Salt Lake City, Utah

This Salt Lake City travel guide focuses on the two most visited attractions: Temple Square and the Utah State Capitol Building. Use the interactive map feature to facilitate your self-guided tour. Enjoy the Crossroads of the West.

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1 Bird’s-eye View of Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah

Downtown Salt Lake City is engaging and easy to explore on foot. The metro area has 1.2 million people. They are encircled by mountains with the Great Salt Lake defining the northwest border. At the foothills of Ensign Peak is the splendid Utah State Capitol Building. This bird’s-eye view is from the 26th floor observation deck of the LDS Church Office Building. SLC also offers a host of restaurant, entertainment and shopping alternatives plus hiking, golfing and skiing options.

50 E North Temple St, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

2 Founding of Salt Lake City, Utah

“Here we will build a temple to our God.” Brigham Young spoke these words on July 24, 1847 after leading 3,000 Mormon pioneers from Nauvoo, Illinois to the Mexican-controlled Salt Lake Valley. The historic 1,300 mile exodus earned Young the nickname American Moses. The founder of Salt Lake City was also the first governor of the Utah Territory (1851- 1858). Yet Brigham Young’s major contribution came as the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until 1877. Below is Temple Square, a five-block area surrounding Salt Lake Temple (lower left). This starts your walking touring of the major buildings of the LDS Church world headquarters.

50 E North Temple St, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

3 LDS Church Office Building at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

The 420 foot LDS Church Office Building is the second tallest structure in Salt Lake City and the visual pinnacle of Temple Square. The high-rise has been the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1973. At the base are statues of Joseph Smith and his wife Emma sculpted by Florence Peterson Hansen. In 1830, Joseph published the Book of Mormon and founded the Church of Christ. It was renamed The Church of the Latter-day Saints in 1834. Tragically, Joseph Smith was killed by a mob in 1844.

50 E North Temple St, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

4 World Maps on LDS Church Office Building at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

There are carvings of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres on the south wall of the LDS Church Office Building. The reliefs are meant to convey the worldwide scope of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are approximately 17 million members in 31,000 congregations spread across 155 countries. The largest population is in the United States with nearly seven million members.

47 E S Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

5 Salt Lake Temple at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

Four days after Brigham Young ended the Mormon Exodus in 1847, he pointed to where he wanted a magnificent tribute to Jesus Christ built that “will endure through the millennium.” Construction began in 1843. Salt Lake Temple was dedicated 40 years later. It is the epicenter of the 10 acre Temple Square. It is also the largest LDS Church temple at 253,000 square feet. The quartz monzonite façade is filled with symbols. For example, the spires on the towers represent the Twelve Apostles. Two all-seeing eyes of God are in the center windows. There are also stones representing the earth, moon, sun, clouds, stars plus the Big Dipper. Collectively, they represent the universe and Heaven. On top is a 14 foot gilded statue of Moroni, the angel that inspired church founder Joseph Smith. Unfortunately, the Salt Lake Temple is not open for public tours.

Salt Lake Temple, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

6 Temple Annex at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

Temple Annex serves as a transitional space from the outside world before entering the Salt Lake Temple. Patrons prepare mentally and spiritually while changing from street attire into white clothes. The first annex was finished in 1893. The Byzantian style was created by Don Carlos Young, the son of Brigham Young. The Temple Annex was replaced with this structure in 1966. In 2021, a major renovation of Temple Square was announced. Among the plans are the demolition of the Temple Annex. It will be replaced by two new patron pavilions.

Temple Annex, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

7 North Visitors’ Center at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

Up to five million people a year visit Temple Square. Most of them stop at the North Visitors’ Center. Volunteers are eager to help plan your experience to the LDS Church complex. They can also answer questions in multiple languages about the Mormon faith. You will enjoy seeing the interactive display of Jerusalem during the New Testament. It contains about 4,000 biblical sites in miniature. Also reserve time to see two, one-hour films. Legacy: A Mormon Journey is about 19th century Mormon pioneers. The second movie – The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd – depicts the life of Jesus Christ.

North Visitors' Center, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

8 Christus inside North Visitors’ Center at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

The stunning highlight inside the North Visitors’ Center is an 11 foot replica of Christus. The 12,000 pound statue is enhanced by a circular painting of the universe. The original Christ with outstretched arms was carved from white Carrara marble by Bertel Thorvaldsen in 1821. That sculpture is at the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, Denmark. This facsimile arrived at Temple Square in 1966. Additional copies of Christus are displayed in about 20 visitor centers at LDS Church compounds across the world.

North Visitors' Center, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

9 LDS Conference Center Auditorium in Salt Lake City, Utah

Across the street from the North Visitors’ Center is the LDS Conference Center. This main auditorium for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is massive at 1.4 million square feet. The 21,000 seating capacity easily accommodates attendees at the twice-yearly LDS General Conferences and performances by the Tabernacle Choir. The magnificent centerpiece is the 7,708 pipe organ by Schoenstein & Company in San Francisco. Interestingly, the roof is covered with three acres of native grasses and trees.

60 N Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

10 Salt Lake Tabernacle at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

The Old Salt Lake Tabernacle was built in 1852. It was home to the now world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir from 1873 until the Adobe Tabernacle was torn down in 1877 to make way for Assembly Hall. The replacement Salt Lake Tabernacle is a marvel of design and engineering. The 150 by 250 foot domed roof was constructed with a lattice truss of timbers held together with wooden pegs and rawhide. Most believed the canvas roof would collapse during its inaugural year in 1867. The LDS General Conference was held within the auditorium until 2000. The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square still performs incredible concerts in the facility.

Salt Lake Tabernacle, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

11 Assembly Hall at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

24 spires crown the Victorian Gothic design of the Salt Lake Assembly Hall. Finished in 1882, this is the second oldest LDS Church building in Temple Square. The exterior bricks were shaped from pieces of granite rejected during the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. The pillar silhouette is the Seagull Monument. It commemorates the Miracle of the Gulls. The event occurred in 1848 when the Mormon pioneers watched in horror as their first full crop was attacked by swarms of katydids (since called Mormon crickets). In answer to their prayers, seagulls miraculously arrived and gorged on the insects for two weeks, thus saving their crops. This is why the California gull is the state bird of Utah.

Assembly Hall, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

12 Joseph Smith Memorial Building at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

The Utah Hotel opened in 1911 with considerable fanfare and excitement. Actress Ethel Barrymore was the first registered guest. The same year, President William Howard Taft booked the Presidential Suite. This was the premiere hospitality location for Salt Lake social life and luxury accommodations for much of the 20th century. In 1993, the LDS Church financed a significant renovation and then dedicated the landmark to the founder of the Latter-Day Saints. The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is now an administrative center, a theater showing LDS Church films and an event venue.

Joseph Smith Building, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

13 Beehive atop Joseph Smith Building at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

The stunning glazed white brick and terracotta façade was added to the former Utah Hotel in the mid-1970s. Crowning the two wings of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an eagle sculpture and a giant beehive dome. Beneath them on the tenth floor is The Roof Restaurant. Enjoy a gourmet dining buffet with marvelous views of Temple Square.

Joseph Smith Building, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

14 Joyful Moment Sculpture at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

Utah artist Dennis Smith has created a delightful series of about 60 bronze sculptures entitled Children at Play. Each one captures the exuberance of youth. This life-size grouping at Temple Square depicts a mother playing Ring Around the Rosie with her children. The ensemble is named Joyful Moment. In the background is the Salt Lake Temple.

LDS Admin Building, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

15 LDS Church Administration Building at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

24 fluted Ionic columns embellish an impressive granite exterior of the Church Administration Building. The 1917 Neoclassical structure was designed by the son and grandson of Brigham Young. Officed here are the three members of the First Presidency. They are the highest governing body of the LDS Church. The former headquarters also accommodates the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Collectively, these elders help influence the global direction of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

LDS Admin Building, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

16 Lion House at Brigham Young Complex in Salt Lake City, Utah

Polygamy was a common practice among Mormons during the 19th century. Brigham Young – the revered second president of the LDS Church – was reported to have had 55 wives and about the same number of children. Obviously, housing his family was a challenge. One of his residences was the Lion House. The 1856 home designed by brother-in-law Truman O. Angell contained 20 bedrooms. The name stems from the lion statue above the door sculpted by William F. Ward. Plural marriages were banned in 1890 as a condition for Utah to become a state.

Lion House, 63 E S Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

17 Beehive House at Brigham Young Complex in Salt Lake City, Utah

The Beehive House is another famous structure in the Brigham Young Complex near Temple Square. In 1854, this became the main residence of Brigham Young and his second wife, Mary Ann Angell Young. She was married to him for 45 years. It was also his office while first governor of Utah Territory (1851 through 1858). After Brigham Young died in the Beehive House in 1877, members of his family continued to live here for 16 years. Daily tours provide insight into the lifestyle of Brigham Young.

Beehive House, 67 E S Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

18 World Trade Center in Salt Lake City, Utah

Since 1986, this 320 foot high-rise has cast a shadow over the southeast corner of Temple Square. It is now named after the major occupant: World Trade Center Utah. The non-profits’ mission is to help Utah companies increase their awareness, growth and sales into international markets.

60 E So Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

19 Eagle Gate Monument in Salt Lake City, Utah

In 1859, a wooden eagle was raised to mark the boundary of Brigham Young’s property. Visitors had to pay a toll to pass by and enter City Creek Canyon. The current Eagle Gate Monument spans 76 feet across North State Street. The bronze bird has a 20 foot wingspan. The arch weighs about two tons. The sculpture was created in 1963 by George C. Young, a distant relative of the famous LDS Church leader.

Eagle Gate, N State St & S Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

20 Capitol Hill Neighborhood in Salt Lake City, Utah

After exploring Temple Square, the Utah State Capitol Building is next on your itinerary. To reach this popular landmark, start on State Street (where the Eagle Gate Monument is located) and head north. You will quickly reach the residential section of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Within a few blocks, you will arrive at the steps of the Utah Capitol.

151 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

21 Victorian Homes in Salt Lake City, Utah

A population boom occurred at the end of the 19th century when Utah became a state. Salt Lake City was named the capital and the First Transcontinental Railroad connected the city. This growth is reflected in an abundance of Victorian homes such as this one constructed in 1897. It is now an apartment complex. If you are a fan of houses from this era, spend time walking in The Avenues neighborhood east of Capitol Hill. The Aves extends from 1st Avenue North through 18th Avenue North. The city’s first community began in 1850. The oldest residences are in the Lower Avenues (below 13th Avenue). The properties become more expensive as they ascend the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains.

204 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

22 McCune Mansion in Salt Lake City, Utah

Alfred William McCune was born in Calcutta, India in 1849. His family immigrated to Salt Lake City in 1857 to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During his extensive career, McCune became very rich from railroading, mining, retailing, ranching and construction. He wanted his home to reflect his prosperity. This red sandstone mansion with matching roof tiles from Holland was finished in 1901. The interior was decorated with materials and furnishings from across the globe. The final price tag was one million dollars ($31 million today). The McCune Mansion is now a special-event venue.

200 N Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

23 Salt Lake City Council Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah

This was the Salt Lake City Hall from 1866 until 1894. The red façade is sandstone from Utah’s Red Butte Canyon. Construction credit belongs to William H. Folsom. He was a prolific designer/contractor in Salt Lake City during the second half of the 19th century. Folsom was also the church architect for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Council Hall was relocated from downtown to Capitol Hill in 1961. The U.S. National Historic Landmark now houses the Utah Office of Tourism.

300 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

24 Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah

There are 52 Corinthian columns surrounding three sides of the Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City. Each one measures 32 feet tall. They create a dramatic appearance across the 404 foot southern façade. The capitol exterior was covered with Utah granite before construction was finished in 1916. The appearance has been compared to the Parthenon in Athens and the Forum in Jerash, Jordan. Utah became the 45th state on January 4, 1896.

350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

25 Utah State Capitol Dome in Salt Lake City, Utah

The dome atop the Utah State Capitol Building rises an impressive 250 feet. It seems taller as the pinnacle of Capitol Hill. The Neoclassical design was created by German-born Richard K. A. Kletting. He began his architect career in Europe before moving to the United States in 1883. Kletting was responsible for over 25 major commercial and residential projects in Salt Lake City from 1882 through 1915. He has been called the Dean of Utah Architects.

350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

26 Veterans Memorial at Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah

The Utah State Capitol Building sits on 20 acres. Prior to 1888, the property was named Arsenal Hill. The grounds feature cherry trees encircling a central plaza, a reflection pond and several statues. Also featured are tributes to members of the Mormon Battalion who died during the Mexican-American War (1846 – 1848), to Law Enforcement Officers who fell during active duty plus the Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Veterans Memorial. This soldier was sculpted by Clyde Ross Morgan. Behind the bronze is a wall listing the Utah citizens who sacrificed their life or were M.I.A. during the twenty-year Vietnam War.

350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

27 Rotunda Paintings in Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah

The spectacular centerpiece of Utah’s statehouse is the 165 foot rotunda. The spaces beneath the dome are beautified by artwork designed by Lee Greene Richards in 1934. There are four triangular paintings in the pendentives. On the left is Brigham Young and Pioneers Entering the Valley in 1847. On the right is Father Escalante Discovers Utah Lake in 1776. Equally impressive are the eight 19th century events portrayed in the cyclorama (a 360° scene). Shown left to right are: General Connor Inaugurates Mining; Naming of Ensign Peak in July of 1847; Social Gathering in the Old Bowery; and Gulls Save the Wheat Fields. The 100 or so people in these paintings may look small. However, some of them are over ten feet tall.

350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

28 Beehive Plaque in Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah

Garnishing the staircases and balusters in the Utah State Capitol Building are these plaques showing a domed hive called a skep. A similar design appears on the state flag and coat of arms. But why is Utah the Beehive State? Originally, it was named the State of Deseret. The term is from the Book of Mormon meaning honeybee. Brigham Young believed the word was symbolic for industry and working together to create a better future.

350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

29 House Chamber in Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah

The third level of the Utah State Capitol is the Legislative Floor. In the west wing is the House of Representatives Chamber. 75 members of the Utah House serve two-year terms. They meet for about 45 days per legislative session. Below the clock flanked by cherubs and above the speaker’s chair are the Latin words vox poplili. The rough translation is the voice of the people (populous) or people’s house. Notice the beehive symbols gracing the gilded railing of the observation gallery.

350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

30 Senate Chamber in Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah

In the north section of the Utah State Capitol on the third floor is the Senate Chamber. The upper house consists of 29 members. They each represent about 95,000 people in their respective districts during four-year terms. The multi-panel mural (a polyptych) above the speaker’s chair was painted by A.B. Wright and Lee Greene Richards in 1916. The landscape represents Utah Lake. This became historically significant in 1776 when two Spanish priests – Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante – were the first Europeans to discover Utah’s largest lake. In the upper left corner is Ancestral Home. The art was created by Keith Bond in 2006.

350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

31 East Atrium in Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah

This view of the East Atrium in the Utah State Capitol is from the Supreme Court steps. The skylight bathes the Ionic columns and two balconies with sunlight. You can also see the 6,000 pound rotunda chandelier hanging from the dome. In the background is the grand marble staircase of the West Atrium. In the lunette over the House Chamber entrance is a mural called Passing of the Wagons. Above the camera is an artwork named Madonna of the Wagon. They each measure 35 by 18 feet. The paintings were a collaborate effort by artists Girard Hale and Gilbert White in 1917.

350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

32 Supreme Court Chamber in Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah

The third chamber on the third floor of the Utah State Capitol originally housed the Supreme Court. The five justices moved to the Scott M. Matheson Courthouse in 1998. This room is now used for ceremonial purposes. The 1905 oil painting by H.L.A. Culmer shows Caroline Bridge. The 210 by 204 foot span is one of three massive stone bridges in Natural Bridges National Monument in San Juan County, Utah. It was renamed Kachina Bridge (Sacred Dance) in recognition of the dancing petroglyphs carved into the rock by the ancestral Puebloan people.

350 State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

33 Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City, Utah

The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art has six galleries across two floors. Several of the rooms showcase solo exhibitions. Others feature works by a mix of state and local talents plus artists-in-residence. Because UMOCA does not have a permanent collection, your experience will be different every time. The museum dates back to 1931 when Alta Rawlins Jensen founded the Art Barn. Her foresight created a wonderful platform to enjoy the best of Utah’s contemporary art.

20 S W Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

34 Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah

The third iteration of a convention center in Salt Lake opened in 1995. The design resembles a roller coaster because that is the specialty of architect Kent Seko. The Salt Lake Convention Center has over a half million square feet of exhibition space. In 2007, the facility was named in honor of Calvin L. Rampton. He was Utah’s only three-term governor from 1965 until 1977.

100 S W Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

35 Windmills at Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah

Your curiosity is immediately aroused when you see a dozen stylized windmills outside of the Salt Palace Convention Center. Patrick Zentz’s fertile mind created Windmills in 1996. The spinning blades convert the ever-changing wind into kinetic and aural patterns inside of the West Temple entrance. You will be delighted by the chorus generated by twelve percussion instruments.

100 S W Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

36 Counterpoint Sculpture in Salt Lake City, Utah

Artist Dennis Smith has a rare talent for capturing childhood innocence in bronze. There are several of his life-size outdoor works in downtown Salt Lake. This ensemble of a mother swirling her daughter is named Counterpoint. It was erected in 1979. In the same small square is a boy on his father’s shoulders. The sculptures are located across from the Capitol Theatre. The Italian Renaissance exterior of the 1913 historic landmark is as attractive as the recently renovated, 2,000 seat auditorium.

57 West 200 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101

37 Salt Lake City and County Building in Salt Lake City, Utah

Your walking tour ends at the ten-acre Washington Square, named after George Washington. The park was an encampment of the Mormon pioneers when their 1,300 mile migration ended here in 1847. The setting sun bathes the façade of the Salt Lake City and County Building with warm hues. The historic landmark has housed local government offices since 1894. The Richardsonian Romanesque design features an elegant clock tower. On top is a statue of Columbia, the female personification of the United States.

451 S State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
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