one day salt lake city itinerary
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One Day in Salt Lake City: Itinerary + Things to do

Wandering what there is to see in one day in Salt Lake City? Are you planning a trip to the Utah state capital? I have got you covered. This Salt Lake City one day itinerary is all you need to plan your 24 hours!

I traveled to Utah back in 2021, but it was just passing through the state on our way to the Grand Canyon or just you can say transiting!

But this time we landed in Salt Lake City to visit the state. We landed at night but I could see the beautiful valley from above! The city is surrounded by mountains and I literally could see snow on the peaks while driving around! The city is beautiful and it is the gateway to the United States’ most beautiful landscapes.

While I believe you can spend far more than 1 day in Salt Lake City and first-timers like me are often based there to explore other places in the region. The beautiful Utah capital has many attractions that can easily be visited in one day. 

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One Day in Salt Lake City Itinerary Overview

I have put together an Itinerary for Salt Lake City that will help you maximize your short time in the City including the best places to visit, recommendations for cafes in the city, and things to do!

See the outstanding architecture and lush parks on a walk through downtown Temple Square and Capitol Hill. The city offers delicious food options and it’s not hard to find it throughout the city! So, keep reading!

How Many Days in Salt Lake City?

Salt Lake City is Utah’s capital, and you will find so much to do there, so obviously you’ll want to spend at least 2 days in Salt Lake City, as there are so many fun things to do.

But if you’re planning a Utah road trip and Salt Lake City is your starting point, certainly, one day in Salt Lake City is enough time to see the major highlights when spending more time isn’t an option!

I will say that some of these Salt Lake City landmarks and attractions are religious, as religion plays a huge role in Utah and the state capital as a whole! I am also including other attractions in this Salt Lake City itinerary that are worth visiting if you want to add them to your plan.

While one day in Salt Lake City is not a lot of time, you should be able to see a fair amount of the city in a short duration if you plan it well! And where I come in to help you!

Before we dive into the Salt Lake City one day itinerary, I want to share some tips and information for visiting.

Practical Information to Spend One Day in Salt Lake City

Best Time to Visit

Visiting Salt Lake City is possible at any time of the year! But majorly it depends on your interests or what kind of activity you want to opt for!

Summer is the best time to visit Salt Lake City, days are warm and dry! This is the perfect time to visit the Salt Flats. Also, it’s peak season time, so accommodation prices will be on the higher side!

However, if you’re concerned about temperature, prices, and the best things to do, I would say the best time to visit Salt Lake City is in the fall. The days remain pleasant and fall foliage is stunning in the nearby mountains. You will find cheaper prices than in the summer months or the winter ski season with fewer crowds.

Winter is cold, with temperatures ranging from 20°F to 40°F (-6°C to 4°C). Snowfall is common in the mountains and the city. If you enjoy winter sports, this is the best time for skiing and snowboarding.

Spring is also a fantastic time to visit Salt Lake City. But also it is a transitional season and brings rain throughout the United States. If you’re planning a visit to a national park or a day trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats, you may need to struggle with the rain.

salt lake city one day itinerary

Getting around Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City has a great public transportation system like other major cities like Savannah or Charleston. Downtown SLC is fairly easy to navigate and is best explored on foot. The city center is flat, laid out on a grid system and you can see beautiful mountains surrounding it.

But if you don’t like walking, you have other options to visit Salt Lake City attractions.

Public Buses: The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) operates a comprehensive bus system that covers the entire Salt Lake Valley and surrounding areas. It operates every 7-10 minutes between 7 AM to 6 PM.

TRAX Light Rail: Salt Lake City’s light rail train system is called TRAX, which runs through downtown, connecting visitors with the airport and numerous other attractions.

Important tip: Public transportation within downtown Salt Lake City is free! TRAX and Bus rides cost $0, as long as you enter and exit the transport within the zone! But be sure that you remain within the boundaries, otherwise, you’ll need to pay $2.50 per ride. Click here to see the map of the free fare zone. You can also download the transit app on your phone for real-time updates and route options!

Rental Cars: If you’re planning to explore beyond the city limits, Renting a car is a practical option, especially if you want to visit the nearby national parks or ski resorts.

The rental car will give you the freedom to take day trips if you are planning for more than one day in Salt Lake City. You can visit some of the gorgeous mountainous scenery that surrounds the capital city!

 Click here to rent a car in Salt Lake City

Uber/Lyft: If you’re looking for ride-sharing options, Uber and Lyft are extremely popular with visitors and locals alike and can help you get door-to-door service.

Ski Resort Shuttles: If you’re visiting during the winter for skiing or snowboarding, many ski resorts offer shuttle services from the city to the mountains. Check with your resort for transportation options.

Where to Stay in Salt Lake City

You will find so many options for places to stay in Salt Lake City. Depending on your budget and preference, we’ve got you covered! Here are some of our top picks for the city:

Suggested One Day in Salt Lake City Itinerary

Most of the SLC attractions are in the vicinity of each other. I have designed this itinerary to maximize your full day in the city including historical places and outdoors.

I recommend dividing your time between the Temple Square area and the Foothills Cultural District.

However, if you’re just on a quick stopover in SLC before hitting the road to some of Utah’s national parks and other sights, you can skip a few places from this itinerary as per your interest when you have only one day in Salt Lake City.

Best Places to Visit in Salt Lake City in One Day

To make the most of your day in this Salt Lake City Itinerary, I would suggest starting your day very early to make most of the day! I am including Salt flats in this itinerary but you can customize this itinerary as you like! But I visited everything I mentioned here in one day, so it depends on how much time it takes for you to visit all the places!

Breakfast at Eva’s Bakery

Start your day with good coffee in Salt Lake City! While the city has so many options for Coffee of every type, Eva’s Bakery offers Breakfast and brunch options. Their Avocado toast and croissant are worth trying! You’ll also get good French-style breakfast options. Also, their menu is vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

When to visit: Monday – Saturday, 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM; Sunday: 8 AM to 3 PM

Stop-1: Temple Square

One of the most essential places to visit in Salt Lake City is Temple Square. This area of the city houses some of the most important pieces of history, especially Mormon history and culture. Temple Square is the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints(LDS).

Not only was Salt Lake City originally designed with Temple Square at the center focal point, but the buildings and grounds have beautiful, unique architecture.

The temple square is located in the middle of downtown and you can visit all the places on foot, they are located right beside each other, making it a very convenient Salt Lake City landmark for any itinerary.

Interested in family history? You can get lost for hours amongst your ancestors in the Family History Library. If you’re curious about the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Check out the North and South Visitor’s Centers and speak with sister missionaries from all over the world! Whether you’re religious or not, Temple Square should be at the top of your agenda when visiting Salt Lake City. 

Here are some of the places you should check out in Temple Square when there:

Stop-2: Salt Lake Temple

One of the most visited and photographed attractions in the city- the Salt Lake Temple. Sacred rites and ceremonies, such as marriage, are held in the temple which was built between 1853 and 1893. 

best things to do in salt lake city
Salt Lake Temple is a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church)

The temple is not open to the general public, only members of the LDS church can enter inside. But you can still admire its beauty and history from the outside.

Stop-3: Assembly Hall

A beautiful building worth visiting in Temple Square is Assembly Hall, a Victorian Gothic building that serves as a venue for various events, including concerts and gatherings for guests. It was completed in 1882 using granite left over from the construction of the Salt Lake Temple.

Visitors are welcome in this place of worship. The building is decorated with original stained glass windows using common designs and symbols of the 19th century.

Assembly hall- places o visit in salt lake city in one day

While you’re here, don’t miss the brass Handcart Pioneer Monument of a family pulling a handcart adjacent to Assembly Hall. It is a tribute to the nearly 3,000 Mormon pioneers who walked the 1350-mile trek from Iowa City with all their possessions in handmade, all-wood handcarts. They could not afford ox-drawn wagons so they hauled their handcarts the entire route. About 250 people died on the journey!

Stop-4: Salt Lake Tabernacle

Another famous place worth visiting in Temple Square is the Salt Lake Tabernacle, a domed building dating back to 1867. The Tabernacle is home to the world-renowned Tabernacle Choir, founded in 1847.

one day salt lake city itinerary

The construction of the Tabernacle began in 1863 and lasted for twelve years. While the first organ contained 700 pipes, it is dwarfed by the current organ’s 11,623 pipes. This is one of the largest pipe organs in the world.

Family History Library

spending a day in Salt Lake city

One of the largest genealogical libraries in the world, the Family History Library is free to visit. The library’s collection includes the names of more than 3 billion deceased people from over 100 countries. You can visit it on weekdays from 9 AM- 5 PM and is a must-visit if you’re looking for more information about family trees in the LDS Church.

Stop-5: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Conference Center (LDS church)

One of the most prominent buildings in Salt Lake City completed in 2000, the semi-annual church general conference and other major church events are held in this huge conference center.

The Conference Center is a remarkable architectural structure with a seating capacity of over 21,000 people, making it one of the largest religious auditoriums in the world!

Stop-6: Beehive House

The Beehive House was a residential building for Brigham Young (2nd President of the LDS Church) from 1855 until 1877. He used it as a residence, office, and reception area for official visitors during his tenure.

The Beehive House is so named for its beehive sculpture at the top of the house. Lion House was built in 1855 to accommodate Young’s large family, today it is a historical landmark and a must-visit place in Temple Square.

Stop-7: Utah State Capitol Building

One of the most famous places you need to put in your Salt Lake City Itinerary is the Utah State Capitol building. It is a short uphill walk from Temple Square.

The Capitol building was constructed between 1912 and 1916 in neoclassical style architecture and features a distinctive dome similar to the United States Capitol in Washington DC. It also underwent a few renovations in the last century.

a day in salt lake city

It offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains and the building is added to the National Register of Historic Places. Don’t forget to check out some notable places in the complex- Martha Hughes Cannon Statue and Mormon Battalion Monument while you visit it.

Close to the Capitol Building, you can also visit the Pioneer Memorial Museum, showcasing the artifacts celebrating Utah’s pioneer heritage. The Museum is free to visit. So, if you have time in your schedule, check it out.

Stop-8: Memory Grove Park

Located near the State Capitol building and Part of City Creek Canyon, Memory Grove Park is known for its peaceful and serene atmosphere. It has lots of walking paths, and picnic areas and offers scenic views of Salt Lake City.

One of the notable aspects of Memory Grove Park is its collection of war memorials. The first memorial which honors the fallen soldiers of World War One was created in the 1920s. Over the years many memorials to veterans and monuments added dedicating to to those who served in various wars.

one day salt lake city itinerary

You can also visit City Creek Natural Area, where you can walk, bike around, or hike along the City Creek Canyon Trailhead. If you love hiking, this is the best place to visit during your one day in Salt Lake City.

Stop-9: Salt Lake City Library

Located in Library Square, Salt Lake City Public Library is a must-add-on to your Salt Lake City itinerary. The stunning building, designed in partnership with internationally renowned Safdie Architects, opened in February 2003. It remains one of the most architecturally unique structures in Utah.

The building is five-story with a triangular-shaped structure with limestone flooring. The hall’s skylight lets in huge amounts of natural light. The Rooftop Terrace offers a 360-degree view of the Salt Lake Valley. It houses shops and services at ground level, reading galleries above, making it quieter as you move up in the building!

Check out the art gallery, spiral grand staircase, and glass elevators. It houses more than 500,000 books and other materials!

You can also check out The Leonardo museum, next door, and Washington Square Park (home to city hall) for kids’ activities.

Stop-10: Bonneville Salt Flats at Sunset

You must be free by afternoon from visiting the above place and now it’s time to head to one of the most amazing places of UTAH – Bonneville Salt Flats. The salt flats are located 120 miles from Downtown and take 1.5 hours to reach via west on I80. When you reach here it will be almost sunset time to see the best colors over the salt flats!

Stop at the rest area about 10 miles from the Utah-Nevada border. There is information about the flats, washrooms, and a tap to wash off the salt after a walk on the flats when you return!

The salt flats are about 30,000 acres in the area and are covered with salty soil. The flats look like a lake bed covered with snow. The area is part of the ancient Lake Bonneville. In late fall, winter and early spring water typically covers the flats. This is a unique time to visit to see the reflections! But it will be not wise to drive during this time!

But once the water has evaporated, it leaves behind large expanses of salt flats, usually by the start of summer!

The salt flats are famous for the Bonneville Speedway, where land speed records have been set over the years. If you want to visit during Annual Speed Week, check out the weather conditions before your visit. 

These Utah salt flats are one of the most unique landscapes in the world, so don’t miss this during your one day in Salt Lake City itinerary.

more than one day in Salt Lake City?

More than 1 day in Salt Lake City?  Don’t worry, there are so many things that will keep you occupied with extra time in hand! Don’t forget to see the colorful street art in downtown!

You can today visit a few more places in the city or rent a car and go visit some of the best national parks in Utah! You can also visit nearby Park City for a day trip from Salt Lake City!

Natural History Museum of Utah

One of the best museums to visit in Utah is the Natural History Museum, especially if you’re traveling with kids!  It is located on the campus of the University of Utah and I highly recommend visiting it if you have 2 days in SLC.

The museum was opened in 2011 and the building is an architectural marvel with a design inspired by the natural landscape of Utah. It features a copper exterior that will develop a green patina over time.

The museum showcases a wide range of exhibits and collections related to the natural history of Utah and the Intermountain West region. It covers a wide range of topics from anthropology, and archaeology, displays the flora and fauna of the region, and much more!

Near the Museum, you can opt for Living Room Lookout Trail which is a 2.3 miles out-and-back moderate trail and offers views of Salt Lake City.

This is the Place Heritage Park

The 450-acre state park is at the junction of Emigration Canyon and the Salt Lake Valley. Explore the park’s many things to see and do.

This is the Place Monument is prominent in the park, which marks the spot where Brigham Young is believed to have made the statement “This is the right place” in 1847. That declaration stopped the Latter-day Saint pioneers’ 1300-mile journey from Nauvoo Illinois and started their settlement in the valley.

The monument honors those pioneers and all the explorers and settlers of the American West. It includes a large bronze statue of Brigham Young and is a symbol of the pioneer spirit.

Heritage Village Living History Experience

Within the park, you will see a reconstructed pioneer village that aims to recreate the atmosphere and lifestyle of the early Mormon settlers. You can explore historic buildings, and demonstrations of traditional crafts, and learn about the challenges faced by the pioneers.

 For the kids, there are pony rides, a petting farm, a splash pad, and a mini-train. There’s a gift shop, a candy shop, and many other food options in the park! Also, explore the base of Emigration Canyon and see the iconic views of the Salt Lake Valley.

Hike up Ensign Peak

Another popular thing to do when visiting Salt Lake City for a weekend or more than one day is to go hiking!  One of the city’s most popular trails is Ensign Peak.

The trail leads to the summit of Ensign Peak, making it a popular destination for both locals and visitors. The trail is relatively short with a moderately steep ascent. After the hike, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of Salt Lake City and the valley.

Ensign Peak holds historical significance in the context of the Mormon pioneer settlement of the Salt Lake Valley. At the summit, there is a monument marker that commemorates the historical significance of the event of 1847 about Brigham Young and others stood there to survey the valley. Visit this place just before sunset to get the best views!

FAQ about Salt Lake City One Day Itinerary

Is Salt Lake City Worth Visiting?

Yes, it’s worth visiting Salt Lake City. It is surrounded by Wasatch Mountains providing opportunities for hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. You can also visit cultural attractions and Museums in SLC if you are a history lover. If you’re a fan of winter sports, Salt Lake City is a gateway to several world-class ski resorts, including Park City and Alta. Also, a day trip to Salt Flats is worth staying for a day! There are so many things to do in Salt Lake City whether you’re here for one day or more. So, absolutely yes!

Is Salt Lake City Walkable?

Salt Lake City is pretty walkable, especially in the downtown area. All the major attractions are located in the downtown area and it’s very pedestrian-friendly. Also, Salt Lake City has a straightforward grid system, making navigation relatively easy. Streets are laid out in a grid pattern, with numbered streets running north-south and named streets running east-west.

If you plan to explore beyond the downtown core, you may find it more convenient to use public transportation, bike, or other modes of transportation.

How much time is needed in Salt Lake City?

The amount of time needed to explore Salt Lake City depends on your interests. If you’re planning to visit the downtown area, including attractions like Temple Square, the Utah State Capitol, and the museums, one or two days is enough to explore the city’s cultural and historical offerings. If you wish to explore attractions outside of Salt Lake City, such as the Bonneville Salt Flats, Antelope Island, or the Great Salt Lake, you may need additional time.

Are there any things you would like to add to this One day Salt Lake City itinerary for first-time visitors? Please let us know in the comments! Thanks!

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