Salt Lake City is a fascinating and unusual place. Here modestly dressed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (also known as Mormons) rub shoulders with nature-loving liberal types who move to the city because it's affordable and has amazing skiing and hiking. In a low-lying valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains (even in late summer!), Salt Lake City is both beautiful and family-friendly, with welcoming people, scrumptuous restaurants, a grid system that makes everything easy to find, and a rich Pioneer past. Big-city options with a small-city feel (and a lake so saline you float when you swim in it), Salt Lake City is a fantastic city for families to visit.
Salt Lake City is truly a year-round destination. If your family likes to ski, go in the winter and take advantage of the four ski resorts that are within less than an hour's drive of downtown. Spring is a great time to visit, when the flowers are in bloom and the weather is heavenly (but for ease of making hotel reservations, avoid the first weekend in April, when the city is jammed with the World Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints). Summers are festive and pleasantly crowded with tourists flocking to the city, often on their way to Southern Utah's natural wonders. In the fall the weather is pleasantly crisp and you can often find deeply discounted rates on hotels and resorts. Here's a secret for anytime you go: Unlike elsewhere in America, so many people keep the Sabbath on Sunday that attractions that are open tend to be less crowded.
The weather in Salt Lake City is always dry, so even though it gets very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter, the heat is never humid and the cold is (usually) not overwhelming. In the winter the average high in January is 39 and the low is 25, averaging about a foot of snow. In April, high temperatures reach the low 60s, and by May, with the picturesque snowcapped Wasatch Mountains in the distance, highs are in the low 70s. For a few months in the summer the temperatures soar—July and August temperatures often climb to the high 90s and beyond. It is easy to escape the summer heat, however, by driving to higher altitudes to hike, mountain bike, or enjoy the outdoor summer activities at one of the ski resorts. Fall temperatures are pleasantly warm during the day and crisp in the evening, perfectly comfortable for a drive to see the changing leaves in the mountains.
Lake City International Airport is state-of-the art and often inexpensive to fly into. The airport is a 10-minute drive from downtown and is a major hub for Delta Airlines, which tends to have relatively inexpensive flights from most major cities (and some smaller ones, too) in the U.S. If you're driving, Salt Lake City is unfortunately not a quick trip—it's 420 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada; 400 miles west of Steamboat Springs, Colorado; and a little over 300 miles north of the popular southern Utah Zion National Park.
Salt Lake City is conveniently located just 10 minutes from the airport. Though renting a car is convenient if you want to visit places outside the city, you really don't need a car for visiting venues downtown. Many of the attractions in the area are within walking distance of each other or are on the light-rail service called TRAX. During peak season in the summer, a free shuttle bus loops between attractions, making it easy for visitors to enjoy the city without having to drive. Parking downtown is sometimes hard to find, but is typically available within a few blocks (and at reasonable rates). Visit Utah Transit Authority for more information on Salt Lake City's public transportation system.
The Salt Lake Convention and Visitor's Bureau maintains an in-depth website and a toll-free number for visitor information: (800) 541-4955. NowPlayingUtah.com has a list of events and activities throughout Utah.
The Salt Lake City Conventions and Visitor's Bureau offers 1-day, 2-day, and 3-day unlimited access to certain attractions with the purchase of a Connect Pass. Shuttle bus service and an easy-to-read map make commuting between attractions hassle-free.
The first Mormon settlers, led by the much revered Brigham Young, arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, and July 24 is an official state holiday in Utah.
Salt Lake City is Utah's capital and is also home to the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. The city is laid out on a grid system that begins at Temple Square, which covers 35 acres in downtown Salt Lake City and houses the church's offices. Though less than 50 percent of Salt Lake's residents are Mormons, visitors will undoubtedly feel its influence and pervasiveness.
Hosting the Winter Olympics in 2002 put Salt Lake City on the world's map and lead to a slew of downtown rejuvenation projects that residents still enjoy today. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.