10 Fun Things to Do in Salt Lake City

by Paul Joseph  |  Published April 29, 2024

Scenic mountain views and a bustling cultural scene help make Salt lake City a hugely popular destination, with no shortage of fun things to see and do.

A visitor to the Natural History Museum of Utah peers at an exhibit (Photo: Natural History Museum of Utah)

One could have forgiven the builders of modern Salt Lake – as it is commonly referred to – if they had rested on their laurels given its spectacular scenery of mountains and canyons. But this is also a truly contemporary city packed with top-class urban amenities and attractions. If you’re coming to the Utah capital and would like to pack your itinerary full of fun and excitement, we’ve selected 10 great ways to do just that.

Visit a top-class museum

Tucked along the foothills of Salt Lake City’s Wasatch Mountains and spread over five expansive floors, the Natural History Museum of Utah is one of the city’s most important cultural institutions. Housed in an architecturally striking building designed to mimic Utah’s famous layered rocks, it is also a shining beacon on the Salt Lake landscape. Inside, visitors are treated to a remarkable assortment of exhibits and artefacts that tell the story of Utah’s natural history. Highlights include The Past Worlds exhibit, which showcases dozens of reconstructed dinosaur skeletons and real fossils, including the world’s largest collection of horned dinosaur skulls.

301 Wakara Way / Thurs-Tues 10am-5pm Weds 10am-9pm

Embark on an epic wildlife adventure

Many people come to Utah to witness the expansive deserts, serene beauty and sublime landscapes, but few are aware that you can experience this so close to downtown Salt Lake City. Half-day, fully guided widlife tours takes visitors onto the little-known Antelope Island, only an hour’s drive from downtown and positively teeming with wildlife. With 600 American Bison roaming the land, you’re sure to catch sight of at least a handful of these majestic beasts, as well as coyote, bobcat, antelope, porcupine, big-horn sheep, mule deer and, if the season is right, up to 200,000 migratory birds. After wildlife spotting, you and your group will hike to a popular point to watch the sunset before returning to downtown. You can book wildlife tours at www.sunnysideexpeditions.com.

Guests pause to take photos on a Sunnyside Expeditions tour (Photo: Sunnyside Expeditions)

Explore a tranquil botanical garden

Green-fingered visitors to Salt Lake City are in for a treat thanks to the city being home to one of the region’s largest botanical gardens. Located at the University of Utah, Red Butte Garden is brimming with plant collections and over half-a-million blooming bulbs. Spanning over 21 acres of pristinely maintained gardens, the venue also offers several miles of hiking trails, an acclaimed outdoor summer concert series and regular horticulture-based educational programmes.

300 Wakara Way / Mon-Sun 9am-5pm

The scenic environs of Red Butte Garden (Photo: Andrey Zharkikh via Flickr / CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Take a trip to a magnificent state park

One of the natural jewels in the region’s crown, Great Salt Lake State Marina is a majestic state park teeming with wildlife-spotting opportunities, majestic views and endless recreational opportunities. Covering more than 2,000 square miles, the park is a particular haven for wild swimmers during the summer months, when pleasant temperatures and the naturally occurring high salt content make the buoyant waters a pleasure to splash around in. Camping is a popular activity here too, and there’s also a visitor centre and a gift store.

You can book a kayaking tour in the Great Salt Lake Marina at GetYourGuide

Immerse yourself in the world of space

A major city attraction for over 50 years, Clark Planetarium is a magnet for anyone keen to immerse themselves in the captivating subjects of science and space. The state-of-the-art venue is packed full of high-tech attractions including a 3-D IMAX cinema, laser light shows and several hands-on, interactive exhibits that shine a light on the mysteries and magic of the universe.  Visitors can even test their knowledge on a Solar System quiz.

The Gateway, 110 400 West / Sun-Thurs 10am-7pm Fri 10am-10.45pm Sat 8am-10.45pm

An illuminated globe display at the Clark Planetarium (Photo: Britt Reints via Flickr / CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Get a taste of the city’s food scene

Salt Lake City has a thriving craft food and drink scene and visitors can discover it for themselves by booking on to a guided food tour. Over two hours, you’ll visit some of the city’s hottest food spots where you’ll get to sample an assortment of local dishes and delicacies, including Utah’s finest cheese, salami, and chocolate, as well as caramel apple and Nashville hot chicken. You’ll also stop off a popular local watering hole to try a High West whiskey. Throughout the tour, your guide will offer stories, facts and insights into the city’s rich food heritage and its broader history.

You can book a Salt Lake City food tour at GetYourGuide

Catch an NBA game

As in almost every city across America, basketball is a seriously big deal in Salt Lake City, and at the heart of the city’s passion are the Utah Jazz NBA team, who play their home games downtown at the Delta Center. The arena offers visitors the chance to experience that most American of recreational activities, with tickets available to the public for most matches. Expect plenty of great sporting action, along with lashings of fast-food favourites including fries, chilli cheese dogs, boiled peanuts and beer.

The Delta Center, 301 South Temple

You can buy tickets for a Utah Jazz NBA game at GetYourGuide

A basketball match at The Delta Center (Photo: Ken Lund via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

Get acquainted with an array of birdlife

Another antidote to the hustle and bustle of the city, the Tracy Aviary is a 9-acre oasis brimming full of birdlife in a tranquil wooded setting. Said to be America’s oldest aviary, visitors can enjoy interactive bird shows, take part in daily feeding sessions and see if they can identify any of the 130-plus bird species that reside here. There’s also the chance to take part in exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences such as flamingo encounters.

Liberty Park, 589 East 1300 South / Mon-Sun 9am-5pm

A resident poses patiently for a photo at the Tracy Aviary & Botanical Gardens (Photo: Tracie Hall via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

Get spooked on a ghost tour

Every city has its dark underbelly and Salt Lake City is no different. Visitors keen to delve into its scary and salacious past can do so by joining a haunted tour that explores its murky mysteries, hair-raising hauntings, and other paranormal activity that are said to have plagued the city down the ages. Led by an expert guide, the 1.5-hour tour will take you to some of Salt Lake’s most haunted spots, including old buildings, disused mansions, train depots and cemeteries. As you go, you’ll hear spine-tingling stories about the ghosts and ghouls that have called the city home.

You can book a Salt Lake City haunted tour at Viator

Admire the city from the clouds

Salt Lake City and its surroundings are a sight to behold from any vantage point, but perhaps nowhere more so than from up high in the sky. This 1-hour flying tour invites visitors to marvel at the scale and beauty of the city and the wider area from aboard a propeller jet. During the excursion, you’ll fly over the Oquirrh Mountains as your guide points out the many elk herds down below, before passing over the magnificent architecture of the Saltair Pavilion, Antelope Island State Park and the Great Salt Lake. Noise-cancelling headphones allow you to listen to live commentary from your pilot and guide throughout.

You can book a Salt Lake City flying tour at Viator

A propeller plane set against a mountainous backdrop in the Great Salt Lake region (Photo: GetYourGuide)