Salt Lake City isn’t high on a lot of people’s travel itineraries, but as a gateway to amazing outdoor opportunities, Sundance, and one of America’s most unique religions, it’s definitely worth a visit.


I have a friend who is visiting the area, and in preparation for his trip I put together a quick guide of things to do, places to eat, eat, etc. Here’s the guiding philosophy with this guide: It’s for someone with very limited time, limited familiarity with Utah culture and Mormonism, and access to a car. My friend is also going to spend some time in the Sundance Resort area, so I’ve included some things in that region as well.

It’s also designed to be useful regardless of the season. There are some things — skiing, hiking, boating, etc. — that can only be done part of the year. Those things could be their own post, and so I’ve mostly left them off here. In other words, this isn’t comprehensive, but it is a fast list of things I’d recommend to a friend:


Things to do in SLC:

Temple Square (everything is free)
— Tabernacle
— South Visitors center has a cutout of the SLC Temple, in case you want to see what’s inside
— Office building observation deck
 Church history museum (immediately west of Temple Square)
— Beehive House (This was Brigham Young’s home, but I’ve heard the tours were recently changed to be more preachy and less historical, so it might be lame)
Has a Joseph Smith Sphinx, among other historical Mormon curiosities. Short drive/medium length walk from Temple Square.
Food in SLC (all within walking distance of Temple Square)
Eva’s (small plates)
The Copper Onion (sit down)
Red Iguana (Mexican, well-known for mole)
Squatters (pub grub w/ local brews)
Lighter meals:
Bruges Waffles and Frites (downtown location)
Day Trips
Goblin Valley 3.5 hours. Very cool place, pretty drive, ghost towns and petroglyph opportunities along the way.
— Salt Flats shortish drive. You could go all the way to Wendover, NV, or just check out the Great Salt Lake.
Spiral Jetty huge, famous art work/jetty on the banks of the Great Salt Lake
Eureka Interesting semi ghost town about 1.5 hours from SLC or 50 min from Provo.
Provo Canyon: 
Bridal Veil Falls (free): waterfall on the Provo riverjust down the road from Sundance, has ice climbing in the winter.
Drive the Alpine loop (not sure if it’ll be open right now, but this is shortish loop through the mountains around Sundance. If the snow has melted and it’s open, there are hiking opportunities at various points)
Provo area food (downtown Provo has a high concentration of good restaurants. Personally I think it’s a better food area than SLC.)
Communal (nice sit down place, small creative menu)
Black Sheep Cafe (Native American/southwest food, good Navajo fry bread)
Tree Room (very well regarded restaurant at the Sundance resort. I haven’t eaten there but it’s apparently really good)
Enliten (Sandwich shop, get the Mediterranean Veggie)
Pizzeria 712 (artisan, wood fired Pizza)
Utah Tips:
Don’t count on things being open late or on Sundays.
Trains are free in downtown Salt Lake City
The urban area that includes Salt Lake and Provo is called the “Wasatch Front.”

Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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