Welcome to the capital of Utah, the famous and interesting Salt Lake City. The founding Mormon community might be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about this jewel west of the Rockies, but the large modern town has much more to offer to every visitor.
If you want to find out where to stay in Salt Lake City and learn about its most important landmarks, tastiest restaurants, and best accommodations, we’re here to help you.
The 3 Best Parts of Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is somewhat large, but not all of it is suitable for tourists and visitors. Most of the fun and the important landmarks are either located in the center of the city or in the adjoining areas.
Accommodations are scarce in the further areas, but there are some individual locations which are also suitable for tourists, especially if they prefer the outdoors.
Our favorite areas include:
- Downtown: The best and obvious choice for first-time visitors to Salt Lake City, boasting plenty of shops, sports arenas, landmarks, and accommodation options.
- Capitol Hill and the Avenues: Located to the north of Downtown, these two neighborhoods with distinctive hipster vibes are perfect for history buffs.
- Sugar House: A large neighborhood located around 10 minutes from Salt Lake City’s downtown, it offers the cheapest accommodations in the city, as well as plenty of outdoor activities.
Where to Stay in Salt Lake City in 2023
Interestingly enough, Salt Lake City is slowly but surely becoming a pretty decent tourist magnet. Visitors are mostly attracted by the beautiful natural scenery and plenty of winter sports options, mainly skiing. Religious tourism is also a strong factor.
All of that means that Salt Lake City is more than prepared and ready to take care of its visitors. But not all areas and districts are the same in terms of accommodation options, types, and price ranges.
Downtown Salt Lake City is the most versatile, and that’s why it’s the best and most reliable option for first-time visitors to the city.
Sugar House, on the other hand, is the cheapest but also the furthest from the main landmarks. Finally, Capitol Hill and the Avenues are two centrally-located areas, which can be quite pricey but very much worth it.
Salt Lake City’s downtown is the first place you should check out when you’re visiting the capital of Utah and the most obvious choice for first-time visitors to this part of America.
You’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, and accommodation options, which is likely your main concern if you haven’t visited before. That said, this area is not only convenient but beautiful and interesting as well, full of important historical buildings and landmarks and plenty of things to see and do.
If you’re interested in the adventurous history of the Mormon religious movement, its ups and downs, and its specific struggle, the city center of Salt Lake City is the right place for you.
Most of the central institutions and buildings of the movement are located here, and usually, they are open and receptive to tourists. You simply can’t brag that you’ve visited Salt Lake City without at least taking a peek inside the Salt Lake Utah Temple.
Fans of sports will have a blast since the homecourt of the legendary Utah Jazz (remember Karl Malone and John Stockton?), called Vivint Arena, is located precisely here.
If you want to watch a great NBA game in front of a lively crowd, make sure to plan your visit upfront and visit the city during a home game. If you’re a foodie, check out Central City, where you’ll find most of the best restaurants in the city.
If, on the other hand, you prefer some shopping, most of the best shops are located on Main Street.
Things to Do
We didn’t talk a lot about the open spaces in Salt Lake City’s center, but no guide about Salt Lake’s downtown can’t be complete without mentioning the number of beautiful parks that can be found here.
Here are our favorites in no particular order:
- Pioneer Park (with a farmer’s market during the summer)
- Liberty Park (with a lake full of ducks and couple of museums)
- City Creek Park (a beautiful scenic park with bridges)
- Memory Grove Park (a serene space with plenty of fountains)
- Gilgal Sculpture Garden
There’s no better place in the world to find out everything you wish to know about the interesting and very peculiar Mormon religion since Salt Lake City is their true center.
Aside from the sublime Salt Lake Utah Temple, we recommend that you take a look at:
- Joseph Smith Memorial Building
- The historic Assembly Hall
- Beehive House (former home to Brigham Young)
- Church History Museum
Not everything cultural and historic is connected to the Mormon religion. There are plenty of interesting museums and landmarks which are completely secular and deal with things not connected to the rich Mormon heritage of the city.
- Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
- Utah Sports Hall of Fame Museum
- Hellenic Cultural Museum
- The Leonardo
The downtown of Salt Lake City has plenty of family-friendly and especially kid-friendly institutions and activities.
Where to Eat
- The Bayou is an American Cajun and Creole bar and restaurant that was selected as the 2022 Travelers’ Choice. It has the classics of Cajun and Creole cuisine, like the jambalaya, but also a variety of burgers, pizzas, and pasta.
- Moochies Meatballs and More is a very cheap place where you can grab a quick bite, mostly for lunch and dinner. It offers sandwiches (and pasta) with a distinctive Italian vibe at a really affordable price.
- Sapa Sushi Bar & Asian Grill is a traditional Japanese and sushi restaurant, offering a lot of classical Asian dishes. It’s considered as one of the best “Asian experiences” in Salt Lake city, offering a healthy, tasty, and artistic sushi experience.
Downtown Budget Hotels
- Quality Inn Downtown is a two-star accommodation particularly suitable for business people. It offers a quiet city view, pet-friendly premises, a fitness center on the premises, and — if requested — children’s cots.
- Metropolitan Inn Downtown Salt Lake City is a great and quite cheap two-star hotel located in the heart of the city, very close to the Salt Palace Convention Center. It has an outdoor swimming pool, a hot tub, and tea and coffee facilities in every room.
Downtown Mid-Range Hotels
- Holiday Inn Express Salt Lake City Downtown, an IHG Hotel is a reasonably priced three-star hotel with a perfect location, offering a business center, a fitness center, and an indoor pool (with a hot tub) on the premises.
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Salt Lake City Downtown is another great and not-very-expensive three-star hotel with an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness center on the premises. Every room has a kitchen, and there’s room service available too.
Downtown Luxury Hotels
- Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City is a gorgeous and very expensive five-star hotel located very close to the famous Tabernacle. There’s a restaurant, a bar, and a sun terrace on the premises, where you can enjoy à la carte American breakfast in the morning. Don’t forget to take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool if the weather allows it!
- Grand America Hotel is another fantastic five-star hotel with a great location, just five minutes from the Salt Lake International Airport. It has no less than two swimming pools on the premises, a restaurant and bar, and a spa and wellness center where you can relax.
2. Capitol Hill and the Avenues
Just to the north of Salt Lake City’s downtown, you’ll find the two districts that are going to meet the expectations of even the most passionate history lovers.
Full of beautiful and historic architecture — which includes a lot of accommodation options as well — it has a distinctive hipster vibe, with a lot of fancy cafes and brunch places.
Salt Lake City is usually considered a conservative town, but both Capitol Hill and the Avenues are generally liberal in outlook, boasting a considerable Catholic minority as well.
The three buildings you simply must see are the State Capitol Building, the Masonic Temple, and the Cathedral of Madeleine.
The Utah State Capitol is the political center of the area — a fantastic 1916 building constructed in a sublime neo-classical style. Salt Lake Masonic Temple, on the other hand, is built in an exotic Egyptian revivalist style, completed in 1927.
Finally, the Cathedral of Madeleine, crafted in a Romanesque style, is the center of the Catholic faith in Salt Lake City. The three of them give witness to the cultural richness of the capital of Utah.
If you’re into the performing arts, this part of Salt Lake City is definitely the right place for you. Salt Lake Acting Company is probably the premier performing institution in the city, boasting an exciting and interesting program.
If, on the other hand, you prefer something more exotic, take a look at what the Kura Door has to offer, as they offer an unusual combination of spa relaxation and an artistic, theatrical experience.
The best way to get to know both Capitol Hill and the Avenues is on foot. Most of the area, as we’ve shown, is rich in architecture.
It’s a real pleasure, for example, to stroll through the Avenues Historic District, a neighborhood packed with historic houses. There are even some great parks in the area as an alternative choice if you prefer casual strolls through nature on some days.
Things to Do
Speaking of nature, if you’re partial to hiking, don’t miss the following three areas for a treat for all your senses:
- City Creek Canyon
- Memory Grove Park
- Bonneville Shoreline Trail
Capitol Hill and the Avenues are not like the city center in terms of the number and the quality of the museums you’re going to find here, but there are a couple of jewels that are definitely worth both your time and energy.
- Pioneer Memorial Museum is all about the history of the early Mormon movement.
- Alice Gallery located in the historic Glendinning Mansion, is a small yet charming art museum and gallery.
- Land Cruiser Heritage Museum may come as a much-needed break from the history of art and religion.
The Avenues’ Historic District shows off mansions and houses built in various styles — from Queen Anne to the Prairie style. Here’s a short list of some architectural eye candy:
- Keith Brown Mansion
- Thomas Kearns Mansion (open for tours)
- Rowland Hall-St. Marks School
- Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church
There are plenty of hipster and unusual coffee places and restaurants in both Capitol Hill and the Avenues, which confirm the liberal and versatile atmosphere that prevails in this part of town.
Where to Eat
- Arlo Restaurant is an upscale and chef-driven restaurant with a refined menu and careful attention to detail. It offers an interesting combination of local and global influences, with a lot of fish and meat on the menu. The desserts are often the Achilles heel of many restaurants, but Arlo’s are simply fabulous.
- Wildwood is a relatively new American restaurant with a lot of seafood options, but don’t let its junior status deceive you. It has a comfortable and relaxing interior with a nice terrace and specializes in serving comfort food in combination with killer cocktails.
- Marmalade Brunch House is definitely one of the best and most popular brunch places in all of Salt Lake City. The restaurant offers a bunch of family meals and sophisticated and tasteful service, surrounded by a beautiful and colorful interior.
Capitol Hill and the Avenues Budget Hotels
- The Kimball at Temple Square is a three-star complex of apartments, all of them equipped with large living rooms and kitchens. There’s also free Wi-Fi on the premises, free parking, and a fitness center.
- Near Downtown, MOUNTAIN VIBES, GIG Wi-Fi Business is a relatively cheap apartment very near the Land Cruiser Heritage Museum. The apartment offers a nice view, free Wi-Fi and parking, a kitchen, and air conditioning.
Capitol Hill and the Avenues Mid-Range Hotels
- Salt Lake Plaza Hotel SureStay Collection by Best Western is a great three-star hotel, part of the reliable Best Western Chain of hotels. It offers an outdoor swimming pool, rooms equipped with all amenities, and a fitness center on the premises.
- Hyatt Place Salt Lake City Downtown / The Gateway is a gorgeous three-star hotel leaning (both in price and in quality) to a more luxurious type of accommodation. It’s completely pet-friendly, and it has an outdoor swimming pool, a bar, and a restaurant.
Capitol Hill and the Avenues Luxury Hotels
- Radisson Hotel Downtown Salt Lake City is a luxurious and expensive four-star hotel located in the northern part of downtown, close to Capitol Hill. Aside from the large swimming pool, it also has a restaurant and a bar on the premises, as well as tasty breakfast in the morning.
- Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek is another beautiful four-star hotel with a great location in the city, adjacent to the Salt Palace Convention Center. It has a nice balcony with a view of the city, a restaurant, a bar, and a fitness center on the premises.
3. Sugar House
Sugar House is a large neighborhood located just 10 minutes from the city center. Formerly a sugar beet plantation, started by the early settlers in this part of America, today it’s a relaxed and interesting neighborhood with plenty of high-quality restaurants and cheap accommodation.
People mostly stay in Sugar House during the winter, as its proximity to the ski trails allows for a lot of convenience among winter sports aficionados.
That said, the neighborhood is also suitable for family trips to Salt Lake City, as well as for those who prefer to save a little money and find budget accommodation.
The cherry on top is that it’s a very walkable neighborhood, full of greenery, with less traffic and crowds and a generally safe atmosphere.
Definitely the biggest and most popular attraction in Sugar House, however, is Sugar House Park. It’s one of the largest and best parks in the whole Salt Lake Valley, covering an area of around 110 acres. The park has its own pond and many hiking and strolling trails.
What makes it so great, though, is that it’s spectacular in both winter and summer, but it’s especially popular for sledding during the winter months.
As Sugar House is definitely the best area for nature lovers, it boasts many hiking trails that will show you the true beauty of the Salt Lake Valley.
Apart from Sugar House Park, which is relatively central to the neighborhood, there’s also Parley’s Historic Nature Park, very close by and particularly suitable for jogging and walking your dog.
On the other hand, Millcreek Canyon is a little further off, but it offers the true rugged beauty of the quintessential Utah landscapes, as well as a lot of spaces for biking, hiking, and picnicking.
If you’re looking for a cheap stay in Salt Lake City, the Sugar House area is definitely the most suitable district for you.
The number of hotels is considerably smaller, but they are cheaper and more affordable than the ones in the Downtown area. The restaurant options, on the other hand, are both great and numerous.
Things to Do
There aren’t many museums in the Sugar House area — especially when you compare it with Downtown or Capitol Hill — but there are some places that are definitely worth visiting.
- Chase Home Museum, for example, is one of them, located to the north of the district.
- SLC Mural is an outdoor art museum, boasting around 80 murals.
- UTAH SNOWBOARD MUSEUM is a great choice for passionate extreme winter sports fans.
Interestingly enough, Sugar House is great for shopping. To make things even more interesting, the area is packed with bookstores.
Here are our favorites:
If you’re a fan of golf, Sugar House is definitely the right choice for you in Salt Lake City. Most courses offer all the amenities and services, along with excellent mountain views.
Yet again, here are our top three golf courses in the area:
Aside from the numerous bookshops, Sugar House as an area is quite great for shopping in general since there are plenty of shops scattered throughout the neighborhood.
However, its shopping centers are just great, and we recommend the following three:
- Sugarhouse Shopping Center, located next to Sugar House Park, is a large shopping center where you can find practically anything.
- Commons At Sugar House is a smaller shopping center, connected to Sugar House Park via a beautiful tree-laden path.
- Brickyard Plaza is a small but versatile shipping center where you can do practically everything — from shopping for groceries to cutting your hair.
Where to Eat
- The Dodo Restaurant is an American restaurant and definitely one of the best eateries in Sugar House. A 2022 Travelers’ Choice selection with plenty of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, it’s a suitable choice for every type of customer.
- Spitz Restaurant – Sugarhouse – Mediterranean, Greek Food & More is a great and versatile place located relatively close to Sugar House Park. The place has very quick and professional service, as well as quick bites at reasonable prices.
- JINYA Ramen Bar – Sugarhouse is a new place that offers probably the best ramen in this part of Salt Lake City. However, feel free to indulge in some of their more creative varieties, such as sides, ramen noodles, and curry and rice bowls.
Sugar House Budget Hotels
- Extended Stay America Suites – Salt Lake City – Sugar House is a great and very cheap two-star accommodation that’s particularly suitable for longer stays in the city. It doesn’t offer much, aside from free Wi-Fi, parking, and facilities for disabled guests, but it’s a great choice for a budget stay nonetheless.
- The Innkeeper Studio – Sugar House/Downtown SLC is a fully equipped three-star apartment with free parking, free Wi-Fi and non-smoking rooms. The apartment boasts flat screen TV, one bathroom, and a great kitchen with a refrigerator.
Sugar House Mid-Range Hotels
- Near City Center – Full Kitchen – Fast Wi-Fi is a decently sized three-star apartment located between the center of the city and Sugar House. The premises are completely pet-friendly and equipped with all amenities, including free Wi-Fi.
- King Bed – Fast WiFi – Sugarhouse Health Center is another three-star apartment with a great location. Particularly suitable for a longer stay, it boasts two bedrooms, a cable TV, one bathroom, and a fully equipped kitchen.
Sugar House Luxury Hotels
- Cape Cod Style SLC Home is a beautiful, rustic, and very luxurious holiday home that’s perfect for a long and relaxing stay in Sugar House, Salt Lake City. It offers plenty of bedrooms, rooms, and a kitchen, as well as free Wi-Fi and parking.
- Home2 Suites by Hilton Salt Lake City-East is a great and very beautiful three-star hotel with a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool (a rare thing in this part of the town). There’s also a fitness center on the premises, as well as selected rooms with refrigerators and microwaves.
So, Where Should You Stay in Salt Lake City?
|🏆Best for First-Time Visitors||Downtown|
|⛪Best for History Buffs||Capitol Hill & The Avenues|
|💸🌲 Best for Budgets and Nature Lovers||Sugar House|
We’ve reached the end of our adventure through the capital of Utah. Now, before we finish the guide, let’s do a quick recap of the three best areas in Salt Lake City.
So, with so much to see and do and 3 amazing areas to stay for all tastes and budgets, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that Salt Lake City has to offer!