What are the best Salt Lake City museums?

Caroline Patek

Satisfying your museum fix during a trip to Salt Lake City is easy; the city is home to a variety of cultural spots covering everything from pioneers to fine arts to natural history.
 
The Pioneer Memorial Museum, located at 300 N. Main St., offers an extensive collection of pioneer relics. A carriage house carries exhibits relating to transportation, including Brigham Young’s wagon and Pony Express items. Explore the lives of Salt Lake City’s earliest settlers, who traveled some 2,000 miles west from the Great Plains in search of a new life.
 
If art better suits your mood, head to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts for a slew of exhibits. You’ll see everything from Egyptian antiquities to contemporary American paintings are displayed here. Upcoming exhibits include “Bierstadt to Warhol: American Indians in the West” and “Mike Disfarmer: Cleburne County Portraits.”
 
The Utah Museum of Natural History, a stunning modern building at the Rio Tinto Center, houses a show-stopping three-story lobby — one wall is adorned with more than 500 museum pieces. Walk further into the building to explore the various exhibits that cover topics such as gems and minerals, first peoples, native voices, past worlds and more. For a bit of fresh air, walk out of the museum’s front doors to access the nearby Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

  • On May 27, 2013
    Susan Kime answered the question: Susan Kime

    What are the best kids’ activities in Salt Lake City?

    Clark Planetarium Exterior/Courtesy Clark Planetarium The fact is, Salt Lake City is one of the most child-friendly cities on Earth.  The activities described below are all those my children loved.  These places provide activities where children can learn while they play, and, as regards Taffy Town, well, they can learn the history, as well as how to make (and eat) Saltwater Taffy.  The best of all possible worlds!

    The Hogle Zoo
    This Zoo has been in Salt Lake since 1931, and is at the mouth of historic Emigration Canyon. It covers 42 acres, and has more than 800 animals.  The Zoo's most memorable exhibits are the Elephant Encounter, the Zoo Train and the Conservation Carousel. Their Primate collection is impressive also.

    The Leonardo
    The Leonardo is a contemporary science/technology museum that explores the connections between science, technology and art, all the while making these connections interesting and relevant to kids. Located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, The Leo is a great place for kids to see one-of-a-kind, interactive exhibits and participate in programs, workshops, and classes.  Recent exhibits include Mummies Of The World, and the Science And Art Of Soapmaking.

    The Clark Planetarium
    This planetarium is a great educational experience for kids — it has many hands-on displays and educational exhibits, but a very unique thing is the Lunar Gravity Simulator, which starts with a 10-minute lesson followed by three minutes of gravity defiance (for kids of all ages up to 250 pounds). There are telescopes than can be tried out, the Hubble Spacecraft can be learned about and the kids can walk on simulated displays of Mars and the Moon. Also, on interactive computers you can test knowledge of outer space. However, the two main attractions are the Planetarium and the IMAX shows. The IMAX films are shown on a screen that is five stories high, with 3D imagery.

    Taffy Town
    Large, colorful letters let kids and family know they have indeed arrived at the Taffy Town factory store. The Glade family has been in business of making salt water taffy since the turn of the century. There is an interesting, partially animated video that kids can see about how this candy is actually made.  And there are free samples to be had, in truly unique flavors and designs.

    Lagoon
    Lagoon is a large amusement park about 15 miles north of Salt Lake City near the town of Farmington. Lagoon has a lot of history, as it is been operating since 1896; the carousel since 1906, and the wooden roller coaster since 1921.  Spread over six acres, it has everything from classic children's waterpark rides, as well as tube rafting and water slides. There are also serious roller coasters, plus many arcade games and food vendors. There is also a replica Pioneer Village, and often there is live music in the pavilions and in the Lagoon Opera House.
     
     
  • On May 27, 2013
    Susan Kime answered the question: Susan Kime

    What are the best bars in Salt Lake City?

    Zest Organic Cocktails from Zest Kitchen & Bar The Zest Kitchen And Bar
    This spot is one of the newer eateries in downtown Salt Lake City. It is an interesting combination of organic, locally and regionally sourced lunches and dinners, and has a farm to table mission/vision. It also has one of the largest selections of organic wines in Utah, and has unusual, great tasting cocktails. Here are a few below — tried and tested!
    • The Jalapeño Margarita is made with cucumber with jalapeño, Patron, Patron Citronage and Agave. 
    • Prosecco is served with with fruit and rosemary.
    • The Nutty X is a mix of almond milk, vanilla vodka, frangelico and coffee liqueur. 

    The Speakeasy at the Avenues Bistro On Third
    The Speakeasy is in the basement of Avenues Bistro on 3rd Avenue in Salt Lake. It is an intimate, slightly gritty, small place that was originally constructed in 1905, and the story goes, used to really be a speakeasy. Drinks are excellent, the The Blues Jam on Monday Night is fun…and the Bee Hive Martini is fabulous. It doesn't have a website, but it does have a Facebook page.

    The Red Door
    This is a non-smoking lounge that serves wine, aperitifs, whiskies, and martinis (which are categorized as 'medium' and 'high octane' on the menu). The experience was unique and fun, as were the martinis. Here are some samples: under the 'high octane' nomenclature, there is the Pomegranate Martini, the Carmel Apple Martini, the Antifreeze Martini (!); under 'medium octane', there is the Carrot Cake Martini, the Death By Chocolate Martini and the one-of-a-kind Butterscotch Sundae Martini. There are many, many more flavors and colors. 
  • On May 27, 2013
    Susan Kime answered the question: Susan Kime

    What are the best attractions in Salt Lake City?

    The Mormon Temple/Salt Lake City CVB The most visited attraction in Salt Lake City is the Salt Lake Temple at Temple Square.  The Temple was built from 1853 to 1893, and is, by reputation, the most visited location in Utah, with more than 5 million visitors a year.  It is also the 16th most visited place in the United States. Right now, it is the largest Mormon Temple in existence, at 253,000 square feet. For those who like to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and not on Sundays, the general public can hear the choir rehearsing on Thursday evenings. There is no particular dress code and they can take as many pictures as they want.

    The Salt Lake City Library is an architectural masterpiece, as it was designed by Moshe Safdie, an internationally known, multiple award winning architect. The Library cost $78 million dollars, and it is now ten years old. Mr. Safdie believed that a library is far more than a place where books  and computers are kept, so he and his team conceptualized a building that truly stands alone. The building is 240,000 square feet that houses now more than 500,000 books and other materials. It is a six story, curving building with a walkable wall that encloses a public plaza, with shops and services at ground level, reading galleries above, and a 300-seat auditorium enclosure also. It has roof garden, and by walking the crescent wall or  going up the elevators, you can get a 360 degree view of the Salt Lake Valley.
    www.slcpl.lib.ut.us

    Abravanel Hall is the concert hall in Salt Lake City, the one that is home to the Utah Symphony,  and The Salt Lake City Theater.  It is also  part of the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts. The hall is an architectural landmark and is adjacent to Temple Square on South Temple Street. The hall is actually a concrete building within a brick building. The building was designed by FFKR Architects and acoustical design services were provided by Dr. Cyril M. Harris, who was the acoustical consultant for the remodeled Avery Fisher Hall in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

    The Natural History Museum of Utah is housed in the Rio Tinto Center, to serve as the state's new natural history museum building.  Located in the foothills above Salt Lake City, the building sits on a series of terraces that follow the contours of the Wasatch foothills. The building is located along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, a popular location for hiking and mountain biking. The Museum's exterior is wrapped with 42,000 square feet of copper, mined from Kennecott Utah Copper's Bingham Canyon Mine, and is installed in horizontal bands of various heights so that it resembles the red rock layers and formations as seen throughout Utah, especially in the South. 
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  • On May 27, 2013
    Susan Kime answered the question: Susan Kime

    What are the best attractions in Salt Lake City?

    The Mormon Temple/Salt Lake City CVB The most visited attraction in Salt Lake City is the Salt Lake Temple at Temple Square.  The Temple was built from 1853 to 1893, and is, by reputation, the most visited location in Utah, with more than 5 million visitors a year.  It is also the 16th most visited place in the United States. Right now, it is the largest Mormon Temple in existence, at 253,000 square feet. For those who like to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and not on Sundays, the general public can hear the choir rehearsing on Thursday evenings. There is no particular dress code and they can take as many pictures as they want.

    The Salt Lake City Library is an architectural masterpiece, as it was designed by Moshe Safdie, an internationally known, multiple award winning architect. The Library cost $78 million dollars, and it is now ten years old. Mr. Safdie believed that a library is far more than a place where books  and computers are kept, so he and his team conceptualized a building that truly stands alone. The building is 240,000 square feet that houses now more than 500,000 books and other materials. It is a six story, curving building with a walkable wall that encloses a public plaza, with shops and services at ground level, reading galleries above, and a 300-seat auditorium enclosure also. It has roof garden, and by walking the crescent wall or  going up the elevators, you can get a 360 degree view of the Salt Lake Valley.
    www.slcpl.lib.ut.us

    Abravanel Hall is the concert hall in Salt Lake City, the one that is home to the Utah Symphony,  and The Salt Lake City Theater.  It is also  part of the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts. The hall is an architectural landmark and is adjacent to Temple Square on South Temple Street. The hall is actually a concrete building within a brick building. The building was designed by FFKR Architects and acoustical design services were provided by Dr. Cyril M. Harris, who was the acoustical consultant for the remodeled Avery Fisher Hall in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

    The Natural History Museum of Utah is housed in the Rio Tinto Center, to serve as the state's new natural history museum building.  Located in the foothills above Salt Lake City, the building sits on a series of terraces that follow the contours of the Wasatch foothills. The building is located along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, a popular location for hiking and mountain biking. The Museum's exterior is wrapped with 42,000 square feet of copper, mined from Kennecott Utah Copper's Bingham Canyon Mine, and is installed in horizontal bands of various heights so that it resembles the red rock layers and formations as seen throughout Utah, especially in the South. 
  • On May 27, 2013
    Susan Kime answered the question: Susan Kime

    What are the best activities to do in Salt Lake City?

    Salt Lake City CVB The largest attraction in Utah is Temple Square, home to the World Headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints. There are many activites to do at Temple Square, in addition to admiring the Great Mormon Temple. The Tabernacle, right next to the Temple, is where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings on Sunday, and rehearses on Thursday nights at 8pm. The public is welcome. The Church History Museum has an interactive exhibit for children, and tours can be taken of the historic Beehive House, home to one of the famous 19th century Church leaders, Brigham Young. The Family History Library is also a fascinating place, where you can actually discover more of your personal family history, through the voluminous collections of birth and death records. In the spring and summer, you can walk around the gardens that surround the 35 acres of Temple Square. There are 250 flowerbeds, with more than 700 varieties of plants that have collected from all over the world. If you visit around Christmas, the light and nativity displays are dazzling. 

    Tracy Aviary and Liberty Park
    This is a place where you can be educated about birds, though it is occasionally a bit noisy with birdcalls. With eight acres of aviary home to 135 species of birds, peacocks walk through the public areas, as if they owned the place. Oh, wait — they do! Liberty Park is where Tracy Aviary is located, and many activities are available in its 80 acres. The children can enjoy the water features, or play in one of the parks. There are some live shows that include some of the birds, and also a lake with paddleboat rentals. 

    The Hogle Zoo
    More than 800 animals live at the Hogle Zoo, on 42 acres, at the mouth of Emigration Canyon. Some great exhibits are the Elephant Encounter, featuring a family of elephants and Asian Highlands, home to leopards, tigers and other large cats. There is a carousel ride and interactive animal shows for children, also.

    Mill Creek Canyon

    For those who like to hike, there are trails at Mill Creek that suit professionals, beginners and families of hikers. The Pipeline Trails is an easy hike, about six miles, and has great views. In winter, there is exceptional skiing and snowshoeing. There is also Grandeur Peak, that rises to 8,299 feet, and at the end, has a panoramic view of the Salt Lake Valley. Mill Creek Canyon is dog friendly: even numbered days dogs can be on leash, odd numbered days, dogs can be off-leash on trails only. There are 10 major picnic areas, and a mountain Yurt. In winter, The Yurt can be rented, and proves a primitive winter camping experience for between four and eight people.

  • On May 27, 2013
    Susan Kime answered the question: Susan Kime

    What are the best activities to do in Salt Lake City?

    Salt Lake City CVB The largest attraction in Utah is Temple Square, home to the World Headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints. There are many activites to do at Temple Square, in addition to admiring the Great Mormon Temple. The Tabernacle, right next to the Temple, is where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings on Sunday, and rehearses on Thursday nights at 8pm. The public is welcome. The Church History Museum has an interactive exhibit for children, and tours can be taken of the historic Beehive House, home to one of the famous 19th century Church leaders, Brigham Young. The Family History Library is also a fascinating place, where you can actually discover more of your personal family history, through the voluminous collections of birth and death records. In the spring and summer, you can walk around the gardens that surround the 35 acres of Temple Square. There are 250 flowerbeds, with more than 700 varieties of plants that have collected from all over the world. If you visit around Christmas, the light and nativity displays are dazzling. 

    Tracy Aviary and Liberty Park
    This is a place where you can be educated about birds, though it is occasionally a bit noisy with birdcalls. With eight acres of aviary home to 135 species of birds, peacocks walk through the public areas, as if they owned the place. Oh, wait — they do! Liberty Park is where Tracy Aviary is located, and many activities are available in its 80 acres. The children can enjoy the water features, or play in one of the parks. There are some live shows that include some of the birds, and also a lake with paddleboat rentals. 

    The Hogle Zoo
    More than 800 animals live at the Hogle Zoo, on 42 acres, at the mouth of Emigration Canyon. Some great exhibits are the Elephant Encounter, featuring a family of elephants and Asian Highlands, home to leopards, tigers and other large cats. There is a carousel ride and interactive animal shows for children, also.

    Mill Creek Canyon

    For those who like to hike, there are trails at Mill Creek that suit professionals, beginners and families of hikers. The Pipeline Trails is an easy hike, about six miles, and has great views. In winter, there is exceptional skiing and snowshoeing. There is also Grandeur Peak, that rises to 8,299 feet, and at the end, has a panoramic view of the Salt Lake Valley. Mill Creek Canyon is dog friendly: even numbered days dogs can be on leash, odd numbered days, dogs can be off-leash on trails only. There are 10 major picnic areas, and a mountain Yurt. In winter, The Yurt can be rented, and proves a primitive winter camping experience for between four and eight people.

  • On May 21, 2013
    Susan Kime answered the question: Susan Kime

    What are the best hotels in Salt Lake City?

    The Grand America Hotel/Grand America Grand America Hotel
    The Grand America Hotel is a large, ornate hotel somewhat reminiscent of the Plaza Hotel in New York.   A Four Star Forbes Travel Guide recipient, The Grand America is replete with Victorian styling, gilded wall paneling, and antique furnishings. It also is the only Utah hotel we know of that provides art tours of the hotel for the guests.  The hotel services include complimentary wireless Internet access, airport transportation, a pool. There is a Grand Spa and many places to eat, especially the Garden Café. For those with a sweet tooth, La Bon Vie is an on-property patisserie whose French macarons are exceptional. Even though the decor is formal, the service is very friendly.

    Hotel Monaco
    The Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City is a Kimpton property,with large guest rooms, flat-panel TVs and Nintendo gaming systems. This hotel also hosts daily wine receptions, and the Bambara Restaurant, one of the best in town, is on property. And if Bambara looks vaguely familiar to old-time Salt Lake visitors, it is because the restaurant is in the renovated, historic Continental Bank lobby. Its bar/lounge is called The Vault. The renovation won a Utah Heritage Foundation award for its innovation and beauty. In winter, the Monaco's on-site ski concierge can arrange for equipment rentals and lift tickets.  

    The Peery Hotel
    This is a century old hotel located in the center of everything, mainly because it was here FIRST. It is the only Utah hotel that's on the National Historic Registry, and it is within walking distance to the Convention Center, Temple Square, the Energy Solution Center where the Utah Jazz ( the Basketball team) play.  The Peery has 73 rooms, all non-smoking, has Tempur-Pedic beds, flat screen TVs, and a Macaroni Grill on property.                                                                                                                                

  • On May 21, 2013
    Susan Kime answered the question: Susan Kime

    What are the best hotels in Salt Lake City?

    The Grand America Hotel/Grand America Grand America Hotel
    The Grand America Hotel is a large, ornate hotel somewhat reminiscent of the Plaza Hotel in New York.   A Four Star Forbes Travel Guide recipient, The Grand America is replete with Victorian styling, gilded wall paneling, and antique furnishings. It also is the only Utah hotel we know of that provides art tours of the hotel for the guests.  The hotel services include complimentary wireless Internet access, airport transportation, a pool. There is a Grand Spa and many places to eat, especially the Garden Café. For those with a sweet tooth, La Bon Vie is an on-property patisserie whose French macarons are exceptional. Even though the decor is formal, the service is very friendly.

    Hotel Monaco
    The Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City is a Kimpton property,with large guest rooms, flat-panel TVs and Nintendo gaming systems. This hotel also hosts daily wine receptions, and the Bambara Restaurant, one of the best in town, is on property. And if Bambara looks vaguely familiar to old-time Salt Lake visitors, it is because the restaurant is in the renovated, historic Continental Bank lobby. Its bar/lounge is called The Vault. The renovation won a Utah Heritage Foundation award for its innovation and beauty. In winter, the Monaco's on-site ski concierge can arrange for equipment rentals and lift tickets.  

    The Peery Hotel
    This is a century old hotel located in the center of everything, mainly because it was here FIRST. It is the only Utah hotel that's on the National Historic Registry, and it is within walking distance to the Convention Center, Temple Square, the Energy Solution Center where the Utah Jazz ( the Basketball team) play.  The Peery has 73 rooms, all non-smoking, has Tempur-Pedic beds, flat screen TVs, and a Macaroni Grill on property.                                                                                                                                

  • On May 20, 2013
    Susan Kime answered the question: Susan Kime

    What is the best shopping in Salt Lake City?

    City Creek Center/Taubman Associates City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City, opened on March 22, 2012. The $1.5-2B City Creek Project is one largest mixed-use developments in the U.S. City Creek is a sustainably designed, walkable, urban community of residences, offices, and retail stores on 20 acres of land spread across three blocks in downtown Salt Lake City. City Creek Center has been Silver LEED Certified.  City Creek Center is south of Temple Square, and features more than 90 stores and restaurants, one third are new to Salt Lake.  Porsche Design, Tiffany, Michael Kors, Anthropologie, and Brooks Brothers are just a few. City Creek has a fully retractable skylight roof, a skybridge over Main Street connecting the east and west sides of the Center. There are six acres of green space, two 18 foot waterfalls, the 1,200-foot namesake creek, three electronically controlled fountains, and a 5,000-space underground parking structure. Shops and restaurants are closed on Sundays, with the exception of the Cheesecake Factory and Texas de Brazil restaurants.

    The Gateway is another excellent shopping center, with 125 retail shops and 23 restaurants. It also has the Clark Planetarium, a 12-screen multiplex theater, and the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. The East entrance to the Gateway is the historic Union Pacific Depot, built in 1908-1909. It still has high arched ceilings and a Grand Hall. The Depot opens out to the Gateway, which features The Olympic Plaza and Olympic Fountain, commemorating the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The fountain has water jets that shoot different size streams, often choreographed to music. Children love this in the summer.

    Here are some excellent specialty stores, not in shopping centers or malls:

    The Chalk Garden Co-Op
    Right up the street from City Creek, still on the Main Street block is The Chalk Garden Co-Op. This store sells unusual one of a kind antique and designer jewelry, art prints, clothing, and shoes — it is a 5,600-square-foot store  that was formerly a bank. It has 16-foot ceilings, marble floors and dressing rooms that were once bank safes. 

    TP Gallery
    The T.P. Gallery first opened in 1974, and carries only authentic Native American items. Most of the items in the gallery are from local Utah artists, and other Native American artists from neighboring states. The Gallery carries turquoise jewelry, sand paintings, baskets, rugs, beadwork. It is located at 252 S. Main, Salt Lake City. Call 801-364-2961 for more info.

    The Old Flamingo
    This shop is an actual artist collective, with 17 local artists showing their specialized work in furniture and home accessories. Each piece of furniture is a work of art in itself, and if there is a piece of furniture at home that you just can't get rid of, you can commission one of these artists to transform or refurbish it. 




    Roundy Boots
    Don Roundy has been crafting handmade leather boots, dress shoes, and sandals for over 30 years. He custom builds the boots to your feet. He also makes saddles. No matter how your foot is shaped, Roundy can make a comfortable, colorful (or not) pair of boots that will last a very, very, long time.   
  • On May 20, 2013
    Susan Kime answered the question: Susan Kime

    What are the best activities to do in Salt Lake City?

    Salt Lake City CVB The largest attraction in Utah is Temple Square, home to the World Headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints. There are many activites to do at Temple Square, in addition to admiring the Great Mormon Temple. The Tabernacle, right next to the Temple, is where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings on Sunday, and rehearses on Thursday nights at 8pm. The public is welcome. The Church History Museum has an interactive exhibit for children, and tours can be taken of the historic Beehive House, home to one of the famous 19th century Church leaders, Brigham Young. The Family History Library is also a fascinating place, where you can actually discover more of your personal family history, through the voluminous collections of birth and death records. In the spring and summer, you can walk around the gardens that surround the 35 acres of Temple Square. There are 250 flowerbeds, with more than 700 varieties of plants that have collected from all over the world. If you visit around Christmas, the light and nativity displays are dazzling. 

    Tracy Aviary and Liberty Park
    This is a place where you can be educated about birds, though it is occasionally a bit noisy with birdcalls. With eight acres of aviary home to 135 species of birds, peacocks walk through the public areas, as if they owned the place. Oh, wait — they do! Liberty Park is where Tracy Aviary is located, and many activities are available in its 80 acres. The children can enjoy the water features, or play in one of the parks. There are some live shows that include some of the birds, and also a lake with paddleboat rentals. 

    The Hogle Zoo
    More than 800 animals live at the Hogle Zoo, on 42 acres, at the mouth of Emigration Canyon. Some great exhibits are the Elephant Encounter, featuring a family of elephants and Asian Highlands, home to leopards, tigers and other large cats. There is a carousel ride and interactive animal shows for children, also.

    Mill Creek Canyon

    For those who like to hike, there are trails at Mill Creek that suit professionals, beginners and families of hikers. The Pipeline Trails is an easy hike, about six miles, and has great views. In winter, there is exceptional skiing and snowshoeing. There is also Grandeur Peak, that rises to 8,299 feet, and at the end, has a panoramic view of the Salt Lake Valley. Mill Creek Canyon is dog friendly: even numbered days dogs can be on leash, odd numbered days, dogs can be off-leash on trails only. There are 10 major picnic areas, and a mountain Yurt. In winter, The Yurt can be rented, and proves a primitive winter camping experience for between four and eight people.

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