JUNE 6, 2023
This article is presented by United Airlines.
When you think of Salt Lake City you probably think of ski lifts, epic powder, and après more than running shoes and energy gels. But this vibrant mountain town is more than just a winter wonderland: from spring to fall, its scenic trails and runner-friendly streets should put "SLC" at the top of any adventurous runner’s bucket list. So grab an easy United flight, and get ready to enjoy everything this town has to offer.
Whether you're planning a trip to run the 5K or Half Marathon at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series race weekend in August or looking for a new destination to explore, here are some of our top picks in this dynamic mountain town.
If you don’t live close enough for a road trip, Salt Lake City International Airport serves the area with direct flights available from many major U.S. cities. Take your pick from private Air B&B’s and numerous hotel chains offering clean and affordable options. The downtown area is a great choice for accommodation as it will give you access to the many restaurants and attractions you’ll want to hit after your run.
The Grand America Hotel: Located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, The Grand America Hotel offers luxury accommodation with easy access to various running routes. Its central location will put you right in the middle of cafes and restaurants where you can refuel after your run.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco: Situated in the historic district of Salt Lake City and just a few blocks from the start and finish of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco provides a stylish and comfortable stay. Close to Liberty Park and downtown running trails, it's a convenient choice for runners.
The Little America Hotel: Nestled in a quiet neighborhood even closer to the start and finish lines, The Little America Hotel offers a peaceful retreat for runners. The hotel provides spacious rooms, a fitness center, and easy access to nearby running paths and trails.
Luckily, there's so much to see and do in Salt Lake, the hardest part about planning your trip will be narrowing down your options, which range from the weird and unusual to the beautiful and exhilarating.
Natural History Museum | Austen Diamond Photography
Whether it’s hiking, dining, shopping or park wandering, SLC offers the sweet spot that will keep adults and kids in perfect harmony.
Utah’s Hogle Zoo: With more than 40 acres and 800 animals, we promise the kids will be tuckered out at the end of this adventure. You can sign up to feed the giraffes and attend the daily bird show all while learning about animals from around the world.
Natural History Museum: This museum, aside from being a gorgeous building, hosts awesome events all the time for both kids and grownups. The displays are interactive and engaging for anyone from toddlers to grandparents.
This is the Place Heritage Park is one of the most popular parks in SLC and is a memorial to the early pioneer settlers in the area. It features activities for kids of all ages, including horse and pony rides and a treasure hunt. And in December, the park hosts a Christmas market filled with handmade items.
The Gateway is home to engaging companies with stores and museums just for kids. You can go to the Clark Planetarium or Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum for an afternoon of learning. Or, take the kids to the splash pad in the summer for live music and movies along with food trucks and playgrounds.
Salt Lake | Austen Diamond Photography
As the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River and the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere, the Great Salt Lake is perhaps the best-known geologic feature in the area. The city even takes its name from the lake—originally it was Great Salt Lake City, but the "Great" was dropped from the name in 1868. The lake has a rich history, interesting features, plays an important role in the ecosystem and provides abundant recreational opportunities. The lake and its islands offer residents and visitors opportunities to sail, kayak, float, birdwatch, hike, bike and more.
In SLC, outdoor adventure is a way of life. With the Wasatch Mountain range providing a surreal backdrop, it’s easy to see why hiking and mountain biking are just everyday activities for the locals, and active visitors alike.
Luckily, many of the hiking adventures available in the area are accessible from the city. A great place to start your Salt Lake City hiking adventures is City Creek Canyon. Visitors can access the trail from downtown, through serene Memory Grove, or from access points on either side of the canyon, such as near the visitor center at Council Hall, just south of the Utah Capitol. An easy hike, City Creek Canyon features both a paved road and a parallel singletrack hiking trail.
Another spot nearby is Ensign Peak. It’s accessible from downtown and the perfect short, easy hike for the entire family with some mild uphill sections. After 25 minutes, you’ll reach the top to soak in the unreal views of the city and the Great Salt Lake.
For a moderate hike, try Neff’s Canyon, easily accessible from SLC’s East Bench. On this dog-friendly trail, you’ll cross a charming stream before reaching a meadow decorated with lovely wildflowers. The hike is seven miles round trip, providing great exercise for the body and therapeutic scenery for the mind.
For a more challenging trek, the iconic peak of Mt. Olympus offers a steeper, more exposed trail. If you’re making the journey in the warmer months, bring plenty of water and get an early start to take advantage of the morning temperatures. The trail gains quickly in altitude, treating you to far-reaching city views along the way. After 3.75 miles, you’ll hit a summit 4,000 feet over the city, where you’ll truly feel on top of the world. More seasoned trail runners can opt to run the challenging route for a real sense of accomplishment.
Experience a waterfall and captivating reservoir on the challenging Bell’s Canyon Trail. There are scenic outlooks and a stream that parallels the trail. Hike two miles to the picturesque waterfall or stomp another three to the upper reservoir, which could easily pass for a natural lake below the Lone Peak summit.
Mount Olympus trail.
Utah has two state parks close to the Salt Lake valley that offer a chance to familiarize yourself with this unique body of water. Great Salt Lake State Park and Antelope Island State Park both provide visitors with distinct ways to enjoy the lake. Learn more at visitsaltlake.com.
With over 60 national and state parks only a few hours away, Salt Lake is the perfect place to begin or unwind from your adventures in the wild West. Utah is truly nature's playground, with miles upon miles of diverse terrain, including deep forests and craggy peaks, vast deserts and lunar salt flats, red-rock towers and arches, secret slot canyons, and winding rivers. Check out a comprehensive list of state parks in Utah here, or plan your driving times with this list of parks closer to the city.
Bryce Canyon National Park
For the active traveler, we recommend the following SLC essential runs to really take advantage of the area.
Run in Liberty Park: Located in the heart of the city, Liberty Park offers a perfect setting for runners. With its wide pathways, ponds, and expansive green spaces, this urban oasis provides an ideal spot to run. The park also boasts a 1.5-mile loop trail around the perimeter, allowing runners to soak in the natural beauty while staying close to the city.
Hit the Bonneville Shoreline Trail: For a more challenging trail run, head to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. This scenic route stretches for over 100 miles along the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, providing breathtaking views of the city below. Choose from various sections of the trail depending on your skill level.
Explore City Creek Canyon: Just minutes away from downtown Salt Lake City, City Creek Canyon offers a tranquil escape for runners. The canyon features a paved road that winds through lush foliage and alongside a flowing creek. With limited vehicle access and stunning natural surroundings, this is an excellent spot for a peaceful and scenic run.
Ready to get off your feet? Try a guided bike tour through downtown with Salt Lake City Bicycle Tours.
Over the past decade, SLC has attracted food lovers with award-winning restaurants, modern cafés, and colorful, bustling bars. Taste flavors from all over the world, sample small plates, or share family portions in a cozy, neighborhood pub.
The Blue Iguana at 165 South West Temple Street is a kid-friendly Mexican joint featuring authentic Aztec family recipes. yourself in our smokey, decadently tender Chile Verde, mouth-watering Seafood Enchilada Suizas, or one of their nearly dozen signature "Holy Moles.”
Vertical Diner: For vegan and vegetarian runners, Vertical Diner is a must-visit. Located in the historic Sugar House neighborhood, this diner offers a delicious array of plant-based dishes, including a “build your own breakfast”, inventive smoothies, and flavorful vegan burgers like the Joaquin Phoenix, a lentil veggie burger topped with smokey tempeh bacon, dill pickles, barbecue sauce and vegan ranch.
The Park Café: Dubbed “Your Neighborhood Breakfast Spot,” this warm café on the edge of Liberty Park has been serving mouthwatering breakfast and brunch for over 30 years. This family-owned restaurant serves generous portions of classic American fare, perfect for refueling after a long run or a morning spent birdwatching at the Tracy Aviary and Botanical Gardens.
La Caille: Located on 20 elegant acres at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, La Caille offers an unmatched experience and atmosphere. Stroll through the three-acre vineyard and enjoy a canyon breeze on the patio before partaking of their Mediterranean-inspired elevated cuisine.
Looking for something a little more casual? The food truck scene is lit here in the summer, with Food Truck Thursdays at the Gallivan Center. These mobile eateries supply everything from Asian fusion to BBQ to cupcakes. Salt Lake's Granary Row, a pop-up market and festival space located in the Granary District, hosts food trucks every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night in the summer and fall from 6 - 11 p.m.
Breweries are plentiful in Salt Lake City | Austen Diamond Photography
SLC has become a craft beer hub in its own right. If you’re looking for some delicious grub to accompany your brew there are several breweries whose food could be bragged about as easily as their beers. Squatters Pubs and Beer’s flagship location is in the heart of downtown. Its first pour was in 1989 and it’s only gotten better with time, even winning ‘Midsize Brewery of the Year’ at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival. People come for the beer and come again for Squatters’ excellent food prided on local, organic and eco-friendly standards.
Right around the corner is Red Rock Brewing Company, a popular beer stop boasting delicious pizza, salads and brewpub atmosphere.
For a larger selection of beer on tap or bottled, head over to The Bayou. With the most extensive beer list in Utah, The Bayou’s menu features more than 300 different beers. New Orleans-influenced food complements the great atmosphere with frequent live jazz bands and pool.
If you’re hoping to visit multiple breweries, try out the Salt Lake Brewery Pass, a self-guided mobile pass that gives you a well-rounded taste of Salt Lake’s craft beer offerings. The pass includes twelve $5 vouchers, each of which can be used at one of 14 different Salt Lake breweries. Simply purchase the pass, download it to your phone, and present it at a participating brewery.
With more and more expert baristas, skilled roasters and an increasing population of coffee enthusiasts, Salt Lake City's buzzing java scene is better than ever. From the perfectly poured latte to killer cold-brews, the city's coffee scene is continuing to grow. Check out one of the below spots to get your fix.
The Coffee Garden (878 East 900 South) Located in the 9th and 9th neighborhood, you'll have to wait patiently in a line out the door on any given Saturday morning. But the coffee is well worth it, as are the bakery items. The shop also features local artists and their work regularly.
The Rose Establishment: At 235 South 400 West, this café is located in a restored meat packing plant in the warehouse district. Along with the unique space, the Rose offers a fantastic food menu featuring locally sourced and homemade selections to enjoy on their gorgeous patio.
Blue Copper Coffee Room (179 West 900 South) This is the spot for people-watching and getting your caffeine fix in the Central 9th District. The shop focuses on small-batch roasted beans and sports a reimagined style.
We can’t wait to welcome you for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series Salt Lake City event in August!
United Airlines is the Official Airline of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series. Let United join you on your journey toward the finish line and check out the Rock 'n' Roll Running Series website to find out how you can receive exclusive flight discounts.
Keep an eye on the Rock 'n' Roll Salt Lake City event page for other local discounts in our Runner Perks section.