History, religion, and bizarre landscapes: sightseeing as diverse as it is interesting

For a big city, Salt Lake is rather small, and has a fairly short history. However, its petite size and youth do not make it boring. Rather, Salt Lake City, boasts an interesting and unique past that it proudly displays. And despite the relatively modest size of its downtown, it is rich with historic and cultural sights. And given the city's impressive and distinctive natural surroundings, much of the area's sightseeing is found outside of the city limits.

Those wishing to check out the urban sights would be well served to head downtown. In the very heart of it all, you'll find the number-one sightseeing attraction in the entire valley: Temple Square. Within the grounds are the the Salt Lake Mormon Temple itself, the Tabernacle and its famous choir, and numerous other structures and monuments. Immediately outside of the Square are a number of LDS outposts, including the Family History Library and the LDS Conference Center.

Northeast of Temple Square you can find other historic structures like the impressive Cathedral of the Madeline, the historic First Presbyterian Church, and the Utah Governor's Mansion – where the governor and his family actually live today.

If you have the means to leave town, consider heading northwest to Antelope Island State Park. Occupying the largest island in the Great Salt Lake, this island features open grasslands and mountains in the middle of this vast body of water. If you travel west on I-80, you'll wind up at the Bonneville Salt Flats, an incredibly empty stretch of utterly flat land on which all the modern world land speed records have been set.

Whether you're into history, religion, or bizarre landscapes, you'll find the sightseeing in and around Salt Lake City to be as diverse as it is interesting.

Joseph Smith Memorial Building

A $45-million renovation transformed this building from a spectacular hotel into office space for the Mormon Church. Visitors may take guided tours to learn about the building and its uses over the past 70 years. Beyond its history, the building...  Read More

This magnificent Gothic Revival church was constructed of locally quarried red sandstone. Though construction on this church began after that on the Mormon Salt Lake Temple, this church officially opened "for business" nearly 20 years before the...  Read More

Built in 1947, this monument marks the place where Brigham Young and the first wave of Mormon pioneers, after months of extremely rugged travel, arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. It was here Young stood on a high vista and told his followers,...  Read More

Local literature praises Bingham Canyon Copper Mine as the "richest hole on earth," and with good reason. More than 3/4 of a mile deep, the mine has yielded about 16 million tons of copper since digging first began. And that's not all �...  Read More

Lake Bonneville
Bonneville Salt Flats
Photo courtesy of CountyLemonade

The Bonneville Salt Flats, about an hour west of Salt Lake City (on I-80), are a peculiar natural phenomenon that has earned global fame as the site where land speed records are set. These flats, which occupy roughly 30,000 acres, formed when...  Read More

Constructed over the course of four years and completed in 1867, the Tabernacle is home to the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Its 11,623-pipe organ looms 30-plus feet over the congregation, and a curved ceiling enhances the building's...  Read More

Governor's Mansion
Photo courtesy of Edgar Zuniga Jr.

In 1902, wealthy Senator Thomas Kearns constructed this phenomenal residence, which is currently home to Utah's governor and family. Located on South Temple Street, this grand home shares its environs with many other grand, historic homes....  Read More

Though the Mormon Church is undeniably the historically and culturally dominant religion in Utah, it certainly isn't the only. This dramatic Roman Catholic cathedral, completed in 1909, was built to mimic Romanesque style on the outside and...  Read More

Antelope Island State Park

A trip to Antelope Island is like a journey to another planet -or at least a journey back in time. This island, the largest in the Great Salt Lake, stands northwest of Salt Lake City and contains almost no infrastructure whatsoever on all of its...  Read More

Salt Lake City has been the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since their arrival to the Great Basin in July 1847. Temple Square itself is the spiritual and symbolic center of this unique religion. Covering 10...  Read More


Meet Christine Balaz

Christine Balaz began her unexpected writing career in Salt Lake City with her first book on Wasatch Skiing and Travel in 2006. On the subject of Utah, Christine has written numerous...  More About Christine
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