Downtown Salt Lake City is a vortex of entertainment,with hundreds of upscale and unique restaurants, a spectrum of bars and clubs, symphony, opera, NBA games and more. Downtown has embraced the urban living movement, providing light-rail transportation, lofts, shopping—both high- end and offbeat—and hotels that range from swank to cozy. Hop aboard Trax trains for free rides in Downtown. The young, hip residents make the heart of SLC an exciting place to stay.
Visitors may overlook the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art between the Salt Palace and City Creek Center. It’s a mistake—UMOCA offers mind-blowing modern art exhibits—absolutely free.
2. City Creek Center
Puttin’ on the glitz? Head uptown to City Creek Center where you’ll find Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co. and Utah Woolen Mills (a 100-year-old source of bespoke men’s clothes).
3. Utah’s Hogle Zoo
More than 800 animals reside east of downtown at the Hogle Zoo, including red pandas, an Amur leopard, giraffes and a Siberian tiger. New at the Hogle Zoo is Rocky Shores, a multi-million-dollar ecosystem of sea lions, seals, a polar bear named Rizzo and other denizens of the deep. But also swing by to meet Zuri, the African elephant born at the zoo in 2009, who basically runs the place. The Hogle Zoo is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
4. Tracy Aviary
Have a hands-on avian experience with raptors at Tracy’s bird show.
5. Natural History Museum
A kid and adult fav, this architectural marvel is filled with dinosaur bones and other scientific wonders.
6. Kilby Court
Kilby Court, see all-ages, soon-to-be- famous bands in a very funky but safe venue.
7. Clark Planetarium and IMAX Theater
Take in a laser light show or IMAX movie, shop the Planet Fun Store or check out one of the planetarium’s free exhibits, including the Foucault Pendulum, Moon and Mars-scapes, Weight on Other Worlds or the International Space Station. Special presentations on Black Holes, the Hubble Telescope and cosmic light shows entertain in the 360-degree Hansen Dome Theatre, along with IMAX blockbusters. The planetarium opens daily (except Thanksgiving and Christmas Days) at 10:30 a.m. Closing time depends on the show schedule.
8. Temple Square
The heart of Downtown is Temple Square, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ cluster of historic buildings that includes the Temple itself, the domed Tabernacle, Church History Museum and Assembly Hall.
9. 9th & 9th
The 9th & 9th area is a strollable gem for a shopping day out with boutiques like Apt. 202, Hobnob, Hip & Humble, The Children’s Hour and Koo De Ker. Or join the cerebral crowd at an art- house flick at Tower Theatre.
10. The Leonardo
“The Leo” museum of science, art and innovation is sometimes difficult to describe in a word or two. Though it offers hands-on exhibits, The Leo is anything but a kids’ museum. Think of Leonardo Da Vinci himself—artist, scientist and inventor—and you’ll begin to understand The Leo experience. The Leonardo is open Saturday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Visit our Newcomer’s Guide for more tips.