Surrounded by mountains on every side, Utah's capital city sprawls across a broad valley that draws visitors looking to play in the great outdoors. Skiing in the nearby Wasatch Range is one of the most popular pastimes. There are eight ski resorts in a 50-mile range of the city, and the area receives nearly 500 inches of snow annually. Several resorts offer access to slopes suitable for skiers of all skill levels during peak season, while summer visitors can still venture to the ski areas for hiking and trail rides.
You’ll also find warm-weather activities just outside the city limits in the 2.1 million acres that comprise the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Or, near the Great Salt Lake—the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere and a remnant of a prehistoric inland lake. For either cold or warm weather, the Crystal Hot Springs offers a relaxing interlude in the only natural hot and cold water springs situated within 50 feet of each other.
Those interested in the origins of the city or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can check out the Church History Museum, home to a large collection of Mormon art and artifacts. If you’re looking to research your own genealogy, visit the Family History Library—which is free to the public—and search through a large database with the help of professional staffers and trained volunteers. Both the museum and the library are adjacent to Temple Square, one of Salt Lake City’s most popular attractions, where tranquil gardens surround the iconic Salt Lake Temple.
Salt Lake City’s road to modernity began with the arrival of the railroad, which was commemorated with the Union Pacific depot. Built in 1909, the inside of the depot pays homage to the beauty of the land with Western-themed murals, bathed in colorful rays of light that pour in from a multitude of stained glass windows.
Of course, Slat Lake City also has a cultural side to complement its natural attractions. The city’s Living Planet Aquarium has three main exhibits: Discover Utah, Ocean Explorer, and Journey to South America, each home to a diverse multitude of species, while Hogle Zoo houses more than 900 animals from around the world inside its sprawling 42-acre complex.
Just outside the city, guests can tour the scene of Salt Lake City’s Olympics while zip lining or bobsledding at Utah Olympic Park. And every January, guests flock to the nearby town of Sundance to watch and promote independent films a festival that’s been running strong ever since Robert Redford founded it in 1981.