Salt Lake City, Utah, travel guide and things to do: Nine highlights


Salt Lake City's number one tourist attraction is Temple Square, the epicentre of the Mormon religion. Grand in scale, the most enlightening way to explore the complex and learn about the fascinating faith is to join a free tour, run by young sister missionaries on an 18-month assignment. While the grandiose Temple is inaccessible to non-Mormons, the tours include a visit to the Assembly Hall, the North Visitors' Centre with its oversized statue of Christ, and the famous Tabernacle, its near-perfect acoustics demonstrated by the drop of a pin. 


Leading a new wave of modern American restaurants elevating Salt Lake City's dining scene to big-city heights is Eva, focusing on communal dining, quality ingredients and a nourishing take on comfort foods. Tapas-style share plates are heavily plant-based, with standouts including sautéed brussels sprouts, charred beets served with goats cheese and grilled asparagus topped with a poached egg; while not-so-small menu items include sublime pizzas and baked Greek Mac & Cheese. 


For a city where alcohol is heavily regulated and was once served from behind a 'Zion curtain' (a frosted glass partition separating a restaurant's bar from patrons), Salt Lake City has heartily embraced the craft beer scene, with around 30 micro-breweries and brewpubs popping up in the last 30 years. Leading that charge in the heart of downtown, the popular Squatters – whose motto is 'Good for What Ales You' – serves its award-winning brews alongside hearty pizzas, burgers and jalapeno poppers. 


A sandwich at Caputo's Market & Deli – a SLC institution for more than two decades - is more than a mouthful worth queuing for, with classic Italian-style toppings served in hearty American-sized portions. A half-sized sandwich (around US$7) should suffice for mere mortals, with vegetarians as well as meat-lovers catered for. Save room for some craft chocolate, with the family-run store stocking an expansive collection from around the world; or have a cheese tasting in the delightfully stinky 'cheese cave'. 


If you can't beat 'em, join 'em – and if you're visiting Salt Lake City between October and April, that means attending an NBA basketball game. As just one of two professional sports teams based in SLC, Utah Jazz pocket most of the local sporting obsession; and a home game at Vivint Smart Home Arena is a joyous carnival that shouldn't be missed. With All Star players Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert leading the pack, Utah Jazz are always a force to be reckoned with. 


xxSLC One & Only Salt Lake City ; text by Julie Miller ; SUPPLIED via journalist - Visit Utah ; Ski_Alta_LeeCohen-TylerP_2011.jpg

Photo: Visit Utah

With 11 ski resorts located within an hour's drive of Salt Lake City International Airport, choosing a slope to hit the trademarked 'Greatest Snow on Earth' is a matter of whim and mood. Locals tend to be resort-loyal, however – some hardcore skiers prefer Alta and Deer Valley as they are ski-only resorts, while boarders tend to gravitate towards the terrain parks at Brighton or Park City. For perfect powder, minimal crowds and the largest skiable terrain in the US, however, make a beeline to Powder Mountain, a relatively undiscovered gem which caps its numbers to 1,500 a day and 3,000 season passes a year. 


As surreal is it is reverent, Gilgan Sculpture Garden is tucked away behind office blocks Downtown, not visible unless you know where to find it. A collection of bizarre sculptures and stones engraved with Bible verses, the garden was created in the mid-20th century by Thomas Battersby Child Jr, with the aim of inspiring viewers to ponder "the unsolved mysteries of life". It is identified as the only "visionary art environment" in Utah. 


The Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi; and while it may appear to be a barren, salty wasteland from the air, it is in fact a haven for wildlife as well as cool place to take a mineral-rich and buoyant dip. The best access to the lake is Antelope Island, a 9,000-hectare State Park 100 kilometres north of SLC that's home to an astonishing array of free-ranging wildlife, including a herd of around 700 bison. Grab a bike or horse to explore the backcountry trails, or stroll along the white sand beaches. 



xxSLC One & Only Salt Lake City ; text by Julie Miller ; SUPPLIED via journalist - Visit Utah ; SundanceFilmFestival_VisitUtah_MattMorgan.jpg

Photo: Visit Utah

The Sundance Film Festival is arguably the most influential independent film festival in the world, luring celebrities and emerging filmmakers to the ski resorts of Park City and Sundance every January. What few people realise, however, is that a significant number of events are also held in Salt Lake City, which tend to be easier access for the general public. As well as screenings, the city also hosts film workshops, panels, parties, live performances and pop-up bars. 


Despite its conservative reputation, Mormons account for less than 50 per cent of Salt Lake City's population, with increasing diversity and growing tolerance towards minorities. In fact, a 2017 Gallup poll ranked SLC as the seventh queerest city in the USA, with 4.7 per cent of its population identifying as LGBTQ. So yes, you will get a drink if you visit, and you will have a good time.

Julie Miller travelled as a guest of Visit Utah.