A Beginner’s Guide to Must-See Salt Lake City

must see Salt Lake City- Stacey at Eccles Museum

Top 7 Attractions for First-Time Visitors

Salt Lake City, nestled in a stunning mountain-ringed valley in Utah, offers a captivating blend of historic landmarks, natural beauty, and vibrant cultural scenes. Must-see Salt Lake City attractions include the iconic Temple Square, the expansive Great Salt Lake, and many more, each telling a part of the story that makes this dynamic city uniquely captivating. Whether you’re visiting for the first time, like me, or returning to explore deeper, these sites showcase the rich heritage and lively atmosphere of Salt Lake City.

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Table of Contents

1. Temple Square

During my stay at the downtown Marriott in Temple Square, I experienced the beauty of the Salt Lake Temple right from my hotel room. While enjoying my coffee one morning, I watched the sunrise light up the temple—it was stunning. Temple Square is a must-see when visiting Salt Lake City. This area is central to the Mormon faith and covers 10 acres. You can’t enter the Salt Lake Temple, but its exterior is still impressive. Nearby, the Tabernacle often hosts concerts by the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

2. Great Salt Lake

Although it was too cold to swim in the Great Salt Lake, I recall floating effortlessly in the salty waters of Halong Bay, which is quite an adventure. Known as America’s Dead Sea, the Great Salt Lake offers stunning sunsets and is a haven for migrating birds. Nearby Antelope Island, just a short drive away, provides fantastic views and wildlife sightings. It’s a great place for outdoor activities, where you can see animals like bison, mule deer, and pronghorn antelopes roaming freely.

3. Red Butte Garden

I took an afternoon stroll through the botanical gardens and was pleasantly surprised. You can explore at your own pace, relax on scattered benches to enjoy the scenery, or read a book among the flowers. I’m already planning to return one morning to unwind with a book and some snacks. Choosing a favorite spot is tough—between the fragrance garden, the waterfall with its small lake, and the herb garden, each has its charm. We wrapped up our visit with a stunning sunset over the city and a trip to the gift shop. This garden is a must-see, a tranquil haven filled with diverse plants and panoramic mountain views, perfect for nature lovers and photographers.

4. Historic Downtown

Take a walk down Historic Main Street and Temple Avenue to dive into the local culture. This lively area has quaint shops, tasty restaurants, and active nightlife spots. The historic buildings and mansions along these streets give you a glimpse into the city’s rich history, making for a beautiful stroll. You can also get around downtown Salt Lake City for free on the TRAX light rail. Make sure to visit the State Capitol; it offers tours from Monday to Friday, 10 AM to 3 PM. The grounds are open all the time, offering great views of the Salt Lake Valley from its steps.

5. Natural History Museum of Utah

We had a fabulous evening with hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, and music. For a deeper look into the region’s history, make sure to visit the Natural History Museum of Utah. This museum is packed with interesting exhibits that cover the geological, biological, and cultural history of the Great Basin. It’s a must-see for the impressive dinosaur skeletons and the native art collections. Plus, the museum itself is an architectural marvel with stunning views over the Salt Lake Valley.

6. Salt Lake City Mural Tour

Art enthusiasts will love the Salt Lake City Mural Tour. This guided tour takes you through the city’s alleyways and hidden corners, adorned with murals by local and international artists. Each piece tells a unique story, adding a splash of color and creativity to the urban landscape.

7. Eccles Theater

End your visit with a night out at the Eccles Theater. This state-of-the-art venue hosts a range of performances, from Broadway shows to concerts and comedy nights. The modern design and intimate setting make for a perfect evening enjoying the arts.

Salt Lake City is a must-see destination whether you’re drawn to its historical landmarks, natural wonders, or cultural offerings. Each spot offers a unique glimpse into the life and spirit of this captivating city, ensuring your first visit won’t be your last.

Where I Stayed:

I stayed at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek. It was conveniently located near Temple Square, a TRAX station, restaurants, and City Creek Center Mall. Nordstrom, Sephora, H&M, and Macy’s are among some of the popular retailers. The hotel also has a Starbucks, lounge, and restaurant. A member’s lounge on the 16th floor serves hot breakfast and evening snacks. It’s staffed by some of the nicest people like Carmencita above.

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2 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to Must-See Salt Lake City

    1. Thank you ma’am. It really took me by surprise. I think Park City would make an awesome girls trip.

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