12 Best Hidden Gems in Salt Lake City, Utah: Underrated Destinations in Salt Lake City

by Flora
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Are you searching for hidden gems in Salt Lake City? Here’s a selection of off-the-beaten-path destinations in Salt Lake City, UT.

Think you know Salt Lake City? Think again. Beyond the majestic mountains and the well-trodden paths of Temple Square lies a city bursting with secrets. Dive deep into its streets, and you’ll stumble upon quirky cafes, vibrant street art, and hidden parks that even locals sometimes miss.

Salt Lake City, often dubbed Utah’s crown jewel, is more than religious landmarks and natural wonders. It’s a city where every corner has a story waiting to be told. From the rhythmic beats of the Urban Lounge to the aromatic allure of Eva’s Bakery, there’s a sense of discovery that lingers in the air.

Ever wondered about the tales behind those colorful murals in downtown? Or the history of that charming bookstore you walked past? This city is a blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy, where tradition meets innovation in the most delightful ways.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, Salt Lake City promises a journey of unexpected delights. From its rich cultural tapestry to its buzzing nightlife, there are always exciting things to do in Salt Lake City.

Grab your adventure spirit, a good pair of walking shoes, and come with us. We’re about to embark on a journey to uncover the coolest places to go in Salt Lake City, UT. Ready to dive into the heart of this vibrant city? Let’s get started! Here are all the hidden gems in Salt Lake City that you should know about.

The best hidden gems in Salt Lake City right now
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Hidden Gems in Salt Lake City, UT: 12 Off-the-Beaten-Path Places to Visit in Salt Lake City

Are you ready to explore some of Salt Lake City’s best hidden gems? As mentioned earlier, Salt Lake City is home to a wide range of off-the-beaten-path destinations that will appeal to everyone. All you’ve got to do is fly into SLC and we’ll take care of the rest. Keep reading to discover Salt Lake City’s secret destinations.

Are you looking for tranquil nature retreats? Or would you prefer vibrant urban adventures? Whatever you’re planning, Salt Lake City can accommodate your needs with its beautiful landscapes and underrated places to visit. Here’s your in-depth guide to all of the hidden gems in Salt Lake City, Utah.

1. Eccles Theater

Ever craved a night out that’s a blend of classic elegance and contemporary buzz? Eccles Theater is your spot. Right in downtown Salt Lake City, this venue might have its roots in 1913, but it’s anything but old-fashioned.

While its grand architecture whispers tales from the past, the performances are a burst of today’s artistry. It’s this mix that makes it a true hidden gem in Salt Lake City. You’re as likely to catch a modern indie band as you are a classic Shakespeare play. And that’s the beauty of it – the unexpected lineup that keeps locals and tourists coming back for more.

For a night out combining timeless elegance with modern excitement, Eccles Theater is the perfect choice.
For a night out combining timeless elegance with modern excitement, Eccles Theater is the perfect choice.

But here’s the real secret: while everyone’s rushing to the big-name venues, Eccles Theater offers an intimate experience. It’s where you can be up close with the performers, feel the energy, and truly immerse in the art. So, next time you’re in the city and want a dose of culture with a twist, you know where to head!

2. Gilgal Gardens

Hidden amidst the urban sprawl of Salt Lake City lies a curious and enchanting spot: Gilgal Gardens. This garden isn’t your typical green space. Instead, it’s a maze of quirky sculptures and engraved stones that beckon visitors to ponder their deeper meanings.

Crafted by Thomas Child, this garden is his personal reflection, a space where art, belief, and passion intertwine. Wander through and you’ll find a sphinx with the face of Joseph Smith, intricate stone scriptures, and other thought-provoking creations.

In the midst of Salt Lake City's urban sprawl, discover the captivating and mysterious Gilgal Gardens, a hidden gem.
In the midst of Salt Lake City’s urban sprawl, discover the captivating and mysterious Gilgal Gardens, a hidden gem.

What truly makes Gilgal Gardens a hidden gem in Salt Lake City is its ability to transport visitors to a world of wonder and contemplation, right in the heart of the city. It’s a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle, a place where one can reflect, relax, and be inspired.

And the best part? Many locals haven’t even discovered it yet. If you’re on the hunt for unique places to visit in Salt Lake City, Gilgal Gardens awaits with its mysteries and marvels.

3. Trolley Square

Once a bustling trolley car barn from 1908, Trolley Square has transformed into one of Salt Lake City’s most eclectic shopping centers. It’s a journey back in time, combined with a vibrant showcase of local artisans and flavors.

Walking through Trolley Square, you’ll feel the old-world charm at every corner. The rustic brick walls, the vintage trolley tracks, and the historic water tower all paint a vivid picture of yesteryears. Yet, amidst this rich history, there’s a buzz of modern life. Boutique stores showcase handcrafted treasures, diverse eateries serve up global dishes, and live performances bring the space to life during special events.

Trolley Square, a hidden Salt Lake City gem, offers a unique shopping experience away from the tourist crowds.
Trolley Square, a hidden Salt Lake City gem, offers a unique shopping experience away from the tourist crowds.

Getting there is a breeze. Located just a short 10-minute drive or a leisurely 20-minute walk from the city center, Trolley Square is easily accessible. And here’s an insider tip: If you visit during the weekdays, especially in the mornings, you’ll get to experience the place without the usual weekend crowds, giving you a more relaxed and intimate experience.

What sets Trolly Square apart is Its under-the-radar status. While most tourists flock to the more prominent malls, Trolley Square remains a secret spot in Salt Lake City for those in the know. It’s a place where you can shop, dine, and immerse yourself in local culture, all while escaping the typical tourist crowds.

4. Ken Sanders Rare Books

In the heart of downtown, Ken Sanders Rare Books is more than a bookstore—it’s a sanctuary for bibliophiles. With its wooden shelves lined with vintage tomes, first editions, and unique finds, stepping inside feels like entering a different era.

Every book here has a story, not just within its pages, but also in its journey to the store. From rare manuscripts to out-of-print classics, the collection is a testament to Ken Sanders’ passion for literature and his dedication to preserving literary history.

If you're seeking a blend of nostalgia and literary marvels in Salt Lake City, Ken Sanders Rare Books is your destination.
If you’re seeking a blend of nostalgia and literary marvels in Salt Lake City, Ken Sanders Rare Books is your destination.

If you’re a fan of local art, the store often features works from Salt Lake City artists, adding a touch of local flavor to its historic ambiance. And here’s a tip for the curious traveler: strike up a conversation with the staff. Their knowledge is vast, and they often share fascinating tales about the books and their origins.

Located just a stone’s throw away from the main city attractions, it’s the perfect spot to escape the hustle and indulge in some literary exploration. If you’re wondering where to go in Salt Lake City for a dose of nostalgia and literary wonder, Ken Sanders Rare Books awaits.

5. The Sun Tunnel

Deep in the heart of Utah’s Great Basin Desert lies an unexpected marvel: the Sun Tunnel. At first glance, it’s a curious sight—four colossal concrete tubes standing stark against the barren landscape. But as the sun shifts, these tubes transform into gateways of celestial wonder.

Crafted meticulously by artist Nancy Holt in 1976, the Sun Tunnel is more than just an art installation. It’s a dance of light and shadow, especially during the solstices when the sun aligns perfectly with the tunnels. During these times, enthralling patterns are cast that leave visitors spellbound.

Sun Tunnel serves as proof of the enchantment hidden in the most unforeseen locations in Salt Lake City.
Sun Tunnel serves as proof of the enchantment hidden in the most unforeseen locations in Salt Lake City.

The journey to the Sun Tunnel is an adventure in itself. As you navigate the desert’s vastness, the anticipation builds, culminating in a surreal experience that blends art, nature, and astronomy. And once the sun dips below the horizon? The desert sky offers a stargazing experience that’s second to none.

For those on the hunt for the best hidden gems in Salt Lake City, the Sun Tunnel stands as a testament to the magic that can be found in the most unexpected places. So, pack a picnic, bring a telescope if you have one, and prepare for an unforgettable desert escapade.

6. Central Ninth Market

Ditch the crowded tourist spots and dive into Salt Lake City’s vibrant local scene at Central Ninth Market. Hidden away from the city’s main drags, this market is an underrated Salt Lake City destination offering a variety of flavors that capture the essence of Utah.

From artisanal cheeses and freshly baked bread to gourmet chocolates and organic produce, every stall showcases passion and craftsmanship. With so much fresh food on offer, it’s truly one of the best places to eat in SLC.

Discover Salt Lake City's authenticity at Central Ninth Market, where unique local experiences await eager explorers seeking distinctive locales.
Discover Salt Lake City’s authenticity at Central Ninth Market, where unique local experiences await eager explorers seeking distinctive locales.

The market’s charm lies in its authenticity. Here, you’ll mingle with locals, discover culinary secrets, and perhaps even pick up a recipe or two. And if you’re in the mood for something unique, keep an eye out for pop-up events that showcase the best of Salt Lake City’s emerging chefs.

For anyone eager to discover the most unique places to visit in Salt Lake City that offer a genuine taste of local life, Central Ninth Market is a must. Make sure to come with an empty stomach and a curious palate and let the city’s chefs sweep you off your feet.

7. Memory Grove Park

Amongst the urban hustle of Salt Lake City, Memory Grove Park offers a serene oasis that many overlook. Located just a short walk from the Capitol Building, this park is a delightful blend of nature, history, and tranquility.

Winding trails lead you through lush greenery, past babbling brooks, and around reflective ponds. Each path offers true tranquillity, with historic monuments and memorials dotting the landscape. It’s a place where nature and memories intertwine, offering a peaceful retreat from the city’s pace.

Memory Grove Park beckons to be uncovered with its serene beauty and tranquil ambiance, offering solace and serenity.
Memory Grove Park beckons to be uncovered with its serene beauty and tranquil ambiance, offering solace and serenity.

For the adventurous, there’s even an off-leash area where furry friends can roam free, making it a favorite spot for local dog lovers. If you’re in the mood for a bit of exploration, the park connects to City Creek Canyon, a gateway to more rugged adventures.

If you’re looking for beautiful places in Salt Lake City that offer a slice of nature without leaving the urban confines, Memory Grove Park is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Grab a book, a picnic, or just your thoughts, and let this park rejuvenate your spirit.

Tucked away in the Gateway District, The Urban Arts Gallery is a whirlwind of color, emotion, and raw talent. Forget the hushed tones and sterile walls of traditional galleries; this place is alive. It’s where Salt Lake City’s edgy artists showcase their heart, soul, and spray paint skills.

Murals that pop, sculptures that make you ponder, and interactive pieces that invite you to be part of the story. Every section of the gallery has a surprise, every artist a tale. And the best part? It’s ever-changing. Today’s graffiti masterpiece might be tomorrow’s abstract wonder.

The Urban Arts Gallery is a vibrant showcase of vivid colors, powerful emotions, and unfiltered artistic talent.
The Urban Arts Gallery is a vibrant showcase of vivid colors, powerful emotions, and unfiltered artistic talent.

The gallery doesn’t charge an entry fee. As such, if you’re compiling a list of free things to do in Salt Lake City, this spot deserves a prime position. Dive into the city’s art scene without reaching for your wallet.

Looking for the coolest places to go in Salt Lake City, UT? This gallery tops the list. It’s a celebration of local talent, a space where art isn’t just seen—it’s felt. So, lace up your most artsy sneakers, grab a coffee from a nearby café, and get ready to be inspired.

9. Mestizo Coffeehouse

Forget the generic coffee chains; Mestizo Coffeehouse offers something the big names can’t. At its core, Mestizo is a celebration of Salt Lake City’s diverse heritage, seamlessly blending the rich flavors of its brews with the vibrant tapestry of local art and activism.

While most coffeehouses might boast about their beans or brewing techniques, Mestizo takes pride in being a platform for voices often unheard. The walls here don’t just display art; they echo the city’s stories, struggles, and triumphs. It’s a space where community dialogues are as essential as the coffee served.

Mestizo Coffeehouse, crowned by locals as Salt Lake City's best, lives up to the hype with its exceptional brews.
Mestizo Coffeehouse, crowned by locals as Salt Lake City’s best, lives up to the hype with its exceptional brews.

And speaking of coffee, expect a menu that’s as diverse as the city itself. From traditional brews to drinks infused with cultural twists, there’s always something new to tantalize your taste buds.

If you’re searching for places to go in Salt Lake City that offer more than just a caffeine fix, Mestizo Coffeehouse stands out. It’s coined by many locals as the best coffee in Salt Lake City, and after one sip, you’ll see why everyone’s buzzing about it.

10. Antelope Island State Park

Ever wanted to escape the city buzz and dive straight into nature’s embrace? Antelope Island State Park is your ticket to wilderness right in Salt Lake City’s backyard. This island, floating in the vast Great Salt Lake, is a world away from urban hustle. Truly, it’s one of the most underrated places in Salt Lake City.

Here, you’ll find miles of trails winding through rugged landscapes, leading to panoramic views that’ll have you reaching for your camera. From the shimmering shores to the mountainous backdrop, every vista is a postcard in the making.

For those in quest of hidden SLC treasures offering an escape from urban life, Antelope Island is a prime choice.
For those in quest of hidden SLC treasures offering an escape from urban life, Antelope Island is a prime choice.

But the real stars? The wildlife. Bison roam freely, antelope graze in the fields, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a coyote or two. It’s a slice of the wild, right here in Utah!

For those searching for hidden gems in SLC that offer a break from city life, Antelope Island is a top pick. Pack a picnic, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready for an adventure that feels worlds away, yet is just a short drive from downtown.

11. Neff’s Canyon

For any traveler seeking to go off the beaten path in Salt Lake City, this attraction is a must-see. Beyond the city’s bustling streets, Neff’s Canyon offers a world of tranquility and natural wonder. This hidden gem in Utah is a favorite among locals who crave a quick escape into nature without venturing too far from home.

As you start your hike, you’re immediately enveloped by the shade of towering trees, their leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. The path meanders, revealing hidden waterfalls and sunlit clearings perfect for a quiet moment or a picnic. If you’re aiming for the best experience, consider visiting during the early morning or late afternoon. The soft lighting during these hours paints the canyon with a magical glow, and it’s also a great way to dodge the midday sun.

Searching for hidden gems in Salt Lake City? Neff's Canyon is a must-visit destination.
Searching for hidden gems in Salt Lake City? Neff’s Canyon is a must-visit destination.

While the trail can be a bit challenging, the reward is worth every step. As you ascend, panoramic views unfold, offering a bird’s-eye view of Salt Lake City set against the majestic backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for the canyon’s wildlife; from deer grazing in the meadows to birds serenading from the treetops.

On the lookout for beautiful places to visit in Salt Lake City? Neff’s Canyon is a must-explore. Remember to wear sturdy shoes, pack some snacks, and let the natural beauty of the canyon rejuvenate your spirit.

12. Urban Flea Market

Ever dreamt of time-traveling? The Urban Flea Market in Salt Lake City might just be the closest thing to it. Every month, this vibrant market transforms a downtown parking lot into a treasure trove of vintage finds, antiques, and quirky collectibles.

From retro vinyl records to handcrafted jewelry, the stalls here are a kaleidoscope of memories and artistry. Each vendor has a story to tell, and every item holds a piece of history waiting to be rediscovered. It’s one of the most underrated SLC destinations where the past meets the present, and nostalgia comes alive.

Don't miss the Urban Flea Market in Salt Lake City for a one-of-a-kind shopping experience and a trip down memory lane.
Don’t miss the Urban Flea Market in Salt Lake City for a one-of-a-kind shopping experience and a trip down memory lane.

The market also boasts live music, food trucks serving local delicacies, and the buzz of excited bargain hunters creates an electric atmosphere. With so much character and charm, it’s one of the best things to do in SLC!

For those wondering where to go in Salt Lake City for a unique shopping experience and a trip down memory lane, the Urban Flea Market is a must-visit. Be sure to wear your comfiest shoes, bring a reusable bag, and dive into a world of vintage wonders. Who knows? You might just find that rare item you’ve been searching for or stumble upon a piece of history that speaks to your soul.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Hidden Gems in Salt Lake City

Are you looking for more information about where to go in Salt Lake City? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked a lot about Salt Lake City’s coolest attractions.

What is unique about Salt Lake City?

Salt Lake City uniquely marries urban life with unparalleled access to the outdoors. It’s a city where you can attend a world-class ballet performance and, within minutes, find yourself hiking in pristine mountain trails. Its history as the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also lends it a distinctive architectural and cultural landscape. Add to this the numerous hidden gems and local hotspots, and you have a city that’s brimming with diverse experiences.

Where are the best hidden gems in Salt Lake City?

While the city has its renowned attractions, some of its best experiences lie in hidden corners. The King’s English Bookshop, for instance, is a literary paradise tucked away in a quaint neighborhood. Neff’s Canyon offers serene hiking trails away from the usual tourist routes. For those looking to dive into local culture, the Urban Flea Market is a treasure trove of vintage finds and unique crafts.

What are the coolest things to do in Salt Lake City that aren’t touristy?

Dive into the local art scene at Mestizo Coffeehouse, where walls are adorned with works from local artists. Explore the enigmatic sculptures at Gilgal Sculpture Garden, each telling a unique story. Or, if you’re a foodie, skip the main drags and head to local favorites like Red Iguana or Bruges Waffles & Frites for a taste of Salt Lake’s culinary diversity.

Are there beautiful places in Salt Lake City that are off the beaten path?

Definitely! Beyond the well-trodden paths, spots like Antelope Island offer a tranquil escape with unparalleled views of the Great Salt Lake. Neff’s Canyon, with its dense foliage and cascading streams, is a hiker’s dream. And for those looking for urban beauty, the lesser-known streets and alleys of the city are adorned with murals and street art that captivate the eye.

Salt Lake City is teeming with hidden gems, eager to be unearthed.
Salt Lake City is teeming with hidden gems, eager to be unearthed.

What are some secret spots in Salt Lake City for nature lovers?

For a serene nature experience, Neff’s Canyon is a must-visit with its lush trails and panoramic views. Antelope Island, while known, still offers pockets of tranquility and a chance to see bison roaming freely. Additionally, spots like Big Cottonwood Canyon, though popular, have lesser-known trails that lead to serene waterfalls and vistas.

Where can I find the best things to do in Salt Lake City, UT, that locals love?

Salt Lake City is brimming with local hotspots that offer authentic experiences away from the typical tourist trails. Here are some favorites:

  • Urban Flea Market: Dive into this eclectic mix of vintage and modern finds, where every item tells a story.
  • Mestizo Coffeehouse: A hub for local art and flavors, this spot is perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in the city’s vibrant culture.
  • Bar X: A trendy bar with a retro vibe, known for its crafted cocktails and lively atmosphere.
  • The Rest: Hidden beneath a burger joint, this speakeasy-style bar offers curated drinks in a cozy, intimate setting.
  • Red Iguana: A must-visit for foodies, this place serves some of the best Mexican dishes in town.
  • Bruges Waffles & Frites: Indulge in authentic Belgian waffles and fries, a local favorite for a reason.
  • The King’s English Bookshop: A literary haven nestled in a charming neighborhood, perfect for book lovers.

Engaging with residents and exploring the city’s neighborhoods will undoubtedly lead to more hidden gems and beloved local spots.

Are there free things to do in Salt Lake City that are worth visiting?

Certainly! The Gilgal Sculpture Garden is a unique spot that’s free to the public, offering a mix of art and history. Liberty Park, with its expansive green spaces and pond, is a favorite among locals for picnics and leisurely strolls. Additionally, the city often hosts free events, from art walks to music festivals, that showcase its vibrant cultural scene.

Concluding Salt Lake City’s Hidden Gems

Salt Lake City offers more than meets the eye. Beyond its iconic landmarks, a treasure trove of surprises awaits. From tranquil nature spots like Neff’s Canyon to the lively atmosphere of the Urban Flea Market, there’s a diverse range of hidden gems in Salt Lake City ready for exploration.

This city stands out with its seamless blend of vintage vibes and modern flair. Nature enthusiasts, art lovers, and those seeking unique experiences will find something special here.

So, when deciding what to do in Salt Lake City, think beyond the usual. Dive deep, explore with enthusiasm, and let Salt Lake City’s lesser-known spots captivate you. After all, the most memorable adventures often await off the main roads.

Dive into this guide to discover the best hidden gems in SLC for all travelers
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