Salt Lake City Travel Guide

USA  #17 in Best Cheap Vacations in the U.S.

Free Things To Do in Salt Lake City

If you have extra time, Park City is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Salt Lake City
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    #1 in Salt Lake City
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Temple Square's three-block, 35-acre plaza is home to nearly 20 attractions related to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's anchored by the towering Salt Lake Temple – where, among other things, weekly meetings of the church's governing bodies are held – and other fascinating buildings like the expansive Tabernacle and the Gothic-style Assembly Hall, which offer insight into the history and development of the church. You should also stop by the Family History Library, the largest genealogy library in the world. Once you've toured the sites, stroll through the square's scenic gardens and past the gurgling fountains.

    Recent travelers recommend taking a free, guided tour of the square and also mention that you don't have to be particularly religious to find it of interest. Tours are not scheduled, but knowledgeable docents are available every day between 9 a.m. and 4, 7 or 8 p.m., depending on the month. Tours begin on the hour and meet at the flagpole west of the temple. Visitors are also welcome to attend the Sunday morning concerts in the Tabernacle, as well as the Thursday evening choir rehearsals (7:30 p.m.), both put on by the renowned Tabernacle Choir.

  • #3
    Liberty Park
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    #3 in Salt Lake City
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're looking to enjoy the great outdoors without leaving the city limits, head over to Liberty Park's 80 acres for any number of outdoorsy activities. There's a pond, bike paths, concession stands, rides, picnic areas, playgrounds and tennis and volleyball courts. Liberty Park is also home to an aviary and a greenhouse, both of which recent visitors recommend exploring, as well just simply enjoying the peace and tranquility. They also recommend this park for families, as there are plenty of kid-friendly activities.

    This park sits pretty in central Salt Lake. It's open every day from dawn until dusk, and admission is free (although a small fee is required to use some of the sporting facilities). Liberty also hosts several annual events throughout the year. For more information, check out the park's page on the Salt Lake City website.

  • #4
    Park City
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    #4 in Salt Lake City
    Festivals, Hiking, Skiing, Free
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Festivals, Hiking, Skiing, Free
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Park City was made for powder hounds. Sitting about 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Park City is home to two major alpine ski spots that sprawl across acres upon acres of mountain terrain. Park City Mountain Resort welcomes skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels to traverse groomed trails, powder-filled bowls and terrain parks. And Deer Valley Resort caters exclusively to skiers (snowboarding is prohibited here), offering groomed runs and gladed steeps along with several on-site restaurants. If you're just starting out, all resorts have expert instructors on hand to help you learn the slopes – whether it's through kids ski school, group instruction or private lessons.

    Those who aren't avid skiers can still find things to do. Park City's numerous art galleries and museums will keep visitors entertained. Meanwhile, in the spring and summer, the ski resorts transform their runs into hiking and biking trails, and around town tourists can hit the links at Park City Golf Course or peruse the area's farmers markets.

  • #7
    Salt Lake Temple
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    #7 in Salt Lake City
    Churches/Religious Sites, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Rising a whopping 210 feet over the square, this impressive six-spire structure is the universal icon of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While you are not allowed to enter the church itself, recent visitors said that the beautiful grounds are worth touring.

    Recent visitors agreed this should be your first stop when touring Temple Square, and many noted that the staff at the visitor centers and museum were friendly and knowledgeable.

  • #8
    Salt Lake City Public Library
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    #8 in Salt Lake City
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Whether you like to read or admire beautiful architecture, the stunning and contemporary Salt Lake City Public Library could be worth your while. Located in the downtown area and opened in 2003, the library has more than 500,000 books and plenty of cozy corners ideal for hunkering down with a good story.

    Recent visitors said the architecture alone is reason enough to visit, while others appreciated the friendly staff and on-site cafe. There are also a variety of shops and cafes around Library Square (just outside the library), not to mention a rooftop garden overlooking the surrounding Wasatch Mountains for those who want to read outside.

  • #9
    Family History Library
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    #9 in Salt Lake City
    Museums, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Sitting in Temple Square, the Family History Library houses millions of genealogical records profiling more than three billion deceased people, making it the largest library of its kind in the world. The library was founded in the late 19th century to assist members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints piece together their family history. Today, visitors are welcome to peruse the records – all meticulously preserved – and possibly track down a few ancestors of their own. Reviewers said this is a must-visit place for everyone, and especially genealogy buffs, as the staff are friendly and incredibly helpful and the resources are astounding.

    The Family History Library is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is free. The library recommends that you plan ahead, organizing family information that you already have and determining what you want to find. This will make it easier for the reference consultant to help you with your search. For more information, visit the Family History Library website.

  • #10
    Big Cottonwood Canyon
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    #10 in Salt Lake City
    Hiking, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    About 30 minutes southeast of Salt Lake City, Big Cottonwood Canyon, located in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, is home to two ski resorts and is also a popular hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking area. Even if you don't get out of your car, you can take in the views on a scenic 15-mile byway leading through the canyon, which takes about one hour to complete.

    Recent visitors said it is a beautiful drive. In the mid-1800s, miners sought gold and silver in the canyon and visitors can see the remains of old mines here and there. What's more, Solitude and Brighton ski resorts both offer full-service, year-round facilities. Plus, several hiking trails can be found at Brighton, leading to Twin Lakes, Lake Mary, Lake Martha and Dog Lake.

  • #11
    Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
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    #11 in Salt Lake City
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest boasts 2.1 million acres of Mother Nature. Encompassing seven wilderness districts in total, this national park offers a diverse array of landscapes – ranging from verdant fields to rocky mountainsides – as well as plenty of opportunities to hike, bike and camp.

    Recent visitors raved about the beauty of the area and highly recommend bringing a camera and wearing sturdy walking shoes, as there are plenty of trails you'll want to explore (many vary in length and skill level, so check the website before you go to properly plan ahead). If you don't have time for a hike, consider a scenic drive instead. The 37-mile Mount Nebo Scenic Byway is popular for its stunning views of the Utah and Nephi valleys, especially during the fall when the leaves change.

  • #13 in Salt Lake City
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Clark Planetarium features exhibits on Earth, near Earth and beyond. Here, you can step inside a giant tornado, make a volcano, see a 6-foot Rand McNally Earth Globe, check out one of the largest real moon rocks on public display, and visit the Lunar Lander exhibit to learn more about the forces of gravity, acceleration and inertia. 

    Recent visitors were impressed with all the interactive and high-tech exhibits and highly recommend the planetarium. The Hansen Dome and Northrop Grumman IMAX theaters also offer shows on everything from moon landings to volcanos to cosmic light shows.

  • Utah State Capitol
    View all Photos
    Tours, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Tours, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

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