Salt Lake City
Welcome to MetroGuide Networks' overview of Salt Lake City-area attractions. Enhancing its family-friendly destination profile
on the world stage by hosting the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Salt Lake City combines amenities of a major metropolitan area
with the unpretentious personality of a small, western city. Historically, the one-time desert wilderness was created by
settlers seeking refuge from religious persecution, and neither barren land, nor drought or a plague of crickets could
dissuade the Mormons from their purpose. Salt Lake is nestled in a valley at the foot of two mountain ranges—the Wasatch
to the east and the Oquirrhs to the west. In spring, canyons are covered with wild flowers and impromptu waterfalls.
During summer, hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking are hot. In autumn, brilliant foliage blazes on canyon walls.
Salt Lake snow, praised by some skiers as the greatest on Earth, graces slopes at 10 world-class area ski resorts including Alta,
Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude. West of the city is the Great Salt Lake, five times as salty as any ocean, providing
for sailing and swimming along white shoreline. Attracting close to 5 million people annually, Temple Square,
home of the illustrious Mormon Tabernacle Choir, is Salt Lake's biggest attraction. The city thrives as a cultural center,
supporting one of the nation's finest regional symphony orchestras, world-class opera, dance and theater companies,
and myriad art galleries. Salt Lake is also the gateway to 10 national parks within a day's drive including Bryce, Zion, and Yellowstone.
Below is a list of some suggested things to do in the Salt Lake City Metropolitan Area,
with links to more details when available.
- Clark Planetarium
The Clark Planetarium (unveiled in mid-2003 to replace the Hansen Planetarium) has Utah's only 3-D IMAX theater to accompany the planetarium store and space/science exhibits including a piece of moon rock. How do you move moon rock? In the case of the Clark/Hansen relocation, with NASA's approval and an armored car. Temporarily, the well-traveled rock was stored at Zions Bank until arrival at its new home. Video footage obtained from NASA archives reflects the Apollo 15 Lunar Roving Vehicle's television camera capturing astronaut David Scott struggling to pick up the 20-pound, football-sized rock, a piece becoming the lunar sample on display in Salt Lake.
110 South 400 West. (801) 456-7827
- Emigration Visitors District
At the mouth of Emigration Canyon, minutes from downtown, is the Emigration Visitors District – a line-up of attractions, all within two square miles, giving visitors a leg up on Utah's art, culture, history and stunning natural resources. Included are Red Butte Garden, Utah Museum of Natural History, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Utah's Hogle Zoo, This Is The Place Heritage Park, Fort Douglas Military Museum, and the 218-room/suite Marriott University Park. All district locations are accessible via the TRAX University Line in conjunction with the University of Utah shuttle service or UTA buses.
1390 East Presidents Circle. (801) 585-1572
- Fast Kart Indoor Speedway
Featuring far from the average go-carts, Fast Kart Indoor Speedway, formerly Nascart Indoor Speedway, lets adventure-seekers race wheel-to-wheel with up to eight pals at speeds in excess of 40 m.p.h. There is a height requirement of 4'10". Races of 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 40 laps and 60 laps are available, along with computerized timing and scoring on two indoor tracks, one oval and one road course.
3969 South 500 West. (801) 261-3668
- Fort Douglas Military Museum
Established on October, 26, 1862, Fort Douglas was home to U.S. Army troops until Oct. 26, 1991 when the post was deactivated, with most of it turned over to the University of Utah, now restoring more than 40 buildings. The Heritage Commons preserves the core of the historic structures associated with the fort. Many structures centered on Parade Field were built as barracks for infantry troops or homes for officers and date to 1875 (a year before Custer's land stand), and they are considered among the finest surviving examples of “quartermaster gothic” architecture. The first troops to arrive lived in hastily made dugouts covered by tents. Archaeologists located remains of one dugout, probably the home and store of the post trader or “sutler,” forerunner of the PX. The sutler was especially welcome at Fort Douglas since Brigham Young had forbidden Utah Mormans from doing business with the Army at Fort Douglas.
32 Potter Street. (801) 581-1710
- Historic Temple Square
Salt Lake Valley settlers, known for resourcefulness, went all out for Temple Square. Oxen hauled blocks of granite 15 miles down a canyon, across the valley to the site. Hardwood was unavailable in 1863, so settlers hand-painted wood grain on Tabernacle walls to resemble oak. Although construction started in 1853, the capstone of this magnificent $3.5 million structure was not placed until 1892, the interior completed 12 months later. Foundation walls, 16 feet thick, are also 16 feet deep. The temple's highest spire, reaching 210 feet, is topped by a 12.5 foot statue of the Angel Moroni made of hammered copper thickly overlaid with gold leaf. The Tabernacle took 12 years to complete. Legend has it that Brigham Young originated its design after contemplating a hollowed-out egg shell cracked lengthwise. Young wanted the domed roof to be self-supporting, without obstructing pillars or posts, so bridge-building techniques of the day were used. Red sandstone for the Tabernacle's 46 supporting piers was quarried from Red Butte Canyon and nearly 1.5 million feet of lumber was hauled from the Wasatch Mountains. The 11,000-pipe Tabernacle Organ features round wood staves carved from Utah timber. Tours of Temple Square, home to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, feature Tabernacle acoustics. When guides drop pins on the floor near the podium, visitors in the rear of the building can hear the sound.
15 East South Temple. (801) 240-5007
- Joseph Smith Memorial Building
Just east of the Temple Square is the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the former Hotel Utah, built in 1911 with an ornate lobby that alone is well worth a look. The building honors Joseph Smith, instrumental in restoring the gospel of Jesus Christ, translating the Book of Mormon, and organizing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1844, he was murdered by a mob in Carthage, Illinois, reflecting widespread violence of the times especially on the frontier. The Smith building also contains the family center with 200 personal computers for tracing ancestry. On the 10th floor are The Roof and The Garden restaurants, enhancing culinary choices with magnificent views of Temple Square.
South Temple & Main Street. (801) 240-1266
- Kirkin' O' Th' Tartan Scottish Festival
Bag pipe bands, food, dancing and more are part of the blessing of Scottish tartans at the Ceilidh (pronounced KAY-lee), at the First Presbyterian Church. Kirkin' comes from kirk, the Scottish word for church.
South Temple at C Street. (801) 363-3889
- Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center
A complimentary 45-minute tour and video presentation details humanitarian relief efforts of the LDS Church, including processing and shipment of supplies worldwide.
1665 South Bennett Road, (2030 West). (801) 240-1651
- Red Butte Garden
Red Butte Garden, a part of the University of Utah, is the state's premier botanical garden with more than 150 acres of gardens and natural area east of the campus on the foothills of the Wasatch Front. Educational, cultural and recreational programs include concerts, festivals, nature outings and tours. The Garden's 1,500-acre arboretum, with over 9,000 specimens of trees and shrubs, dates to 1931 with original plantings on the University of Utah's campus by Dr. Walter P. Cottam, then chairman of the Botany Department.
300 Wakara Way. (801) 581-IRIS
- Salt Lake Adventures
The Great Salt Lake has long captivated onlookers, and Salt Lake Adventures, with a friendly captain and crew, provides passengers with narrated water exploration along with lunch buffet, wine/cheese buffet, and sunset/dinner cruises. The 75-foot motor yacht's main salon is climate-controlled.
Great Salt Lake State Park South Shore. (801) 252-9336
- This Is The Place Heritage Park
As the end of the 1,300-mile Mormon trail, This Is The Place Monument marks the spot where Mormon pioneers first entered the Salt Lake Valley. It was here that Brigham Young halted his carriage in July, 1847 and, after scoping out the desert valley near shores of the Great Salt Lake, declared, “This Is The Right Place.” A century later, on July 24, 1947, a bronze sculpture of Young and two colleagues was placed atop a 60-foot pedestal overlooking the valley. This Is The Place Heritage Park is home of the Old Deseret Village, a living community recreated to represent Utah's past and make visitors a part of it. Picnics are encouraged.
2601 Sunnyside Avenue. (801) 582-1847
- Tracy Aviary
On 7.5 acres in the heart of Salt Lake City, Tracy Aviary evolved after banker Russell Lord Tracy donated his private bird collection to the city and its children. The aviary, open to the public since 1938, maintains approximately 400 birds representing about 135 species, many considered rare or endangered. Meet The Keeper talks highlight life as an aviculturist and there are also Birds-of-a-Feather free-flight shows. At the summer Parrot Encounter, visitors can actually go into enclosures to hand-feed colorful Australian parrots (or lories), often landing on people's hands, shoulders and even heads, looking to snag handouts.
589 East 1300 South. (801) 596-8500
- Utah Fun Dome
Located in Murray, just south of Salt Lake City, Utah Fun Dome has rides, laser tag, miniature golf, exclusively open bowling (so Dome-goers never find leagues hogging lanes), an arcade, and its newest lure, the Fun House. Billed as the largest in the nation, Fun House treats for those who enter include a Neon Maze, Shrinking Hallway, shock of the Electrical Room, losing bearings in the Checkered Room, and the longest Equilibrium Tunnel in the U.S.
4998 South 360 West
- Utah Museum of Fine Arts
This award-winning 74,000 square foot building highlights Utah's only museum dedicated to world art, featuring Greek antiquities to contemporary paintings. The museum collects, exhibits, interprets, researches and preserves a general collection of art objects selected for quality, representing principal artistic styles and periods of civilization.
410 Campus Center Drive, University of Utah. (801) 581-7332
- Utah Museum of Natural History
Journey into the natural world, with exhibits showcasing studies of anthropology, biology, geology, paleontology, malacology and ecology. Dinosaur Discovery Hall spotlights 50 exhibits of fossils from extinct species. Also displayed are extensive collections of rocks and minerals from Utah and elsewhere, a celebration of Utah's peoples, their history and more. Proceeds from Native American rugs, pottery, baskets, jewelry, Zuni fetishes and more go toward the museum's ongoing educational and research efforts.
1390 East Presidents Circle. (801) 581-6927
- Utah Olympic Oval
Skate on the 400-meter oval where in 10 Olympic and eight world records were set in 2002 on the “Fastest Ice On Earth,” truly so because of quality of the ice-making and the 4,675-foot altitude. The $30-million facility on five acres houses the oval, a four-lane running track, eight spring lanes, pro shops and more under a clear span suspension roof. For recreational users, “Learn To” classes for adults and children are in skating, figure skating, hockey and curling. Open ice for public skating is available as are drop-in sessions for ice hockey, sledge hockey and curling.
5662 South 4800 West. (801) 963-7112
- Utah's Hogle Zoo
On 42 acres since 1931 after moving from Liberty Park, Hogle Zoo has more than 1,100 specimens of 250 species, 21 of them in the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) survival program. With something new always on tap, recent births include a Colobus Monkey, a male Coendu (prehensile-tailed porcupine), a Giant Fruit Bat, and a Baringo Giraffe.
2600 Sunnyside Avenue. (801) 582-1631
- Wheeler Historic Farm
After Sariah Hankinson Pixton married Henry Joseph Wheeler, the pair set up housekeeping on a 75-acre farm to raise six children, all pitching in with the chores, from farm drudgery to churning butter, making soap, cutting ice and trimming wicks. In 1969, Salt Lake County bought the Wheeler place, now on the National Register of Historic Places. Apart from participating in farm house tours providing glimpses of 19th century rural living, visitors are invited to pitch in with outside chores, milking cows and gathering eggs at 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Also offered are tractor-drawn wagon rides on trails of Wheeler Woods.
6351 South 900 East. (801) 264-2241