15 Kid Friendly Destinations in Salt Lake City

Let me start by saying that I was never one to actively look for destinations in Salt Lake City, even though it is like 10 minutes from my house, until I was a stay at home mom. Then, suddenly I wanted to be outside doing stuff rather than on my couch watching Netflix (which is all I ever wanted to do after teaching for ten hours a day).

So, after my son turned one and was a little bit more fun to take on adventures, my husband and I started looking for kid-friendly destinations in Salt Lake City. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a Groupon for a *Salt Lake Connect Pass which has enabled us to go to all kinds of new places this year without breaking the bank.

So, if you find yourself wanting some adventure in your life or if you are planning a trip to SLC, then check out these destinations! My list starts at the center of the city and moves outwards. I have put * next to the places that are on the connect pass.

-As a side note, kids under two are free at many of these places so if, like me, you have a one-year-old, now is the time to try them and see what is worth going back to later.

Temple Square

City Creek Center

  • Address: 50 Main St. Salt Lake City, UT 84150
  • This is an outdoor/indoor mall and is free to visit. It has a creek running throughout and is the home to many shops, restaurants, and retailers. It is directly across the street from Temple Square and is easily accessible by Trax.
  • Huge underground parking complex that is free for the first two hours (2017).
  • List of Restaurants
  • List of Stores
  • My one-year-old’s favorite things are the centrally located splash pad and fountain, walking along the indoor creek, getting a free balloon from the Nordstrom’s kid section, and crossing the covered see-through bridge from one side of the street to the other.

*Discovery Gateway

  • Address: 444 W 100 S, Salt Lake City, UT, 84101
  • Admission and Parking Information
  • This place is perfect for kids. My one-year-old loved it but so did my fourth and fifth graders. There are several sections of the museum and many learning through play opportunities.

*Clark Planetarium

  • Address: 110 S 400 W, Salt Lake City, UT, 84101
  • Admission and Parking Information
  • This one is a bit over the head of my one-year-old but he does like to wander around and look at the different exhibits.

Memory Grove Park

  • Address: 300 North Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, UT 84103
  • No admission this is a city owned park.
  • This park is kind of famous for being ideal for photography. It has a beautiful stream, greenery, pillars, scenic buildings, etc.
  • My one-year-old mostly likes to walk through it and look at the water. But it is a great scenic area for a walk and/or a picnic.

Utah State Capitol

  • Address: 350 North State Street, 120 State Capitol, Salt Lake City, UT 84114
  • This is a public building so there are no admissions, however, if you want to see everything, you may want to book a tour.
  • Parking Information
  • I have not taken my one-year-old here yet but have visited many times with my family and students. Depending on the age of your kids, you may want to prep them with a virtual tour or an activity sheet to help them get more out of being there.
  • For older kids (and adults) I highly recommend visiting while the legislature is in session.

*The Leonardo

  • Address: 209 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
  • Admissions and Parking Information
  • I personally found the website for the Leo super confusing but it has been one of my favorite places to visit. It is perfect for adults and kids older than two or three. I did not take my one-year-old when we went there and I thought that that was a good call.
  • Just know that the many of the exhibits change regularly, most of the museum is very interactive, and there are often extra things going on (I participated in a pie eating contest when I was there). So, check out the calendar on their website so you can pick a day that you want to go.

Liberty Park

  • Address: 600 E 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
  • No admission to the park itself, however, there are things in the park that require money if you want to participate (Tracy Aviary, paddleboat rentals, concessions, and rides).
  • There is a lot to do and see in this 100-acre park. Some of our favorites are Tracy Aviary (see below), the playgrounds, the splash pad, the lake, and the other water features.

*Tracy Aviary

  • Address: 5 East 1300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
  • Admission Information
  • Free parking directly outside of the aviary.
  • My son loves this place but he is a little bit obsessed with birds. There is a fun bird show (about 30 minutes), several indoor exhibits, and many outdoor areas as well, there is also a playground and a river. This is definitely worth going to if you have small bird lovers.
  • Wednesdays are usually free in the winter months but check before you go.

*Red Butte Gardens

  • Address: 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
  • Admission Information
  • Free Parking right outside the entrance
  • We love just walking through the gardens, they are spacious, gorgeous, and full of water features, plants, flowers, and animals (specifically fish, squirrels, chipmunks, and birds, though I once saw a bobcat).
  • There are many paved trails but there are also areas that look more like real mountain trails. You can also walk back into the canyon or play in the water features in the children’s garden.
  • Information on Summer Concerts at Red Butte

*Natural History Museum of Utah

  • Address: 301 Wakara Way (literally right next to Red Butte Gardens), Salt Lake City, UT 84108
  • Admission Information
  • Free Parking and Overflow Parking
  • Content/exhibit wise this museum is great for older kids and adults. However, my baby loved walking through it and seeing the fake animals, dinosaur bones, and other exhibits. He also enjoyed digging for bones, playing in the erosion tank, and exploring the children’s room on the bottom floor.
  • As a side note, there is access to the Bonneville Shoreline trail right outside of the museum. If the weather is good and you are prepared it can provide a nice walk or hike. The Living Room trail is quite popular.

*This is the Place Heritage Park

  • Address: 2601 E Sunnyside Ave, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
  • Admission Information
  • Free parking
  • This place offers many activities and a lot of historical experiences including a treasure house,  pony rides, train rides, hiking, a Native American village, and more. My one year old liked walking the streets and seeing the animals.

*Hogle Zoo

  • Address: 2600 Sunnyside Avenue (across the street from Heritage Park), Salt Lake City, UT 84108
  • Admission Information
  • I am not personally a fan of zoos but my little boy loves them. This zoo is not super huge but it is big enough to explore for several hours depending on how much time you spend on each animal.
  • During the winter it usually offers free days if you are willing to bundle your little guys up and brave the cold. In the past, they have been the last Wednesdays of November, December, January, and February but you will want to look that up before you go.

Seven Peaks

  • Address: 1200 W 1700 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84104
  • Admissions Information but if you are going to go more than once then just jump through the hoops and get a Pass of all Passes. These can often be purchased for even less if you go through third party websites like Groupon or CityDeals and use current coupon codes which are easy to google (valpak often works on CityDeals).
  • A parking pass costs 10-20 dollars depending on where you purchase it. However, there is a public park across the street (no crosswalk). Do with that information what you will.
  • This park is a bit of a mess. As an adult, I looked at it and thought that it was in pretty sad shape. As a kid, I didn’t notice any of the less desirable qualities and thought it was awesome. My one-year-old loves playing in the kiddy area and the wave pool and the lazy river. He thinks it is a great time and with the Pass of all Passes we can just go for an hour or two and not feel bad, I think it is cheaper than most rec centers.
  • They do have a no food policy and charge for tube rentals. My advice would be to go with very low standards and know that your kids will probably have a great time.

 

Whew, that’s my list. It is by no means a comprehensive list but it does comprise all of the kid-friendly destinations in Salt Lake City that I can personally vouch for.

*The Connect Pass includes several other destinations not in Salt Lake City but in Salt Lake County. The ones on my list are all within the city itself.

My question for you is, what family friendly activities would you add to my Salt Lake City list?

You may enjoy:

Outdoor Activities for Indoor People

I love the outdoors but I know, hard as it may be to believe, that there are people out there who don’t. A few years ago I was teaching a youth group and we were setting goals. I remember being slightly shocked that one of the summer goals I saw was “go outside sometimes”.

Sometimes? I am outside as often as I can be. This business of having it be a goal sometimes was new territory. So, I started thinking, what are some of the things that keep people inside versus outside? Regulated air temperature? Entertainment? No decent ideas for outdoor activities? The fridge? General convenience?

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Okay, there is a lot to be said for just staying inside. But there are benefits of being outside as well. Exposure to sunlight. Fresh air. Time to think and disengage from all of the inside obligations. Enjoyable exercise (for those of us who struggle with the gym). Beauty . . .Well, hopefully. I admit I am spoiled when it comes to natural grandeur or even just grace. Utah is gorgeous.

Anyway, I have put together a list of activities that provide outdoor people and indoor people a chance to meet one another. (Since it is possible that they have only met in places like the grocery store where everyone must go to buy chocolate.)

Outdoor Movies

The Salt Lake area is especially good at outdoor movies. Individual cities and resorts show them throughout the Summer. Indoor people get their entertainment and their food and outdoor people get their fresh air and sunlight (if they go early enough for the sun to be out). See the list for Salt Lake area movies for 2017

See a list of outdoor movies for the Salt Lake area (2017) here.

Reading

Admittedly this isn’t a great way to meet people, but it is still a good indoor activity that can be done outside. It can be simple. Take your lemonade and book out on your deck or porch or into your backyard. It can be a little bit adventurous. Try a park bench or take a blanket with you and find a nice spot. It can be rejuvenating. Take your book and hammock and head for the mountains.

Games

If you are an indoor person, there is a good chance that the type of game you enjoy has something to do with an electronic device, so bear with me. Yard games can be just as fun and they allow you the opportunity to engage with other people (most of them are not as fun when played alone). Heck, they don’t even have to be yard games. You could take a deck of cards outside and call it a yard game. Either way, games outside equal entertainment, socializing, fresh air, and sunshine.

Barbeques

One of the first things we did when we got our house was put a fire pit in our backyard. It is one of my favorite parts of Summer. We love to invite old friends and potential new friends over to roast hot dogs, eat Dutch oven food, enjoy smores, and talk. Often, we do the same things up the canyon . And on those days when we don’t want to start a fire, we just use the regular old BBQ. Regardless of the food eaten or the method it is made, there is still food and fresh air and fun.

Swimming/Sunbathing

I am not really into tanning, I want my super paleness to stay cancer free. However, I still enjoy being in the sun in my SPF 50+. An outdoor pool or lake is a great place to get those rays. It also provides the opportunity for exercise, socializing, play, and fresh. . .ish air.

So this summer, make sure you get some green time into each day if you can. I firmly believe that being outside is good for the soul.

What are your favorite low-key outdoor activities during the hot summer months?

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Five Ways to Get Exercise With a Toddler (Who Loves the Outdoors)

The other night, my son woke up screaming at about 10:30 pm. Now, sleep training and crying it out are a whole other matter that I will get into later. Suffice it to say we fall into an in-between camp and pay close attention to what his crying sounds like. We always go comfort him when it is his panic or pain cry. This was his panic cry, which we have come to guess coincides with nightmares (it is very distinct), so I went. He put his arms around my neck and sighed and started speaking rapid baby to me.

 

I wasn’t smart enough to teach him sign language early on, so our communication consists mostly of the word da (with various emphasis and intonations) and lots of pointing and hand gestures. This usually works well enough but exhausted charades in the dark was a bit too much for both of us. He was sobbing again before I realized that what he wanted was not his stuffed animal, or a story, or a bottle . . . he just wanted to go outside.

I tried to explain to him that it was dark and that it was night time but he just pointed at the window and cried. It was at that moment that his Daddy came in and realized what it was he wanted. Before I knew it, he was being wrapped in a big blanket and Nick was taking him out the door. The three of us ended up on a short walk around the block in our pajamas.

Being outdoors has long been a source of comfort for him and he calmed down significantly on our short nighttime adventure. When we got home, he gave us each a hug and went right back to sleep.

My point is, my toddler loves being outdoors. I am incredibly grateful that the thought of going outside brings him comfort and happiness because I am the same way. This being said, we have been experimenting with safe activities that allow us both to be outside to get exercise and fresh air.

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Hiking

I am blessed to live in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains and we take advantage of that gift at every opportunity. I wrote a post about what I learned hiking with my baby and most of it still applies to a toddler. But let me tell you, hiking with a toddler is so much more fun. I love watching his eyes light up when he sees new places and things. He loves to throw rocks in the water, watch animals, collect sticks, and touch trees.

In order to help us both get our exercise and outside time, I hike for a mile or two then let him out of the carrier to explore.  The key to a successful toddler hike (in my mind) is three-fold. I get exercise, he gets exercise, we both have fun.

Notice, I didn’t say we make it a specific destination. Pinning your hopes of waterfall grandeur on a toddler is not wise. Hike for the journey, not the destination.

Biking

Before I got pregnant, I used to ride my bike all over. However, after months of puking and no exercise, I had to give it up for a bit. Then I had the baby and surprise . . . babies can’t ride bikes or even sit in bike trailers right away. Then it was winter. So, now that he is 14 months old we are starting our rides.

He loves feeling the breeze and watching the nature right outside of the trailer and he keeps himself busy eating snacks and reading books while I ride. Each time we go, I try to make the halfway point a park. That way he can get out and run around and play before heading back. Once again, we both get exercise and enjoy the outing.

Walking

I know, pretty basic, but sometimes it is all we have time for. Hiking and biking both require a certain amount of preparation and a larger time commitment. Walking just requires some tennis shoes and the stroller. We like to go early (by early I mean before noon) when it isn’t too hot. I try to walk all of the blocks near my house so that we are never too far from home should an emergency arise.

I let him get his exercise either at the park as our halfway point while I stretch. Or in our backyard when we get home.

 

Gardening

My son loves our yard and will run through our juniper trees with his rake for hours while I get everything weeded and cut. If you are thinking to yourself that gardening does not count as a workout, then you are not doing nearly as many squats as you could be while weeding. I just figure since I am already bending over to pull weeds, I might as well do squats and stretches. Gardening often leaves me more sore than any of the other activities.

Playing

Okay, here me out. This, like gardening, is not a workout in the traditional sense of the word. But it can definitely provide some exercise. When I stop worrying about being an adult and play with my son (be it at a park, in our yard, on the hike, in the garden, in the basement, whatever,) I find I am exhausted.

Playing with a one-year-old requires lots of running and crawling and lifting and stretching. A good half hour session of free play burns calories and builds relationships.

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How do you exercise with your toddler?

 

8 Things I Learned Hiking With My Baby

 

Before becoming a stay at home mom I was a teacher. Now, I truly loved the school year and all that came with it (most of the time) but even more than that, I loved the summer. June, July, and August are great reasons to teach. Pre-baby, I would spend my summers hiking and biking and reading. After I had L, I didn’t want too much to change in the way of adventures. I took him on his first hike at five weeks old (end of April) and we haven’t really stopped since. Here are eight things I have learned about hiking with a baby (5 weeks – 12 months).

Take someone with you. 

I have probably taken L on over 30 hikes in his first year of life and I have only ever done three alone. Taking a willing buddy makes everything from moving the baby, to changing a diaper, to carrying all the baby gear easier.

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Breastfeed if possible.

Now I know I have a whole post about how I hate breastfeeding but hiking is one of the few times when I wished I was better at it. There is nothing like hauling bottles around in your backpack especially if they are full of pre-pumped breastmilk. Depending on your hike, your baby will drink butter if you aren’t careful. That being said, I did haul bottles around because I was terrible at breastfeeding.

Pack milk carefully with an ice pack and bring more than you think you will need.

In order to avoid the aforementioned butter, pack milk carefully. If it is breast milk, I suggest bringing at least two bottles in an insulated bag with an ice pack. Formula is much easier to pack than breast milk. Just have your bottles of water ready to go and have the formula premeasured. I love these containers for formula.

Baby Needs Shade

This may seem obvious but I am a bad mom and didn’t even think about it the first time. When I asked my pediatrician how much I could have L outside and what precautions to take, he told me, “as much as you want but make sure he is covered”, not in sunscreen, mind you, but in material and shade if possible. So, L usually hiked in a bucket hat and his light cotton PJ’s because they covered everything but his neck and hands (it is really hard to keep the bottom of a baby leg covered when they are in a front facing carrier). I also slathered him in sunscreen, after making sure his skin had no reaction to it, before and during every hike (especially his hands, neck, and face).

Use Hiking Poles

I was never one for hiking poles and didn’t start using them until I tripped while wearing L. I was lucky and tripped on nothing on a completely flat trail and nobody got hurt. But had I tripped twenty minutes earlier it could have been bad. Ever since that day I have hiked with poles because it just isn’t worth falling. Wearing a baby that moves of his on volition can throw off your balance.

Have a Comfortable Carrier

This one is so important. Use a comfortable carrier. I know some people love slings but I really don’t and I wanted something a little tougher for hiking. I think that because I am a hiker, I prefer to have the weight on my hips, not my shoulders. So, I did my research and found one that I thought would work for me. Admittedly, the one I got was kind of difficult to use when L was a little floppy newborn (I still don’t know if that was me or the carrier though). It did work, however, and I have absolutely loved it ever since he got to the point where he could hold his own head up. He is 32 inches tall now and I’m not sure how much longer it will work but it is still comfortable and we both like it. Anyway, do your research and find one that works for you. (Borrow some from mom friends first to see what you like.)

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Pick an Amount of Time to Hike Not a Place to Get To

Not only does picking an amount of time help you pack better but it allows for flexibility. Hiking with a baby requires a lot of flexibility and patience. So instead of deciding that you will make it to the top of a mountain, decide that you will hike for two hours. This allows for stretching breaks and diaper changes and tree touching (Link loves to touch all the trees)  without the fear of not meeting a goal.  It’s okay to have fun, introduce your baby to nature and take it slowly if you need to. Just remember that your baby might have different plans than you do. They might not want to make it to the top of the mountain or even make it for your planned two hours.

What to Take for Baby

I know it is hard to pack your own stuff and your baby’s stuff. Even if you have a willing helper who carries everything it’s hard to know what to take. The things I have found necessary for baby on a relatively short (1-3 hours) day hike after this first year are as follows:

  • Diapers and wipes: determine how long you will be gone and figure out how many diapers you will likely need, then take at least two more. Sitting in a carrier for too long against your sweaty body can irritate your baby’s skin, you don’t want them getting a diaper rash as well. Be brave and change them on the hike.
  • A spare set of clothing (or an extra pair of pajamas): L has completely peed and/or pooped out his clothing no fewer than four times on hikes. Something about that spread eagle position makes blowouts more common.
  • Food (bottles or boobies): see above.
  • Burp cloth: I always take two and tuck one behind him and one in front of him in the carrier. This protects me in case of a blowout and gives him something to suck on. Your baby might not want to suck on the front of the carrier but mine sure does. They also come in handy for other things (see swaddle blanket).
  • Sunscreen: I put the baby sunscreen in a travel size container and we both wear it.
  • A light swaddle blanket: These don’t add a lot of weight but they are super useful. I have used one as a changing pad, extra shade, extra warmth, a pillow, a prop for pictures, and we even stuffed one into the leg of his jammies to keep him warm after he peed once and we didn’t have extra clothes.
  • A jacket: I usually take a larger jacket for me and zip us both in.  During the last couple of months of his first year, I brought him a jacket each time as well.
  • Snacks: I didn’t need much in the way of snacks for L until about 11 months. He preferred the bottles on hikes. Know your own baby.

I would love to hear anything that you have learned hiking with your baby. Comment below with your own hiking tips!

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