Salt Lake City is a beautiful city, but often forgotten when it comes to vacation destinations. I decided to spend a trip (my very first solo trip) in downtown SLC for three days. Here are my favorite things to do in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Click the links below to skip to any of the following sections:
Walk Around Downtown SLC
City Creek Center
Utah Capitol Building
Bar X & Beer Bar
Walk Around Downtown
Salt Lake City, although not an ancient city, is still a vibrant city with plenty of history. While you’re visiting SLC, take some time to walk around the downtown area. There is a lot of architecture, culture, and history to see while you are there — as well as food!
The SLC City Library is a beautiful architectural building that is worth spending at least a few minutes exploring.
The original Salt Lake City Public Library was originally located in the Salt Lake City & County Building, beginning in 1898. It was then moved to downtown Salt Lake in 1900, a building which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On the 100th anniversary of the original building, plans to build a new library were approved and the new library was opened in 2003. The Salt Lake City main library is 240,000 square feet and five stories high. There are also a number of shops, the Leonardo Museum, a community writing center, and radio station KCPW-FM.
If you’re not local to Salt Lake, you may not have a reason to check out any books while you are there — but stopping by the beautiful building is well worth a visit.
The Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City is a science and art museum that originally opened in 2011. The museum has rotating exhibits as well as installed art exhibitions, as well as youth and family programs year-round.
The Leonardo is one of the coolest things to do in Salt Lake City and is something you should definitely have on your list when visiting SLC.
City Creek Center
City Creek Center is on pretty much all the lists of things to do in Salt Lake City, especially downtown SLC, but I found it pretty underwhelming. It really is just a mall, like any other mall across the country. It is a beautiful site and take up a large chunk of land in downtown Salt Lake, but many of the stores are chains that you can find pretty much anywhere. It is also an outdoor mall, so just remember if the weather is bad (or it’s cold) you will be outside the majority of the time.
There are some yummy restaurants within the City Creek Center, and if you find yourself downtown and need some new shoes or other type of clothing, it is pretty convenient if you are visiting downtown Salt Lake City.
Trolley Square was one of my very favorite things I visited while in Salt Lake. It is also pretty much just a mall, but the history and the building itself made it completely worth a visit.
Trolley Square was built in 1908 to house Salt Lake City’s streetcars. The streetcar system was dismantled in 1945, and the building sat empty until 1972 when it was turned into a shopping center. It is considered one of the most haunted places in Salt Lake City, which is one of the reasons I really wanted to visit.
There is also a water tower in Trolley Square, which is supposedly one of the most haunted places, and if you reach out in advance, you may be able to take a tour. While I was there, I stopped into the actual trolley sitting out front, which is now a (delicious) chicken wing restaurant.
Utah Capitol Building
While in Salt Lake City, I really wanted to visit the Utah Capitol Building. I have found that capitol buildings, in any state, tell you a lot about where the state came from and what is important to them.
The Utah State Capitol Building overlooks downtown Salt Lake, and has one of the best views of town. It was built between 1912 and 1916, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It was renovated beginning in 2004, and you can see the beautiful mix of history and architecture by visiting (it is always free and open to the public).
While I was visiting, there was an event there, which made parking interesting (and I did *not* want to walk up that hill), but it was still open to visit.
Bar X & Beer Bar
If you’re looking for a place to get a drink, Bar X & Beer Bar are some of the best places to go in Salt Lake City. The two bars are connected, and like it sounds, one has cocktails and one has beer.
There are a couple of reasons to visit these bars. The first is their history: Bar X opened at the end of Prohibition in the United States, in 1933. It has a speakeasy feel and I chose to visit Bar X instead of Beer Bar while I was there (even though I far prefer beer to cocktails).
The second reason to visit Bar X & Beer Bar in Salt Lake is because it is owned by Ty Burrell, who plays Phil Dunphy on Modern Family. The Salt Lake resident and his wife bought the bars and turned them into the great locations they are today. I have heard plenty of stories about them stopping by, but they did not while I was there.
Whether or not you are LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), stopping by Temple Square while you are visiting Salt Lake City is definitely a must. Temple Square takes up a large part of downtown Salt Lake City, and includes the Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake Tabernacle, Salt Lake Assembly Hall, the Seagull Monument, and two visitor centers.
When Mormons arrived in Utah in 1864, Brigham Young chose a piece of land and designated it as theirs, and they began to build. Temple Square is considered the headquarters of the Mormon Church.
In 1964, the square was added as a National Historic Landmark District.
I wanted to visit Temple Square because of its historical significance, but also mostly because of the buildings. The main temple is a beautiful site (you cannot go inside if you are not LDS, but it’s still beautiful to view from the outside), although it will be under construction for the new few years.
There are so many things to do when visiting Salt Lake City, especially if you are staying downtown (and even if you do not have a car). If you have any other thoughts or questions, please leave them below.