When to Go
Spring and fall are the best times to visit, 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 melts it quickly in the valley. If your plans include trips 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." 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, especially for people who suffer from respiratory issues. Locals often escape to the mountains on these days to get some fresh air above the clouds. 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 larger crowds at the airport and higher rates at hotels and resorts near the ski slopes on winter weekends, particularly around holidays such as Christmas, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Presidents’ Day, as well as during the Sundance Film Festival, based in nearby Park City but with some screenings in Salt Lake. Most of the rest of the year, city accommodations are cheaper than in other big cities across the country, but occasional large conventions sometimes drive up prices. Utahns reserve much of their patriotism for July 24, rather than July 4, as it's a recognized statewide holiday known as Pioneer Day, celebrated with a parade, a marathon, and fireworks; expect road and business closures.
Festivals and Events
Gallery Stroll. Mingle with local artists and view their work at various art galleries throughout the city—but especially downtown and in Central City—on the third Friday of the month (or the first Friday of December). Participating galleries change monthly, so it's best to visit the website for each month's current roster. Artists and art lovers chat over wine and snacks at each stop. Salt Lake City, Utah. 801/870–0956; www.gallerystroll.org.
Sundance Film Festival. Movie buffs and casual fans will find much to love about Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival. Each January, the crowds and the paparazzi tend to congregate in Park City, but savvy (and budget-conscious) moviegoers catch top picks in six venues in Salt Lake City: the Tower Theatre, Broadway Center Cinemas 3 and 6, the Grand Theater, Salt Lake City Main Library, and Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Ticket registration begins in September, but procrastinators can check for unsold day-of-show tickets at the Trolley Square box office. Park City, Utah, 84060. www.sundance.org.
Utah Arts Festival. Over the fourth weekend in June, Salt Lake City's premier art event takes place over two full blocks downtown surrounding both Library and Washington squares. Browse original art at the Marketplace, create your own masterpiece at the Art Yard, treat your taste buds to a food truck-sponsored feast, and get down to live music on multiple stages. Library Square, 200 E. 400 S, Downtown, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111. 801/322–2428; www.uaf.org.