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Salt Lake City Things to Do – Attractions & Must See

SmarterTravel

Salt Lake City Things to Do

Salt Lake City thrills visitors with the unique history and range family activities. No trip would be complete without a trip to the nearby state and national parks and outdoor recreation facilities where you can hike, ski, or climb. Salt Lake City is also a popular destination for genealogy and history buffs thanks to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints libraries and resources.

Family History Library

Genealogy and history buffs used the Family History Library to research their roots since 1894. This library is possibly the largest single repository of genealogical records and information in the world.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founded the Family History Library. They felt it was so important that each of their followers knew their family’s history. They wanted also to help others that seek their genealogy.

If you’re new to family history research, there are instructional videos and lots of FHL volunteers willing to help you. If you are planning a trip, be sure to visit the library’s website. If any of your films from the catalog on www.familyhistory.org show up as “VAULT,” you can order those films at your local Family History Center to be sent to the FHL.

The library changes if you make copies using the microfiche machine, however, some visitors save money by photographing the computer screen.

The Family History Library is free and open to the public. Each day around 2,000 patrons visit. You cannot consume food or drink in the library.

Museums

The Natural History Museum has one of the largest collections of dinosaur fossils west of the Mississippi. The exhibition is superb (though not thrilled with the lighting). Several well-known dinosaurs are represented along with several lesser and newer known species. There are also mammal fossils and comprehensive exhibitions on Native American cultures, Zoology and Ecology and Life Science. The museum has a café and a gift shop and also features periodic special exhibitions.

The Pioneer Memorial Museum houses an amazing 4 floors of exhibitions detailing the story of the pioneers from the early 1840s onwards. What there is to see is staggering. Dozens of photographs, hundreds if not thousands of items of every description imaginable. The basement level even houses a carriage collection which includes Brigham Young’s original wagon used on the Mormon Trail.

The Zoo, Red Butte, Children’s Museum is a great family day out. Hogle Zoo is a small but quite modern zoo featuring animals in natural settings.

Red Butte Gardens is run by the University of Utah. It offers a gorgeous display of indigenous plants and great views of the city.

Temple Square & Joseph Smith Building

Surrounding the Salt Lake Temple is 10-acre Temple Square which houses the temple along with the Mormon Tabernacle, the Assembly, and beautiful gardens. The temple was completed in 1893 after 40 years of construction.

When you visit Temple Square, you access to two visitor centers. If the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints interests you then you will; not want to miss this attraction. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and maintained, and the buildings have rich architectural and religious history.

Note: There are no food concessions on Temple Square. There is a cafeteria type cafe in the Joseph Smith Building. Visitors should be prepared, however, for the fact that non-LDS members may not enter The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ temples.

Winter Sports

Rent a snowmobile to enjoy the beautiful scenery and a winter adventure.

Dubbed as “The Greatest Snow on Earth,” skiing in Utah does not disappoint. Many resorts are within an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City hosted Olympic competitions in 2002. Deer Valley, Park City, Snowbird are some examples. Many love the powdered snow for either downhill or cross country skiing.

State & National Parks

The Timpanogos National Park is a mere 1/2 hour outside of Salt Lake City. Hiking, camping, and climbing are just a few of the popular activities in this park. One popular attraction is a tour of the Timpanogos Caves. During summer, be sure to arrive early and book your tour since only limited numbers can enter the cave. The climb to the cave is quite challenging due to it being 1hr uphill at high altitude, but the rewards are spectacular.

Arches National Park is another popular attraction, especially in the winter. Visitors love the sight of the amazing mountains, shapes, and rocks. The contrast of the red-sand and red-rocks with the snow is superb!

The Antelope Island State Park is just outside of Salt Lake City. This park attracts outdoor enthusiasts with trails for hikers and bicyclists. It is also home to wildlife including herds of Bison, Pronghorn, Mule Deer and Coyote. It is a popular stop for migratory birds. Birdwatchers enjoy it especially in the spring and fall.

The Great Salt Lake

No guide to Salt Lake City is complete without mentioning the Great Salt Lake! Just a short drive from town is America’s largest saltwater lake. It is the result of an inland sea that once covered most of the area.

Visitors marvel at how easily they float. Some describe it as “floating like a cork” because of the salt waters. The other thing that visitors notice is the distinctive smell.

If you swim in the lake, you may also want to visit the Antelope Island camp facilities. They have picnic tables, restrooms, and showers.

The salinity of the water averages about 12%, making it much saltier than the ocean.

A little-known fact about the lake is that during the 1950s the harvesting of brine shrimp out of the lake started. Brine shrimp live in hypersaline lakes (salt content may be 25%) where there is a lot of algae to eat and not many other animals to eat them. Brine shrimp are often sold as “Sea Monkeys.”

Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about attractions and activities in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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