8 Best Sights in East Side and Sugar House, Salt Lake City

Natural History Museum of Utah

Fodor's choice

Stop and admire the sleek copper and granite form of this contemporary museum on the University of Utah campus before stepping inside to learn about the formation of the region's incredible landscape of parks, mountain ranges, lakes, and basins. Immerse yourself in prehistoric Utah, home to prolific research on dinosaurs and some of the most famous fossil recoveries in history. Superb rotating exhibits, which can touch on anything from environmental themes to the ancient cultures of Asia and Africa, typically take place once or twice a year.

Red Butte Garden and Arboretum

Fodor's choice

With more than 21 acres of display gardens and another 80 undeveloped acres laced with 5 miles of hiking trails, this tranquil, mesmerizing nature space provides many enjoyable hours of strolling. Of special interest are the Perennial, Fragrance, and Water Conservation gardens, the Daylily Collection, the Water Pavilion, and the Children's Garden. Lectures on everything from bugs to gardening in arid climates, workshops, and concerts are presented regularly. The popular Summer Concert Series attracts well-known musicians, from Bonnie Raitt to Pink Martini, as well as prominent performing arts companies like Ballet West. The pristine amphitheater seats approximately 3,000 people on its expansive lawn. The excellent Botanic Gift Shop offers books, soaps, sculptures, and fine gifts.

Hogle Zoo

This 42-acre zoo, nestled at the base of Emigration Canyon, has been a delightful destination for families since 1931. In the African Savanna you can spy zebras, giraffes, and ostriches; Asian Highlands showcases big cats in natural surroundings; Rocky Shores includes underwater viewing of polar bears, sea lions, seals, and otters; and Elephant Encounter has elephants and white rhinos in a simulated African plain. In between you'll find many exhibits with species native to the West, including wolves and bison. A children's zoo, interactive exhibits, and special presentations make visits informative for all ages. Just for fun is the Lighthouse Point Splash Zone, with a tube slide, the Zoo Train, and a carousel.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Sugar House Park

Rolling grassy hills, athletic fields, multiple playgrounds, a creek, and a pond provide plenty of room to fly a kite or have a picnic at this big and popular neighborhood park. Take in stunning mountain views or head to the hill on the south end of the park—a go-to destination for sledding in winter. Odd fact: the park once housed a federal prison famous for incarcerating Utah's polygamists.

This Is the Place Heritage Park

Brigham Young and his band of Mormon followers descended into the Salt Lake Valley here. On July 24, 1847 (now a statewide holiday that is bigger than July 4 in many communities), he famously declared that this was the place for the Latter-day Saints to end their cross-country trek. A 60-foot-tall statue of Young, Heber Kimball, and Wilford Woodruff stands prominently in the park, which includes Heritage Village, a re-created 19th-century community and visitor center. In summer, volunteers dressed in period clothing demonstrate what Mormon pioneer life was like. You can watch artisans at work in historic buildings and take wagon or train rides around the compound. A 20-minute movie at the visitor center depicts the pioneers' trek across America.

Tracy Aviary & Botanical Garden

Easily walkable for even the smallest kids, this family-friendly facility in gracious Liberty Park features more than 100 species of birds found on the Western Hemispheric Flyway, a migratory pattern that includes Great Salt Lake. You will see emus, bald eagles, flamingos, parrots, several types of waterfowl, and maybe even a wandering peacock. There are bird shows and educational activities daily.

Trolley Square

East Side

From 1908 to 1945 this sprawling redbrick structure held nearly 150 trolleys and electric trains for the Utah Light and Railway Company. As trolleys fell out of use, the facility was closed. In the early 1970s the mission-style edifice was completely overhauled. Today it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places and houses a Whole Foods Market in addition to dozens of boutiques and restaurants.

Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Spanning 74,000 square feet and offering more than 20 galleries, this well-regarded art museum on the University of Utah campus contains a vast permanent collection of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman relics, Italian Renaissance and other European paintings, and Chinese ceramics and scrolls. Special exhibits are mounted regularly, and a café and a sculpture court offer further diversions.