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48 Hours | Western States
48 Hours in Salt Lake City


Utah is popular year-round, attracting outdoor enthusiasts of all types. Skiers fly into Salt Lake City and then continue to nearby Park City Utah. Hikers use Salt Lake City as a home base for road trips through Utah's five national parks.

While the city’s location and newly renovated airport make it an excellent base for adventure trips, the city has plenty of attractions to make Salt Lake City a destination itself. Whether you add a few days to the end of your national park vacation or come with Salt Lake City as your sole destination, you'll find plenty of activities to fill a long weekend.

Antelope Island, Salt Lake City, UtahAntelope Island in Salt Lake City, UT; Photo by Anna Photography/

Take the city's train, TRAX, from the airport into downtown for only $2.50, then walk to your hotel. The Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek is just 0.2 miles from the City Center TRAX station.

Once checked in, grab some coffee to fuel your day. Three Pines Coffee, located on Main Street, pours deliciously smooth single-origin espressos. For flavored lattes and more seating, try Cupla Coffee.

Walk north on Main Street or grab a Lime scooter. You'll first pass City Creek Center, a unique 2-story, open-air mall. A creek flows through the lower level and a pedestrian bridge connects the two sections which span Main Street.

North of the mall is Temple Square, home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Free organ concerts are performed daily, and friendly tour guides—missionaries—give free tours of the Conference Center and its rooftop.

A couple more blocks north is the Utah State Capital. It's free to walk inside and the architecture is worth a visit.

Grab something early and fast for dinner because tonight's itinerary includes a field trip to Antelope Island—one thing worth booking in advance. You could rent a car and go, but a guided tour ensures you know the spots to go on the island for the best chance of seeing bison and antelope.

Peace Garden, Salt Lake City, UTTemple Square in Salt Lake City, UT; Photo by RG/

Start this morning across from Liberty Park at The Park Cafe, which has served an excellent diner-style breakfast since 1982.

After breakfast, walk alongside the park to Salt Lake eBikes. Pick up your pre-booked rental and join the Cycle the City route, a 13.5-mile loop showcasing everything Salt Lake City has to offer, from the city to the mountains. Extend the loop and climb nearly 2,000 feet in elevation by continuing higher up City Creek Canyon.

After returning your bike, return to the city to shop or recharge. You don't have to go far for dinner tonight. Check out Whiskey Street right on Main Street.

Ensign Peak, Salt Lake City, UTView of Salt Lake City from Ensign Peak; Photo by Filip Rytych/

Begin at Eva's Bakery, a French café. Sit outside, people watch, and see the city wake up as you sip on a cappuccino and savor a breakfast sandwich on a flakey croissant. Freshly made pastries are the perfect snack when you reach the summit of today's hike, so get some to go.

Even though national parks aren't on this trip agenda, hiking still is. For a short, but steep hike with rewarding urban views, visit Ensign Peak. From the State Capital, walk or take an Uber a mile north to the trailhead. A short 0.9 miles later, you'll be above the Capital, looking over the city. This hike is popular and gets crowded at sunset.

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If you prefer a more secluded hike, head towards the University of Utah. Here, you'll find the botanical garden, Red Butte Garden. Behind the manicured gardens is the Natural Area, which provides direct mountain access. Steep at times, but with changing terrain and landscapes, this enjoyable loop hike is an exciting but relatively quick way to access hiking within the city limits.

After that climb, you've earned a drink. South of the city, but accessible via the TRAX, you'll find a grouping of breweries, some with food trucks outside. Consider Templin Family Brewing or Fisher Brewing as good starting points for dinner and drinks.

TRAX train in downtown Salt Lake City, UTTRAX train passing through downtown Salt Lake City; Photo by jovannig/

Ride TRAX to the airport this morning. Plan extra time to reach your gate if your flight is out of Terminal B. Until construction on a new tunnel finishes, your curb-to-gate walk could be 0.64 miles.