My name is Eric Kerr and I was born and raised in Utah. I’m currently based north of Salt Lake City. I started to get into photography about six years ago when I bought a GoPro3. This little device was used for taking action shots. I ended up joining Instagram which inspired me to buy a better camera.
Salt Lake City and its surrounds is one of the most underrated destinations in the United States. There is something for everyone to enjoy if you are a lover of the great outdoors. Whether it’s skiing, hiking, boating or biking – you will find a plethora of activities to get involved in.
What I love most about Salt Lake City is that you don’t have to travel too far to find things like good food downtown or dramatic landscapes and epic canyons to go hiking. One of my favourite places is Ensign Peak. It’s a quick hike just north of the city that offers views of the mountains.
I’ve shot many sunsets and time-lapses from this spot. I recommend Ensign Peak as your first activity. It gives you a great overview of the city and a chance to take some pretty spectacular photos at sunset.
Experience the Diverse Culture of Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah home to over 1.2 million people in the metropolitan area. It has kept its small town feel despite having a large population. The Mormon culture is prevalent in Salt Lake City. Although, less than half of the people here would be considered church members.
If you are looking to experience Mormon culture then there are plenty of opportunities to do so around Temple Square. This incredible building is the global headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly referred to as Mormons). The architecture is quite stunning.
The city is more diverse than people realise. There’s definitely a liberal spirit in Salt Lake City which can be seen in the restaurants, coffeehouses, yoga studios and bars in the downtown area. Plenty of locals like to kick back and have a beer at one of the many local establishments and breweries.
No matter what people believe in – the vibe of this city is undoubtedly a friendly and welcoming one. It’s a place many different people are proud to call home. What unites everyone is the appreciation for the landscapes of Utah. It really is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.
10 Best Things To Do in Salt Lake City
1. Hike up Ensign Peak for Sunrise/Sunset
The perfect way to start your visit to Salt Lake City is to hike up Ensign Peak. I recommend taking a picnic with a bottle of wine and watching the sunset. Enjoy a killer sunset while the city lights slowly sparkle against the night sky. Remember to bring a headlamp for the climb down.
2. Drink a Beer or Two at Beerhive Pub
Beerhive Pub is located in downtown Salt Lake City. The bar boasts one of the biggest selections of beers in the state. Choose from pale ale, amber, IPA, stouts, porters – you name it, they will have it! You can also find some superb wines and spirits here that pair well with the finger food menu.
3. Catch a Show at Eccles Theatre or Wiseguys
Eccles Theatre is a spectacularly built theatre with a five-story glass lobby, shimmering chandeliers, colourful balustrades and a striking terrazzo floor. Wiseguys Comedy Club is regarded as one of the best clubs in the country with a long history of attracting the funniest comedians in the USA.
4. Drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon
Big Cottonwood Canyon is a short 25 minute drive from the Airport and is home to fantastic ski resorts, epic rock climbing routes, hiking and mountain bike trails, and nice picnic areas. Take a drive through this beautiful canyon that was formed naturally by glacier erosions.
5. Visit Park City, the Perfect Mountain Town
Cruise up to Park City (40 minute drive) and enjoy everything the Main Street has to offer. Stroll around the charming restaurants, art galleries and bars of this famous street. It’s worth visiting this perfect mountain town for the day or for longer in winter to enjoy the mountain slopes on a skiing trip.
6. Have Brunch at Whiskey Street Cocktails & Dining
Whiskey Street is a great spot to have brunch during the day or a couple of cocktails at night. The name comes from the old name of Main Street which was once called Whiskey Street until it was changed in 1906. It used to be a place where local gentiles would go to quench their thirst.
7. Enjoy a Leisurely Hike to Lake Mary or Cecret Lake
Lake Mary is a reservoir tucked away below the towering peaks of Big Cottonwood Canyon. The hike to this beautiful lake is a fairly leisurely one and for this reason it’s wildly popular. Another fantastic hike is to Cecret Lake which takes you through 2.7km of backtrail near Sandy in Utah.
8. Grab a Hot Chicken Sandwich at Pretty Bird
For the best hot chicken sandwich in Utah make sure you swing by Pretty Bird. They serve massive sandwiches and platters in a snug environment. Be quick because on busy days they can sell out! The popular Chicken Sando with chips is a mouth watering experience not to be missed.
9. Go Shopping at City Creek or The Gateway
Two of the best shopping districts are City Creek Centre and The Gateway. The former is a world-class fashion and dining destination offering over 100 stores and restaurants in a pedestrian friendly area. The Gateway is located on the historic Union Pacific Depot and is a fantastic place to shop too.
10. Check out the Shops and Restaurants on 9th & 9th
9th & 9th is a bustling residential neighbourhood located southeast of the downtown area. There are many awesome restaurants and locally owned shops and boutiques to check out. I recommend Pago for the best farm-to-table restaurant in Salt Lake City and Café Trio for great Italian food.
Best Day Trips from Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is your gateway to the most bold and beautiful landscapes of North America. Discover a fascinating world of colourful canyons, desert plains and majestic mountains. From my perspective, the best day trips for a great Salt Lake City adventure would be the following:
- Uinta Mountains via Mirror Lake Highway
- Bonneville Salt Flats
- Antelope Island
- Zion National Park
- Moab for Arches National Park
- Lake Blanche Hiking Trail
A Favourite Memory from my Time in Salt Lake City
One of my best memories from Utah was at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. We went in March to shoot the Milky Way. It was a very cold 27 degrees to hike up at 2am. There were nine of us in our group and I was the only one who brought up a sleeping bag. Everyone else froze!
We had the whole place to ourselves and shot the Milky Way in perfect conditions. The sunrise later that morning was amazing. It turned out to be a phenomenal adventure well worth enduring the cold temperatures.
Travel Tips for your Visit to Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is just an awesome place that I can’t recommend enough. The food is phenomenal, the landscapes are incredible and the people are friendly. It’s hard not to fall in love with this city when you arrive.
The first travel tip I would give is to find an Airbnb for your accommodation. Some of the hotels offer superb views of the city in the downtown area but I always prefer the more relaxing and intimate atmosphere of Airbnb’s. Try searching for homes/apartments in the avenues of Salt Lake City.
When it comes to alcohol, Utah is full of weird laws. So it’s good to be prepared for that. For example, you have to (by law) order food when you’re drinking so you don’t get too drunk. You also can’t buy alcohol in grocery stores. But like I mentioned before, there are plenty of amazing bars!
Make sure you take a trip out to see the incredible natural wonders of Utah. Salt Lake City is the perfect place to base yourself to go on epic adventures. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy everything this state has to offer.