake City has much more to offer than this brief list can fit, but hopefully you have some ideas on where to get started when you head there for your travel nursing assignment. It’s a happening city that is growing and changing, so get out there and explore!