The Ultimate Salt Lake City Itinerary (2024 Edition)

Planning a visit to Utah and need a Salt Lake City itinerary? You are in the right place! I recently took a trip in partnership with Visit Salt Lake and want to share the ultimate Salt Lake City itinerary with you!

Though our recent trip was sponsored, my husband and I have actually visited Salt Lake City on our own multiple times, in different seasons. Through all of our trips, we’ve gotten to see so much of Salt Lake City and its surrounding areas.

As a result, this Salt Lake City itinerary is a round-up of the best of the best things to do!

First, let’s get into why this place is so special- and why it’s well worth a visit.

Why You Should Visit Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a gorgeous urban city set in the Wasatch Mountains, giving visitors access to both its vibrant city life and access to stunning nature – which is definitely one of the best in America!

With four seasons that offer different activities and natural beauty, you’ll find things to do in Salt Lake City all year round regardless of the timing of your visit.

When is the best time to visit Salt Lake City?

Sundance Mountain Resort

Salt Lake City is the perfect year-round destination. There are so many things to do and beautiful sights to see any time of the year!

You can visit in winter for snowsports or in summer for beautiful weather. Spring and fall are great shoulder seasons to visit, with lower prices, decent weather, and just as much beauty!

Here’s a quick overview of Salt Lake City’s best highlights in each season.

What is Salt Lake City like in the winter?

It usually snows all winter, with the first snowfall sometime in November and the last in April. Throughout December, January, and February, the ground is usually covered in snow.

Also, did you know there are not just one but four different ski resorts in Salt Lake City? The ski resorts are around 30 minutes to an hour from downtown, and you can do snowsports throughout this period. You can check information on how you can get a Salt Lake Ski Super Pass here to gain discounts and access to these ski resorts!

What is Salt Lake City like in the spring?

Ski season extends into March and sometimes even partially into April. Late springtime (around early June) begins wildflower season in Salt Lake City. Wildflowers start to bloom in late spring along Utah’s natural landscape, and this is a beautiful season for hiking and visiting the city’s national parks as the weather is comfortable and not too hot.

What is Salt Lake City like in the summer?

If you’re looking to escape the heat, chances are you’ll find great summer temperatures in Salt Lake City. By mid-July, you can expect the weather in Salt Lake City to be generally hot and dry, and temperatures can climb up to 90 degrees. (But even if you find it a bit warm in the city, there is still so much to enjoy indoors in downtown Salt Lake City.)

And if you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, venturing into the mountains often provides a reprieve from the heat in the city! From early June until August, there are lovely wildflowers that you can see along so many hiking trails. So if you plan to visit in the summertime, chances are you’ll have ideal hiking conditions along with incredible views.

What is Salt Lake City like in the fall?

Fall is a lovely time to visit Salt Lake City. Get ready for the most epic fall colors! Usually starting on the last weekend in September, you’ll find amazing fall colors and golden aspens along both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. As the fall colors migrate into lower altitudes, you’ll find the city itself ablaze with fall colors all the way into mid-November.

You’ll find pumpkin patches with epic mountain backdrops, too! My favorites are Kuwahara Pumpkin Patch and Mabey Farms.

Very rarely, snow can fall in October. We actually saw snow when driving in Big Cottonwood Canyon in September! 

And generally speaking, the city is quieter than in the summer and winter (and typically has cheaper rates!). 

Which area should you stay in when in Salt Lake City?

Downtown Salt Lake City is my favorite area because you’re near so many great attractions! It’s also conveniently near Salt Lake City International Airport, which will be your first glimpse of the city if you’re flying in.

If you plan to visit a lot of attractions during your trip, consider purchasing the Connect Pass (which covers 16 of Salt Lake City’s most popular attractions), the Brewery Pass, or the Ski Super Pass. The value of the attractions they provide makes buying the passes worth it!

Now that we’ve covered when to visit and where to stay, let’s get into the actual Salt Lake City itinerary!

The Ultimate Salt Lake City Itinerary

Though this is made for a three-day trip, you can easily do the “alternative” suggestions to expand your trip into a much longer stay! 

And if you’re only in Salt Lake City for two days, I recommend doing days 1 and 2 on this list. 

Need a one-day Salt Lake City itinerary? You can decide between Days 1 and 2 on this list and choose based on your preference between city attractions and nature.

Day 1: Explore Downtown Salt Lake City

Because I’ve given you so many options here, this day could easily be split up into two depending on how much time you spend at each attraction.

If you want to fit the other days on this list in without making this into two days, I recommend at least doing the first three attractions (Natural History Museum of Utah, Hogle Zoo, and Clark Planetarium).

Natural History Museum of Utah

Utah’s Museum of Natural History has a range of exhibits based on natural history in the city, state, and the world. There are plenty of permanent exhibitions to browse as you walk around. When we visited, there was also a special exhibit about the ancient Egyptians, with an actual mummy! 

At the time of writing, the Natural History Museum of Utah is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, and until 9 pm on Wednesday. Check here for ticket prices. 

Hogle Zoo

Hogle Zoo is a must-visit place in Salt Lake City. With a range of attractions like the Zoofari Express Train Ride, the Conservation Carousel, and the Lighthouse Point Splash Zone, there are loads for all the family to love here! You can also enjoy the animal experiences, where you can say hello and even feed the zoo’s residents. 

Our favorite exhibit was the lion exhibit! I took the photo above through a glass wall between us- the lion was literally right next to us. It was such a cool experience being that close to lions. I’m not exaggerating when I say we spent almost an hour just watching them!

Hogle Zoo is open from 9 am to 6 pm, or 10 am to 5 pm (seasonal), seven days a week. Check here for their hours of operation along with ticket prices.

Clark Planetarium

Clark Planetarium is an excellent way to learn about the world around us. Pop by and browse the exhibits for free, or visit for a special show in either the Hansen Dome Theater or the IMAX Theater! You’ll need to buy tickets to the Dome Theater and IMAX Theater shows, but if you have the Connect Pass, they are free.

We watched the Expedition Reef show in the Dome Theater, which was a fascinating and educational look at how reefs grow and how we can protect them. And at the beginning of each Dome Theater show (regardless of topic), you get to learn a bit about the night sky!

The planetarium is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm Sunday to Thursday, and 10 am to 10:45 pm on Friday to Saturday. Check here for updated hours and ticket prices.

Temple Square

Temple Square is a 35-acre area that is home to the beautiful Salt Lake Temple along with multiple buildings significant to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). You can join a free tour of the grounds, Conference Center, and historical residences, though visitors are not allowed inside the church itself.

Here, you can visit The Beehive House, which was the official house of three Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, Lorenzo Snow, and Joseph Smith. Assembly Hall is another attraction; it’s currently used for lectures, recitals, and concerts.

The Tabernacle Choir, one of the most famous choirs in the world, sings on Sunday mornings at Temple Square. Time your visit right, and you may just catch their performance then!

Temple Square has been under construction the past two times we’ve visited, but we hope to see this area more on our next trip to Salt Lake City, as the architecture here is quite beautiful! You can read more about its renovation here.

Temple Square in Salt Lake City is generally open from 10 am to 10 pm each day but this schedule may vary depending on the time of the year. Most activities are free to the public. 

City Creek Center

Just across Temple Square, you’ll find the City Creek Center, which is one of the premiere shopping destinations in Salt Lake City.

This mall has it all – little shops, big department stores, and lots of options for fun and food! You’re sure to satisfy your shopping cravings once you’ve visited this place – and you should! After all, the best road trip itineraries always allot some time for shopping expeditions!

City Creek Center is open from 10 am to 9 pm Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 10 pm Friday to Saturday, and closed on Sunday.

Family History Library

Southwest of Temple Square, you’ll find the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is one of the largest genealogical libraries in the world, and also one of Salt Lake City’s top attractions!

Here, you’ll find tons of microfilmed genealogical records and even the names of more than 8 billion deceased individuals from over 100 countries. It’s a popular place for people who want to look into their roots or family tree – and is free of charge to boot!

Check their hours of operation and services offered here.

Utah State Capitol Building

15 minutes or so of walking uphill from Temple Square, you’ll find the Utah State Capitol Building. Home to the State government, you can join a free guided tour to learn more about this historic building!

Guided tours are available starting at 9 am to 5 pm and run for an hour. Learn more about it here.

Red Butte Gardens

About a twelve-minute drive from Downtown is a great piece of nature in the middle of a busy city.

Red Butte Gardens is one of the largest botanical gardens in the Intermountain West and is Utah’s State Arboretum together with the University of Utah.

Here you’ll find over 21 acres of developed gardens plus 5 miles of hiking trails, making it a fantastic destination to see and appreciate different kinds of blooming bulbs! The site is also a popular spot for outdoor concerts, and you need to purchase a ticket in order to attend.

Find more info on hours of operation and ticket prices here.

West of Conventional Mural Tour

As soon as you start exploring Salt Lake City, you’ll realize that it is a city with soul. You’ll see this embodied in its art scene as you do the West of Conventional Mural Tour!

It is free to download a mobile app for the mural tour. Then, when you visit a mural, you can check in on their mobile app. Once you’ve done that for six murals, you can collect a prize at the Salt Lake City Visitors Center! 

These murals make for some great photo ops! And if you’re looking for more Instagrammable places in Salt Lake City, check out my list here!

More kid-friendly activities:

Day 2: Drive Big Cottonwood Canyon

Salt Lake City offers easy access to some incredibly scenic drives. Big Cottonwood Canyon is my favorite one! There are plenty of places where you can pull off, hike, go fishing, etc. And if you’re visiting in the winter, 4-wheel drive is highly recommended. Also of note: two of Salt Lake City’s ski resorts are located toward the end of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Jordan Pines Campground

Jordan Pines Campground sits at 7500 feet high and is within easy reach of Salt Lake City. Here you can hike, bike or fish in the lake. Keep your eyes peeled for moose- we saw two moose in two days when we last visited! (After never seeing one in Alaska or Yellowstone, too!)

Hike Lakes Mary, Martha, and/or Catherine

There are quite a few lake hikes that you can do in Big Cottonwood Canyon. One such hike is the Lake Catherine via Brighton Lakes Trail. This is a 4.3 mile out and back trail rated as moderate. It connects Lakes Mary and Martha until you reach Lake Catherine, with beautiful lakeside views and mountainous backdrops. 

For a shorter hike, just hike to Lake Mary. And for a medium hike, you can hike Lakes Mary and Martha, but not Catherine.

If you’re visiting in the winter, note that the roads here may be closed depending on the weather, so be sure to check trail conditions before visiting.

Silver Lake

For an easier hike, check out this scenic lake! Located at the end of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Silver Lake is a beautiful alpine-like lake that is ideal for a gentle stroll around, fishing, or just taking in the beautiful scenery. There’s an easy boardwalk walkway, meaning it is not at all strenuous and it’s accessible and stroller-friendly, too.

Now you have the option to turn back around or make a loop passing through Park City- I recommend the Park City option if snowfall hasn’t arrived. The road from Big Cottonwood to Park City, known as Guardsman’s Pass, is only open seasonally. It’s closed in the winter because it can be really dangerous! But note that you can always drive I-80, Parley’s Canyon, up from Salt Lake to get to Park City at any time during the year.

Park City

If the road is open, your next stop on your Big Cottonwood Canyon drive is Park City. This is a popular ski area in the winter, but is definitely worth a visit in any season! There are lots of spectacular views and places to go for a stroll. It’s the ideal spot to get your nature fix! You can also go shopping on the charming Main Street pictured above.

By this point, it’s probably dinner time! Here are some recommendations for dinner in Park City (try to book reservations in advance as these places fill up fast!):

If it is still bright out by the time you’re heading back into Salt Lake City, keep your eyes peeled for the animal bridge that goes over the main highway. It’s specifically for animals to cross the road safely, and they know to use it, so don’t be surprised if you see some elk crossing!

Alternate Day 2 Option: Little Cottonwood Canyon

If you’ve done Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City before, head to Little Cottonwood Canyon instead! It’s an out-and-back road that ends in Alta, another great place with scenic views, excellent wildflowers in Albion Basin, and epic hiking trails.

Also, if want to add skiing to your Salt Lake itinerary (I have it penciled in for Day 3), depending on which resort(s) you choose to ski at, you can do the opposite canyon drive on Day 2.

Alta and Snowbird are along Little Cottonwood Canyon, while Brighton and Solitude are along Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Day 3: Get Active

Today’s Salt Lake City itinerary offers a variety of hikes and outdoor activities. It would be tough to cram all of these activities into one day, though. I recommend choosing which ones sound the most appealing to you!

You can also add one of these hikes into one of the other days on this itinerary, or do them all split across multiple days! (Donut Falls is a great hike to incorporate on your Big Cottonwood Canyon day!)

Skiing

If you’re visiting Salt Lake City during the winter, don’t miss the snowsports! There are four ski resorts in Salt Lake County near the city: Altra, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude.

  • Alta is a historic ski town with a few modern touches (including contemporary lifts). 
  • Brighton is popular with younger snowsports enthusiasts. 
  • Snowbird is the most futuristic of the four, with state-of-the-art lifts. 
  • Solitude has impressive natural terrain and lots of different-level slopes.

Ensign Peak

One of the best hikes in Salt Lake City is Ensign Peak, which is a 0.8-mile out-and-back trail. It is rated as easy, though there are some steep parts. However, it’s short and sweet! You’ll end up at a beautiful lookout, where you can see Salt Lake City and its surrounding areas. It should take you around 40 minutes to hike. 

The Ensign Peak trailhead is just to the north of the city, about a 10-minute drive from downtown. 

Living Room Hike

Living Room Lookout Trail is a 2.5-mile out-and-back hike featuring beautiful lookouts over the surrounding areas. It should take about an hour and a half to do the whole hike, and it is rated moderately difficult. You might have a chance to see some wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled! (Why is it called Living Room Hike? Well, at the top you can stop and rest on rocks that look like chairs!)

The Living Room Trail leaves right by the Natural History Museum of Utah, making it one of the closest hikes to the city.

Donut Falls

Spanning 1.5 miles, Donut Falls is an out-and-back trail that ends with one of the area’s most beautiful waterfalls. It’s an easy, family-friendly trail and the entire hike (not including stop time at the waterfall) should only take you between 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll have lovely views the whole way, but Donut Falls is undoubtedly the highlight! 

Donut Falls is 35 minutes away from Salt Lake City along Big Cottonwood Canyon – take the I-15 S and UT-190 E to reach it. 

Neff’s Canyon

If you want to try something a bit more challenging, check out Neff’s Canyon! This trail is 7 miles in length and is rated as difficult. It is accessible for dogs, although they must be kept on a leash. You’ll catch some amazing panoramic views from the top of the canyon! As it’s difficult, allow all day to hike this trail. Though I personally have only visited to photograph the canyon, I’ve heard that the hike is worth it! 

Neff’s Canyon is very close to the city center – around a 20-minute drive. 

Bell Canyon

Bell Canyon is a wonderful 4.8-mile out-and-back hike that spans all the way to Lower Falls. This hike should take you about three hours, and it is rated as moderate. You’ll get some amazing views over the canyon, and can enjoy its scenic waterfall!

Bell Canyon Trail is about a 25-minute drive from Salt Lake City on the I-15 S.

Optional: Take a Day Trip

I love how many things there are to do both in and around Salt Lake City! If you’re up for a drive, here are some more great options in the surrounding areas!

Bonneville Salt Flats

The Bonneville Salt Flats are the dried-up remains of an ancient lake. This lake was called Lake Bonneville, and the salt flats are an epic place to visit near Salt Lake City. Spanning 30,000 acres, they cover a huge expanse near the Nevada border. There is a rest stop on the I-80 (around 10 miles east of Wendover) where you can pull over and check out the fantastic view. 

You usually can drive directly out onto the salt flats, though you’ll need to heed warning signs if any are up (usually due to weather).

Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake is one of the largest terminal lakes (which means a lake without an outlet) in the world. In fact, it is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. This makes it a wonderful day trip on your Salt Lake City itinerary! 

There are a few places where you can see the Great Salt Lake. The Spiral Jetty is an extensive rock collection that usually spans into the water from the shore. Unfortunately, when we visited, the water line had receded quite a bit away from the Spiral Jetty, but hopefully, that will change over time! One of the primary reasons why the Spiral Jetty is so popular is due to a geographical curiosity: the water is oftentimes pink at this part of the lake!

Tip: On your way home, stop at Table Twenty Five in Ogden for some yummy farm-to-table eats!

It is a 1 hour and 50 minutes drive to get to the Spiral Jetty from Salt Lake City. Follow Highway I-15 N. 

There are lots of other places to visit the Great Salt Lake as well. Antelope Island State Park is widely regarded as the best spot to see and float in the lake, and the fun Lagoon Amusement Park (great if you’ve got kids!) is nearby. 

Antelope Island State Park is a 52-minute drive from the city, up Highway I-15 N. To get to Lagoon Amusement Park, it’s just a 20-minute drive up Highway 1-15 N. 

Stewart Falls & Sundance Mountain Resort

Stewart Falls Utah

Drive time: it’s about a one-hour drive to Sundance Mountain Resort. Take the I-5 S and W 800 N. 

Located near Sundance Mountain Resort, Stewart Falls Trail is an epic hike about an hour away from Salt Lake City. It’s 3.2 miles in length (out and back) and has a moderately difficult rating. There is a beautiful waterfall en route, and if you visit during fall, it’s also a popular place to see the trees changing colors. 

Sundance Mountain Resort is a great place for skiing or ziplining, too. Also, you can pay to take the chair lift up to one of its stops if you want to cut a portion of the hike to Stewart Falls off.

Mystic Hot Springs

Drive time: Mystic Hot Springs is a two-hour 40-minute drive from Salt Lake City along the I-15 S. 

The Mystic Hot Springs are located near Monroe and are characterized by hot mineral water that comes out of the ground at a steaming hot 168F! But don’t worry- by the time the waters reach the two smaller pools, they’ve landed at around 92 and 102F.

You might’ve seen photos of this place on Instagram; the most commonly photographed parts of this area are the outdoor bathtubs here! As you can imagine, it’s a beautiful place to relax and unwind and one of the best ways to round up your Salt Lake City itinerary! 

Zion National Park

Drive time: Zion National Park is about a 3-hour and 36-minute drive from Downtown Salt Lake City via I-15 S.

At Zion National Park, you’ll be able to satisfy your outdoor adventure cravings! Join a guided adventure tour with an expert guide to see the best sights the park has to offer, or even a guided hiking adventure – whether half-day or full-day – to explore its stunning canyons and scenery.

Jeep tours? Canyoneering? UTV-Guided Adventures? You’ll probably need to dedicate more than half a day to get your adrenaline pumping while in the park – but it will be worth it!

Arches National Park

Drive time: Arches National Park is about a 3-hour and 36-minute drive from Salt Lake City via US-6 E.

Just a note that going to Arches National Park requires an online reservation before you get to enjoy what this park has to offer.

As the name suggests, you’ll definitely find arches here – around 2000 of them! But more than that, you can also do auto touring, backpacking, biking, hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing at this beautiful spot.

If exploring Utah’s rugged terrain is what you’re after, you definitely need to include a visit to Arches National Park in your Salt Lake City itinerary!

Where to Eat

You might be wondering why I didn’t include many dining options in this Salt Lake City itinerary.

Well, simply put, there are so many great options that it’s hard to say you should eat one thing over another. Also, depending on when you’re eating, what you’re in the mood for, and what types of cuisine you enjoy, certain spots might seem better than others.

So instead of putting these dining options in each day of this Salt Lake City itinerary, I’m going to list recommendations here!

Breakfast

  • Honest Eatery– great smoothies and avocado toast!
  • Eva’s Bakery– get a taste of Paris in Utah with fresh bread and delicious pastries.
  • Brass Smoothies– for the best, organic smoothies in town.
  • Publik Kitchen– my favorite is their BLT (but I substitute normal tomatoes instead of their tomato jam).

Brunch/Lunch/Dinner

  • The Ivy (pictured above)- a hip restaurant with a globally-inspired menu, located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City.
  • Carson Kitchen– fine dining meets comfort food. Their glazed donut bread pudding dessert is a must!
  • Oquirrh Restaurant– has a small, carefully selected farm-to-table menu that uses local ingredients. (It’s a nice restaurant but the servers were all wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts when we visited, which I thought was odd. The food is great though, with creative dishes).
  • Tradition– for yummy Southern comfort food that’s great for brunch.
  • Red Iguana– a great Mexican spot that is known for its mole sauces. You can ask for a mole sample plate to see which you like best!  
  • Takashi– if you’re in the mood for sushi, this place is for you. Note that they usually have a long wait time so try to go early!

In conclusion…

Salt Lake City is the perfect year-round destination, with plenty to see and do! I hope this Salt Lake City itinerary has you excited about your visit!

And if you’ve visited before and have other activities in mind that haven’t made this list, please let me know in the comments below!

Also, feel free to drop any questions you may have below as well, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

Safe travels!

Jasmine

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Picture of Jasmine Alley

Jasmine Alley

I'm a Dallas-based, full-time travel blogger with a serious case of wanderlust! Through my website and Instagram, I hope to help others plan picture-perfect trips to the most beautiful places in the world! When I travel, I like to emphasize nature, hidden gems, and unique places.
Picture of Jasmine Alley

Jasmine Alley

I'm a Dallas-based, full-time travel blogger with a serious case of wanderlust! Through my website and Instagram, I hope to help others plan picture-perfect trips to the most beautiful places in the world! When I travel, I like to emphasize nature, hidden gems, and unique places.

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Hi, I’m Jasmine! I’m a nature-obsessed, beauty-finding, Jesus-loving dreamer with a serious case of wanderlust. I love to create photo-worthy travel content and hope to fill your travel plans with incredible beauty and breathtaking views! Thanks for following along on my adventures!

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