salt lake city skyline aerial image rockies mountains family days out

The Best Family Salt Lake City Guide

Salt Lake City, UT City Guide

Familydaysout.com has done ALL the hard work so you don’t have to by creating the ULTIMATE family guide to visiting Salt Lake City, to print & use!

Salt Lake City is a unique and fascinating city on a backdrop of some pretty incredible scenery! Nestled in the foothills of some pretty impressive mountains, whether you're a skiier or not, this Utah capital makes for a GREAT family day out, so we can't wait to share with you our favorite things to do with kids in this Salt Lake City. From the museums, to the art, to the amazing natural wonders, we couldn't wait to share with you our "Top 9 Family Attractions" that you can enjoy on your next family day out in one of the most popular destinations to visit in the USA!

There are so many fun things to do with kids in Salt Lake City, make sure you keep reading this Salt Lake City Guide to see what you might like to include when you next visit this unique city!

Image Credit: AustenDiamondPhotography / Visit Salt Lake

In this Salt Lake City Guide, we'll be sharing with you the best museums (from  art, religion to history!), the most scenic views you could imagine, and the most coolest kid-tastic attractions you can find in Salt Lake City. We understand families are often on a budget when you travel, so also in this Salt Lake City Guide we've shared some free things to do with kids as well! We'll also share the best ways to get around the city by public transport, as well as some super fun facts you can impress all your friends with!

If you want to explore a little further out of Salt Lake City, this city guide highlights our favorite day trip too. We check out some famous faces who were born in Salt Lake City! We want to make sure you don’t miss out on a think with your family whene you visit this very cool Utah city!

So whether this is your first trip to Salt Lake City, or perhaps you have lived here for years but just never took the time to really explore what there is to do, and you think "I wonder what is there is to do near me?", then keep reading, because we have the top 9 things to do in Salt Lake City with kids, just for you!

Image Credit: AustenDiamondPhotography / Visit Salt Lake

On the 24th July, 1847, Salt Lake City was famously founded by a group of Mormon pioneers, led by a man named Brigham Young. This group were the first non-Native Americans to settle in the area. This founding group had only 148 members: 143 men, 3 women, and 2 children.

Prior to that, the land was occupied by various Native American groups. There were the ancient Pueblo People, also known as the Anasazi, who built large communities in southern Utah for about 1300 years, up until 1300 AD.  Then there were the Ute Tribe (from which the state takes its name!) and the Navajo Indians who arrived later.

As the story is told, this pioneering group of Mormons came to the valley in search of a region where they could practice their religion, free from hostile mobs and persecution experienced in other parts of the country. When Brigham Young first step foot in the valley he exclaimed, "This is the right place."

In fact, when the Mormons first arrived in the valley the area was actually still part of Mexico! In 1848, a treaty was signed which ceded it to the United States, and then in 1850, the "State of Deseret" officially became the Utah Territory.

The famous California Gold Rush brought many immigrants through the area, and in the 1850s many US soldiers were stationed in the city, as well as during the Civil War.  The iconic Mormon temple began construction in 1853, and was finally completed in 1892.

Today, after additions such as the international airport, the Olympic Village for the 2002 Winter Games, public transportation systems and retail developments, Salt Lake City is thriving and perfect for families to enjoy on that family day out!

Image Credit: AustenDiamondPhotography / Visit Salt Lake

Salt Lake City has a wonderful range of things to do with kids and with family. You have of course the stunning natural world, with places like the iconic Great Salt Lake State Park, (see a connection with the name of the city!?) and the charming Red Butte Garden. There are fascinating museums such as the Church History Museum, and really fun experiences for kids like Clark Planetarium!

There are hidden secrets like Gilgal Sculptures, plus opportunities to explore the icons of the city, like Temple Square, which really is the heart of Salt Lake City. We're also in the skiing capital of the USA, so places like Utah Olympic Village are great for those active kids AND to feel a part of history!

Salt Lake City is a great city to visit, as it's incredibly family friendly and there is just so much to explore (and some of the architecture is amazing!) so go on out and enjoy it for yourself on your next family day out - and share with us what you discover too! 

Image Credit: AustenDiamondPhotography / Visit Salt Lake

The city make it SO easy to get around without a car, if you need a break from all that road trip driving. Trains, buses and light-rail give you access from the airport to the ski fields and everything in between. 

Commuter trains, known as FrontRunner, offer transportation access from Ogden to Provo, with limited stops along the way. (Except Sundays). Light-rail lines, called TRAX, offer access to Downtown from across the valley on three easy to understand color-coded lines.  (Also, Downtown Salt Lake provides a great transfer point as all the lines run through downtown!)

Buses provide connecting service at many of the TRAX and FrontRunner stations to get you almost anywhere in the Greater Salt Lake Area, and there's also a great bus service up to Park City, and during ski season, UTA provides ski bus access up Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons to Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude.

Source and Image Credit: More information here: Visit Salt Lake

Header Image: Visit Salt Lake

About a 50 minute drive from Salt Lake City is Midway, and every year they have the award-winning attraction: Ice Castles!  It's an absolutely incredible experience for kids! (It's actually held annually in five cities across America!)

The Ice Castles experience is built using hundreds of thousands of icicles, all meticulously hand-placed by professional ice artists. When you're there, you can really see the work that went into the display. The castles include breathtaking LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains and much more!

Image Credit & Website: Ice Castles Utah

Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Salt Lake City!

Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Salt Lake City! Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Salt Lake City!

1This Is The Place Heritage Park

So much more than a state park, This Is The Place Heritage Park is a complete living history experience for the whole family, with activities to enjoy, monuments and animals to make friends with!

There are also historic homes within the park which will really make you feel you're travelling back in time! You can visit actual residental homes that will certainly feel much different to your own now, plus cabins, a hospital, a hotel, a bank, even a pioneer cemetary. It's a step back in time, and it's a great experience for the family!

Image Credit: This Is The Place

Tracy Aviary is incredibly special as it's the largest and oldest of only TWO free-standing aviaries in the entire nation! And whether or not you're an avid bird fan, Tracy Aviary will surely impress you making it an amazing activity for the whole family.

The aviary is home to a host of exhibits showcasing some of the most amazing and colorful birds from all around the globe. In addition, kids will love the Children's Discovery Garden, Swan Pond, Indoor Bird Show and more! Are you ready to spead your wings and take flight in Salt Lake City?

Image Credit: Tracy Aviary

We LOVE a good zoo here at Family Days Out, and Hogle Zoo makes for a great day out for YOUR family when in Salt Lake City! In fact, the zoo is one of the most visited attractions in the entire state of Utah, and since it's opening in 1931, given countless families a WILD time with over 800 amazing animals from all over the world. 

The natural terrain of the enclosures span 42 acres of tree-lined pathways, where kids can come face to face with towering giraffe, grand lions, and see ostrich running in the grasslands. From polar bears to grizzly bears, and everything great and small in betwee, Hogle Zoo is a must-do in Salt Lake City.

Image Credit: Hogle Zoo

From fascinating prehistoric dinosaurs, to mysterious ancient Egyptian mummies, the Natural History Museum of Utah is an amazing day out for the kids where they can be amazed, educated and surprised.

Kids can learn local culture as they discover the reecognized tribes of Utah, along with the Great Basin's prehistoric peoples. The wonders of the earth shimmer in all their gemstone glory, the whole family can learn how mountains and caverns aree formed, and kids can also learn what lies right in their very own backyard! It's here, natural history comes to life!

Image Credit: Natural History Museum of Utah

The mission of the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum is to inspire kids of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to use their imagine, discover, learn, experiment, and connect with their world to make a difference, and this is why it makes a great stop on the Salt Lake City itinerary!

Within the museum, all the exhibits as well the daily programs, offer kids hours of interactive learning through play. It might be hands on fun with art they love - allowing their creativity to shine through! Or it might be science that attracts them, perhaps it's problem solving or literacy. It's a kids museum JUST for kids!

Image Credit: Discovery Gateway

There is such a magic to the ocean, and mystery about what lies beneth, but when you visit Loveland Living Aquarium you'll get to come back face to face with the creatures that call the water home (and some land animals that might surprise you!)

The exhibits at this family friendly aquarium range from local wildlife, such as the Discover Utah where creatures such as desert tortoise and North American River Otter reside, right through to the wonderful creatures from afar - like in the Journey to South America exhibit, and Expetition Asia, where Chinese Dragons and Vine Snakes make their homes. A hugely popular aqurium for kids of all ages!

Image Credit: Loveland Living Planet Aquarium

The Leonardo is a museum of creativity and innovation. In fact, it's a first-of-a-kind museum where parents and kids alike can explore the unexpected places and ways that science, technology, art, and creativity connect! Sounds intriguing? That's because it is! And worth a visit. 

Named aftere Leonardo da Vinci, who was of course an artist, an engineer, a scientist, an architect, a musician and a humanitarian...in fact, one of his most important skills was learning how to learn, so The Leonardo is an amazing place for kids to explore the exhibits on flight, art, light, and so much more - and enjoy learning!

Image Credit: The Leonardo

It wouldn't be a trip to Salt Lake City without a visit to the Great Salt Lake State Park! The first point of call should be the Visitor Center, where you can learn all about the Great Lake itself, it's history (like how it was first opened to the public as a state park in 1978!), and how it's the largest lake west of the Mississippi River, and how it's one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world!

Really it's the amazing scenery that you're visiting for. Make sure you take your camera because it's pretty special! If you look closely you can also spot the nearby Antelope Park too.  Campsites are available too if you fancy extending your trip.

Image Credit: Utah State Parks

Whilst in Salt Lake City it's easy to find your days caught up in all the museums and historic attractions, but take the time to really enjoy this amazing slice of nature - Red Butte Garden, located in the Universtiy of Utah and is actually the state's botanical garden.

Across it's 100 acres there are fun themed gardens, such as the medicinal garden, as well as children's garden and herb gardens. In addition to the plants, there are events held across the year including concert series and art events too!

Image Credit: Red Butte Garden

Famous Salt Lakers!

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Loretta Young

Loretta Young was a popular American actress whose career started when she was only a child. Her career spanned from 1917 right through to 1953. She took home the Best Actress Academy Award for The Farmer's Daughter

Image Copyright: Public Domain

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Derek Hough

Derek Hough is an American professional dancer, as well as actor and singer. His most notable dancing was seen on ABC's Dancing With The Stars! (He even won it 6 times!)

Image Copyright: Public Domain

5 Fun Salt Lake City Facts

5 Fun Salt Lake City Facts

Impress your friends with your amazing Salt Lake City knowledge!

  • Salt Lake City was actually founded by a church leader! A man named Brigham Young founded it in 1847. 
  • The city hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games!
  • It's said that Salt Lake City was actually the 5th city in the entire WORLD to introduce centralized electricity!
  • The weather in Salt Lake City actually means you can come and ski in summer!
  • Salt Lake City is home to the first KFC!

Top 5 FREE Things To Do With Kids In Salt Lake City

Explore the secret Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Explore the secret Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Gilgal Sculpture Garden really does need to be seen to be believed! A project that was envisioned, designed and created by Thomas Battersby Child, Jr. in the mid-twentieth century, this secret garden of hand-carved culptures are hidden in a littlee block behind some houses, with many locals still unaware of its existence! 

The sculpture garden contains 12 original sculptures, with over 70 stones that aree engraved with various literary texts, poems and scriptures. The garden is open 7 days a week, and is free to enter, with walking tour brochures available when you arrive! They are closed New Years Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Image Credit: Gilgal Sculpture Garden

 

Fort Douglas Military Museum

Fort Douglas Military Museum

This fascinating free admission museum is not only a Utah Military History Center, but it's also a National Historic Landmark too! Fort Douglas was one of the most essential forts in the entire USA, and now it's filled with exhibits that tell the stories of its history, from WWII battles, it's time as an Air Base and it's use to protect mail routes in the Wild West!

Make sure you make time for the outdoor exhibits too, where kids can get up close and personal to real life aircraft, tanks and helicopters. Can you just imagine them out in battle? Fort Douglas and what it stands for brought - and brings - pride to the nation. 

Image Credit: Fort Douglas Military Museum

Church History Museum

Church History Museum

The Church History Museum features a number of permanent and changing exhibits that tell the story of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You're in Salt Lake City after all, and with all religions welcome, it's always great for kids to learn about as many cultures, religions and traditions as they can.

The museum features both permament and rotating exhibits, from the journey of the Pioneers, to women's right to vote in the state, to the founding of the Church itself, it's a fascinating museum and a great stop on your family day out!

Image Credit: Church History Museum

Visit Temple Square

Visit Temple Square

Temple Square is the iconic building and stunning architecture that defines the Salt Lake City skyline. In fact, it's the hub of the city as it is a center of history and worship for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

They would be more than happy to show you around in the free guided tour (but you need to book ahead). Make sure you take extra note of the concert hall and it's world class design and accoustics! A great way to continue an education on the church, its people and its history!

Image Credit: Church of Jesus Christ

Gaze the Universe at Clark Planetarium!

Gaze the Universe at Clark Planetarium!

Ready to boldy go where many families have gone before? Clark Planetarium is a great free admission experience to the stars, giving families an out of this world experience for over 50 years.

There are three floors of free, hands-on, interactive exhibits within the planetarium, where kids can indulge their curiosity as they experiment and play with the exhibits, and discover new ways to understand our world, space, the solar system, and beyond.

It's worth nothing that whilst free admission, they do play feature films, which do have a ticket charge.

Image Credit: Clark Planetarium

Female Foodie's Top 10 Places To Eat in Salt Lake City

A Fun Day Trip From Salt Lake City!

Think herds of roaming bison and horsee back experiences were just for states like Montana and Wyoming? Nope! A wonderful and incredibly nature-filled day trip from Salt Lake City is Antelope Island State Park. 

Antelope Island is incredible to explore (you'll want to take your camera!) as it's home to a LOT of free-ranging bison (12 were brought to the island in 1893 and now there are 500-700 thanks to that happy dozen!), as well as other wildlife including mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn (yes, antelope!), and a host of other desert animals. You'll also see the millions of birds that congregate along the shores surrounding the island, offering unparalleled opportunities for those birding fans in the family.

Antelope Island State Park is great to visit year-round too!

The first known Anglo exploration of Antelope Island was in 1845, by John C Fremont and Kit Carson. They named the island because they saw, you guessed it, antelope grazing.

In 1848, the first permanent residence on the island was established, and in fact, the ranch house that was built is the oldest Anglo-structure in the entire state of Utah that's still on its original foundation!

In 1981, the state of Utah bought the 28,000 acre island and created what we now know and love as Antelope Island Statee Park! The island is the largest island on the Great Salt Lake, and the oldest exposed rock found on the island dates back 1.7 BILLION years (that's the same age as the rocks found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon!

So get ready to enjoy a breathtaking and animal-tastic day out from Salt Lake City, it's amazing!

Image Credit: Utah State Parks

Here’s our top 4 Antelope Island things to do:

We hope you found this content useful! Please share with your friends, and if you have any comments, or want to let us know what we can do to further help you find fun days out with the family, then just email our team at [email protected]!

Let's get the family adventure started!

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

The best fun places to go with kids sent straight to your inbox!

Subscribe now