Planning a Trip to Salt Lake City
Updated: Mar 12
A Complete Travel Guide for Salt Lake City, Utah
When you think of a fun city trip in the US, you might not immediately think of Salt Lake City. But this is your sign to add SLC to your travel list! This smaller city still packs a punch and is a must-visit in our book.
It has the perfect mix of city and nature. There are tons of hiking trails located all around the city and the suburbs. Park City and its famous ski resort are a 40-minute drive away. And there is lots to do, and lots to eat, within Salt Lake City itself.
So if you’ve been thinking about visiting SLC, this is your sign to book that plane ticket or plan that road trip! Let’s dive into planning a trip to Salt Lake City. From accommodations to packing to dining, we’ve got all the SLC details for you below.
Planning a Trip to Salt Lake City
SLC is a great city for a solo trip, a family trip, or a couples getaway. You can fly into the international airport and explore the city for a few days, or plan a Utah road trip and make SLC one of your stops.
To really explore the city, and possibly get some hiking or skiing in, I highly recommend visiting for at least 4 to 5 days. If you plan on just stopping through on a road trip, you should spend at least 2 nights here so you have a full day for exploring!
When to Visit Salt Lake City
Depending one what you plan on doing in Salt Lake City, the best time to go will vary. If you want to hit the slopes, visit Park City Mountain Resort, and find the time to ski or snowboard, you will need to visit in winter. From December to March, Park City, and surrounding ski resorts, will generally all be open.
If you want to do lots of hiking in the SLC area, spring or summer will be the best time to go. It doesn't get super hot here, so hiking in the summer is possible. But always be well prepared for hiking in any weather. Spring or fall will have the nicest weather fo spending lots of time outside.
Remember it snows in SLC in the winter. The snow generally doesn’t stick around for very long in the city, but be prepared to stay warm, and be cautious when driving in the snow if you don’t normally do so.
Thankfully, Salt Lake City is used to receiving lots of snow so the roads will be very well plowed and salted. After driving here for a month in the heart of winter, I can tell you it’s really not bad at all. The roads are cleared immediately and everyone is generally used to driving in the snow.
There is decent public transportation in Salt Lake City. You can get around the city without a car by utilizing the trains and buses here.
You can buy single-ride passes or day passes, which are much cheaper if you plan on taking more than one ride. Learn more about Salt Lake City transportation passes here.
If you want to go skiing in Park City or go hiking further from downtown, I highly recommend having a car. There is free parking in downtown SLC on some streets. But pay attention if you are driving and parking downtown. Some streets are pay-to-park, but it generally doesn’t cost a lot to park for a few hours.
Where to Stay in Salt Lake City
There are nice hotels located in downtown Salt Lake City. If you are staying for just a few days, a hotel downtown would be perfect. You’ll be close to many attractions and restaurants, and if you don’t have a car it will be much easier to get around if you’re staying downtown.
If you want to stay in downtown Salt Lake City, check out our top picks below!
If you want to stay in a quieter area, or if you’re staying for a longer period of time, check out this cute basement apartment on Airbnb! It is a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchenette, perfect for cooking if you want to save money on food.
It is also close to grocery stores and gas stations. Downtown SLC is only a 5 to 10-minute drive away, and it is very close to the airport as well.
Things to do in Salt Lake City
Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Enjoy a rotating display of culture and visual arts at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. If you love art of any kind, you’ll definitely want to stop by for a visit to see what is currently on exhibit.
Hike Ensign Peak
Even if you’re not a huge hiker, you need to check out Ensign Peak for a breathtaking view of Salt Lake City. This is a 1-mile out-and-back trail with free parking located at the base. Even if you only hike a portion of it, you will see Salt Lake City nestled into the mountains below you.
Enjoy Craft Beer at a Local Brewery
If you enjoy trying local craft beers, you will love these breweries in SLC!
RoHa Brewing Project - live music and alternating local food trucks
Kiitos Brewing - large selection of beer and old-school pinball machines
Bewilder Brewing Co - delicious food menu and free darts to play
International Peace Gardens
If you are visiting Salt Lake City in the spring or summer, you should head to the International Peace Gardens to admire the beautiful array of wildlife. With statues, monuments, and a wide variety of plants, this is a great place to stroll around and soak in the nice weather in spring and summer.
Shopping in Downtown
There are tons of shops and boutiques around downtown Salt Lake City. Head to Main Street to find lots of shopping options. This is the best area to start from as there is a nice outdoor shopping center on Main and Temple Street.
Stop by a Soda Bar
You can’t visit Salt Lake City without getting at least one crazy, delicious soda. Start with your typical sodas like Coke, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, etc., and then add yummy flavors like coconut and pineapple, or raspberry and cream. Get this delicious Utah treat from Thirst or FiiZ!
Visit the High School Musical School
If you grew up with Troy and Gabriella, you have to visit the filming location of High School Musical! East High School is the real school of this iconic 2006 movie, which you have to visit if you grew up watching it.
Utah State Capitol
If you’re a fan of architecture or history, the Utah State Capitol is a must-visit. You can schedule a free tour and learn from a knowledgeable guide, or you can take a self-guided tour to visit at your own pace. There is a lot of history to learn about this monument, as well as architectural details to admire.
Get Your Boba On
If you're a fellow milk tea or boba lover, check out the two best milk tea places in Salt Lake City. You can't go wrong with a boba break while exploring the city. Check out Sunny Honey in north Salt Lake City, or head to Space Tea if you're further south.
Stroll Around Liberty Park
Liberty Park is the second largest public park in Salt Lake City. It offers 80 acres to stroll around and explore, as well as a pond with two islands and the Tracy Aviary, which is also worth a visit. While in the city, get your nature fix at Liberty Park.
Natural History Museum of Utah
If you’re a museum fan, the Natural History Museum of Utah needs to be on your Salt Lake City itinerary. Here you can learn about the plants, animals, and people who shaped Utah and the surrounding area of the US. You can also catch various traveling exhibits here and learn about different parts of the world such as the Pharaohs of Egypt or the wildlife of Southeast Asia.
Go Thrifting at iconoCLAD
You might not think of high fashion when you think of Salt Lake City, but you will be pleasantly surprised. Stop by iconoCLAD thrift store and shop second-hand fashion items, from shoes to jackets and more. The options are here high quality, unique, and fairly priced.
Eat, Eat, and Eat!
While you’re exploring Salt Lake City, you will definitely work up quite the appetite. Grab a bite to eat at the best restaurants in Salt Lake City. Our top picks are below:
Red Iguana - Mexican
Takashi - Japanese
Jinya Ramen Bar - Ramen
Doki Doki - Dessert
Siegfried’s Delicatessen - German
Bricks Corner - Pizza
Chubby Baker - Dessert
Read Also: 8 Best Coffee Shops in Salt Lake City
What to Wear in Salt Lake City
If you are visiting Salt Lake City in winter, November through March, you will want to pack lots of layers, a winter coat, waterproof boots, gloves, hats, and a scarf. Check out our full winter packing list below! Download our free list of “What to Wear in Salt Lake City” below and print it out to stay organized while packing.
If you are planning to visit Salt Lake City in the summer, you’ll be most comfortable in shorts, dresses, short sleeves, or tank tops. The temperature averages in the high 70s to 80s (Fahrenheit). It doesn’t rain a lot in the summer here, but it’s always a good idea to have a compact umbrella when traveling (affiliate link).
You will definitely want an umbrella or rain jacket when visiting SLC in the spring as it rains more often this time of year. If you’re visiting in spring or fall, bring some warmer layers as the weather is still very cool. I recommend a coat or thick jacket, as well as long pants, and warmer shoes like boots.
With all the important details of planning a trip to Salt Lake City, you can start planning your very own trip to this fun US city! When are you planning on visiting SLC?
If you want to hit the slopes, plan a visit sometime between December and March. Park City is typically busier in December as families will go on vacation while their kids are off. January and February are colder, but there are far smaller crowds and fewer people on the ski runs.
If you want to go on some hikes around Salt Lake City, make sure you pack some trusty hiking boots, especially if you are visiting outside of summer. The rain and snow will make the trails more slippery, but it is fun to go hiking any time of year here. The views are gorgeous, and if you wear proper hiking gear, you’ll stay comfortable!
Are you flying into SLC airport or will you be driving around the city? Let us know if you have questions about visiting Salt Lake City!