Best Things to do in 1 Day in Salt Lake City, Utah

i day in salt lake city itinerary

Salt Lake City, Utah’s capital city, offers a wealth of history, charm, and natural attractions. This 1 day in Salt Lake City itinerary will walk you through the best places to go and things to do for an unforgettable experience.

Whether you’re in the area for a quick layover or a short trip, you can still make the most of your visit. From landmarks and cultural sites to dining and outdoor adventures, we’ve got you covered.

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Quick Facts About Salt Lake City

  • Salt Lake City is the capital and most populous city in the state of Utah.
  • It is the only state capital in the United States with three words in its name.
  • Salt Lake City serves as an easy access gateway to several national parks, including Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Arches, all within a few hours’ drive.
  • The city hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.
  • The world’s first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant opened in Salt Lake City, not Kentucky, in 1952.
  • The Family History Library in Salt Lake City is the largest genealogical library in the world.

1 Day in Salt Lake City: Morning Activities

Go on a Sunrise Hike

Depending on what time you arrive in Salt Lake City, consider a sunrise hike to explore the great outdoors.

The hike to Ensign Peak is relatively short and suitable for most fitness levels, taking about 30 minutes to reach the top. Your effort will be well rewarded with breathtaking views of Salt Lake City, the Great Salt Lake, and the surrounding mountains. It’s a great spot for photography and reflection.

Ensign Peak Park Tips

  • The best time to hike is in the morning, late afternoon/early evening.
  • The best time of year to hike Ensign Peak in Utah is spring and fall when temperatures are mild and comfortable. If you plan to hike in the summer months, expect high temperatures.

City Creek Canyon is an alternative to Ensign Peak Park. It is just one mile from downtown Salt Lake City.

Eat Breakfast at a Local Eatery

Start your day with a hearty breakfast at one of Salt Lake City’s local spots. The cozy Park Café, located near Liberty Park, is known for its welcoming ambiance and mouthwatering comfort food. This café serves up classics like pancakes, omelets, and their famous French toast.

For an unforgettable brunch experience, head to Avenues Proper. Here you can savor dishes like the hearty Farmers’ Market Hash.

For brunch and lunch in a stylish setting, check out Hub and Spoke Diner. Their menu is known for locally sourced ingredients, catering to regular diets, as well as offering vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Other notable breakfast/brunch options include Lazy Day Cafe and Root’s Cafe.

Salt Lake City also has some of the best coffee shops, including Three Pines Coffee, and La Barba Coffee & Breakfast Tacos.

Stroll Through Liberty Park

After breakfast, take a leisurely stroll through the 80-acre picturesque Liberty Park. It is Salt Lake City’s oldest and largest public park. It features walking trails, a tranquil pond, and plenty of green space to relax and unwind.

For a unique experience, rent a paddleboat and explore the park from the water, or visit the Tracy Aviary to see a colorful collection of exotic birds.

During the summer months, you can enjoy outdoor concerts, food trucks, and yoga classes in the park.

Tip: If you choose to have breakfast at The Park Café, Liberty Park is right across from it.

Explore Temple Square

Head to Temple Square, a historical landmark in downtown Salt Lake City. This 35-acre complex is home to the impressive Latter-Day Saints Salt Lake Temple, Assembly Hall, the Tabernacle, and beautifully manicured gardens. Explore the property to learn about the fascinating history and significance of these iconic buildings.

Tip: The Temple is a beautiful building that makes for a great photo backdrop.

Visit The Utah State Capitol

While still in the downtown area, make your way to the Utah State Capitol building, a stunning example of neoclassical architecture.

The Capitol houses the chambers of the Utah State Legislature and the offices of the Governor and Attorney General.

1 day in salt lake city itinerary

Inside the building, you will discover the rich history and artwork that adorn the halls. During my visit, I truly enjoyed admiring the building’s intricate details, including marble columns, grand staircases, and ornate murals depicting Utah’s history.

The Capitol Hill grounds are also a perfect location to take in the panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

Tip: In the spring, the cherry blossoms are a great photo-op.

1 Day in Salt Lake City: Afternoon Activities

Eat Lunch at a Local Eatery

The Red Iguana is a popular spot in the city center that is famous for its authentic Mexican cuisine. Its lively atmosphere and flavorful dishes make it a perfect spot for a midday meal.

For tasty Vietnamese fare, Oh Mai Sandwich Kitchen is known for its high-quality pho, banh mi sandwiches, and rainbow salad.

Nomad East is mostly known for its wood-fired pizzas, but it also has a great lunch menu with standouts like the smoked salmon salad and its signature burger with fun toppings.

Woodbine Food Hall offers a diverse range of global flavors and cuisine types under one roof.

Dirty sodas are customized sodas mixed with flavorings like syrups, cream, purees, etc. Swig is considered one of the original pioneers of the dirty soda trend in Utah. There are multiple Swig locations in Salt Lake City.

Tour the Natural History Museum of Utah

After lunch, explore the wonders of the Natural History Museum of Utah. This world-class museum showcases the state’s diverse geological and cultural heritage.

You can get up close and personal with dinosaur fossils, explore the intriguing Great Salt Lake exhibit, and learn about the history of this region.

You can also clearly see the Wasatch Mountains from the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Tip: The museum is also home to the Canyon Cafe, a coffeehouse.

Explore Red Butte Garden and Arboretum

Adjacent to the museum, Red Butte Garden is a great place for a peaceful retreat. It has beautifully landscaped gardens, tranquil walking paths, and stunning views of the Salt Lake Valley.

Depending on the season, you might find vibrant blooms, serene water features, or even live music events.

1 Day in Salt Lake City: Evening Activities

Enjoy Dinner at a Local Restaurant

After an afternoon of exploring, you have more than likely worked up quite an appetite.

Salt Lake City has a host of fantastic dining options. If you’re looking for dinner with a view, Mar Muntanya, a renowned Spanish restaurant, is located on the top floor of a building downtown. Beyond the delicious menu options, the restaurant features a large outdoor patio with impressive views of the Wasatch Mountains.

For a dinner by the mountains, venture to Log Haven Restaurant. This spot features a menu of innovative American cuisine crafted with locally sourced ingredients. Indulge in an unforgettable dining experience while enjoying the rustic ambiance and stunning mountain views.

HSL (Handle Salt Lake) is another local favorite. It is known for its creative New American cuisine and commitment to using locally sourced ingredients.

1 Day in Salt Lake City: Night Activities

Watch a Performance

Cap off your perfect day in Salt Lake City with a show at the grand Eccles Theater or the historic Capitol Theatre. These world-class venues host an array of performances, from Broadway musicals to symphony orchestras. Check the schedules to see what’s playing during your visit.

Tip: Use the Fever app to find more performances when you are in town.

Explore the Night Life

If you’re in the mood to explore Salt Lake City’s lively nightlife scene, head to the bustling Main Street. Pop into one of the many bars or clubs, like the chic Alibi Bar & Place, for a locally crafted beer or a creative cocktail.

For live music and a good time, check out The State Room or The Urban Lounge. Here you can catch performances by up-and-coming and established artists alike.

For a nightcap, visit one of Salt Lake City’s cozy bars or hidden speakeasies. Bar X, located in a historic building downtown, offers a selection of craft cocktails in a dimly lit, vintage-inspired setting.

For a more secretive experience, seek out The Rest, a speakeasy hidden beneath Bodega, a small bar disguised as a convenience store. Once inside, you’ll be treated to inventive cocktails and small plates in a cozy, brick-walled space.

Tips for Your 1 Day Experience in Salt Lake City


Exploring Salt Lake City by car is ideal; however, you will have to factor in parking (and parking costs). Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are easily accessible.

If you opt for public transportation, there is a Free Fare Zone in downtown Salt Lake City. You can ride Utah Transit Authority (UTA) buses and TRAX for free, making it very affordable to explore the central areas.


If you decide to extend your stay, consider hotels downtown for easy access to all major attractions.

Tip: The following are our top 3 hotel recommendations in Downtown Salt Lake City.

Packing Tips

Dress in layers, as the weather can change quickly, especially if you plan to explore the outdoors.

Day Trips From Salt Lake City

If you prefer to focus on just one (or a few) attractions on your 1 day itinerary, consider the following self-guided tours at nearby locations or outside the city limits:

  • Drive to Bonneville Salt Flats for an otherworldly experience. When I visited Utah for the first time, this was at the top of my list.
the bonneville salt flats in utah

Check out our Bonneville Salt Flats Travel Guide for details.

a guide to the bonneville salt flats

Fun fact: Antelope Island is the largest island within the Great Salt Lake.

Final Thoughts About 1 Day in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is an absolute gem that packs a punch even if you do not have much time to spare. This Salt Lake City 1-day itinerary proves that even a short visit can be incredibly rewarding.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, this itinerary showcases the best of what Salt Lake City has to offer, ensuring that your 24 hours in this fascinating city will be filled with unforgettable experiences. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to explore the gem of Utah! Enjoy your one-day adventure in Salt Lake City!

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