Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sat July 23 2022
Welcome to Utah road sign at the state border (photo via AndreyKrav / iStock / Getty Images Plus)


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Sunrise at Partition Arch, in Arches National Park. (photo via tonda / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Sunrise at Partition Arch in Utah Arches National Park (Photo via tonda / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

With five national parks and 13 mountain resorts, Utah is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Yet it also offers arts, culture, dining and nightlife in Salt Lake City — its capital, main urban center and gateway to Utah’s outdoor recreational areas. The Salt Lake metropolitan area also made history when it hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Salt Lake City boasts a number of attractions and, despite its Mormon roots, plenty of lively entertainment and nightlife. Utah’s most popular visitor draw, Temple Square, features nearly 20 attractions related to Mormon pioneer history and genealogy, including the Salt Lake Temple and the Family History Library.

Nearby, the Great Salt Lake and its islands attract sailors, swimmers and sunbathers; Antelope Island and some shoreline areas draw hikers and mountain bikers. Throughout Utah, myriad adventures, including hiking, bicycling, climbing, fishing, rafting and horseback riding await visitors at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion National Parks. In addition, Utah is home to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, with its unique sandstone formations, and Lake Powell, with an abundance of water sports and recreation. During winter, an average of 500 inches of snow drops at Utah’s ski and snowboard resorts, most of which are located within a one-hour drive of Salt Lake City International Airport. Most have ski-in, ski-out accommodations, and all of them feature restaurants, bars, shopping and entertainment in small towns or mountain villages.

Zion National park (photo via Joecho-16 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Zion National park (photo via Joecho-16 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Nearly every city and community in Utah offers professional or amateur performances. From their base in Salt Lake City, Ballet West and the Utah Symphony and Opera perform throughout the state. Salt Lake City also offers dozens of live theaters. And annual events include the Deer Valley Music Festival in July and August, the Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City from late June through October, and the Sundance Film Festival in Park City in January.

Utah offers a wide range of cuisines from many ethnicities. Besides family restaurants serving hearty fare — reminiscent of the pioneer days — visitors will find fine dining restaurants, bistros, pubs and cafés serving everything from casual to gourmet fare.

Salt Lake City International Airport is served by 13 airlines, with shuttles, taxis and limousine service to Salt Lake and other cities and to mountain resorts, and car rentals. In addition, Amtrak makes daily stops in Salt Lake City and also operates service to Ogden, Provo, Helper, Green River and Milford. Greyhound makes stops in Salt Lake City, Green River, Ogden, Parowan, Provo, St George and Tremonton. Trax, a commuter light rail service, provides access to Salt Lake City and vicinity; and FrontRunner runs trains from Salt Lake City to the Ogden area, with several stops in between. The Utah Transit Authority offers coverage in the Salt Lake Valley and, during winter, provides daily trips to nearby ski resorts.

Utah’s climate varies depending on the season and the region. In general, though, summers are warm, with pleasantly cool nights and occasional thunderstorms. Winter is cold but dry and comfortable. Average daytime highs in Salt Lake City range from the high 30s during winter to the low 90s during summer. Most spring and fall months experience mild temperatures, which make these seasons ideal times to visit. For visitors who love snow sports, winter is the best time.