If you are planning a 3-day Salt Lake City weekend getaway, we’ve got you covered. This Salt Lake City itinerary takes you to the best places in town and nearby, and will help you have the perfect getaway.
Salt Lake City is somewhat of an underrated gem in the west. It may not be as flashy or popular as cities like San Francisco, Seattle, or Chicago, but there are some truly fantastic outdoor activities, gorgeous hikes, and destinations in the mountains.
There are some delicious places to eat in and around town. If you’re considering spending a weekend in Salt Lake City, keep on reading because this 3-day itinerary will show you the best things to do in SLC.
Salt Lake City is also emerging as an important tech hub – lots of start-ups are based in Utah, business is booming, and the area is really expanding and developing. This is leading to a growing young-adult scene and new developing culture.
In addition, Salt Lake City is nestled in a valley surrounded by the Rocky Mountains with all the attendant stunning vistas.
There are also several lakes, deserts, and skiing attractions nearby. In short, there is really no end to the spectacular hikes and nature destinations and attractions close to Salt Lake.
Finally, the national parks of southern Utah are second to none in the United States. Salt Lake City makes a great jumping-off point for exploring the epic landscapes of southern Utah (Zion National Park and the city of St. George are just over 4 hours south of Salt Lake!). If you have time for a longer trip, hiking in southern Utah is absolutely a bucket list experience!
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Getting To Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City International Airport is very large and just 10 minutes outside of downtown Salt Lake. It’s a hub for Delta, so you can often find some good deals and great Salt Lake City weekend getaway packages.
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Between the many bus lines and the TRAX lines (the light rail system), you can get from the airport to downtown, and around downtown easily using public transportation.
However, a lot of the appeal of Salt Lake City comes from the hiking trails and nature spots around the valley. I would therefore 100% recommend getting a rental car – to access trailheads and nature locations, you’re absolutely going to want a car.
There are bike rental locations, though, which you should consider especially if you like mountain biking.
3-Day Salt Lake City Itinerary: Day 1
To help you prepare your weekend getaway in Salt Lake City, we counted with the expertise of Stephanie Rytting, a.k.a. The Unknown Enthusiast. She knows the city well and prepared every detail of this itinerary, which will be useful on your trip to the city.
Morning: Explore Downtown Salt Lake City
Start your long weekend in Salt Lake City off by exploring downtown. Salt Lake City was founded in the mid-1800s by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seeking religious freedom.
While a majority of Salt Lake residents are not members of that church, the influence of that founding is still apparent in the downtown especially. Foremost among that influence is the Temple Square for the LDS temple.
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This center square downtown is a great place to start your visit as it has beautiful grounds to walk around, stunning landscaping, interesting buildings, and the architecture of the temple itself is very unique as well as ornate and impressive.
Be sure to visit inside the Tabernacle, one of the most acoustically unique buildings in the world.
During December the grounds are covered in lights and Christmas displays, and during warmer months, flowers are constantly blooming.
If you visit during the spring, swing by the Capitol building – between the end of March and the beginning of April the cherry blossoms are in bloom on the grounds around the building, and the area is absolutely beautiful!
If you’re visiting with children, the Hogle Zoo is a fun outdoor environment to see more than 800 animals in over 40 acres of space.
The Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum is a popular, hands-on museum for children, with exhibits like a helicopter and a grocery store for children to interact with.
If you’re up for a bit of shopping, City Creek is an upscale indoor/outdoor shopping center that’s a nice place to hang out.
They really integrated the outdoor spaces to enhance the shopping experience, and in addition to fun shopping options, you’ll find good restaurants, fountains, and a creek that runs through the heart of the mall.
Lunch at Lion House Pantry
Stop for lunch at Lion House Pantry, located in a 19th century historic home with many old architectural details still intact. Don’t miss the rolls here – they are absolutely legendary in Utah! You can check their TripAdvisor reviews here.
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Afternoon: Cecret Lake
Continue your Salt Lake City itinerary with a 2-mile hike up to Cecret Lake. It is mostly easy and passes through some fields of wildflowers. There are some steep inclines at the end, but it pays off when you reach the lake.
The little lake is nestled among mountain peaks and is super picturesque. You can walk around most of the lake and sit by the edge, but there’s no swimming available.
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If you want to extend your hike, you can continue on to Sugarloaf Peak. While the hike to Cecret Lake is fairly easy, the trail becomes much more steep and rocky up to Sugarloaf – but the views from the top are incredible!
The trailhead is about a 45-minute drive from downtown.
Dinner At Mazza Cafe
For dinner, stop by Mazza Cafe (about a 15-minute drive from downtown) for some delicious Middle-Eastern food. This cafe has a warm and inviting atmosphere, and the food is fresh and flavorful.
I love the lentil dish and the pita bread! You can check their TripAdvisor reviews.
Salt Lake City Weekend Getaway: Day 2, The Great Outdoors
Morning: Bonneville Salt Flats
Start day 2 of your Salt Lake City itinerary, heading out to the Bonneville Salt Flats in the morning. It takes a bit of a drive to reach this location (it’s 1.5 hours from downtown Salt Lake City), but it’s totally worth it! The salt flats are right on the border of Utah and Nevada and are the remnants of Lake Bonneville.
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The salt flats are so unique and almost other-worldly. The ground is packed hard, white (of course), with ridges of salt running the length of the flats. The mountains in the background make this spot even more stunning.
You can drive your car right onto the salt flats, and a lot of people use this area as a backdrop for epic photoshoots. It’s really such a unique bucket list location!
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Utah has a veritable obsession with soda and cookie shops! There are several great options for soda shops and cookie shops around the valley, including Swig (one of locals’ favorite).
Try their Raspberry Dream. Other shops worth visiting include Sodalicious, Chip, Twisted Sugar, Crumbl, and Goodly Cookies. Definitely hit up at least one place to see what the fuss is about!
Afternoon: Ensign Peak Trail
In the late afternoon, head to Ensign Peak trail. The trailhead is just 10 minutes from downtown, and the hike itself is just 1 mile. While short, this trail can be steep in spots – you rise almost 400 feet in the half-mile it takes to get to the top.
However, it’s still a very doable hike (there are people of all ages and fitness levels on the trail) and has a big payoff at the end! The peak offers a great view over the Salt Lake valley, with many points of interest visible. Don’t go off-trail though, as there are snakes in the area.
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This hike also has some historical significance as the first pioneer settlers in the valley hiked this peak to plan out how they would layout and develop the city.
Bonus: This is also a great place to watch the sunset!
Dinner: Red Iguana
Red Iguana is quite possibly the most popular Mexican restaurant in Salt Lake City – and for good reason! While it has the classics like tacos and burritos, it also has other interesting dishes, such as mole, or a variety of fish offerings. You’ll want to make a reservation ahead of time!
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Day 3 of Your Salt Lake City Itinerary: Park City
On the last of your 3 days in Salt Lake City, fuel up for your day with some French pastries from Les Madeleines bakery.
The food at Les Madeleines is very authentically French, and you can’t miss the Kouign Amann – it’s a regional specialty from Brittany, France, and is buttery and dense, with pockets of caramelized sugar throughout.
Today, you’ll spend your time in the cute little mountain town of Park City, just a 30-minute drive from downtown.
Park City was established in the mid-1800s as a mining town, primarily mining silver and lead. By the mid-1900s, the city had shrunk in size and was fairly neglected.
Fortunately, the area was revitalized as ski slopes were developed, bringing in a lot of visitors and turning Park City into an upscale winter resort destination.
Park City has a cute historic downtown area, with lots of shops to peruse and explore. In winter, you can hit the ski slopes – Park City is home to several excellent ski slopes, including Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain, and The Canyon.
It’s also the location of the renowned Sundance Film Festival that happens each year!
You can also visit Utah Olympic Park during the warmer months, as it’s still used as a training facility today, but there are also a lot of interesting things that the general public can do here.
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You can take a guided tour of the facility and hear some interesting stories about the park and the Olympics. Beyond that, you can also experience some of the Olympic adrenaline through a variety of high thrill activities available in both summer and winter.
These include things such as bobsleds, high dives, ziplining, or extreme tubing. The most popular activity though is the alpine slide. This slide is over 3000 feet long, has multiple turns, great views, and is really fun to ride (you can control your speed as you go down). Cost: $15-25
Between downtown, Olympic village, and the alpine slide, you could certainly spend all day in Park City. However, if you wrap up early and want one last adventure, head another 20 minutes into the mountains to the city of Midway.
Here, you can swim in the Homestead Crater, a hot spring surrounded by a beehive-shaped dome where you can swim for an hour at a time. In the water, you can swim, snorkel, or even scuba dive.
Prices vary depending on what activity you plan to do in the water and if you come on a weekend or weekday, but range between $13-$27.
Dinner: Blue Lemon
Blue Lemon is a local cafe with a few locations around the Salt Lake valley and has deliciously fresh offerings. My absolute favorite is their butternut soup!
Where to Stay in Salt Lake City
SLC Budget Accommodation
Holiday Inn Express Salt Lake City Downtown: This Holiday Inn is a great option for lodging, as it’s very reasonably priced, clean, has a modern design, and very centrally located to many spots of interest in downtown Salt Lake.
Check rates and availability here. Read guest reviews on TripAdvisor.
5-Star Hotel in Salt Lake City
Grand America Hotel: If you want a unique experience in a great SCL hotel, you have to stay at the Grand America Hotel. This grand hotel offers a full-service spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spacious bedrooms, and two restaurants.
The airport is only 5 minutes drive away and the University of Utah is a 10-minute drive from the hotel.
Check rates and availability here. Read guest reviews on TripAdvisor.
3-Day Salt Lake City Itinerary: Conclusion
Salt Lake City is a rapidly growing and developing area and really offers a huge variety of city and outdoor activities to do.
During a weekend in Salt Lake City, you can see historical buildings with unique and interesting architectural details, hike to viewpoints and mountain lakes, explore salt flats, ride an alpine slide, peruse shops in an adorable small town, and swim in a crater! And that’s just scratching the surface.
Once you spend a weekend in Salt Lake City, you’ll want to come back again and see more of the beautiful landscapes and experience more of the fun activities that Utah has to offer!
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