For a community only 160 years old, Salt Lake City has an impressively rich and engaging history. From its native inhabitants, to its 19th Century Mormon settlers, immigrant railroad workers and rowdy mineral miners, this state has absorbed an extremely diverse - and often conflicted - population in a very short time. Though you’d need a lifetime to explore every nook and cranny of Utah’s past, you can nevertheless absorb a good deal of its highlights within a few efficient hours of exploration in Salt Lake City.
Stop 1: Temple Square
Yes - nearly everyone travelling to Salt Lake City has heard of this ultra-classic Mormon square. Considered the world headquarters of this young religion, Temple Square has a fittingly dense collection of historical buildings essential to this religion’s modern and historic core. You don’t have to be a Mormon to enjoy a free, missionary-guided tour of the grounds. In less than 30 minutes, you’ll hear a brief history of the religion as a whole, as well as of each structure within the square. Located in the heart of Downtown, this stands within walking distance of most major hotels. Temple Square: All Dressed Up — Photo courtesy of opencontent
If you have extra time, consider reserving tickets online for a free Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsal or concert.
Stop 2: Utah State Capitol Building
Recently renovated, the Utah State Capitol Building stands atop a large hill overlooking the entirety of Salt Lake Valley. Built between 1912 and 1916, this massive structure houses the Utah State Legislature, as well as the offices of the governor. Within the building is a 165-foot-tall domed ceiling and numerous murals. Given its lofty position north of Salt Lake City, this building would warrant a trip simply because of the vistas it offers. If you’re a planner, call ahead and join up with a guided tour in order to glean the most from your visit. Utah State Capitol Building — Photo courtesy of Cassi G
If you have extra time, consider a stop at the nearby Memory Grove Park.
Stop 3: Natural History Museum
After leaving Capitol Hill, head east to the far end of the University of Utah campus. Housed in the beautiful, all-new Rio Tinto Building, the Natural History Museum of Utah is a first-rate institution dedicated to illustrating the fascinating natural history of this unique state. Here you can check up on Utah’s bizarre rock formations, or learn about its dinosaurs, wooly mammoths and indigenous populations of yore.
If you have extra time, consider stretching your legs on a walking or jogging tour of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, which stands immediately north of the Natural History Museum. Likewise, you can explore Civil War-era history at the nearby Fort Douglas Military Museum.
Temple Square: All Dressed Up — Photo courtesy of opencontent