Free things to do in Salt Lake City
It’s no secret, I love free things. When you’re doing a budget vacation, especially with the entire family, free is definitely a good thing. While in Salt Lake City recently I found an abundance of no cost activities to do that I actually wanted to do! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
Clark Planetarium – Located Downtown, the Clark Planetarium offers a 3 story adventure of hands on activities where you learn about the earth, the atmosphere and outer space. It will keep you busy for at least a couple of hours as you discover your weight on different planets, figure out just how a tornado works and drive a rover on the moon of Jupiter.
Utah State Capitol Building – The Capitol Building has been home to the state government since 1916 and is rich in history and art. The stunning interior of the building is filled with marble floors, elegant fixtures and historic displays. There are free tours Monday-Friday although the building is open to visitors 7 days a week. An unexpected bonus to visiting the Capitol building is that they give children a scavenger hunt sheet to keep them engaged throughout the tour.
Pioneer Memorial Museum – Housing the world’s largest collection of artifacts on one subject, this museum has some of the oldest relics from the time of the very first Salt Lake settlers. It is located directly across the street from the Utah State Capitol Building.
Utah Museum of Contemporary Art ($5 donation suggested) – With ever changing exhibits this museum offers a modern take on art. Through the art displayed, the museum pursues the ideal that all viewpoints are represented through socially relevant exhibitions and educational programming. They even offer stroller tours (check the dates here UMOCA Stroller Tours) This is intended to create a pressure free experience for parents who may have talkative toddlers or young babies.
Old Council Hall – A historic building that once served as a government office now serves as the visitor information center. You can go here to get brochures, information on things in and around Salt Lake City and also experience the historic architecture of this 1866 building.
Governor’s Mansion – The Utah Governor’s Mansion is the official residence of the Governor of Utah and his family. Built in 1902 it initially served as the home of Senator Kearns until it was donated in 1937 when it was donated under the condition that it would be used as the Governor’s official house. You can take a free tour of the mansion and experience the elegance and craftsmanship of this one of a kind home.
Fort Douglas Military Museum – Fort Douglas Military Museum is registered by the Center for Military History as an official museum of the U.S. Army Museum System. You will learn about role of Utah’s soldiers throughout U.S. history, see displays and artifacts and be able to explore an outdoor area of helicopters, tanks and more.
Parks & Gardens
Sugarhouse Park – With over 110 acres of green grass, lakes and playgrounds this park will keep you busy for hours to say the least. Sugarhouse offers baseball fields, basketball courts, running tracks and more. I love that it’s located near downtown where you can go grab some lunch or ice cream after a morning of play.
International Peace Gardens – Lush gardens with beautiful flowers and various plant life are found at this 11 acre park. The International Peace Gardens was founded in 1947 to “Symbolize the true spirit of democracy and world peace, brotherly love, history, literature and cultural heritage of many lands.”. You will find 28 different countries represented at the gardens. Each of the nationality groups was allotted a garden section which they designed, created and planted at their own expense. It’s like a mini trip around the world where you can enjoy a taste of beauty from each nation.
Splash Pads – Splash pads seem to be a pretty big thing in Salt Lake. They have far more than we do here in Vegas. It’s the perfect freebie for those hot summer days. I have found a website containing all the different locations and descriptions of splash pads located throughout the city here SLC Splash Pads.
Hiking Trails/Outdoor Recreation
The Great Salt Lake – The Great Salt Lake is the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere. You can drive there just to check out the amazing views at sunset time or fully enjoy the experiences it has to offer by going sailing, kayaking, fishing or swimming.
Salt Lake Overlook/Desolation Trail – Take the 4 mile Desolation trail to experience some of Utah’s natural beauty. Once you reach the top you’ll be able to stand on the overview and take in some breathtaking views of Salt Lake.
Big Cottonwood Canyon – Big Cottonwood Canyon is about a half hour outside of Salt Lake City. This 15 mile drive through the canyon will provide you with stunning scenery and access to excellent picnicking areas, hiking trails, rock climbing, fishing, and camping spots. There are also two ski resorts located at Big Cottonwood Canyon that provide trail maps, lodging and restaurants.
Temple Quarry Trail – This trail is perfect for families. It’s a half mile long, paved loop trail that is stroller friendly. The rock located on the trail was originally quarried by Mormon Pioneers to be used in building the Salt Lake Temple. Keep an eye out for quarrying marks left on some of the rocks as you walk this trail.
Salt Lake City Mormon Sites
Temple Square – 10 acres of history, gardens, restaurants and unmatchable architecture can be found at Temple Square. Built in 1847 Temple Square attracts more visitors per year than the Grand Canyon. You can experience the history of the church, visit the tabernacle, tour the historic home of Brigham Young (the Beehive house), dine, stroll through beautiful gardens and discover your ancestors at the FamilySearch Center.
Benson Grist Mill – Benson Grist Mill will take you back in time by 150 years. Originally built at the request of Brigham Young to support the pioneer settlements in the area it has been preserved so that you can explore times past and experience a blacksmith shop, an original pioneer cabin, barns, wagons and more!
Salt Lake Cemetery – Located behind the LDS hospital this cemetery is the final resting place to nine of the presidents of the Mormon Church. If you stop by the cemetery office you can pick up a “Trail of Prophets” map that will show you the location of their gravesites.
Mormon Battalion Monument – To honor the Mormon soldiers who were recruited and fought in the Mexican-American War this monument was built on the grounds of the Capitol Building.
Mormon Tabernacle Choir – Every Sunday morning the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir is broadcast live on radio and television. You can witness the performance live for free every Sunday at 9:30 am. Keep in mind that guests must be seated by 9:15 am.
Mormon Pioneer Memorial Monument – This monument is dedicated to the more than 6,000 pioneers who died making the journey to Utah between 1847-1869. It is also home to the gravesite of Brigham Young and other early Mormon leaders.
Diesel Sellerz – Check out some insanely cool monster vehicles at Diesel Sellerz. These guys create custom diesel vehicles beyond your wildest dreams. The vehicles are on display off the main road outside. You can go inside to check out some T-shirts, stickers and vehicle accessories. If you’re lucky enough you can meet one of the guys from the Velocity television show Diesel Brothers.
Kindig It – Dave Kindig, owner of Kindig It, makes one of a kind rides for his customers. Also featured on Velocity’s television show Bitchin’ Rides, Dave renders, creates and restores various vehicles that will blow your mind. He’s a very talented man with a very talented crew and with magic like that you can’t help but create some of the most beautiful rides the world has ever seen. They have a showroom open daily for you to enjoy some of their masterpieces, purchase merchandise and even meet some of the crew if they’re around.
Downtown Farmer’s Market – Stroll through aisles of fresh produce while enjoying the eclectic atmosphere of the Farmer’s Market. Hear live music on occasion, browse arts & craft stands, shop bakeries, meat stands and even grab some lunch from a food truck. Stock up on snacks for the hotel, pick up some trinkets as gifts for others or go to just eat and enjoy the atmosphere.
Sweet’s Candy Factory Tour (by appointment only) – For almost 120 years this historic candy factory has been making treats and sweets for generations of customers. Browse the store, receive samples of candy, experience educational and interactive stations all while on tour with a personal tour guide.
Who says you can’t have a free weekend in Salt Lake City? There are so many gems in the area to enjoy and to have one of a kind experiences. What have you done for free in Salt Lake?