Salt Lake City Special Events & Attractions
The close mountain peaks surrounding Salt Lake City call out to skiers in winter but also beckon travelers in spring, summer, and fall as well. Hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, or alpine dining are all possible activities here, in addition to riding the slopes. A temperate climate, striking mountain scenery, and lack of humidity make it easy to spend time outside -- even during inclement weather.
Many of Salt Lake City's most enjoyable attractions include gardens, outdoor concerts, open-air markets, and mountain resorts. Even traditional public buildings have been built with mountain views in mind, including the new city library and Rice-Eccles Stadium, home to Salt Lake's minor league baseball team, the Salt Lake Bees.
Salt Lake City is also home to some unusual events, including the Days of '47 Celebration (300 N Main St), a pioneer-themed founders' day celebration that includes a major rodeo and parade in late July. The event celebrates the arrival of Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.
Insider's Guide: The Best of Special Events & Attractions in Salt Lake City
When you get into Salt Lake City, do your best to get out into the open-air attractions and mountainsides. Just a few miles from the downtown area, near the University of Utah, is Red Butte Garden (300 Wakara Way). The garden offers year-round activities including concerts, classes, festivals, and guided hikes across manicured lawns and past flowerbeds, fountains, and bridges. This site also frequently plays host to outdoor exhibits like life-sized dinosaur figurines, gigantic bugs, and African sculptures. Beyond the formal gardens, there are 100 acres of fenced "natural" mountain trails for unspoiled hikes.
Thanksgiving Point (3003 N Thanksgiving Way, Lehi) is the region's newest and largest formal botanical garden, made up of ten distinct garden areas. The Grand Allee is a sweeping lawn bordered by flowering fruit trees. The Monet Garden was inspired by the great impressionist's water lilies, pond, and bridge. The Italian garden recreates the grounds of a 16th-century Italian villa. A fragrance garden, butterfly garden, and parterre garden are also on display. The Gardens at Thanksgiving Point are open March through October and are closed on Sundays.
To really get a taste of Utah's natural beauty, take a drive up one of the close canyons to soak in the rugged scenery. The snow that piles up more than 500 inches deep every winter creates a lush alpine scene in spring, summer, and fall. Verdant spring meadows and impromptu waterfalls give way to waist-high wildflowers by July. Dramatic displays of golden autumn foliage adorn mountain cliffs in fall. A 20-minute drive from downtown gets you to the base of Millcreek Canyon; Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon are also within easy driving distance of the downtown's core.
Visiting Salt Lake and not seeing Temple Square (the conjunction of Main and North Temple, South Temple and West Temple sts) would be like ignoring the Cathedral of Notre Dame while visiting Paris. The iconic six-spired granite temple edifice is off-limits to anyone but devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Free guided tours are available for the historic Beehive House (67 E South Temple), just one of the many homes owned by Brigham Young, Utah's first territorial governor, Mormon prophet, and famed husband of 29 wives.
Though the church disavowed polygamy more than a century ago, relics of the practice remain in the architecture of the adjacent Lion House (63 E South Temple, 801-363-5466). Brother Brigham designed the unusual house to accommodate multiple wives and their many children. The building is named for the stately stone lion that sits on the house's portico. Free guided tours are available.
Classical arts abound in Salt Lake City, and the area's arts and culture scene has even branched out to include more contemporary offerings. See the next page for tips on how to best experience the arts and culture scene in Salt Lake City.