This global city and capital of Utah was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young and originally named Great Salt Lake City. The city is modern and vibrant and noted in 2014 as the most populated municipality in the U.S. From its snow-capped mountain peaks to the depths of the Great Salt Lake, there’s plenty to do and discover.

Things to Do in Salt Lake City

Morning: Breakfast

Start the day with a hearty breakfast to provide fuel for your body for all the sightseeing you’ll be doing while visiting Salt Lake City. If it’s something from the oven you’d like to start with, then stop by Gourmandise The Bakery. The French-inspired bakery has an abundance of decadent pastries, fresh-brewed Columbian coffee, and luscious fruit tarts. They’re also open for lunch with, what else, French soup and unbelievably delicious blueberry grilled cheese sandwiches.

At the Pig & a Jelly Jar, choose delightful breakfast items such as ham hash, veggie egg scramble, chicken and waffles, and biscuits and gravy. It’s a cozy restaurant where you can dine inside or eat on the patio. Penny Ann’s Cafe is a small and friendly eatery that serves breakfast just the way you like it, with items such as waffles filled with chicken or bacon, stuffed breakfast burritos, and specialty heavenly hotcakes.

If Lemon Pound Cake French Toast sounds like your kind of breakfast, then head to the Hub & Spoke Diner for a casual yet innovative meal. Other menu delights include pecan waffles, sour cream flapjacks, turkey hash, southern skillet, crab salad eggs Benedict, country fried steak and eggs, and mouth-watering cheddar biscuits and gravy.

At the Original Pancake House, you’ll find just about any type of pancake available on their menu. Enjoy an order of pancakes along with a side of homemade corned beef hash, fluffy omelettes, or breakfast burritos. Say “oui, oui” when asked if you’d like something delectable from the case of pastries at Tulie Bakery. From fresh fruit tarts to rich chocolate Bouchon, one of their fresh creations is the perfect way to start the day.

Downtown Salt Lake City.

Mid-Morning: It’s Time to See the Sights

Take time in the morning when the day is just beginning to tour the hiking and biking trails in and around the city. In the city, there’s City Creek, Desolation Lake Mountain Bike Ride, Donut Falls, Dog Lake Mountain Bike Ride, Elbow Fork to Terrace Picnic Area, Ensign Drive, and Emigration Canyon Road Cycling. A few minutes outside of the city, enjoy scenic views and vistas along the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail, Corner Canyon Trail System, Big Mountain Trail Mountain Bike Ride, Cecret Lake Trail Hike, and Bell’s Canyon Trail Hike.

For families, there’s plenty of activities and attractions for kids to enjoy starting with Discovery Gateway: The Children’s Museum of Utah and the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium located 22 minutes away in Draper with its five galleries dedicated to multiple species, rainforests, oceans, and a 300,000-gallon shark tank. View the majesty of assorted wildlife at Hogle Zoo at the 4.5-acre African Savanna where kids and adults can see giraffes, zebra, ostriches, and lions in their own floor-to-ceiling habitat.

If you’ve had enough sightseeing for the day and would like to unwind with a little exercise on the greens, tee up at Bonneville Golf Course. The 18-hole course is just a short 6 miles from downtown and offers scenic mountain views, rental carts, and a driving range. After a round, stop by the cafe for a light snack before heading to lunch at one of Utah’s delicious restaurants.

For travelers to Salt Lake, also referred to as Ski City during the winter, strap on your skies and swish down a mountainside at one of four resorts. Each is about a 30-minute drive from the city and easily accessible via the public transit city. Choose Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, or Solitude. Enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding with terrain suitable for novice, beginner, intermediate, and seasoned skiers.

Noon: Food for the Hungry Traveler

From light and casual fare to quick bites and full-on main courses, you’ll find a diverse selection of palate-pleasing menus throughout the city. If barbecue is your first choice in deliciousness, family owned R & R BBQ will have your mouth watering just from the aromas wafting through the dining room from the kitchen. Select a plump and juicy barbecue sandwich or go all out with an order of ribs with a side of hush puppies.

A traditional burger will never let you down and at Hires Big H; you’re guaranteed a classic sandwich made with the freshest meat and topped with crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, a slice of cheese, and fry sauce. It just doesn’t get any better than that. A slice of pizza is good no matter if it’s morning, noon, or night. Order your favorite pie at family owned Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana where traditionally made pizzas, like the Margherita or the Diavola, will make you think you’re in Italy

Mexican cuisine will tantalize your taste buds at Red Iguana 1 or Red Iguana 2. This is Mexican fare at its finest, from burritos and chimichangas to tostadas and tacos. Try any one of their classics such as the Puntas de Filete a La Nortena featuring sirloin tips with bacon, onions, jalapeno, and tomatoes atop scrumptious almond mole. For seafood lovers, the Camarones Sonora are garlic and butter with lemon sauteed tiger prawns served with Mexican white rice or choose Ramon’s Famous Fish Tacos prepared with grilled Mahi. Wash it down with an ice-cold cerveza or shot of tequila.

The City Library in Salt Lake City.

Afternoon: More Points of Interest

Exquisite gardens, exotic wildlife, colorful birds, and historic homes are just a few of the places to add to your afternoon itinerary. Take a leisurely stroll after lunch at one of Utah’s beautiful and serene gardens which include Thanksgiving Point, Red Butte Garden, Gilgal Sculpture Garden, and the International Peace Gardens. At Tracy Aviary, see an estimated 135 bird species with more than 400 birds in residence in a natural woodland habitat.

Step back to a time in the past at the Wheeler Historic Farm listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tour the working farm and museum, take a cow train or wagon ride and visit the Rosebud Country Store for souvenirs. Experience life as it was in 1847 in the Deuel Pioneer Log Home. The original cabin has been completely renovated and refurbished. Inside, you’ll see authentic artifacts of the pioneer life.

Museums offer a glimpse into history and art, and in Salt Lake, you have two exceptional places to explore at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Natural History Museum of Utah at the Rio Tinto Center. At This Is The Place Heritage Park, live the life of a pioneer. See blacksmiths and tinsmiths at work, folks spinning and weaving, take a train or pony ride, and maybe get lucky panning for gold.

Three areas you won’t want to miss while visiting the city are the 10-acre Temple Square, which serves as the headquarters for the Mormon Church, the 19th-century Temple, Assembly Hall, the Utah State Capitol, and The Tabernacle where the world-renowned Tabernacle Choir performs. Each is a splendid example of detailed architecture.

Late Afternoon: Shopping

A great way to end the day is visiting shops, boutiques, and specialty stores for that little something special, whether it’s for yourself or a gift for a friend. Salt Lake City has more than a few shopping destinations such as City Creek with its 110 retailers and a variety of restaurants. If you forgot to pack a certain item for your flight, the center is only a 10-minute drive from Salt Lake City International Airport.

City Creek Center is also a great place to dine after a day of shopping. Satisfy your appetite with a sandwich from Subway, McDonalds, Chick-fil-A, or Johnny Rockets. Have a full meal at the BRIO Tuscan Grille, authentic Chinese at Chang Chun, gourmet creations at the Blue Lemon, or made-to-order dishes at Osaka Japan. The Cheesecake Factory has the best of both worlds with over 200 menu items and more than 50 decadent varieties of cheesecake.

Historic Trolley Square is at the heart of Salt Lake City. The old square has been a hub for retailers since 1908. It is a city icon with its historic water tower, which you can tour. Stroll the city sidewalks and discover a bevy of specialty shops, cafe, theaters, restaurants, wine bar, jewelers, coffee shop, galleries, and more.

The Gateway is an open-air shopping destination with over 50 stores, shops, and boutiques covering everything from apparel to sporting goods, and over 20 dining venues. After shopping or dining, relax beside the beautiful fountains just outside the entrance.

Inside the State Capital.

Dinnertime: It’s Time for a Feeding Frenzy

Dinnertime is the right time to experience and savor the flavors of authentic Italian fare at Valter’s Osteria. Rated #1 by TripAdvisor, enjoy a traditional Tuscan menu with traditional entrees such as lasagna, ravioli, spaghetti, risotto, and homemade gnocchi. Savor the delectable flavors of their specialty dishes such as fettuccini gorgonzola, salmon fillet, scaloppini with white truffle fondue, or crusted duck breast with fresh pears and plums and truffle pate.

The Roof Restaurant is a gourmet delight. Located in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on the 10th floor, you’ll please your palate on a sumptuous buffet while looking at views of Temple Square. Nominated for the 2018 World Luxury Restaurant Awards, this upscale eatery offers a buffet with selections of both American and International cuisine prepared daily. A few of their items include prime rib, cold poached salmon, imported and domestic cheese selections, gourmet salads, pasta, and chilled shrimp. The restaurant is open for dinner Monday through Saturday starting at 5 p.m. Make reservations using OpenTable’s website or app.

Takashi takes sushi to another level of excellence with exceptional flavors and beautiful presentation. The award-winning restaurant is known for its generous portions of incredibly delicious sushi and specialty rolls and an extensive sake selection.

Nighttime: Things to Do Once the Sun Goes Down

Cultural enthusiasts will enjoy the performances of the Ballet West Company at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre and the robust schedule throughout the season of The Utah Symphony with performances at Abravanel Hall. You’ll be seeing stars at Clark Planetarium or you can check them out from the rooftop of the SLC library, or by booking a star-filled canyon tour. Get up close to the city and party with food and drink with a custom Salt Lake City trolley tour, and if you didn’t get enough hiking time, evening hikes to Ensign Peak will pique your interest.

Make plans for year-round events such as the World of Speed racing event at the Bonneville Salt Flats in October. Fall also has Antelope Island hosting the annual bison roundup, Oktoberfest and the start of the Jazz SLC festival. Spring heralds in the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival, and during the summer, enjoy the Utah Arts Festival, Utah Blues Festival, Sugar House Arts Fest, and the annual Antelope By Moonlight Bike Ride. Winter highlights the Christkindlmarkt German Christmas market and the annual Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert.

Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

After Hours: Entertainment Venues for Adults

Bars are plentiful in SLC each with its own atmosphere, choice of beverages, and entertainment. Take your pick from local favorites like Elevate. The 3-level club has two dance floors, DJs spinning music, tables, booths, food, and an assortment of cocktails at several bars located throughout the club. Keys on Main has a light food menu, full beverage menu, and dueling piano shows.

At SKY Nightclub, it’s party time Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights with a line-up of musical events that pound out the sounds throughout the 3-floor space featuring a retractable glass roof, mega sound system, and a 300-inch video screen. The State Room will keep you entertained through the night with its calendar of live shows featuring a variety of performers and their unique music.

Where to Stay in Salt Lake City

Pick your pleasure when selecting comfortable, convenient, and quality rooms at reasonable prices at Salt Lake City hotels.

The convenience of the 24/7 airport shuttle is readily available at Ramada Salt Lake City Airport along with fine dining, Wi-Fi, and a seasonal pool. For those on the go, breakfast is served at Super 8 Salt Lake City Airport and La Quinta Inn & Suites Salt Lake City Airport. La Quinta also provides a free area shuttle.

For extended stays in the heart of the city, consider Homewood Suites Salt Lake City – Downtown or a vibrant room or suite at Courtyard by Marriott Salt Lake City Downtown. For the budget-minded, Motel 6 is within walking distance of a light rail station and just minutes from the airport. The motel features a laundry service and outdoor pool.

The Wasatch Mountains.

Salt Lake City Airport Guide

Salt Lake City International Airport

Many airlines fly into and out of Salt Lake City International Airport including Delta, United, Frontier Airlines, Southwest, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, KLM, SkyWest, American Airlines, and it also serves chartered flights. The airport has two terminals and five concourses.

Services

Salt Lake City International focuses on passenger comfort and convenience by providing a list of services. For money services, there are on-site ATM machines and a foreign currency exchange. For business or personal use, the airport has courier service, mail facilities, paging, fax machines, telephones, and translation services. Passengers can stay connected using the power outlets to charge their devices and accessing complimentary Wi-Fi. Luggage carts, shoe shine services, information desks, infant care rooms, animal relief stations, and designated smoking areas are also available.

Dining

The airport offers a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, juice bars, markets, and delis. Savor the flavor of different countries at restaurants such as Greek Souvlaki, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Cafe Rio, Manchu Wok, Il Viaggio, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Smashburger, Market Street Grill, and more.

For a quick bite to go, visit McDonalds, Wendy’s, Boar’s Head Deli, or Salt Lake City Pizza & Pasta. For the sweet tooth, stop by the French Meadow Bakery or Krispy Kreme. To quench your thirst, there’s Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Jamba Juice, Airport Pub, Vino Volo Ale House, Gordon Biersch Brewery, and High West Distillery.

Shopping

Whether you want to keep up with the news once you’ve arrived, grab a book or newspaper for the flight, purchase a souvenir, pick up a toy or T-shirt, or extra travel gear, there is an assortment of retail venues at the airport. A few of the shops include Carry On By Brookstone, KidZoo, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Sunset News, apparel at Radio Road, Simply Books, and XpresSpa for a spa treatment, products, and accessories.

Transportation

Ground transportation services are available. Passengers can opt for traditional services such as limousines and hotel shuttles, or use Uber or Lyft. Hotel transportation can be arranged at both airport terminals. In the baggage claim area, shuttle and limousine service can make transportation arrangements.

On-site car rental companies include Alamo, Thrifty, Avis, Payless, Budget, National, Dollar, Hertz, Enterprise, and Firefly. Off-airport car rentals are available at Rugged Rental, ACE Rent-A-Car, Fox Rent-A-Car, Affordable, and Advantage. These include airport shuttle service.

Public transportation from the airport is also available via the Utah Transit Authority. Passengers will use the TRAX/light rail green line, which departs from the airport about every 15 to 20 minutes.

Salt Lake City offers well-rounded opportunities for all ages to experience its entertainment, culture, cuisine, architecture, shopping venues, and the diverse landscape of this bustling city.