Guest Post by Jamilyn (Jamie for short) of Sidekick Mama
Jamilyn is an elementary school teacher, mother, and blogger from Utah. “I truly enjoy exploring the mommy-verse to discover the simplest and most cost-effective ways to CRUSH motherhood every day. I’m not a fan of letting life just happen, so I’d rather make every day an adventure, no matter the challenge or boredom that life brings. I love staying active, trying new things, organizing my thoughts for my viewers and followers, and of course, connecting with great people like you.” Be sure to visit me her at Sidekick Mama .
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If you are tired of feeling cooped up in the mundane living of Salt Lake City, or if you are planning visiting Salt Lake City soon, you gotta check out this out. Salt Lake is actually FULL of fun things to do, but sometimes it just takes someone on the inside to help bring them to light. There are far more than 10 things to do here, but these are absolutely the best.
Temple Square is gorgeous and mystifying. Located at the center of Temple Square, and the most beautiful astonishing centerpiece in all of Utah, sits the Salt Lake Temple. This must-see Salt Lake City attraction was built in 1893 and it took almost 40 to complete. Around the courtyard, you will find a number of accompanying buildings, all dedicated to showing the masterful design of the temple, the kind of people who played an instrumental role in its construction, and their unshakable faith to carry on despite multiple setbacks and hardships.
The temple serves as a beacon for those of the Latter-Day Saint community, and to all those who gaze upon its beauty, that we are all part of a greater plan.
The Tabernacle, recently re-constructed, holds an enormous pipe organ that is used frequently for concerts and plays and is usually open to visitors. Be sure to find the Visitor Center and traverse up to the second floor to see the amazing marble Christus sculpture. And just outside the eastern wall, be sure to check out the reflection pool, which simulates a view into eternity.
If you are starving for more by the time you leave, immediately to the west of Temple Square is the Church History Museum, packed with everything you’ll want to know about the Mormon culture. And within a stone’s throw of the museum is the massive LDS Conference Center. You’ll need tickets to an event to get inside, but it is still a spectacle from the outside.
City Creek Mall / Gateway Mall
Just down the street from Temple Square (south side), and definitely within walking distance, you MUST check out the City Creek Mall. As you meander through the lively stores, you’ll notice an actual creek runs right through the center of the walkway…with actual fish. You’ll find a food court, a huge fountain that shoots bursts of fire into the air periodically, and of course, things that make you go, “whoa.”
The mall uniquely spans over Main Street, and during the summer time, the roof overhead is retractable, just for an extra level of awesome. The food court serves decent food, but you’ll want to check out the other awesome restaurants scattered throughout the rest of the city.
And I can’t forget to mention the Gateway. Still in the heart of Salt Lake City, and a few blocks down the road from City Creek Mall, sits a splendid stretch of amusing stores and inviting atmosphere of the Gateway. Get your game on at the arcade, snag some grub, or pop in to see one of the latest movies on the big screen; you’ll have plenty of options to keep you busy.
I should mention though, parking is very hard to find in Salt Lake. The best thing to do is park under the Conference Center or City Creek. They have the lowest prices, and most places can validate your parking.
My husband is a space nerd, so this is one of his favorite places to go. But honestly, even for the non-space nerds, the Clark Planetarium is a must-see Salt Lake City attraction that will blow your mind. The exhibits are always changing, so you will never know what to expect when you walk in. Last time, we walked on pseudo-Mars, created and walked through a live tornado, and held some of the most mysterious meteorite discoveries in this century…and that was just in the first 10 minutes.
Admission is free, but if you want something a little flashier, the Clark Planetarium offers a number of laser light shows and interactive learning modules on their IMAX screen for a small fee. You can’t go wrong either way. Before you leave, you need to check out their gift shop on the main level. I promise you will say the words, “what the heck” at least a few times while you wander through their science smorgasbord. Good times all around.
Not really a “peak,” but despite it being called something it isn’t, this is one of my favorite places to go. At the top, you will be able to see the WHOLE Salt Lake valley…but there is a catch…you will need to hike to get there. From a distance, it seems like a simple hike, but once you start chugging along, your buns will start burning. But the pain and sweat is worth the reward in the end.
The hike is just one mile round trip, but it gains nearly 400 feet of elevation from the trailhead to the summit. It can be dusty and slippery, and depending on the season, it could even be a little muddy, so be sure to wear a pair of shoes with some tread to battle the inclines. Overall, it takes just about 20 minutes to ascend, and about half that on the way back. All worth it.
Once you have arrived at the top, you will be able to see beautiful Salt Lake City below, as well the major highway that connects to every other big city in the valley. Be sure to look to the west for an awesome view of the distant Great Salt Lake. So if you’re willing to get your sweat on, you won’t regret it.
Utah State Capitol Building
To the north side of Temple Square, you can travel up a steep road to visit Utah’s capitol building. This thing is a mammoth of a structure. You can have fun roaming around the perimeter or scaling the massive steps to the doors. Before you leave the capitol, check out the gulley to the east. You can descend into a large historic graveyard with hundreds of graves and stories to read. But, it is really spooky for me, so enter at your own risk.
Scattered throughout the city, there are hundreds of public-use electric scooters for the taking to help people get around. When we are roaming around the downtown area, my husband and I like to jump on a scooter and ride to and from the capitol building. It beats trying to find parking again, and it’s way more fun.
The Hogle Zoo rivals some of the best zoos in the US, and it is one of the most-visited and must-see Salt Lake City attraction in Utah for a good reason. Located right at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, the Hogle Zoo is a 42-acre animal haven that is home to over 800 animals. Be sure to bring a water bottle and good pair of walking shoes, because you WILL need them.
Elephants, tigers, giraffes, and rhinos are just the beginning. You’ll wander into the African Savanna, the Asian Highlands, and even the icy Arctic. The zoo was ingeniously constructed to match the individual habitats of the animal or creature in each enclosure, so keep an eye out for the amazing imagination around you. Don’t forget to jump on the Zoofari Express for an all-inclusive behind the scenes tour of the whole park.
Tickets can be a little pricy, so be sure to check out their website for any updates on the cost per person.
This is the Place Heritage Park
Just across the street from the Hogle Zoo sits this delightful wonder. Along the east side of Emigration Canyon, a collection of more than 50 historic homes and buildings are brought to life. The village and monument mark the end of the 1,300-mile Mormon trail, which early Latter-Day Saints, also called “pioneers,” treacherously traveled to get to Utah, “the promised land.”
You will be transported back to the mid-1800s by this historic display of Utah’s history. You’ll be able to engage with and learn from leatherworkers, woodworkers, blacksmiths, and even spinsters as they exhibit their craft that was so essential for the advancement and preservation of their community. Wander through the old-timey environment, try some of their hand-made candies or sweets, and take part in their festive celebrations of every season.
Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
Don’t be deceived by its name, because the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium is far more than just a glorified fish tank. Yes, they have hundreds of fancy and energetic aquatic creatures, but they also have a myriad of species that live on land as well. You’ll get the obvious shark, octopus, and giant fish, but you’ll also get otters, lizards, and even birds which makes it a must-see Salt Lake City attraction.
The atmosphere is like nothing else. Artistry is on full display with each enclosure as you get lost learning about the life and behaviors of each playful animal. The aquarium looks small from the outside, but once you walk in, you’ll realize just how massive this world is.
Tickets are a bit expensive, so be sure to commit before making the drive. You will most likely be able to see everything you want, but there is usually a massive influx of people on the weekends and afternoons. Go in the morning, if possible, to beat the crowd.
Tracy Aviary / Liberty Park
Right in the heart of Liberty Park, and in the midst of one of Salt Lake’s most expansive parks, you’ll find the Tracy Aviary. It is an 8-acre sanctuary for over 400 birds and 135 different species. There is an entrance fee, but once you get inside, you’ll quickly see what luxury bird living is all about.
From pelicans, to condors, to eagles, to an entire exhibit dedicated to the multiple species of owls in the world, you will get an eyeful of the most beautiful and most peculiar birds out there. The walkways and exhibits are very open and inviting, and I guarantee you will learn something new about a bird you never knew existed! The one downfall is the birdy odor that punches you in the face once you walk through the doors, but you will get used to it after you walk around a bit.
After you are done at the aviary, find a path to walk around the park a bit if you aren’t too exhausted. Liberty Park is HUGE. Enormous trees that overhang seemingly endless fields of lush grass, shady side-trails for the adventurous ones, and if you have roller blades or a bike, this is the perfect place to do some riding. They have a few sand volleyball courts as well, if that suits your fancy.
Last, but definitely no least, is Daybreak. There is no specific building, park, or area that I would point you to because I LOVE the whole thing. Located in South Jordan, there is a little bit of heaven found that transcends every-day living. The very first things you’ll notice are the uniquely-themed Victorian-styled homes in every direction, and the open, inviting feeling may just make you want to move in indefinitely.
Daybreak Lake sits in its glory at the center and is adorned by massive, gorgeous homes around the perimeter. Be sure to find Soda Row during your excursion, where you can get some tasty food, sit back, and soak it all in.
You won’t be able to drive through Daybreak without running into an exclusive community park or playground, each more different than the last. No park is worth seeing without getting out and playing yourself. You are never too old to play, and Daybreak gives you the perfect excuse to tap into that inner child.
Salt Lake City is gorgeous, and these are just a FEW, must-see attractions that will make you fall in the love with life and culture all around. If you are looking for something to do in Salt Lake, or you are planning on visiting in the near future, feel free to reach out to me for even MORE ideas.