If you are looking for a great vacation spot to travel to with kiddos in tow, then Salt Lake City has you covered. Summer or winter, outdoors or in, Salt Lake has a myriad of activities right at its fingertips to keep everyone from the hiker in your family to the history buff or water lover entertained.
Here are 10 must-do adventures for you and your family on your next trip to Salt Lake City.
1. View wildlife at Antelope Island
For an outdoor escape from the city, make the easy day trip to Antelope Island State Park. This island on the Great Salt Lake has sandy beaches with amazing views of the surrounding valley and towering Wasatch Mountains. It is home to wild pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and bison—it’s not unusual to catch a glimpse or two. There are trails of all difficulties that crisscross the island and are open to hikers, mountain bikers, and horses. To spend more than a day here, you can camp at any one of three rustic campgrounds.
2. Ride a roller coaster at Lagoon Amusement Park
More than just an amusement park, Lagoon has thrills for everyone in the family. It has roller coasters for the thrill seekers, a waterpark for the soakers, a zoo for the animal lovers, a pioneer village for the make-believers, live performances for the show-goers, a kiddie area for the youngsters, and a campground for the whole family. Admission includes all areas of the park. Camping is additional but gets you a discount on tickets.
3. Learn your family history at Temple Square
At the heart of Salt Lake City is Temple Square—a beautiful 35 acre site focused around the magnificent LDS Salt Lake Temple. Bring the family to explore flower-filled gardens in the summer and Christmas-light filled grounds in winter. You can learn about the pioneer history of Utah and the founding of Salt Lake City. Be sure not to miss the Family History Center, an interactive genealogy database that makes it easy and fun to discover your ancestors and retrace your family’s roots. Admission to everything is free and open year round.
4. Tease your brain at the Leonardo Museum
Named in honor of Da Vinci’s creative innovation, the Leonardo Museum is designed to inspire discovery. Exhibits change regularly, so every visit offers something new. The overarching theme is ‘perception’--exploring the ways we experience the world and intentionally challenging our typical methods. At the Leonardo you can dive into a life-size optical illusion, transport to other worlds with a live-action green screen, or sit through a virtual haircut.
5. Touch a stingray at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
The Great Salt Lake is more than salty enough to be an ocean, but the only real sea life resides inside this aquarium, and there is a lot of it. Living Planet features a huge shark tank with a viewing tunnel, a stingray touch pool, penguin encounters, and exhibits dedicated to Utah’s native aquatic animals. There is also a special exhibit showcasing South American Rainforests. Kids will be amazed by up-close interactions with the animals that are possible throughout this compact aquarium.
6. Experience history at This is the Place Heritage Park
At the Heritage Park, families can pretend to be part of Utah’s history. Learn how the settlers lived by stepping into their shoes. You can walk, ride a train, or saddle up on a pony to get around the replica pioneer town. Kids will love digging for gemstones, panning for gold, petting farm animals, and watching a real blacksmith at work. The Native American Village honors pre-European heritage with Shoshone teepees and authentic live dance performances.
7. Hike the Living Room Trail
For the outdoorsy family, the popular hike up Red Butte Ridge is not to be missed. This 2.5-mile round trip travels among the bushes and wildflowers of Red Butte Canyon and leads to a spectacular overlook known as The Living Room where hikers have constructed surprisingly comfortable furniture out of rocks. Sit on a sandstone sofa or armchair and watch the sunset over Salt Lake Valley. The trailhead is on Colorow Road just east of downtown.
8. See a concert at Sandy Amphitheater
Not far from downtown Salt Lake is Amphitheater Park in Sandy, Utah. The venue hosts big-name artists but also puts on free concerts and cultural events throughout the year, including musicals, kids’ movies, and a summer folk festival. The grounds surrounding the amphitheater are pleasant any time of day, with green lawns, water features, a playground, picnic pavilions, and great views of the nearby mountains. The park is perfect for spending a lazy afternoon, especially when there is an event at the amphitheater.
9. Feed a rhino at Hogle Zoo
Of course no family vacation would be complete without a trip to the zoo. Not everyone will get to feed a rhino, as this costs extra, but there are still plenty of up-close animal encounters and fascinating exhibits in SLC’s Hogle Zoo, which has over 800 animals. Kids will also enjoy the carnival rides, discovery theater, and mini water park that the zoo offers. Talented elephants, seals, and birds put on daily shows with their trainers, and there is plenty of shopping and dining to complement the trip as well.
10. Ski the Wasatch Mountains
The huge mountains right outside the city hold snow well into the beginning of summer, because in winter they get dumped on. The Wasatch are world famous for winter sports, so there are plenty of opportunities for skiing and snowboarding, no matter your ability level. Alta, Brighton, Canyons, Deer Valley, Park City, Snowbird, Solitude, and Sundance are the eight resorts within an hour’s drive from the city. They all offer various options for lodging, dining, family activities, gear rental, and lessons.
If you’re looking for more exciting family-friendly adventures, check out our blog: A Utah Summer Your Kids Will Remember!
Originally written for Utah Office of Tourism.