Last month, we embarked on our cross-country U.S. road trip. We drove from San Francisco to Salt Lake City and it was one of the longest drives I’ve ever done. It’s still hard to believe we actually did eleven hours in our little Honda Accord. That drive, and this being the first leg of our road trip, made arriving in Salt Lake City all the more special. We also stayed with a friend during our week there, so we had someone local to guide us on all the fun things to do in Salt Lake City. So here goes, the top eight things that made our SLC visit one for the books.
1. See the City from Ensign Peak
There’s nothing like looking at a city from a bird’s eye view. And no, you don’t need a drone for that. Sometimes an easy hike will do.
Ensign Peak is an eight minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City. It’s an easy 0.8 mile out and back trail that provides views of Salt Lake Valley and Great Salt Lake. It’s a great spot for a short walk, a picnic, or to enjoy beer while watching the sunset.
Seeing the city from above can give you new perspectives and help you learn about the geology of where you’re standing!
2. Picnic at Sugar House Park
Fun fact: Sugar House Park used to be home to the Utah State Prison. You can actually still see a piece of the prison structure sitting in the park. But don’t let its history fool you. Sugar House Park is one of the NICEST places in Salt Lake City.
We went to Sugar House Park right around sunset and picnicked there as we watched the sun go down. We sat by the lake and the reflection of the sun on the water and mountains looked like a colorful painting. It was stunning. It also happened to be one of the most serene dinners I’ve had in a while.
If parks are your thing, also check out Liberty Park. Located not too far from Sugar House Park, Liberty Park has all the amenities you can think of for a nice park – a swimming pool, tennis courts, paddle boat etc. It’s an equally great place to picnic or go for a walk.
Wanderer Tip: If you’re hoping to visit Salt Lake City when the weather is picnic-ready, the best time to visit SLC is in the summer. From June to August, the temperature will rise to the 80s and 90s during the day – the perfect weather to have a picnic outdoors!
3. Grab a Bite at Pretty Bird
Salt Lake City is a bit of a hidden gem when it comes to the food scene. I had been here a few times before for work, and each time I’ve been impressed by the food.
This time around, I got to try the fried chicken at Pretty Bird. While I typically don’t like to wait around for my food, the chicken at Pretty Bird was worth the wait. The chicken was lightly breaded and perfectly tender. My mouth is watering just thinking about the tenders I had! I highly recommend adding the hot honey to your meal.
A few other restaurants to try:
- The Copper Onion – try their cocktails!
- Red Iguana – delicious sit-down Mexican place
4. Sip High West Whiskey in Downtown SLC
While I’m getting hungry thinking about fried chicken, another fun thing to do in Salt Lake City is to try drinks made from the local distillery High West Whiskey.
Two bars in downtown Salt Lake City – Whiskey Street and White Horse – both serve delicious cocktails made from High West Whiskey. I recommend ordering the Old Fashioned to get a true tasting! Just the whiskey on the rocks is also a great option.
Besides the drinks, these bars also offer a drool-worthy menu. We ordered the brussel sprouts at White Horse and emptied the plate in no time.
5. Hike Donut Falls
Don’t be fooled by the “Easy” label for Donut Falls Trail on AllTrails. While it is fairly easy to get to the bottom of the waterfall, to reach the really beautiful part where the “donut hole” with light shining through is requires more than a pair of walking shoes.
What makes hiking Donut Falls one of the funnest things to do in Salt Lake City? One, it’s a hike to a waterfall (only the best kind of hike!) Two, it gives you the opportunity to rock climb a large, running waterfall. And if you really want to see the donut that the hike is famous for, you better be ready to scale that waterfall.
For waterfall lovers out there, here is a list of beautiful waterfall hikes you can do in Utah, including one in Zion National Park.
6. Bonneville Salt Flats
This last thing to do in Salt Lake City is not exactly in SLC. It’s forty minutes west of the city, and yes, it is worth the drive. The Bonneville Salt Flats can be a bit tricky to find. It’s not like a state park with clear signs, but instead it’s a rest stop along the highway I-80.
If by chance you’re stopping at the salt flats while driving eastward, make the U-turn around to the west side of the salt flats because that is truly where the beauty lies. The east side has some salt flat characteristics but the scenery is no match to what’s on the west side.
Wanderer Tip: The Bonneville Salt Flats look different at different times of year. If you ever get a chance to visit Salt Lake City a second time during a different season, it may be worth visiting again to see how the scenery has changed.
Fun Things to Do in Salt Lake City
Our week in Salt Lake City was filled with so many surprises and I fell more in love with the city each day. Having a local make recommendations and keep us company made the trip extra special. I already can’t wait to go back in the winter when all the mountains will be covered in snow!
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Awesome guide!! I’m definitely going to pass this on to anyone who comes through town! Thanks for all the tips!
Thanks Nat! So glad to hear it was helpful 🙂
I loved reading about your experience in Salt Lake City. Your descriptions really made it come alive for me. Happy travels!
Aw I’m glad you enjoyed the read!