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- 17 Free Things to Do in Salt Lake City
- Tour the Utah State Capitol Building
- Free Things to Do in Salt Lake City: Temple Square
- See the 2002 Olympic Cauldron
- Check out the Church History Museum
- Photograph International Peace Gardens
- Learn About Fort Douglas Military Museum
- Picnic at Memory Grove Park & City Creek Canyon
- Shop at the Downtown Farmers Market
- Explore Clark Planetarium
- Meet Locals at the Gallivan Center
- Soak up History Pioneer Memorial Museum
- Get Creative at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
- Take a Walk at Sugar House Park
- Relax at Liberty Park
- Climb the Ensign Peak Hiking Trail
- Take a Scenic Drive to Little Cottonwood
Founded by Brigham Young, Salt Lake City is the Utah State capital and the gateway to ski resorts and national parks. From urban parks to art galleries and museums in downtown Salt Lake City, families will find many year-round, free activities.
17 Free Things to Do in Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City, the Utah State capital, is a destination in itself. After all, downtown Salt Lake City is home to Capitol Hill, art galleries, movie theaters and a downtown farmers market. Plus, since it hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City is home to the Winter Games cauldron. And when you’re done sightseeing in town, take time to visit nearby Park City and other Utah mountain towns.
Locals boast it’s about a 30-minute drive in any direction from Salt Lake Valley to Park City, Ogden and Utah’s numerous ski resorts. Even if you don’t ski, there are many ways to enjoy Utah’s national and state parks. It’s also worth visiting Provo, home to Brigham Young University and museums.
Planning a visit? Here are some of the many free things to do in Salt Lake City year-round.
Tour the Utah State Capitol Building
For over a century the Utah State Capitol has been one of Utah’s most prominent landmarks. You can tour the capitol for free. Check in with the Visitor Services Center for self-guided and docent-led guided tours of the Utah State Capitol. Virtual tours are also available. Each tour covers topics including Utah State Capitol history and architecture, Utah history and government processes.
Free Things to Do in Salt Lake City: Temple Square
Located in downtown Salt Lake City, Temple Square is a 10-acre complex owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The five-block area surrounds the Salt Lake Temple. In addition to Salt Lake Temple, Temple Square is home to the Family History Library. It’s one of the largest genealogical libraries in the world. The Salt Lake Temple is also where The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (formerly known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) rehearses. Resuming on Oct. 7, it’s free to watch the choir perform.
More places in Temple Square include the FamilySearch International Center. Located in the lower level of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, it’s free to visit the center.
Free tours of Temple Square are given daily in 40 languages.
See the 2002 Olympic Cauldron
Home to the 72-foot-high 2002 Olympic Winter Games cauldron, the Olympic Cauldron Park is a plaza located at the south end of Rice-Eccles Stadium. It’s located on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Due to expanding the stadium, many park features were removed. But you can still see the cauldron.
Check out the Church History Museum
Formerly the Museum of Church History and Art, the Church History Museum depicts the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ongoing programs include exhibitions, living history events, art galleries and more. The museum is located opposite the west gates of the church’s Temple Square.
Photograph International Peace Gardens
Located in Jordan Park, the gardens feature floral architecture and displays representing other countries. The flower displays are in bloom from May until October.
Learn About Fort Douglas Military Museum
Located in historic Fort Douglas, the Military Museum features exhibits that tell the story of Utah’s military history. Exhibits include uniforms, weapons, helicopters, tanks and cannons.
Picnic at Memory Grove Park & City Creek Canyon
Pack a picnic lunch and head to Memory Grove, located a short distance from downtown Salt Lake City. Memory Grove Park contains memorials to Utah’s veterans and a replica of the Liberty Bell. City Creek Canyon road is a walking, jogging and bicycling route extending into the Wasatch Mountains to the northeast.
Shop at the Downtown Farmers Market
Taking place in historic Pioneer Park, the Downtown Farmers Market boasts over 200 vendors. These vendors offer a unique variety of local produce that include baked goods, prepared food packaged foods and beverages. You’ll also find local arts and crafts. Visit the market on Saturdays and Tuesdays – although you’ll find fewer vendors on this day. In addition, the market is open in winter at the Gateway in Downtown Salt Lake City. Admission and live entertainment are free.
Explore Clark Planetarium
Located in downtown Salt Lake City, Clark Planetarium features 10,000 square feet of exhibit space. It’s free to see the exhibits about earth, the moon and solar system. There’s a fee for the IMAX Theatre.
Meet Locals at the Gallivan Center
The Gallivan Center features a skating rink during the winter months and amphitheater for live performances during the summer months. In addition, the center is the hub for exhibits, workshops, festivals and holiday celebrations.
Soak up History Pioneer Memorial Museum
Free things to do in Salt Lake City include exploring exhibits, displays and collections of memorabilia depicting Utah’s history dating from 1869. The earliest settlers entered the Valley of the Great Salt Lake until the joining of the railroads at a location known as Promontory Point.
Get Creative at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
Formerly known as the Salt Lake Art Center, families can explore art together through a variety of free art-making activities at this contemporary art museum. The art galleries feature rotating exhibitions. While admission is free, an $8 donation is suggested.
Take a Walk at Sugar House Park
Situated in Salt Lake Valley, Sugar House Park offers plenty of green space for picnics, sports and walks around a large pond.
Relax at Liberty Park
A spacious city park with walking/running paths, swimming pool, tennis courts, paddle boats, children’s amusement park, playground, picnic facilities and plenty of room for recreation or relaxation. The park hosts many community events. While access to the park is free, there’s a cost to visit the onsite eight-acre Tracy Aviary where you can view and feed birds.
Climb the Ensign Peak Hiking Trail
About one mile north of the Utah State Capitol is a family-friendly, one-mile round-trip hike with city views. Brigham Young and seven other pioneer leaders climbed the mountain to survey the valley. From its summit they planned the city they intended to build. A small monument now sits on the summit.
Take a Scenic Drive to Little Cottonwood
Worth the 25-mile drive from Salt Lake City, Little Cottonwood Canyon is home to two of Utah’s ski resorts – Alta and Snowbird. At the mouth of the canyon is the site where Mormon settlers quarried granite slabs to build the Salt Lake Temple. Wilderness Areas are located on both sides of the steep canyon. Summer recreational activities include rock climbing, camping, picnicking and hiking.
Enjoy the Outdoors in Big Cottonwood Canyon
This popular wilderness area is situated in the Wasatch Range 12 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. In addition to hiking trails, the 15-mile-long canyon is a great place for biking, picnicking, rock-climbing, camping and fishing in the summer. Big Cottonwood Canyon is also home to the Brighton and Solitude ski resorts.
Affordable Family Fun
When you run out of free things to do, check out the following family attractions.
Red Butte Garden
Operated by the University of Utah, Red Butte Garden consists of a botanical garden, arboretum and amphitheater in the foothills of the Wasatch Range. Half-price admission in December, January and February.
The gardens are a three-minute walk to the Natural History Museum.
Natural History Museum of Utah
Special and Permanent Exhibits showcase Utah’s earliest people, gems and minerals, and the story of the Great Salt Lake.