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In Salt Lake City, there are so many things to do, the difficult part is narrowing down your options. The surrounding area is considered an outdoor lovers’ paradise, and in town you’ll discover a host of cultural attractions. You might want to start by taking a guided bicycle tour or a carriage ride to get the layout of the land, and then take part in some of these top things to do.
Temple Square covers more than 10 acres, with multiple attractions of its own in a three-block plaza that are related to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its primary focus, however, is Salt Lake Temple, considered a holy spot by Mormons. Other sites include the Mormon Tabernacle, the Temple Annex, and the Assembly Hall along with a number of monuments and memorials, and an information center where you can learn more about Mormonism. The best way to experience it is to take a guided tour given by knowledgeable docents daily.
Located in Temple Square, the Family History Library is one of the most popular attractions in the city for Mormons and non-Mormons alike. It hosts millions of genealogical records as the world’s largest library of its kind in the world. Founded in the late 19th-century to assist Mormon Church members in piecing together their family history, today visitors of any faith can peruse the meticulously preserved records for the chance to track down their ancestors.
The 1,700-square-mile Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River. Its name comes from the nature of the water as the evaporation process leaves behind salty mineral deposits. Both locals and visitors alike come to hike the picturesque trails, picnic and enjoy all types of fishing and boating opportunities on the lake’s turquoise waters. The white sand beaches are popular for swimming and sunbathing, while Antelope Island is especially popular for mountain biking and hiking. It’s also a good place to spot wildlife like bison too.
Located near the University of Utah campus, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts is home to over 17,000 artifacts from around the world, with a permanent collection that includes Italian Renaissance paintings, Greek and Egyptian antiquities, early 20th-century photography and more. It also features a range of notable traveling displays focusing on everything from early scientific discoveries to contemporary art.
The Rio Tinto Center, a 163,000-square-foot architectural wonder that forms a multi-story indoor canyon in the foothills of the Wasatch Range, houses the Natural History Museum of Utah. It’s filled with cool interactive exhibits that showcase both indigenous peoples’ cultures and natural history. The Past Worlds paleontological displays are particularly impressive offering a unique and stunning perspective from beneath, next to and above an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils. The state is considered to be one of the richest areas in the world for dinosaur-fossil discovery, with its exhibits of those skeletal giant creatures from the past making it a must to experience.
Listening to the incredible sounds of the world-renowned Tabernacle Choir is an absolute must while you’re here as you’ll get to enjoy a breathtaking performance of one of the most celebrated choirs in history. Formed by 360 volunteers, the choir has performed all over the world, including the inaugurations of six U.S. presidents and has been honored with countless awards.
Set within the Gateway District, Clark Planetarium offers the chance to take a tour of the night’s dark skies. You’ll be welcomed by the hall of educational and interactive exhibits, which provide information on the solar system, space exploration, and planet Earth, though the highlight is the Hansen Dome Theater which has a dome under which you can view a simulation of the galaxy, along with an IMAX theater that shows three dimensional films related to space. It illustrates all types of space-related topics, like space travel, astronauts and black holes. Music coordinated light shows are offered here as well.
The State Capitol is the symbol of the state of Utah and sits 300 feet above the rest of the city, making it easily seen from multiple viewpoints. The Neo-Classical style building is topped with a dome, while the interior is furnished with marble. The Capitol Docent team provides daily tours, highlighting interesting facts about the history of the building and the state. You can visit a number of rooms, like the Golden Room which is also the Governor’s reception room, as well as a gallery showcasing rotating exhibitions with collections related to Utah.
The largest park in the Salt Lake City area, Liberty Park is sprawled across 80 acres and is renowned for its gorgeous scenery that includes lush greenery, flowers and shady trees. It offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, including hiking and biking, as well as swimming in the pool and playing basketball or volleyball on the courts. For bird lovers, it’s definitely a must-visit, housing the Tracy Aviary which features a wide range of birds that visitors from North America and beyond. Established back in the 1930s, it’s also one of the world’s oldest aviaries.
Hogle Zoo is one of the city’s top attractions, situated at the base of the Wasatch Mountains in Emigration Canyon. It’s especially notable for its collection of various ecosystems, separated into different sections that feature animals from across the globe. The elephant encounter is popular as a fascinating exhibit that includes African elephants and white rhino in a number of different environments, while the Asian highlands exhibit boasts Amur tigers and leopards, the Siberian lynx, snow leopards and more. Rocky Shores is home to grizzly and polar bears, sea lions and harbor seals, while the African Savannah exhibit hosts African lions and zebras, with the giraffes located in a separate area where guests can feed them.