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50 Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Utah

A List of Historical Sites, Museums, Vegan Restaurants and more in Salt Lake City

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Utah is one of the few states in the United States that is truly a diverse travel destination. Winter travelers come to Park City for skiing, national park visitors come to visit the eight national parks and monuments year round, and Mormons visit Salt Lake City as part of their pilgrimage tourism. So what brings the budget traveler, plant-based traveler, and family traveler to Salt Lake City? Here’s just a few reasons why you should visit before we get into your 50 things to do in Salt Lake City.

Strangely enough, while Mormons do not consume caffeine, you can find an array of incredible coffee shops in Salt Lake City, especially in Downtown. You can also find some incredible chocolatiers as Salt Lake City is known as America’s Craft Chocolate capital. Additionally, even though it’s not mentioned as often as Portland, Oregon, or New York City, this city is actually very vegan-friendly with 10 vegan restaurants and bakeries. Since Salt Lake City has such a variety of activities, we decided to organize them by category so you can plan your ideal trip according to your interests.

Historical Sites

  • Temple Square: While the Capitol Building is often the origin point on a city’s grid in many U.S. cities, Salt Lake City’s origin point is Temple Square. (Take a look and you’ll see the Utah State Capitol Building is at 350 North State Street as it is three blocks north of Temple Square.) Here you will find the Salt Lake Temple (for which there are no public tours), Museum of Church History and Art (free admission), The Beehive House (Brigham Young’s home), and the Family History Library. This library has more than 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records and is the world’s largest genealogical repository.
  • The City Library: Fellow introverts will love exploring six floors of this beautiful building erected in the 60s. Search through the many reading galleries and the curved walkable wall.
  • Deuel Pioneer Log Home: This home is one of two original establishments remaining from when the pioneers first settled in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. It is fully restored and you can visit with free admission.
  • The Cathedral of the Madeleine: Built in 1900 but completed in 1909, this Roman Catholic church is adorned with pink and green embellishments as well as colorful murals and shrines.
  • Utah State Capitol Building: Admire the neoclassical revival architecture, take a free tour of the inside (9am-5pm weekdays), or explore the grounds to see memorials and the cherry blossoms in the spring.

Outdoor Activities 

It’d be a shame to stay indoors when Salt Lake City is full of beautiful parks, gardens, and colorful neighborhoods.

  • Great Salt Lake: Drive up to Antelope Island State Park for views and to see wildlife. This lake is what’s left of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville which covered most of what is present-day Utah. It is 1,700 square miles and is home to hundreds of local birds and mammals.
  • Red Butte Garden and Arboretum: Explore 100 acres of gardens and trails and see incredible views of the area including the Great Salt Lake, Downtown Salt Lake City, and mountains.
  • City Creek Park: An oasis right across the street from Temple Square, admire the triple-arch bridge or take the pedestrian path that leads to Memory Grove Park alongside the capitol building.
  • International Peace Gardens: Admire floral displays representing cultures of other countries.
  • Gilgal Sculpture Garden: Across the street from Trolley Square, you can find a hidden public garden that features 12 original sculptures and 70 engraved stones.
  • Pioneer Park: Originally known as the “Old Fort” settlement, now you can find seasonal fairs and the weekly farmer’s market on Saturdays.
  • Memory Grove Park: Along the east side of the Capitol Building, you can admire memorials to Utah’s veterans as well as a replica of the Liberty Bell. There is also plenty of walking and biking paths if you’re looking to get in more exercise during your trip.
  • Sugar House Park: Take a break from perusing the local shops and take a long walk through this beautiful neighborhood park with mountain views.
  • Walk through the neighborhoods: There are plenty of beautiful neighborhoods in Salt Lake City, including the Marmalade District, The Avenues, and Capitol Hill. Admire beautiful architecture while taking a leisurely walk.

Museums 

  • Natural History Museum of Utah: Learn about the natural history of the state of Utah. See an array of dinosaur fossils and exhibits on the local minerals and flora.
  • Utah Museum of Fine Arts: This museum is home to over 20,000 works of art from all over the world, including pieces from Africa, the Mediterranean, and regional art from Utah.
  • The Leonardo Museum: This science and technology museum features exhibits on topics such as flight, landmines, and the human experience.
  • Museum of Church History and Art: This museum in Temple Square details the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1830 to present day.
  • Clark Planetarium: Science and space enthusiasts will love learning about space weather, the Moon, and other topics about our solar system while getting to see a real moon rock and meteorite.

Shopping Small Destinations

  • Sugar House: Named for the sugar beets first planted by pioneers, Sugar House is now a progressive neighborhood full of small shopping, bars and nightlife, coffee houses, and art, and is the epicenter of the shop local movement. Here you can shop at Central Book Exchange (used and new books since 1968), Local Colors of Utah (art and jewelry by local artists), Raunch Records (LPs, CDs, and skateboards) and Copperhive Vintage (vintage clothes and home goods).
  • Gardner Village: Technically, this mall is in Ogden, but as it’s only a 15-minute drive south, we figured it was worth a mention. This small shopping center has only small businesses for both shopping and dining. Here you can find chocolate, stationery, home goods, books, toys, clothes, and more.
  • Historic Trolley Square: This historic site (as of 1973) used to be the home for the city’s trolleys in the early 1900s. It was adapted to become a retail space in the 70s, inspired by Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. It’s now a local mall and destination for shoppers, diners, and fitness enthusiasts. While you can find big chains here like Pottery Barn, we recommend spending your time at places like Weller Book Works (used, new, and rare books since 1929) and The Bean Yard Coffee House.
  • Downtown Salt Lake City: Steps away from the Mormon beginnings of Salt Lake City lies some of the best coffee shops, bars, local shops, performing arts venues, and restaurants. Buy from local artisans at Everything Utah, peruse rare and collectible books at Ken Sanders Rare Books, and sample cuisine from some of some of best independent vegan restaurants in the state.

Vintage Shopping in Salt Lake City

  • Copperhive Vintage: This super chic vintage shop sells classic American vintage clothing for both men and women, housewares, and furniture.
  • Decades Vintage Clothing: Decades offers a beautiful selection of carefully-curated vintage clothing items in great condition. (Note, there have been mixed reviews in regards to their customer service, but we had a neutral experience here.)
  • Capitol City Antique Mall: If you’re looking to kill time during an afternoon, check out this large antique mall full of multiple dealers selling housewares, clothing, jewelry, and more.
  • iconoClad: This boutique sells a funky mix of secondhand, vintage, and new pieces at affordable prices starting at around $5.
  • Maeberry Vintage: Smack down in the middle of downtown, Maeberry Vintage offers vintage clothing items and accessories from as early as the 1940s.

All of the Vegan Restaurants, Vegan Bakeries, and Vegan-Friendly Coffee Shops and Chocolate Shops 

Vegan Restaurants in Salt Lake City 

  • Boltcutter: For those who think you can’t get decent Mexican food in the States outside of California or Texas, think again. Boltcutter serves plant-based modern versions of your favorite Central American street foods and classic dishes that will please your palate as well as your Instagram feed.
  • Seasons Plant-Based Bistro: Seasons is well-known in Salt Lake City for its outstanding upscale plant-based menu. Using cooking styles from both France and Italy, the menu utilizes organic and non-GMO foods to create the perfect, luxurious meal for a date night or special night out.
  • Vertical Diner: This vegan diner is renowned for their “Dude Cakes” (a loaded pancake concoction topped with sausage, onions, peppers, mushrooms, fries, and gravy). You can also find almost everything on their menu from stroganoff to a jerk chicken plate at this eclectic vegan establishment. You can also make 90% of the menu gluten-free upon request.
  • Buds: Buds serves classic sandwiches and hoagies at a truly affordable price, making it one of the favorites of the local college students. If you’re craving something fast, filling, and affordable, this is the take-out window to visit. 
  • Zest Kitchen & Bar: If you’re the kind of diner who likes a chic place for drinking cocktails or to have brunch, this is the place for you. Order memorable menu items like Hazelnut Pancakes topped with spirulina coconut whipped cream to upgrade your weekend in two seconds flat.
  • All Chay: This relaxed eatery serves vegan Vietnamese fare such as banh mi, pho, and other classics.
  • Passion Flour Patisserie: Enjoy French-style pastries, tarts, petit fours, crepes, and other treats alongside your ideal coffee order at this vegan cafe. Come for breakfast or use this cafe as an opportunity to pause mid-day for a pick-me-up.
  • Veggie House: Come here for fast casual Asian dishes with faux meats.
  • Lil Lotus: Lil Lotus serves plant-based comfort foods like tacos, burgers, and mac and cheese at affordable prices in the Sugar House neighborhood.
  • The Big O Donuts: Across the street from Vertical Diner, enjoy a second dessert by indulging in their clean and vegan donuts in flavors such as orange cardamom and toasted coconut.
  • Monkey Wrench: After your meal at Boltcutter, head next door to cleanse your palette with some vegan ice cream in flavors including your classic favorites like Rocky Road, as well as seasonal flavors like Lemon Blueberry Ripple.
  • Piper Down an Olde World Pub: While their regular menu is not vegan, their weekend brunch menu is 100% vegan! Enjoy hearty items like Huevos Rancheros (made with tofu) or indulge in the PB&J Monte Cristo (a tempura-battered and deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich).

Vegan-Friendly Chocolate Shops in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City may be crawling with chocolate makers, but not all of them have vegan options. Below are three chocolate shops that have a variety of vegan options in their shop.

  • Solstice Chocolate: They create single-origin chocolate bars made with very few ingredients to focus on the quality of the bean. Discover chocolate from Ecuador, Bolivia, Uganda, Madagascar, and more here.
  • Milcreek Cacoa Roasters: This shop calls their production process “Farm to Bar” as they work with the farmers directly all over the world to ensure the highest quality cacao. Here you can find a plethora of dark chocolate options with added ingredients such as cherry and whiskey.
  • The Chocolate Conspiracy: While they sweeten their chocolate bars with honey, they offer vegan truffles and hot chocolate for you to enjoy. You can also take a tour of their facility (booked in advance) if you’d like to know more about the space and how they make truffles.

Coffee Shops

  • Three Pines Coffee – This sleek coffee shop is a local favorite not only for its beautiful drinks and atmosphere, but also for their high-quality beans, house-made almond milk, and record collection in the corner. Don’t forget to add dark chocolate or their house-made vanilla syrup to the beverage of your choice. Nothing here is overly sweet and this coffee shop is one of our favorites in the country.
  • Sugar House Coffee: This progressive and vegan-friendly coffee shop and cafe serves locally-sourced food and innovative coffee drinks in a colorful spot in the heart of Sugar House. This cafe is also a well-known safe space for the LGBT community and hosts local music nights several nights a week. We loved everything about this place from the energy in the venue to the beet root latte we ordered.
  • Publik Coffee: Publik Coffee has multiple locations in Salt Lake City. Fans love this shop for their “planet over profit” attitude, the love of their community, their ethically-sourced beans, and their superb vegan-friendly toast menu.
  • The Rose Establishment: Looking for a more rustic coffee shop with a vegan-friendly brunch menu? Choose from their exquisite food offerings and add on one of their signature drinks like the Pink Lady Latte or Black Rose.
  • Other coffee shop options would include Blue Copper Coffee Room, Cupla Coffee, Alchemy Coffee (has multiple dairy-free milks and vegan pastries), La Barbra, and many more!

Depending on your plans and the amount of people in your party, if you are planning on visiting multiple museums, gardens, and other ticketed destinations, you could save money by simply buying a Connect Pass. Click the link to see which locations are included in the Connect Pass and if it’s the right choice for your vacation plans.

Are you now inspired to visit Salt Lake City? This city is often forgotten about as a destination but it should be added to your bucket list promptly, especially if you’re a plant-based or vegan traveler. You won’t be lacking stellar vegan options, fun vintage shops, wonderful historical buildings, and coffee places to keep you awake to see it all. 

 

Remember to shop local, support vegan establishments, and have fun in the cultural center of The Beehive State.

 

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