19 Free Things to Do in Salt Lake City: Explore on a Budget

Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah, is a vibrant city nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Known for its stunning natural landscapes and rich history, Salt Lake City offers a multitude of free activities and attractions for travelers on a budget. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, history buff, or art lover, there’s something for everyone to enjoy without breaking the bank.

In this blog, we’ll explore 19 free things to do in Salt Lake City, from hiking scenic peaks to exploring historic landmarks. So grab your walking shoes and get ready to explore this beautiful city without spending a dime.

1. Ensign Peak: A Hiker’s Delight

Ensign Peak

Towering above the city, Ensign Peak offers a short hike with breathtaking views of Salt Lake City and the surrounding Wasatch Mountains. This hidden gem is a hiker’s delight, providing a stunning panorama of the city below. The trailhead is easily accessible from downtown Salt Lake City, making it the perfect excursion for both locals and visitors alike.

2. Liberty Park: The Green Heart of the City

Liberty Park

Situated in the heart of Salt Lake City, Liberty Park is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. This expansive park is the green heart of the city, offering a variety of free activities for all ages. From playgrounds and picnic areas to volleyball and basketball courts, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Take a stroll through the park and admire the beautiful gardens, ponds, and the flowing creek that runs through it. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Tracy Aviary, located within the park, where you can see a variety of bird species up close and personal.

3. Big Cottonwood Canyon: A Scenic Masterpiece

Big Cottonwood Canyon

For nature lovers, a visit to Big Cottonwood Canyon is a must. This scenic masterpiece offers stunning views of the Salt Lake Valley and is the gateway to countless outdoor adventures. Whether you choose to hike, fish, rock climb, or simply enjoy a scenic drive, Big Cottonwood Canyon has something for everyone.

Pack a picnic and spend the day taking in the breathtaking landscapes, waterfalls, and wildlife that make this canyon a natural wonder. Don’t forget your camera, as the photo opportunities are endless.

4. Bonneville Shoreline Trail: A Biking Challenge

Bonneville Shoreline Trail

Calling all outdoor enthusiasts! The Bonneville Shoreline Trail offers a thrilling biking challenge for those looking to explore the natural beauty of Salt Lake City.

This trail follows the ancient shoreline of Lake Bonneville, offering stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Whether you’re a seasoned biker or a beginner, the trail has options for all skill levels. So grab your bike, helmet, and sense of adventure, and get ready for a memorable biking experience without spending a dime.

5. The Historic Beehive House

The Historic Beehive House

Step back in time and visit the historic Beehive House, once the official residence of Brigham Young, the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Located in Pioneer Park, this historic house offers a glimpse into the early days of Salt Lake City and the lifestyle of its pioneers.

Explore the fascinating architecture, learn about the history of the LDS Church, and gain insight into the city’s unique heritage, all free of charge. With its prime location in downtown Salt Lake City, the Beehive House is a must-visit for history enthusiasts and anyone interested in the city’s rich history.

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6. Utah State Capitol: The Seat of Power

Utah State Capitol

Make your way to the Utah State Capitol, the seat of power for the state of Utah. This magnificent capitol building, constructed in the early 20th century, is an architectural marvel and a symbol of the state’s history and governance.

Visitors can take a free guided tour of the capitol, exploring its grand halls, historic chambers, and stunning artwork. From the capitol grounds, you can also enjoy sweeping views of the city and the surrounding mountains, providing the perfect photo opportunity. Don’t miss the chance to witness the heart of Utah’s government and learn about the state’s rich history.

7. Wheeler Historic Farm: Step Back in Time

Wheeler Historic Farm

Immerse yourself in the history and charm of the Wheeler Historic Farm, a living history museum that allows visitors to step back in time and experience pioneer life in Utah. The farm offers free admission, allowing visitors to explore the historic buildings, interact with farm animals, and participate in educational activities.

From milking cows to tending gardens, the Wheeler Historic Farm provides a hands-on experience for all ages. Pack a picnic lunch, wander the farm’s trails, and transport yourself to a simpler time in Utah’s history.

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8. Cathedral of the Madeleine: Architectural Brilliance

Cathedral of the Madeleine

Marvel at the architectural brilliance of the Cathedral of the Madeleine, a historic religious landmark located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City. This stunning cathedral, built in the late 19th century, showcases exquisite Gothic Revival architecture, including intricate stained glass windows, soaring arches, and ornate details.

Visitors can take a free tour of the cathedral, learning about its history, art, and religious significance. Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a moment of peace and reflection, the Cathedral of the Madeleine is a must-see destination in Salt Lake City.

9. Salt Lake City Main Library: A Literary Paradise

Salt Lake City Main Library

Book lovers, rejoice! The Salt Lake City Main Library is a literary paradise, offering a haven for reading, learning, and exploration. This architectural masterpiece is not only a place to peruse thousands of books, but it also provides a wide range of educational opportunities, events, and activities for all ages. From author talks to book clubs, the library is a hub of intellectual and cultural engagement.

Take a self-guided tour of the library, marvel at its unique architecture, and lose yourself in the world of literature. With its central location in downtown Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake City Main Library is the place to be for all things literary.

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10. Urban Arts Gallery: A Creative Hub

Urban Arts Galler

Immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene of downtown Salt Lake City at the Urban Arts Gallery. This creative hub showcases the work of local artists, providing a platform for emerging talent and a space for artistic expression.

Visitors can explore the diverse exhibits, attend free events, and engage with the arts community. From paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media, the Urban Arts Gallery offers a glimpse into the creative spirit of Salt Lake City. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply curious about the local arts scene, a visit to this gallery is sure to inspire and ignite your creativity.

11. Preservation Utah Tours: A Cultural Expedition

Preservation Utah Tours

Embark on a cultural expedition with Preservation Utah Tours, offering free guided tours of historic landmarks throughout Salt Lake City. From the pioneer era to the present day, these tours provide insight into the city’s rich history, architecture, and the stories of the early pioneers who shaped the landscape.

Explore buildings of architectural significance, learn about the city’s diverse neighborhoods, and gain a deeper understanding of the cultural heritage of Salt Lake City. Whether you’re a history buff, architecture enthusiast, or simply curious about the city’s past, Preservation Utah Tours offers a unique opportunity to delve into the cultural tapestry of the city.

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12. Temple Square: A Religious Landmark

Temple Square

No visit to Salt Lake City is complete without a visit to Temple Square, a religious landmark and the spiritual heart of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This iconic square encompasses several historic buildings, including the Salt Lake Temple, the Mormon Tabernacle, and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

Visitors can take free tours of the grounds, learn about the history and beliefs of the LDS Church, and explore the beautiful gardens and architecture. Temple Square is a revered place of peace and reflection, attracting visitors from around the world. Immerse yourself in the spiritual ambiance of this sacred space and gain a deeper understanding of the city’s cultural identity.

13. Tabernacle Choir: A Musical Marvel

Tabernacle Choir

Experience the mesmerizing sound of the Tabernacle Choir, a musical marvel based at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. This renowned choir made up of over 360 volunteer singers, captivates audiences with its powerful voices and harmonious melodies.

Attend one of their weekly broadcasts or performances at the historic Salt Lake Tabernacle, and be transported by the beauty of their music. Whether you’re a music lover or simply seeking a transcendent experience, the Tabernacle Choir offers free performances that are not to be missed.

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14. Family History Library: A Genealogical Treasure

Family History Library

Delve into your family history and discover your roots at the Family History Library, a genealogical treasure located in downtown Salt Lake City. This extensive library, operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, houses the world’s largest collection of genealogical records, including vital records, census records, and historical documents from around the world.

Visitors have access to free resources, including computers, Wi-Fi, and research assistance from knowledgeable staff. Whether you’re an experienced genealogist or just starting your family history journey, the Family History Library is an invaluable resource for tracing your family tree and connecting with your past.

15. Pioneer Memorial Museum: A Nostalgic Journey

Pioneer Memorial Museum

Take a nostalgic journey through the history of Salt Lake City and the early pioneers at the Pioneer Memorial Museum. This free museum showcases the lives of the pioneers who settled in Utah, offering a glimpse into their hardships, triumphs, and contributions to the city’s development.

Explore the museum’s exhibits, which include clothing, tools, household items, and a replica of an old-fashioned general store. Admire the vast collection of quilts and textiles on display, reflecting the craftsmanship and creativity of the pioneers. Step into the past and gain a deeper appreciation for the pioneers who built the foundations of Salt Lake City.

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16. The Gateway: Shopping and Entertainment

The Gateway

For those looking for a mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment, The Gateway is the place to be. Located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, this vibrant outdoor mall offers an array of shops, restaurants, and free events throughout the year.

Stroll through the center’s outdoor plaza, where you can admire artwork, enjoy water features, and relax in the urban oasis. From live music performances to outdoor movies, The Gateway provides free entertainment for visitors of all ages. Be sure to check out the calendar of events to catch the latest happenings at this bustling hub of activity.

17. Downtown Farmers Market: A Foodie’s Dream

Downtown Farmers Market

Indulge your senses at the Downtown Farmers Market, a foodie’s dream come true. Held every Saturday during the summer months, this vibrant market offers a wide variety of vendors selling fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, baked goods, and more.

Stroll through the market, taste local flavors, and discover unique ingredients for your next culinary masterpiece. In addition to delectable food, the market also features local artisans selling handmade crafts and goods. Live music and other entertainment add to the festive atmosphere, making the Downtown Farmers Market a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts and those looking to support local farmers and artisans.

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18. Olympic Cauldron Park: A Sporting Legacy

Olympic Cauldron Park

Relive the sporting legacy of the 2002 Winter Olympics at the Olympic Cauldron Park, located on the campus of the University of Utah. This park is home to the Olympic Cauldron, which was lit during the opening and closing ceremonies of the games.

Visitors can take pictures with the cauldron and learn about the history of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Enjoy the park’s plaza and amphitheater, which host events and performances throughout the year. As you explore the park, you’ll be reminded of the excitement and achievements of the Olympic Games, leaving you inspired and proud of the city’s Olympic heritage.

19. Free Youth Art Workshop

Free Youth Art Workshop

Encourage creativity and artistic expression at the Free Youth Art Workshop, a creative hub located in downtown Salt Lake City. This workshop offers free arts and crafts activities for children, providing a nurturing environment for young artists to explore their talents. From painting and drawing to sculpture and mixed media, children can engage in a variety of artistic mediums, guided by experienced instructors.

The Free Youth Art Workshop also hosts educational opportunities, including workshops, classes, and events, allowing children to develop their artistic skills and broaden their creative horizons. Whether your child is a budding artist or simply enjoys exploring their imagination, this workshop is the perfect place for them to thrive.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are some free outdoor activities to do in Salt Lake City?

Free Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Hike to the top of Ensign Peak for panoramic views of the city and Wasatch Mountains.

Explore the green heart of the city at Liberty Park, which offers playgrounds, picnic areas, and walking paths.

Take a scenic bike ride or hike along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, offering stunning views of the city and lake.

Discover the natural beauty of Big Cottonwood Canyon with its hiking trails, waterfalls, and rock climbing opportunities.

Are there any free museums or cultural attractions in Salt Lake City?

Free Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Visit the Pioneer Memorial Museum to learn about the history of early pioneers in Salt Lake City.

Explore the Utah State Capitol, offering free guided tours and breathtaking views of the city.

Discover the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Church History Museum.

Trace your family history and research genealogy at the Family History Library, home to the world’s largest collection of genealogical records.

What are some ways to get discounts on paid attractions in Salt Lake City?

Check the Visit Salt Lake website for discounts and special offers on attractions and activities.

Visit City Creek Center and take advantage of their reward program, which offers discounts and freebies.

Look for coupon books or discount codes online before purchasing tickets.

Consider visiting attractions during the off-peak season when ticket prices may be lower.

Conclusion

Free Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City offers a plethora of free activities that you can enjoy without breaking the bank. From hiking to exploring historical landmarks, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or an art enthusiast, Salt Lake City has it all.

Take advantage of the beautiful outdoor spaces like Ensign Peak and Big Cottonwood Canyon, or immerse yourself in the city’s rich cultural heritage by visiting the Utah State Capitol and Temple Square. And if you’re looking for some entertainment, check out the Downtown Farmers Market or attend a free youth art workshop. With so many options, you can explore Salt Lake City on a budget and have a memorable experience.

 

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