Downtown Salt Lake City – How to Make the Most of Your Visit

Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah, is a metropolis with a rich history and a diverse range of attractions.

Downtown Salt Lake City offers a combination of cultural experiences, historical landmarks, and modern amenities.

It’s an essential destination for anyone visiting the area.

Getting Around

Salt Lake City boasts an efficient public transportation system, with the TRAX light rail system being a standout feature.

The TRAX system is extensive and user-friendly, offering a convenient way to navigate the downtown area.

A significant advantage is the Free Fare Zone, which covers most of the downtown region, allowing visitors to travel without cost within this zone.

The light rail is well-maintained, punctual, and environmentally friendly, making it a preferred choice for many.

Bike Rentals

For those who prefer a more flexible and eco-friendly mode of transport, GREENbike bike rentals provide an excellent option.

GREENbike offers a network of docking stations throughout downtown, allowing users to rent and return bikes at different locations.

This bike-sharing system is not only cost-effective, but also promotes a healthy and sustainable way to explore the city.

Biking through the streets of Salt Lake City gives visitors a more intimate experience of the urban landscape, with the freedom to stop and enjoy sights at their own pace.

Let us take a look at the main attractions.

Temple Square

Temple Square is undoubtedly the heart of downtown Salt Lake City.

This 10-acre complex is the spiritual and historical center of the city, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Key sites within Temple Square include the majestic Salt Lake Temple, known for its stunning architecture and spiritual significance.

The Tabernacle, famous for its exceptional acoustics and home to the renowned Tabernacle Choir, is another highlight.

Visitors can also explore the Assembly Hall, a beautiful Gothic-style building used for religious and cultural events.

The square is meticulously landscaped, with vibrant gardens and water features that create a serene atmosphere.

Utah State Capitol

Perched atop Capitol Hill, the Utah State Capitol offers breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

Completed in 1916, it features neoclassical design elements and houses the offices of the state government.

Guided tours are available, providing insights into the building’s history, architecture, and the legislative process.

The rotunda, with its impressive dome and intricate murals, is a must-see.

Outside, the Capitol grounds are perfect for a leisurely stroll, with monuments and gardens adding to the site’s charm.

City Library

Designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, the Salt Lake City Public Library is a modern architectural gem.

The library’s unique structure, with its five-story glass walls and open, inviting spaces, makes it a hub of activity and learning.

Key features include a rooftop terrace with stunning city views, various art exhibits, and numerous reading areas that cater to all ages.

The library frequently hosts community events, making it a vibrant part of downtown life.

It’s a perfect place to relax, read, or simply enjoy the innovative design.

Eccles Theater

The Eccles Theater is a premier venue for performing arts in Salt Lake City.

It hosts a wide variety of performances, including Broadway shows, concerts, and local productions.

The theater’s modern design, excellent acoustics, and comfortable seating make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Tips for purchasing tickets include booking early for popular shows and checking for discounts or package deals.

Nearby dining options are plentiful, offering everything from quick bites to fine dining, making it easy to enjoy a complete night out.

The city has much to offer when it comes to the cultural side of things. Here are the main examples:

Museums and Galleries

The Natural History Museum of Utah is a treasure trove of exhibits showcasing the region’s natural wonders.

Visitor tips include checking the schedule for special exhibitions and planning a visit to the rooftop terrace for panoramic views of the Salt Lake Valley.

The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) is another cultural highlight.

It features an array of contemporary art collections and temporary exhibits that challenge and inspire.

The museum’s commitment to showcasing local and international artists makes it a dynamic part of Salt Lake City’s cultural scene.

Historic Sites

The Depot, located in the historic Union Pacific Railroad Station, is a significant music venue that also holds historical importance.

It hosts a range of musical acts, from indie bands to big-name artists, in a setting that preserves the charm of its historical architecture.

Visitors can appreciate both the music and the venue’s historical significance.

Brigham Young’s Family Cemetery offers a glimpse into the past, providing historical context about one of Utah’s most prominent figures.

The cemetery is well-maintained, with informative plaques that tell the story of Brigham Young and his family’s contributions to the state’s history.

It’s a peaceful spot for reflection and learning.

Dining and shopping are two irreplaceable factors whenever we are visiting a new town.

City Creek Shopping Center

City Creek Shopping Center is a premier destination for shopping and dining in downtown Salt Lake City.

The center features a range of shops, from high-end retailers to popular brands, making it a shopper’s paradise.

The open-air design, complete with a retractable roof and a creek running through the center, adds to the unique shopping experience.

Dining options are varied, offering everything from quick snacks to gourmet meals.

Tips for making the most of your visit include checking the event schedule for special promotions and visiting during weekdays to avoid crowds.

Local Markets

The Pioneer Park Farmers Market is a vibrant seasonal market that offers a wide range of:

  • Local produce
  • Artisan goods
  • Delicious food

It’s a perfect spot to experience the local culture and support small businesses.

Seasonal highlights include:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Handmade crafts
  • Live music

Visitors are encouraged to arrive early for the best selection and to bring reusable bags for their purchases.

Dining Recommendations


Salt Lake City boasts a diverse culinary scene, with options for every meal.

For breakfast, The Rose Establishment is a popular spot known for its artisanal coffee and hearty breakfasts.

Lunch and dinner options are plentiful, with standout restaurants like Current Fish & Oyster, offering fresh seafood, and Ivy & Varley, known for its innovative dishes.

Bambara is another favorite, offering a modern take on American cuisine in a chic setting. Specialty food and drinks add to the city’s charm.

Sherald’s Frozty Freeze in Price City offers a nostalgic drive-in experience with classic American fare.

Swig introduces visitors to the local ‘dirty soda’ phenomenon, a fun and unique twist on traditional soda drinks.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Downtown Salt Lake City comes alive at night with its vibrant music and entertainment scene.

The Depot and Eccles Theater are key venues, hosting a variety of performances from live concerts to theatrical productions.

These venues are known for their excellent acoustics and diverse lineups, catering to all tastes.

Salt Lake City’s bar scene is diverse, offering something for everyone. Noteworthy places include Juniors, a laid-back bar known for its relaxed atmosphere and craft cocktails.

The city also has a burgeoning cocktail scene, with bars offering creative and expertly crafted drinks.

Visitors should be aware of Utah’s unique liquor laws, which include restrictions on alcohol content and the requirement for food to be served with drinks in some establishments.

However, these laws don’t detract from the overall experience, and knowledgeable bartenders are always on hand to explain the nuances.

Outdoor Activities

Red Butte Garden is a beautiful botanical garden that offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of downtown.

It features a wide variety of:

  • Plants
  • Themed gardens
  • Walking trails

Hiking Trails

The Living Room Trail is a popular hiking destination that offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

The trail is moderately challenging, making it accessible for most visitors while still providing a good workout.

Hikers are rewarded at the top with rock formations arranged like furniture, creating a unique “living room” setting with panoramic views.

It’s a favorite spot for both locals and visitors, especially during sunset.

The Bottom Line

Downtown Salt Lake City offers a rich tapestry of experiences, from historical landmarks to modern attractions.

Plan your visit to make the most of this vibrant urban destination, keeping in mind the best times to visit and local tips for a memorable trip.