Spend a week in Salt Lake City (with kids)

If you’re in Utah and looking for some destinations that are just as fun for mom as they are for your kids (toddlers to tweens), Vanessa from INeverGrewUp.net and UtahsNaturalKids.com has got you covered with whole week’s worth — and then some.

{Still in your rookie year with a baby? Check out Vanessa’s favorite baby spots in the Salt Lake area.}

After growing up near huge cities like Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Boston, Utah was not her first choice to raise a family. But she admits Utah has grown on her, and she has found many incredible places to explore with her girls.

Monday — history
Start off your visit to Utah exploring History, Utah’s history as well as world history. The Utah Museum of Natural History is one of our favorite places that we just recently discovered. On the first Monday of the month admission is FREE and open late to 8pm. Kids under 3 are always FREE.

Vanessa's girls enjoy the Utah Natural History Museum
Vanessa's girls enjoy the Utah Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is one of the BEST places in the world for dinosaur bones! They put a lot of love and care into making the dinosaur exhibits educational, and we love it. The museum has hands-on exhibits including the rock & mineral hall (my girls’ favorite), bugs and creepy crawlies, and beautiful Native American artifacts. I can spend a few hours in this museum and not get bored.

If you’re not exhausted from all that natural history, This Is the Place Heritage Park is a great place to explore as a family to learn about Utah history in a visual and creative way. It is a giant step back to the pioneer days. The staff dresses in thematic clothes and lead tours of old-timey homes. There are puppet shows, craft demonstrations, and animals to pet. Also children under 3 are FREE.

The nearby outdoor Gallivan Center in downtown Salt Lake City has fun free activities on Monday nights. In the winter they have an ice skating rink and in the warmer months they have many outdoor free concerts.

Tuesday — hiking
When in Utah you need to take advantage of the FREE and beautiful landscape and explore the outdoors no matter what the season. We are very lucky to have numerous State Parks, Canyons and the very interesting Salt Lake. Look up a hike for the ages in your family in one of the many canyons here in Utah. I suggest Doughnut Falls up Cottonwood Canyon or the Nature Trail Hike up American Fork Canyon, both great hikes for younger children. Pack a picnic and sit by one of the many little rivers in the State Parks for lunch along with a field guide to learn about the plants. Then head on up to the Great Salt Lake, it is a must see, take it a bit farther in and visit Antelope Island.

Wednesday — gardens
There are many beautiful gardens to explore in the Salt Lake City area. The International Peace Gardens are stunning very rich in diversity, culture and beauty. And did I mention FREE?

The Red Butte Gardens is a botanical garden and arboretum, full of great educational programs and outdoor concerts. Lastly, the Thanksgiving Point Children’s Gardens is fantastic year-round but is a definite must-see in Tulip Season (re-opens for the season in March). Both Red Butte and Thanksgiving Point charge admission, but it is worth it.

Thursday — Provo
Provo is an easy drive from Salt Lake City, and worth the trip. Down at Brigham Young University they have a world famous ice cream shoppe, called BYU Creamery and many cheap or free museums.

Walking around the college campus is a leisurely walk, especially at a kid’s pace. Visit the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, another excellent FREE place for children, for weekly live animal shows, collections of unique plants, and invertebrate and vertebrate animals.

The Museum of Art at BYU has beautiful exhibits that are always changing; once we saw very religious paintings and the next time they had pieces of art made from trash. Best of all, FREE.

If you didn’t fill up on ice cream, you have to stop by the famous Sweet Tooth Fairy Shoppe to pick up some of the world famous cake bites and cupcakes for the drive home.

Friday — Liberty Park
Liberty Park is a fantastic area full of inexpensive museums and FREE areas to explore. The park itself is a fun place to hang out as a family. Our favorite museum is Tracy Aviary; it is one of only two free-standing aviaries in the United States and is over 70 years old. Admission prices are reasonable.

Liberty Park also has Children’s Garden and boating pond, playground, amusement park and snack bar, tennis courts and a swimming pool and also is a great place to bike. The Utah Museum of Folk Arts is also right there.

Afterward, you can head on down to Sugarhouse Park, another beautiful walk, and browse the Mom & Pop run shops.

Saturday — farmer’s market
Downtown Salt Lake on Saturday mornings is ALIVE during Farmers Market season! My girls and I spend a good 3-4 hours every Saturday morning at the Farmers Market. We eat breakfast and lunch there, stop to watch the entertainers and love to talk to the farmers and learn more about their products.

Once you’re fueled up from the market, you can head on over to the Utah Musem of Fine Arts which has very high-profile art exhibits and still manages to be family-friendly. My girls were able to see Monet and Picasso pieces in person on one of our visits!

Every third Saturday from 2-4pm the Utah Museum of Fine Arts has a special (and FREE) kids’ art activity along with FREE admission. At the front desk ask for one of the family exhibit backpacks to explore some of the interactive features of the museum.

The nearby Salt Lake City Library is fantastic; the library has beautiful glass walls and elevators, art exhibits, shops inside. My girls love it.

Sunday — temples
Being in Salt Lake City, Utah means experiencing and exploring the culture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (also known as Mormons or LDS). You will notice the church buildings, conference centers, chapels, museums and temples wherever you go in Utah.

Downtown, Temple Square is open and FREE on Sundays. You can wander through the Visitor’s Centers, walk along the outside of the Salt Lake Temple, enjoy the beautiful gardens, tour the tabernacle, and perhaps listen in on a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. You might even get lucky and run into a free concert on the grounds.

Bonus: Our Favorite Places to Eat in Downtown SLC with Kids
— Caputos Market, an Italian Deli
— My Dough Girl Cookies
Moochies as seen on Guy’s Drive Ins & Dives
Kneader’s Bakery
Red Iguana
— Blue Plate Diner
The Mad Greek
The Pie

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Thank you Vanessa for another amazing itinerary and the restaurant recommendations. Want more Vanessa? Check out her rookie mom tips for SLC, I Never Grew Up, Utah’s Natural Kids, or try to find her at one of SLC’s family-friendly restaurants.

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RookieMoms co-founder & mom to 3 boys in Berkeley, CA. Bossy big sister and project manager turned blogger helping moms enjoy their first years of motherhood. Find me on my other site on 510families.com or hiding in my minivan eating dark chocolate.