When to Go
Spring and fall are the best times to visit Salt Lake City, as cooler afternoons give way to idyllic breezy evenings. Summertime high temperatures average more than 90° (June–August), with a few days above 100° each month. Winters bring snow, but abundant sunshine tends to melt it quickly in the valley. If your plans are taking you to Park City or the Cottonwood Canyons, follow weather forecasts closely, because a fluffy 6-inch snowfall in the city will often be accompanied by 3 to 5 feet "up the hill." Check weather forecasts closely if you have allergies. Extreme heat or cold without any wind often brings about "inversions" of polluted air that sometimes linger for longer than a week and prompt "red" alert warnings against activity in the valley. Escape to the mountains on these days. Most years, ski season kicks off by mid-November and ends in early April. (During a heavy snow year Snowbird Ski Resort will stay open on weekends as late as July 4.) Expect heavier crowds at the airport and higher rates at hotels and resorts that serve the ski slopes on wintry weekends, particularly around holidays such as Christmas, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Presidents’ Day. City accommodations are cheaper than those elsewhere in the country much of the rest of the year, but occasional large conventions significantly affect tourist travel to Salt Lake City. The largest is the Outdoor Retailers Show, which books nearly every hotel room in the city and surrounding suburbs during its weeklong winter and summer shows.
July 24 is celebrated statewide as Pioneer Day, and it’s a bigger deal than July 4 or any other holiday except Christmas. You may be able to catch one of the nation’s largest parades if you’re here on July 24, but also expect closed streets (because of the parade and a marathon), fireworks, and many closed businesses.
Festivals and Events
Gallery Stroll. Local artists and art galleries enjoy one evening each month (the third Friday of the month, except for December when it's the first Friday) sharing their artwork with the public in the Gallery Stroll. Stop at any gallery on the stroll to obtain a self-guiding map. Artists and art lovers chat over wine and snacks at each stop. Salt Lake City, Utah. 801/870–0956; www.gallerystroll.org. Free.
Phillips Gallery. A possible starting point is Phillips Gallery 444 E. 200 S, Downtown, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111. 801/364–8284.
Sundance Film Festival. Even casual movie buffs should make plans to attend Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival at least once in a lifetime. Each January the crowds and the paparazzi tend to congregate in Park City, but savvy moviegoers catch top picks in three venues in downtown Salt Lake City. With a theme of "discovering and developing independent artists," the festival has more than 100 screenings in Salt Lake City at the Tower Theatre, Broadway Center Theatre, and Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Ticket registration begins in September, or check the box office for unsold day-of-show tickets, if available, at the Trolley Corners box office. 435/776–7878; www.sundance.org/festival.
Utah Arts Festival. If you're in town in late June, check out Utah's premier festival showcasing every form of visual and performance art. If you're downtown, you can't miss it, as the festival takes over two full blocks surrounding the City and County Building and the Salt Lake City main library. Look for original art at the Marketplace, create your own at the Art Yard, sample a wide array of food, and swing to the beat of live music on multiple stages. 201 E. 400 S, Downtown, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111. 801/322–2428; www.uaf.org. $6–$12.