On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young—then-president of the early Mormon church—stopped with his followers at the Salt Lake Valley and said, "This is the right place, drive on.” With that, Utah’s capital city and cultural hub was born. Surrounded by dramatically high mountains on every side, SLC’s natural beauty took center stage in 2002 when it was the site of the Winter Olympics. And while there’s fantastic skiing in its nearby mountain towns, the area is an outdoors destination in all four seasons.
Know Before You Go
- It’s easy to get around: Salt Lake City was laid out on a grid system; nearly all streets run north-south or east-west, with Temple Square right in the center.
- Bring or rent a bike: The city’s flat streets and oversized sidewalks make it great for biking. GREENbike, the city’s bike-sharing system, has stations all around busy parts of town.
- Urban myths: Though the city has a reputation for being ultra-conservative—in the Mormon faith, believers are called to abstain from alcohol and caffeine—there are still many bars in the area (closing time is 1 a.m.). Coffee shops abound, too.
Essential Salt Lake City
- Temple Square: Set in the heart of Salt Lake City and the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The square comprises an ornate temple with a visitors center, museums, and elaborate gardens.
- Family History Library: The largest genealogical library in the world. You can trace your family’s beginnings with the help of a research assistant at no charge (closed on Sundays).
Great Salt Lake: The largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, covering almost 1,700 square miles. Visitors can go boating and swimming in its warm, shallow waters, but beware—the lake is prone to stormy weather that arrives without warning.
Mountain adventures: Skiing and snowboarding are popular in the many mountain towns in the area; Park City, site of the 2002 Winter Olympics, is one of the best places for it in the United States. Come summertime, many resorts hold concerts and festivals, and you can go mountain biking down steep trails.
- Trolley Square: A boutique shopping and dining area, built on Salt Lake City’s old trolley lines; there’s also a movie theater and numerous big-box stores.
Where to Stay
- If you want to splurge: Grand America Hotel has decadent decor, including Italian marble and English wool carpets, as well as a giant spa, a terraced outdoor pool, and a French patisserie.
- For a little history: Peery Hotel, set within walking distance of Temple Square, has been around for more than 100 years. Two onsite restaurants; complimentary breakfast.
- For walkability: Hilton Salt Lake City Center is within a short walk of more than 60 restaurants, stores, and clubs; the hotel also has its own award-winning steakhouse.