WillhiteWeb.com: Utah Sightseeing
Salt Lake City
As with most cities, Salt Lake City is full of things to do but I will narrow the list to what I think is most unique. Salt Lake itself is fairly small but with a rental car, you can reach all kinds of unique sights in the region. Even further off are the National Parks of Utah which are worth their own vacation. Combining the city with the National Parks would be a full vacation if you can swing it. Salt Lake City is the closest urban center to big mountains in the United States. The majority of the population live at 4,500 feet with mountains as tall as 11,700 directly above.
This is the World Headquarters for the Mormon Church. There are over a dozen free tours offered where missionaries are ready to take you personally around explaining the buildings and their functions in the church. Because people come from around the world, over 40 languages are offered from missionaries worldwide. Or you can just walk the grounds on your own. There is a North and South Visitors center which might be a good place to start. Some of the buildings to tour are:
Home of the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The dome shaped auditorium built in 1875 was so acoustically sensitive that a pin dropped at the pulpit can be clearly heard at the back of the hall, 170 feet away. The choir still performs here every Thursday night using the pipe organ with 11,623 pipes.
The Assembly Hall
The Conference Center
The Church Office Building
The Church History Museum
The Joseph Smith Memorial Building
Utah State Capitol Building
This is the Place Heritage Park
Timpanogos Cave National Monument
Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons
Antelope Island State Park
Bonneville Salt Flats and Raceway
A Gothic-style building with stained-glass windows constructed by Latter-day Saint pioneers in 1877, used for concerts.
An auditorium which seats 21,000 people with an amazing design believed to be the largest theater-style auditorium ever built. Touring the unique roof, you think you are in a park with all the trees and water.
You can go to the 26th floor for a view over the city...basically the empire State Building tour for Salt Lake City, just not as dramatic.
Learn the story of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through educational exhibits and programs. The museum collects and displays Latter-day Saint art and artifacts from around the world.
Formerly the Hotel Utah, built in 1911, tour the building, see the free films in Legacy Theater. Go to the observation area where you can look down on the temple.
At this National Historic Landmark, discover how Brigham Young and his family lived in the 1800s. The Beehive House was built in 1854 and served as home to Brigham Young when he was President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and governor of the Utah Territory.
There are free guided tours every hour of the Capitol exploring the unique art, architecture, and history of the building and its reconstruction and renovation. There are also self-guided tour brochures if you want to rush it.
This is where Brigham Young told the pioneers "This is the Place". Now, there is a historic village that recreates a typical community between 1847 and 1869. See daily pioneer life and visit adobe houses, shops, schools, churches and sites of cultural activities. Across from the State Park is Hogle Zoo, an easy to navigate zoo that's perfect for kids but rather small compared to most city zoos.
Who wouldn't want to see the largest man-made excavation on earth. From the overlook at the visitors center, looking down into the Bingham Canyon Mine is breathtaking. After getting a fill watching the massive machinery excavate inside the mine, you can go into the visitors center and learn all about it. Exhibits and videos cover the entire mining process, tailored for the non-miner.
Timpanogos Cave National Monument is a cave system that consists of three caverns. The trail through the cave is interesting with helictites and anthodites. To reach the cave entrance, you get to hike a paved trail up 1,000 feet giving you great views of American Fork Canyon.
These are the 2 most popular canyons out of the valley for hiking, climbing or just a scenic drive. Each has 2 large ski areas at the tops of the canyons. The best tourist site is at Snowbird Resort where a Gondola will take you up to a high Wasatch Mountain. A short hike down will take you to the 600 foot snowbird tunnel and the Peruvian Lift back down.
If you want to see the Great Salt Lake, the best way is by visiting the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. The entire island is a park, home to a roaming herd of 500 bison. You may also see pronghorn and bighorn sheep around. It's a bit like an African safari if the animals are out. The views are truely unique, especially in the mornings and evenings. The biggest hike on the island is the Frary Peak trail which goes to the highest point (see link below). In winter, a simple hike at Buffalo Point is fun too (link below). The visitors center has information to learn all about the unique habitat on the island. A ridiculous $9 per vehicle fee is charge to access the causeway access.
This is the location where the first transcontinental railroad met as they built it from the east and west coasts. There is a visitors center, working replicas of 1860's steam locomotives and Last Spike Ceremonies reenacted every year on holidays and weekends.
An amazing natural landscape of white salt flats with distant jagged mountains. It's like stepping onto a distant planet, no wonder so many movie scenes are shot here. It's a few hours out of Salt Lake toward the Nevada line but if you are into wild natural scenes or racing, make the journey. You will also be nearby Wendover, Nevada, where Utahans go to get their quick gambling fix. Bonneville Speedway is an area of the Bonneville Salt Flats specifically designated for motor sports. Each summer, two tracks are prepared. If your lucky, speed trials, races or even a movie might be going on.
Just 20 minutes from Salt Lake City, Park City sits on the back side of the Wasatch Mountains. This is a Mecca for winter skiing but surprisingly in summer the place is packed with people visiting to go mountain biking, hiking, fly fishing, ballooning and other exciting activities. If the outdoors are your thing, base camping out of Park City might be a good way to visit the attractions around Salt Lake City. Do outdoor activities in the cooler morning and evening hours while sightseeing Salt Lake in the hot day hours. The downtown if full of shops and fun to stroll around. The often throw street events to attract visitors. Nearby is Utah Olympic Park, the site of the 2002 Bobsled, Luge and Ski Jumping. There are guided tours, bobsled rides, zip line rides, an alpine slide, museums and ski jumping shows.
Bonneville Salt Flats
Hidden Peak, Snowbird Ski Area with Little Cottonwood Canyon and Salt Lake Valley in view
View over Park City
Salt Lake City from Ensign Peak
Bingham Canyon Mine from Visitors Center
Antelope Island State Park
Golden Spike National Historic Site Visitors Center
This is the Place monument
The Conference Center
Inside the Utah State Capitol Building
Utah State Capitol Building
View from the top of the Church Administrative Building Tour
Snowbird Peruvian Tunnel
Zermatt Resort ice formations near Heber City
Views in Little Cottonwood Canyon
Many will find this tour interesting if you are looking to understand better just how the LDS humanitarian efforts operate.
One of the most interesting public parks to walk around with over twenty-five nations represented in the gardens.
City Creek Shopping Center
Temple Square - The Assembly Hall
The museum exhibits probably have not changed much in 50 years. The old fashioned displays are just packed full of trinkets and memories of the past.
This botanical garden operated by the University of Utah contains 18 acres of gardens and trails through native vegitation.