Does just the term "tourist attraction". cause feelings of anxiety? While there certainly are some attractions that you are better off driving on by, there are plenty of good ones too. Our Salt Lake City 10Best list can help you sort the worthwhile from the worthless, ensuring only good memories are created this trip.


The Living Planet Aquarium

Located in nearby Sandy and one of Utah's most popular attractions, this aquarium reached one million visitors in 2009 since it opened in 2004. Exhibits include 1,250 animals and 267 species that are on display in three main exhibits: Discover Utah, Ocean Explorer, and Journey to South America. Featured are sharks, jellyfish, octopus, starfish, stingrays, seahorses and more. Freshwater species are on display as well. You can even meet a real Gentoo Penquin or view the stingray feedings. For special occasions, there is a replica of an 1830's sunken ship that connects to an even larger multi-purpose room that can be rented. The Living Planet community outreach educational program helps young students learn about the animals of the rainforest and about wetland ecosystems and conservation of the Utah waters.

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The largest lake west of the Mississippi River, the Great Salt Lake annually receives mineral-rich floodwater from surrounding mountains, making it more than five times saltier than ocean water. In fact, only the Dead Sea has a higher salt content than this 2000-square mile lake's 15 to 20% salinity. Tourists are encouraged to visit the State Park and marina area, located in Magna, where they'll find a flurry of activities: swimming, sailing, and bird-watching, to name a few.

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Southwest Salt Lake City

The diverse cultures that have contributed to Salt Lake City's character through the years are honored in this park, which lies along the Jordan River. Visitors will enjoy the quiet atmosphere and the variety of statues, windmills, and gardens that pay tribute to the more than 25 ethnic groups which have settled the Salt Lake area.

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Liberty Park
Photo courtesy of Keith Rogers

This 80-acre park provides Salt Lake City's residents and visitors with an enormous amount of green space immediately in the center of the city. Sandwiched between Sugarhouse and Downtown, Liberty Park has a jogging trail and paved sidewalk around its perimeter, playgrounds, and tennis courts for use by the public. Ponds in the center of the park serve as a place to relax and feed ducks. If you're really into birds, check out the Tracy Aviary, also located within the park. Or visit the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Art, a tribute to Salt Lake City's early Mormon settlers and their way of life.

Local Expert tip: The park has plenty of free parking within its boundaries.

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Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

When most people imagine a museum, they envision paintings, sculptures, and possibly dinosaur fossils. However, a museum must not be restricted to dead or man-made objects! If you're planning a museum trip in Salt Lake City, consider visiting one of its most interesting educational centers, the Red Butte Garden. Filled with life, and spanning more than 100 acres, the gardens and arboretum of Red Butte contain 11 themed gardens and over 4 miles of foot paths. In the spring alone, over 300,000 bulbs bloom, saturating the grounds in color. In addition to the plants and trees, Red Butte hosts child- and adult-specific events, summer camps, orchid and bonsai shows, and educational tours.

Local Expert tip: If you happen to be around during the summer, be sure to check the Garden's event schedule; the Red Butte Summer Concert Series draws ultra-famous musicians from around the world.

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Lake Bonneville
Bonneville Salt Flats
Photo courtesy of CountyLemonade

The eerie Bonneville Salt Flats, which stretch out for some 30,000 acres, were formed when Lake Bonneville, a freshwater lake that once covered the entire state, evaporated. Like something out of a science fiction thriller, this vast plain is devoid of life. Each year, after winter floods dissipate, wind sweeps the briny surface until it's as smooth as glass. In the summer, thermometers hit the century mark, and winter often sees freezing temperatures, making this one of the most inhospitable places in North America. Best known as the site of the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway, where numerous land speed records have been set during the annual speed trials.

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Tracy Aviary
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

This fascinating outdoor exhibit is home to hundreds of species of foreign and domestic birds. Entertaining and informative shows are offered during the summer months.

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Antelope Island State Park

Great Salt Lake's largest island owes its name to John C. Fremont, who hunted antelope there in 1845. Several years later, a herd of 17 bison was introduced to the island, and their descendants now number around 600 and share the island with a variety of other animals, including elk, pronghorn, coyotes, and several species of waterfowl and birds of prey. Visitors to the island's state park may explore the island's 15-plus miles of hiking trails or tour it on horseback or horse-drawn wagon.

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East Salt Lake City
Zoo Lights at Hogle Zoo
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

Located at the mouth of Emigration Canyon in the northeastern corner of Salt Lake City, The Hogle Zoo houses a wide variety of animals. More than 900 amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles from across the world are housed on 42 acres. The zoo's most recent exhibit, Asian Highland, features over 15,000 sq. feet of outdoor habitat with five species of felines. Visitors enjoy birds and plants on exhibit in the solarium and come face to face with giraffes via a tall deck. A small steam train is an additional attraction for all to enjoy. After your visit, consider a short hike on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, just across the street.

Local Expert tip: Visit during the year's warmer months to see more animals.

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One of Salt Lake City's favorite (and largest) playgrounds, this attractive park has a rather checkered past. Originally, the area was the setting for one of the state's first prisons, an adobe structure in use until 1951. All that currently remains of the prison are a couple of historical markers, and, today, the park offers everything from soccer fields and a duck pond to expansive green areas and picnic shelters.

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