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5-Day Salt Lake City Family-Friendly Itinerary for Exploring the Utah Capital with Kids

    Salt Lake City is a truly stunning place, with the Wasatch Mountains on the east and north and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west you can experience some of the most awe-inspiring panoramic views. It’s a paradise for those who love scenic views and nature. With plenty of activities to explore, indoors and out, the possibilities are endless. Your big family can visit downtown, hit the museums, check out parks, go on a hike or explore the mountains. Whether you’re looking for some outdoor fun or an educational experience, Salt Lake City has plenty of family-pleasing activities to fill your itinerary for several trips.

    We’ve outlined a 5-day itinerary touching a little bit of everything the Salt Lake area has to offer. Choose a few of the listed options to build your daily schedule. Depending on your family’s travel style, ages, and preferences, you can expand or eliminate days to fit your timetable. If you want to focus just on Salt Lake, eliminate days 2-Provo and 3-Park City. For those looking for a weekend trip, many of the listed days’ activity suggestions can easily fill a two-day itinerary.

    Great vacations start with accommodations that fit – check out our Salt Lake City big family friendly hotel listings.

    Day 1 Itinerary – Explore Downtown Salt Lake City

    Your first day will be spent exploring downtown Salt Lake. The Downtown area is full of family-friendly things to do, from exploring the historic buildings to incorporating one or two of the many museums into the day’s itinerary. If you want to explore all the options below, add a second day of Downtown activities to your itinerary. If you’re looking for a two-day weekend Salt Lake City itinerary, the following activities could easily fill your schedule.

    SLC Historic Buildings and Landmarks

    SLC City County Building
    • Salt Lake City and County Building – constructed between 1891-1894, the building is topped with a statue of Columbia, 256 feet above the ground.
    • The Salt Lake City Public Library – this gorgeous 240,000 sqft library will make anyone want to stay a while with a good book. Check out the over 500,000 books, roof garden, art gallery, and breathtaking foyer.
    • The Cathedral of the Madeleine – listed on the Utah Register of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places, you can attend a mass or pop in for a self-guided tour
    • Utah State Capitol – schedule a tour and explore the grounds, check out the nearby Pioneer Memorial Museum.
    • Gardens at Temple Square – covering 35 acres including Temple Square, the Conference Center and its rooftop garden, and areas around the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    SLC Downtown Kid-Friendly Museums

    • Clark Planetarium – One of the city’s most popular tourist spots. The Planetarium has interactive exhibits, informative programs, and spectacular shows at the IMAX and dome theatres. Its 10,000 square foot area contains free exhibits, the Northrop Grumman 3D IMAX® Theatre, the Hansen Dome Theatre which showcases movies and shows, and the Planet Fun Store.
    • Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum – Packed with 60,000 square feet of activities, classes, and educational programs. There are plenty of exciting exhibits, such as the Garden with its giant marimba and humming machine; Kid’s Eye View, a Market where kids can pretend to shop; and the Construction Zone for building structures. Other attractions include the Utah Family Farm, Hatch, Waddle, and Fly, and Story Factory with its plays, comic strips, and motion films.
    • The Leonardo – Based on the works and principles of Leonardo da Vinci and explores the relationship between science, art, technology, and innovation. Popular displays include Flight, Leonardo’s Workshop, Leonardo’s Studio, and Perception.
    • Tracy Aviary – The oldest bird sanctuary in the United States and is home to 400 different types of birds from 135 species. This family-oriented attraction allows people to observe the birds in their natural environment and partake in immersive experiences such as bird shows, hand-feeding, and guided tours with ornithology professionals.

    Check out ->> Caputo’s for lunch, dinner, or a fun stop to explore the market. Caputo’s Market & Deli is the place to go for Italian and Southern European food. The Deli provides a variety of made-to-order sandwiches, salads, and pasta. Notable sandwiches include the award-winning “The Caputo” and the “Meatball”. The market has a selection of cheeses, meats, olive oils, vinegars, pastas, sauces, and other specialty groceries. There are two Cheese Caves and a Fine Chocolate selection with your choice of over 400 chocolate bars – we bought several!

    Day 2 Itinerary – Head South of SLC to Provo

    Your second day includes activities south of Salt Lake, down along Interstate 15 to Provo. Depending on the time of year and weather, you could fill your day with museums, outdoor activities, or both. The area has a lot to offer and might require a second day or another trip back!

    Area Museums

    • Loveland Living Planet Aquarium – Home to 4,500 creatures from 550 species. Visitors can find land and sea animals, such as Asian small-clawed otters, seahorses, piranhas, snakes, stingrays, and penguins. The Ocean Explorer exhibit provides a 3.5-inch thick acrylic tunnel, offering a glimpse of saltwater species from all over the world. To venture into the South American rainforest, visitors can explore the Journey to South America exhibit. Discover Utah showcases some of the state’s endangered and threatened species, while Antarctic Adventure takes guests to a Falkland Islands research station to observe gentoo penguins.
    • Provo Pioneer Village – Take a journey back to the initial days of Provo and witness the lifestyle of the first settlers of 1849. The Pioneer Village has been reconstructed to include the original buildings such as the Turner Cabin, the Haws Cabin, the Loveless Home, a granary, a school, a woodshop, a corn crib, an outhouse, and more.
    • Thanksgiving Point – An indoor and outdoor farm, garden, and museum complex consisting of five main attractions including Ashton Gardens, Butterfly Biosphere, Farm Country, Museum of Ancient Life, and Museum of Natural Curiosity.
      • Ashton Gardens is a gorgeous 50-acre park with themed gardens and the largest manmade waterfall in the US.
      • Butterfly Biosphere is a 40,000-square-foot facility with more than a thousand butterflies from all around the world. The center also boasts 20 species of tarantulas and beetles the size of your fist.
      • Farm Country is home to a functioning farm where you can interact with cows, ponies, and many other animals.
      • The Museum of Natural Curiosity – 400 interactive displays and four main galleries including Rainforest, Water Works, Kidopolis, and the Discovery Garden in a 45,000 sqft building.
      • At the Mountain America Museum of Ancient Life, view some of the biggest and longest dinosaurs ever discovered. Featuring over 50 standing dinosaurs and more than 100 flying reptiles, as well as 50 interactive exhibits.
    Timpanogos hiking trail landscape views

    Explore Local Orem/Provo Area Parks

    Your family could spend a week exploring the mountains east of Provo. Here we list options closer to city limits to fill an afternoon.

    • Canyon View Park – Schedule a lunch break at this Spanish Fork park. Amenities include a playground, fishing pond, and an easy 1.4-mile Provo River loop hike.
    • Palisade Park – Not to be confused with the state park, this park in Orem has 22 acres of fun including a playground, tennis courts, and a splash pad.
    • Scera Park – Tire the kids out at the two playgrounds and outdoor pool.
    Utah Lake State Park winter views
    • Utah Lake State Park – Spanning 148 sq. miles, Utah Lake is the biggest freshwater lake in Utah and offers a wide range of recreational activities. Bring your fishing poles, Utah Lake State Park is a great place to cast a line and try for channel catfish, walleye, white bass, black bass, and various types of panfish. The average temperature of the lake water is 75 degrees, so it’s an ideal spot for swimming, boating, and paddleboarding. During our February visit, it was definitely worth taking a break to appreciate the lake and the stunning panoramic views of the mountains.
    • Mt. Timpanogos Park – Enjoy stunning vistas and mountain views at the 44-acre park. Amenities include picnic sites and restrooms. If you’re interested in summiting the peak of Mount Timpanogos, the hike is a strenuous 5375-foot elevation gain and 15.7 miles. If an ascent isn’t in the cards, the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway is a great choice for a drive to take in the beauty of Mount Timpanogos, featuring 20 miles of paved road and some of the mountain’s most iconic attractions.
    Park City in autumn at dusk

    Day 3 Itinerary – Park City to Big Cottonwood Canyon Loop

    On your third day, explore the nearby mountains and ski resort areas. During the summer months, you can easily traverse this loop through the mountains: I-80 to Park City, down Utah 224 to Guardsman Pass Road, and S Big Cottonwood Canyon Road back to Salt Lake. During winter, the pass will be closed, and you’ll have to decide if you want to explore the route to Park City or the section to Solitude and Brighton Ski resorts. Doing both of course is possible but they’ll be some backtracking which depending on roads and weather might require splitting the sections into two days. Want to stay in the area? Check out our Park City hotel listings.

    Winter Activities

    Utah can offer some of the most stunning views in the US, as well as some of the best skiing. There’s also a relaxed vibe, which is great if you’re looking for a family ski getaway. Add in a laid-back atmosphere, easy-to-reach locations, relatively reasonable prices, and what the state’s Board of Travel calls “the Greatest Snow on Earth,” and Utah may just be the perfect family ski vacation destination. Luckily, several options to ski or snow tube are located near Salt Lake – Park City, Deer Valley, Solitude, and Brighton. Check out our ski and snow tubing articles to further explore your options.

    Summer Activities

      The Park City, UT to Big Cottonwood Canyon mountain loop is one of the best day drives you can take with kids. During the summer months, it’s an especially great experience since there are so many fun activities at the ski resorts. Aside from hiking trails like Mineral Fork, Moss Ledge Waterfalls, Hidden Falls, and Lake Blanche, be sure to make a stop at Guardsman Pass to enjoy the breathtaking views. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, why not explore Provo Canyon and Alpine Loop too?

      Antelope Island State Park and Great Salt Lake

      Day 4 Itinerary – Salt Lake City Family Outdoor Activities

      Plan a day exploring the outdoors at one of Salt Lake City’s many parks. Local city parks and state parks are good choices to enjoy the gorgeous mountains surrounding the city. Love to hike? Many options are available to fit your family’s hiking skill level.

      Salt Lake City Parks for Kids

      Plan a relaxing morning or afternoon at one of SLC’s local parks. Sugar House Park has seven pavilions, soccer and baseball fields, a baseball court, two playgrounds, volleyball courts, and during the winter months, a hill to tube or sled.

      Panoramic spring landscape at Great Salt Lake State Park in Utah

      State Parks and Great Salt Lake

      • Great Salt Lake State Park – Located a short 15-minute drive from SLC, the park is a great option if you are looking for a quick visit to the lake. Amenities include a visitor center, boat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard rentals, and a marina.
        • Antelope Island State Park – While technically an hour outside of SLC near Ogden, we highly recommend this park. We visited in February and while the park was still gorgeous during the cold winter month, we’re already talking about going back in the summer. Antelope Island State Park covers 42 square miles, making it the biggest of the 10 islands in the Great Salt Lake. It is home to a wide selection of wildlife, such as American bison, porcupine, badger, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and pronghorn. The island features breathtaking natural landscapes, with alluvial plains and dry, native grasslands, plus fabulous views of the Wasatch mountains on the east and the Sierra Nevada mountains to the west.

          Day 5 Itinerary – Salt Lake City Kid-Friendly Activities Outside Downtown

          Just outside of downtown Salt Lake, there is plenty of fun and engaging experiences that the whole family can enjoy. Hogle Zoo, the Natural History Museum of Utah and This Is the Place Heritage Park are great options for a day out with the family.

          • Hogle Zoo  – With its beautiful views of Emigration Canyon, Utah’s Hogle Zoo is an expansive 42-acre park that is home to over 800 animals from a variety of ecosystems. Established in 1931, notable attractions include African Savannah, Rocky Shores, Asian Highlands, Elephant Encounters, Primate Forest, Great Apes, and the World of Flight.
          • Natural History Museum of Utah – Based in the Rio Tinto Center at The University of Utah, is devoted to the natural history of the Intermountain West, particularly Utah. The museum has amassed a collection of over 1.6 million objects to explore. Permanent displays include Past Worlds, Great Salt Lake, Life, Land, First Peoples, Gems and Minerals, Native Voices, Sky, Our Backyard, and Utah Futures.
          • This Is the Place Heritage Park – Boasts more than 50 historic homes and structures, such as a Native American Village, the Treasure House, a Prospectors Pit, blacksmith, tinsmith, and saddle-makers shops, and a variety of engaging activities. In addition, the park has pony rides, a petting zoo, the Irrigation Station splash pad, three trains to ride, a miniature train ride around a pond, the Stoddard Gallery, the Mormon Battalion Museum, and a visitor center.

          Fun Things to Do in Salt Lake City with Kids Map

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          Theresa Jorgensen

          Theresa Jorgensen

          Theresa Jorgensen is a mother to four children including twins. She recognized the necessity for a comprehensive resource of hotels that cater to big families with rooms and suites for 5, 6, 7, or 8 people in a single room while traveling with her own family. In 2008, she established SixSuitcaseTravel to compile a database of such hotels. Over time, the website has grown to include travel advice, itineraries, road trip suggestions, national park guides, and more. Theresa takes pleasure in assisting other big families in creating unforgettable travel experiences.