Salt Lake City offers a unique blend of history, scenery, and modern tourist attractions. Throw away any preconceptions you might have about Utah's capital. This is one of America's finest city break destinations.
If you want to get away from it all, there's no better city to visit. Try out the world-class slopes at ski resorts like Snowbird, take a sailing craft out on the Great Salt Lake or hike to gorgeous mountain spots like Ensign Peak.
Back in town, you can check out historical areas like the Avenues and tour the Mormon Temple before sampling the city's exciting dining culture. With gourmet Asian restaurants like Sushi Groove and old-fashioned steak joints like Shula's 347 Grill, Salt Lake City is a wonderful place to eat.
Catch a Utah Jazz basketball match, try the award-winning local brews at the Red Rock Brewing Company and just take it easy in this welcoming state capital.
Salt Lake City is ringed by mountains, and these mountains are home to exceptional skiing resorts. If you visit in winter, head to resorts like Snowbird, Deer Valley or the Canyons (but check to see whether they allow snowboarding, as not all resorts do).
The mountains around Salt Lake City are a beautiful place to hike and climb during the spring, summer and fall. There are easy trails near the city at spots like Ensign Peak, as well as more challenging trails like Mount Van Cott. Whatever your hiking ability, it's a great place to soak up fresh air and natural beauty.
Salt Lake City is a unique place. After all, not many cities in the United States can claim to have given birth to a major religion. Mormonism dominates the city, with the Temple towering over the Downtown district. If you want to learn about this fascinating group, the Church History Museum near the Temple is the best place to go.
If you love basketball, a trip to the Vivint Smart Home Arena to watch the Utah Jazz is a must, but there's more to Salt Lake City than the NBA. Catch a Major League Soccer game at the Rio Tinto Stadium or head to the Rice–Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah to watch the Utes do battle in NCAA football.
Shoppers will feel right at home in Salt Lake City. There's the city center Gateway District, with its mixture of brand name fashion stores, cinemas and museums, and the massive City Creek Center - the best place to go for stores like Gap, H&M and American Eagle Outfitters.
The Great Salt Lake is enormous, and it's the ideal place to go for a day of peaceful sailing. Head to Jordanelle Rentals to rent a jet ski and power boat, or rent a sailing boat from Lindon Marina. Either way, you'll have plenty of open water to enjoy however you wish.
If you visit during the ski season and feel like sampling some of America's finest slopes, you're in luck! Nearby resorts like Snowbird blend beautiful scenery with excellent accessibility and ski shops. Even if you don't ski, Snowbird is a great place to go, thanks to the breathtaking scenic tram ride to the summit of Hidden Peak.
Why not head to the Vivint Smart Home Arena to watch the Jazz compete in the NBA? Located at 301 S Temple, the arena is easy to reach from all parts of the city and costs around $45 for regular season matches.
If you love shopping for major fashion brands, jewelry, electronics and other consumer goods, the Gateway Mall should definitely be part of your itinerary. You'll find stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, but there's more to do than shop. The Gateway District is also home to the city planetarium and the Children's Museum, which is filled with interactive exhibits aimed solely at kids.
Temple Square is Salt Lake City's premier historic attraction. The home of the Church of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons), Temple Square offers guided tours of the spectacular Temple itself, as well as attractions like the Church History Museum and the Tabernacle, where tourists can often hear organ performances during their tours.
If you want to avoid the crowds, think about visiting Salt Lake City between September and November. Ski season won't have started, and family groups will be scarce, leaving the major attractions free of the throngs. The weather should be fine at that time of year as well, with a September average of almost 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Salt Lake City International Airport is situated around 20 minutes to the west of the city center and has good transport connections to the rest of the city. The best route into town is to take either the light rail or bus connections, both of which cost $2.50. However, be aware that public transit finishes at 11:30 p.m., so if you arrive late a taxi will be necessary. Expect to pay around $20 for a taxi to the city center.
Salt Lake City's Amtrak hub is at 340 S 600 W, and the city is a stop on the California Zephyr service, which runs from San Francisco to Chicago. FrontRunner services also link the city to other towns in Utah, including Provo and Ogden.
Most people who drive to Salt Lake City arrive via I-80, which connects the city to San Francisco in the west, and Chicago, Omaha and New York City to the east. Take I-15 if you are driving from Los Angeles and I-84 from the Pacific Northwest.
Greyhound runs buses into Salt Lake City from most major western cities, and their Downtown stop is at the Amtrak hub (300 South 600 W). TUFESA also runs a bus service from Mexico and cities in the south, including Phoenix.
Popular hotels in the center of town include the Grand America Hotel, the Marriott Downtown at City Creek and the Hotel Monaco, all of which provide comfortable lodgings in convenient locations. If you want something more offbeat, try the boutique rooms of the Peery Hotel (which also offers stunning mountain views). Budget travelers should check out Park City Hostel, which offers dorm beds at bargain prices.
Downtown – Downtown is Salt Lake City's cultural center and includes Temple Square - the home of the Mormon church. More importantly for tourists, it also features the Gateway District, the city's shopping hub and home to attractions like the city planetarium and the Children's Museum of Utah.
Sugar House – One of the oldest parts of town, Sugar House, is home to Westminster College, so it has a large student population. Clustered around Sugar House Park (which hosts frequent fireworks displays), the area has plenty of great bars and restaurants, including the Campfire Lounge and the Sugar House Pub.
The Avenues – Built in the 19th century, the Avenues is Salt Lake City's most attractive historical area. Built in a rigid grid system, the area is full of historical attractions (including the grave of Mormonism's founder Brigham Young) and is also a creative district. There are great places to eat like Avenues Proper, and hip galleries like Williams Fine Art - all overlooked by beautiful mountain scenery.
Salt Lake City has two major public transportation options. The buses are operated by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and offer good coverage during the day. A single fare costs $2.50 and a day pass is $5.50. The TRAX light rail system is also really handy and costs $2.25 for one-way trips and $5.50 for a day pass.
Taxis in Salt Lake City cost $3 as a basic fare and then around $2.80 per mile after that, so they can be an expensive way to get around. Uber is active in the city and offers a chance to get around more cheaply, with a basic fare of $1.90, then $1.48 per mile.
Although the public transit system in Salt Lake City is excellent, having a car is a good option if you want to explore the natural beauty of Utah. Getting around the city is also pretty simple, with a clear inner-city grid layout. There are 30,000 parking spaces in the center of town as well, which should mean finding a spot won't be hard.
Salt Lake City is jammed full of shopping malls, making it one of the West's leading retail destinations. The best place to head for branded goods is the Gateway Mall, built to coincide with the 2002 Winter Olympics and home to stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, PacSun and Barnes & Noble. The City Creek Center features an Apple Store, H&M and Macy's. There are also market squares and streets with a more local feel. Trolley Square is the place to head if you want to shop at independent boutiques.
Stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's have Downtown outlets, but for the cheapest grocery shopping, visitors should look to the suburbs, where you'll find Walmart Supercenters and KMart stores in every district. One of the great things about Salt Lake City is grocery prices. The city is one of the cheapest in the U.S., and you can expect to pay around $1.90 for 12 eggs or $1.45 for a pound of apples.
Utah isn't famous for its distinctive cuisine, but that doesn't mean Salt Lake City is a boring dining destination. Far from it, in fact. There are plenty of fantastic places to eat, from superb Japanese restaurants like Sushi Groove to Vietnamese eateries like the counter diner Oh Mai, and even Nepali places like the Kathmandu. You can grab a gourmet steak at Shula's 347 Grill, snack on delicious tacos from Tres Hombres or enjoy the seafood with a beer at the laid-back Bucket'O'Crawfish restaurant. Expect to pay around $10-15 for a mid-range meal and around $40 for dinner at a high-end restaurant.