5 Best Sights in Capitol Hill and the Avenues, Salt Lake City

Utah State Capitol

Fodor's choice

The State Capitol, built in 1912, hosts Utah's legislature annually from January to March. The exterior steps offer marvelous views of the Salt Lake Valley. In the rotunda beneath the 165-foot-high dome, a series of murals, commissioned as part of a Works Progress Administration project during the Depression, depicts the state's history. Don't miss the gold-leafed State Reception Room, the original state supreme court, and the Senate gallery. Free guided tours are offered on weekdays from 9 to 3 (on the hour), except on holidays.

Governor's Mansion

Built by silver-mining tycoon Thomas Kearns in 1902, this limestone structure—reminiscent of a French château with all its turrets and balconies—is now the official residence of Utah's governor. In its early days the mansion was visited by then-president Theodore Roosevelt and other dignitaries from around the world. The mansion was faithfully restored after Christmas lights caused a fire in 1993 that destroyed much of the interior. Free hour-long tours are given by Preservation Utah the first Wednesday of each month from April through November, by appointment only (call or book online at least 24 hours in advance).

Memory Grove Park

Severely damaged by a freak tornado in 1999, Memory Grove was carefully restored as a city park with veterans' monuments, beautiful landscaping, and the waters of City Creek. You can hike, jog, or bike on the paved road or dirt trails along City Creek Canyon. More trails commence here, including the 100-mile Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

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Pioneer Memorial Museum

Covering the pioneer era from the departure of the Mormons from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the hammering of the Golden Spike, this massive collection traces the history of pioneer settlers in 38 rooms—plus a carriage house—on four floors. Administered by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, its displays include clothing, furniture, tools, wagons, and carriages. Be careful with kids—this museum is as cluttered as a westbound covered wagon loaded with all of a family's possessions.

The Cathedral of the Madeleine

Although the Salt Lake Temple just to the west is Salt Lake's most prominent religious landmark, this 1909 cathedral stands high above the city's north side and is a stunning house of worship in its own right. The exterior sports gargoyles, and its Gothic interior showcases bright frescoes, intricate wood carvings, and a 4,066-pipe organ. The highly regarded Madeleine children's choir gives concerts regularly (especially during the Christmas season).