The skyline of Salt Lake City in Autumn
local perspective

Five things to know before visiting Salt Lake City

Andrea Cannon

Contributing writer

If you have never had the chance to visit Salt Lake City, Utah, we highly recommend it. The city is beautiful year-round and there are plenty of outdoor activities close by. There's something for everyone here - whether you're interested in outdoor recreation, history or cultural experiences, or simply want to relax and take in the scenery.

Saying that, there are some things you need to know before arriving. As a local, I'm happy to share my insights with you. Here's the inside scoop on what to expect when you get here.

The skyline of Salt Lake City with green trees in the foreground

1. Salt Lake City is a year-round destination

Some destinations are only worth visiting for part of the year, but not Salt Lake City. In the spring and summer in Salt Lake City, you can go hiking or biking in the nearby mountains or visit one of the city's many parks. There's also a great farmers market every Saturday morning where you can buy local produce and crafts. In the evenings, you can enjoy live music and drinks on downtown's Historic Main Street or watch a movie under the stars at one of the city's parks.

The fall is a great time to visit Salt Lake City because the leaves change color and the air is cool and crisp. There are lots of fun events happening this time of year, like Oktoberfest at Snowbird, art walks, and concerts. You can also go hiking or camping in the nearby mountains or take a trip to one of Utah's beautiful national parks.

Although it can be bitterly cold, but there are still plenty of things to do in Salt Lake City in the winter. The city is home to a number of ski resorts, including world-famous Park City. There are also a number of other winter activities to enjoy, such as snowshoeing, ice skating, and tubing. The city's many restaurants and bars are also great places to warm up after a day out in the cold.

The clear waters of Lake Blanche surrounded by the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah

2. Salt Lake City is a great base for outdoor activities

There are plenty of outdoor activities very close to Salt Lake City. For hikers and mountain bikers, there are plenty of trails in the nearby Wasatch Mountains. For an easy hike near Salt Lake City consider Ensign Peak. For a more challenging hike near Salt Lake City, consider Lake Blanche.

If you want to experience the mountains but do not want to hike, consider a scenic drive from Salt Lake City up through Big Cottonwood Canyon and down through Park City. You can also check out some of the many state parks in the area or drive an hour and a half to the Bonneville Salt Flats.

The ski resorts in the area also offer great summer activities like mountain biking, hiking, and golfing. And for those who prefer a more relaxed outdoor experience, the Jordan River Parkway offers a beautiful stretch of riverfront parkland perfect for a walk or a picnic.


The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah

3. There is a significant Mormon influence

Salt Lake City is the capital and largest city of Utah. It is also the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church. The Mormon influence is very strong in Salt Lake City and can be seen in the city's architecture, culture, and politics.

The Church owns much of the land in and around the city, and its members are highly active in the community. There are also several museums and attractions that are related to the Mormon Church, including the Museum of Church History and Art and the Family History Library.

Beginning in 2018 the Mormon's lost their majority as more non-Mormons moved into the state. At this time, it was determined that 49% of the 1.1 million residents in Salt Lake County were Mormon. This is the lowest percentage reported by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints membership figures since at least the 1930s.

Despite the membership numbers declining, the influence from the church is still strong and can be seen in the government and in other policies.


Colourful buildings and empty streets in downtown Salt Lake City

4. Many businesses are closed on Sundays

If you have Chick-Fil-A near you, you are likely familiar with businesses being closed on Sundays. But it's not just Chick-Fil-A, other restaurants, businesses, and even City Creek Mall are closed as well.

This can be frustrating for visitors who aren't aware of the city's quirks especially if you are only in town for the weekend, howeverit's something that locals have grown used to. The reason for these closures has to do with the city's Mormon influence as the church members observe a day of rest on Sundays and also do not make purchases on Sundays.

Beer on supermarket shelves

5. Salt Lake City alcohol laws are odd

Until recently, you could only get up to 3.2% beer in grocery stores. This law was recently changed to allow for 5% beer and seltzers. However, this means that wine, liquor and higher alcohol percentage beers are not sold in the grocery store.

In order to purchase wine, liquor, and > 5% alcoholic beers, you need to visit the liquor store. These liquor stores are run by the state, have limited hours, and are closed on Sundays.

Shipping alcohol to Utah (being a member of a wine club, etc) is illegal. Happy Hours or discounted beer or liquor prices are prohibited. Additionally, kegs are illegal in Utah. If you are visiting and renting a car, it is also important to note that the legal limit for blood alcohol level is 0.05%, the lowest in the country.

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Andrea Cannon

Author - Andrea Cannon

Andrea Cannon moved to Salt Lake City in 2015 and lived there for six years. She is a pharmacist and enjoys outdoor adventures with her husband (Austin) and her dog (Dex).

Last Updated 6 September 2022

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