Originally posted on https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/best-neighborhoods-in-salt-lake-city
October 12, 2021 —
By Sharael Kolberg
At more than 110 square miles, Salt Lake City has a diverse offering of neighborhoods to explore. Roam the bustling streets Downtown, get inspired in artistic Sugar House, appreciate the architecture in Capitol Hill, or take a walk in dog-friendly Central City.
No matter what vibe you’re looking for, Salt Lake City has a neighborhood for you. Pick a couple of ‘hoods and spend the weekend investigating them to really get a feel for the city. Here are some of our favorite neighborhoods in Utah's capital city.
Best for major sights and social scenes
Downtown Salt Lake City is typically bustling with activity. Restaurants and bars are buzzing and Farmer’s Market shoppers are buying local produce. These busy streets are lined with skyscrapers and people are rushing around on bikes, by foot, in cars, and on trains – excellent public transportation and bike-sharing programs make it easy to navigate this neighborhood. This is the neighborhood for you if your preference is a fast-paced vacation filled with shopping, dining, and sightseeing.
The heart of Downtown centers around 10-acre Temple Square, which spans 10 city blocks. It is the city’s most popular attraction and is the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dotted around this main square you’ll find the Salt Lake Temple, Tabernacle, Assembly Hall, Conference Center, Church History Museum, Family History Library, Beehive House, Brigham Young Historic Park and more.
It may be home to a lot of the church's most prominent buildings, but this neighborhood certainly knows how to party. There are a wide variety of restaurants that offer cuisine from around the world and the nightlife is top-notch with craft cocktails and live music. Accommodation in the area ranges from luxury to cheap-and-cheerful – there's an option for every budget.
Best for art lovers
Central City is an inspiring and trendy neighborhood that is a haven for artistic types and features galleries, live indie music, a sculpture garden and high-end fashion boutiques. A popular attraction in the area is the Gilgal Sculpture Garden with 12 sculptures and 70 large stones engraved with passages from the Latter-day Saints scripture. Fashionistas will love visiting the historic Trolley Square, a converted trolley barn turned into a high-end mall. And for a historical look at folk art, visit the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts, which displays folk art made by the state’s Indigenous communities. For bibliophiles, a stop at the impressive Salt Lake City Public Library is a must.
Central City is also a very family- and dog-friendly neighborhood with lots of parks, cafes, and shopping. One of the highlights of the area is the serene setting of Liberty Park, with 80 acres to explore. It features a pond, fountains, a gazebo, two playgrounds, a swimming pool, Bocce ball, as well as many recreational sports facilities. One of the most popular activities is the Tracy Aviary and Botanical Garden where visitors can observe a large variety of birds. This rural neighborhood doesn’t have many options for accommodation, but you can easily visit and enjoy it from a base in Downtown.
Best for history buffs
The Capitol Hill neighborhood is home to the architecturally impressive Utah State Capitol. Guided tours of the Capitol building wow guests with an introduction to the original murals and sculptures throughout the property, as well as the breathtaking rotunda, a replica of the Liberty Bell, and rotating art exhibits that reflect the history of Utah and its people. Visitors are invited to enjoy the sprawling grounds that include a river, walking trails, picnic tables and picturesque monuments.
You’ll also find the Utah Office of Tourism in the Capitol Hill district. It’s a great place to get maps of the area and find out some local recommendations. Scattered throughout the area are several historic homes from the early 1900s, such as the Memorial House, the McCune Mansion and Ottinger Hall. Be sure to stop by the Pioneer Memorial Museum to view a treasure trove of artifacts from Utah’s founding citizens.
There is an abundance of open space and green areas in this neighborhood, including City Creek Natural Area and Ensign Peak, which offers incredible views of the city. Since this is more of a business district, there isn’t a wide range of places to stay, but Inn on the Hill is a charming bed and breakfast option.
The Sugar House district
Best for hipster foodies
The Sugar House district is a hip, colorful neighborhood with plenty of places to shop, dine, and enjoy the outdoors. Whether you want to go for a trail run, grab a cup of gourmet coffee on an outdoor patio, or shop for records and artsy home decor, the Sugar House district is the place to go.
The biggest attraction in this neighborhood is Sugar House Park. Spanning 110.5 acres, it is the largest public park in Salt Lake City. It features a beautiful pond, soccer and baseball fields, a basketball court, eight volleyball courts, and two playgrounds. In winter, the dedicated sleigh-riding hill is hugely popular with locals and visitors.
If your main focus is gastronomic delights, this is the neighborhood for you. Enjoy Belgian waffles and fries at Bruges Belgian Bistro, have breakfast any time of day at the Original Pancake House, share a meal over a hip campfire at Campfire Lounge, or try one of the many local brews at Wasatch Brewery. In addition to convenient chain hotels, the Sugar House district also has quite a few charming Airbnbs and VRBOs.
Best for a relaxed local vibe
The Avenues are divided into the Avenues Proper, Upper Avenues and Lower Avenues. This residential neighborhood is quiet and quirky with a slow-paced, outdoorsy vibe.
The Upper Avenues are a gateway to the Wasatch Mountains with plenty of outdoor activities – nearby trailheads lead to breathtaking views, and the Northcrest Swim Club and the I-Street BMX Bike Park provide other ways to stay active.
The Avenues Proper area is a grid-designed neighborhood that is easy to navigate and home to hip residents and artisan restaurants and shops. Don’t feel like walking? Rent an e-bike to cruise the hood. Take a ride through Lindsey Gardens Park or take in the city views at Salt Lake City Cemetery.
The grid continues in the Lower Avenues where there are more amenities, eateries, and sightseeing opportunities. Gawk at the ornate Cathedral of the Madeleine built in 1909, sneak a peek at the opulent Governor’s Mansion, and dine at any number of restaurants, cafes, and pubs. There aren't a huge amount of accommodation options in this neighborhood, although Avenues Hostel is a friendly budget option. Downtown is within walking distance and has plenty of hotels to choose from.
Visit Salt Lake is a private, non-profit corporation responsible for the promotion of Salt Lake as a convention and travel destination. In partnership with Salt Lake County, Visit Salt Lake improves the area economy by attracting and providing support to conventions, leisure travelers and visitors with a strong commitment to sustainability and stewardship of the area’s natural environment. Through its sales and marketing programs, Visit Salt Lake’s impact on Salt Lake’s annual $4.5 billion visitor economy equates to $1,166 in tax relief for each household within Salt Lake County. For more information on all that Salt Lake has to offer, go to www.VisitSaltLake.com.