Things to Do in Salt Lake City for First-Timers or Old-Timers
My husband and I have bought into the experience economy. We are digital nomads, living in our RV fulltime and touring America. Eighteen months ago we hit the road and started our consulting businesses. Since then we have been in at least one-hundred cities and almost every state. We happened upon Salt Lake City on our way to Colorado. We said to ourselves, “we’ll stop for a few days because it’s one of those places we might never be back to.”
All I can say is that we were dead wrong.
Out of more than one hundred cities visited, the Salt Lake City area surprised me the most…and in a good way. For those coming in for the Qualtrics X4 Summit (and for the locals), here are a few things a first-timer must do in Salt Lake City.
Food and Shopping
Salt Lake City is home to several James Beard Award-winning chefs and to some delicious food. For top recommendations, check out Food Network’s slideshow on A Salt Lake City Eating Tour.
The Red Iguana is also rated by TripAdvisor as one of the best restaurants in Salt Lake City. It’s tagline, “The Killer Mexican Food” sums up how locals feel: they absolutely love it. In addition to traditional Mexican fare, the menu offers vegetarian and gluten-free options.
For shopping, City Creek Center is the highest-rated shopping mall in Salt Lake City.
Historic Park City also has loads of cute, mom-and-pop shops, and fantastic restaurants, including lots of sushi (which I found surprising because, where’s the ocean?). We ate at Flying Sumo because they have half price sushi during the shoulder season, but Yuki Yama is the highest-rated in Park City, with 89 percent of reviewers saying it was “excellent” or “very good.”
Salt Lake City has many breweries that also serve food. One of the most famous is Red Rock Brewery, which has three locations around the city, as well as a beer store. They specialize in creative beer, and their Zwickelbier beer even won a gold medal at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival.
For an aprés-conference drink, head over to the Beerhive, which has a long list of mainstream and microbrew beers on tap. It also has wings, burgers, and an assortment of other bar food, and was rated one of the top ten bars in Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City is beautiful and you can’t go wrong with any of the outdoor adventures the area offers. If you’re there during ski season (mid-November to mid-April) you can always hit the slopes or go tubing. We visited in September, a little early for ski season, but there were still plenty of parks in which to spend time.
Liberty Park is the oldest park in Utah. There you’ll find walking trails, tennis courts, a large children’s playground, and people walking their dogs.
The Gilgal Sculpture Garden created by Thomas Battersby Child, Jr. in the mid-twentieth century, is also a gem on the city’s east side. It boasts 70 stone-engraved sculptures, 12 original sculptures, and admission is free.
Here are two scenic drives that will “wow” you without getting you wet.
The Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Drive is a 15-mile route that takes about an hour to drive. Along the drive, you’ll pass picnic areas, hiking trails, rock climbing areas and mountain bike areas. Look for Doughnut Falls, the canyon’s most popular winter hike.
If you have two hours, one of the country’s most gorgeous drives wends through Provo Canyon. It will expose you to jagged rock formations in the rock walls, and an overlook for Bridal Veil Falls. The drive passes through Heber Valley, home to the historic Heber Valley Railroad and cross-country skiing trails from the Salt Lake City Olympics. And you can loop back up through historic Park City on your way back to Salt Lake City.
If you’re looking for a different kind of transport, you also have options.
We also went rafting down the Provo River. Enjoyable, but calmer than I expected. The bigger rapids are earlier in the season. But don’t try it in winter.
Built for the 2002 Olympic Games, the Olympic Village is in Park City, UT, about 30 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. For the less adventurous, check out the guided tours and a free museum. For the thrill-seekers, don’t miss the ropes course and a bobsled experience where you can slide down the actual sliding track for the 2002 Olympics. Everyone can also enjoy the Olympic training facility. When we visited we watched athletes skiing down a giant waterslide and doing flips into a pool.
The places were nice, but some of the nicest people we’ve met in the U.S. were in Salt Lake City. The Qualtrics X4 Summit is all about experiences, and the combination of outdoor activities, hopping nightlife, restaurants, Olympic history, and people makes Salt Lake City one of the best experiences in the country.