Where to Stay in Salt Lake City

SD › Best Places to Stay in Salt Lake City
Updated: February 20, 2022
By Santorini Dave

Best hotel with pool in Salt Lake City.

The fantastic Grand America is the best hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.

Where to Stay in Salt Lake City

Best known for being the world headquarters of the Mormon Church (aka Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – LDS), the location of Salt Lake City is spectacular, with the peaks of the Wasatch Front looming over the valley just to the east. In winter, these mountains are blanketed in the dry, powdery snow that makes the ski resorts of Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude, and the more celebrated ones around Park City, some of the most popular in America. The ski runs also give hikers and mountain-bikers access to alpine lakes and pine forests in the summer. Mormon history provides most of the allure in the city itself, though there is a smattering of interesting museums, the elegant Utah State Capitol, and a growing culinary scene to explore.

Most top attractions in Salt Lake City are Downtown, or in the adjacent Capitol Hill and Avenues districts just to the north, with the Mormon complexes, churches, and museums around Temple Square the principal draw. There’s also plenty to see in the University/Foothill neighborhood and around the Great Salt Lake itself, just west of the city. We’ve also covered the neighboring cities of Park City, Provo, and Ogden here, with the former one of America’s biggest and most popular ski resorts.

Though Salt Lake City offers a vast range of accommodations, with a big choice Downtown, it mostly comprises of chain hotels, with several motel clusters on the surrounding freeways. There are a few B&Bs in the city, with Avenues the best place to look.

Local buses and TRAX trams (trolleys) are operated by the Utah Transit Authority and link all the areas mentioned here. Fares are $2.50 but journeys within Downtown are free.

The FrontRunner train service ($2.50 base fare, with $0.60 per additional stop) connects Ogden, Salt Lake City, and Provo.

Salt Lake City International Airport is 4 miles west of Downtown. The TRAX Green Line connects the airport with the city center for just $2.50 (every 15 minutes).

• Though Downtown is relatively small and easy to explore on foot, a car is necessary to make the most of the greater city and the surrounding attractions. It is possible to rely on public transportation entirely (there is even a bus to Park City, which has its own transit system), but it’s far less convenient, especially when heading into the mountains or around the Great Salt Lake.

We’ve covered our favorite neighborhoods to visit and stay in more detail below, but with more time, these districts are also worth checking out:

Airport/Fairgrounds: The main attraction in the area just east of Downtown is the Utah State Fairpark, home to the annual Utah State Fair (usually September). With the airport nearby, there’s a huge cluster of chain hotels and motels along I-80 around here. Though not especially convenient for Downtown, our favorite hotels here are the Comfort Inn & Suites Salt Lake City Airport, Hampton Inn & Suites Airport, Holiday Inn & Suites Airport West, Residence Inn Airport, and the good value Tru Airport.

West Valley City: A few miles southwest of Downtown, this large, suburban neighborhood is best known for the Maverik Center, home of the Utah Grizzlies hockey team and a regular concert venue. Our favorite hotels here – primarily along the I-215 corridor – are the Hampton Inn West Valley, Home2 Suites West Valley City, SpringHill Suites West Valley, and TownePlace Suites West Valley.

Great Salt Lake: Not a neighborhood, but a fascinating natural feature just to the west of the city and the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. It makes for a stunning spectacle in the clear morning light, but there are only a handful of places to access it. The best is Antelope Island State Park, off I-15 exit 332, some 40 miles northeast of Downtown Salt Lake City. There are bison corrals here, lots of pronghorn (antelopes), and amazing views. Quicker to reach is Great Salt Lake State Park, 16 miles west of Downtown on I-80, though beyond a marina there’s not much here. On the far northern arm of the lake lies Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, a huge basalt rock sculpture. The closest hotel to the lake is the Comfort Inn & Suites Tooele off I-80, at the southern end; camping is also possible at Antelope Island State Park.

Best Places to Stay in Salt Lake City

Best Neighborhoods in Salt Lake City for…

  • Best Neighborhood to Stay for First Timers/Sightseeing: Downtown
    Unless you’ve come to spend time on the ski slopes (winter) or hiking and biking in the mountains (in summer), it makes sense to be based in Downtown Salt Lake City. All the major religious and historical sights associated with the Mormons are here, along with the major shopping and entertainment district centered on Main Street. The choice of hotels isn’t especially exciting, but there are a lot of them and several offer good value. The main train, tram, and bus hubs are also here, making it easy to visit the University district, Provo, and Ogden, as well as smaller neighborhoods such as Sugar House.
  • Most Romantic Neighborhood: Avenues
    The B&Bs in the Avenues neighborhood are perfect for couples – Anniversary Inn-South Temple is set in a gorgeous old mansion on Temple Street, a leafy thoroughfare lined with similarly beautiful Victorians (like the Governor’s Mansion). Restaurant/craft brewer Avenues Proper is ideal for a romantic night out, and City Creek Canyon is laced with tranquil hiking trails. Hatch Family Chocolates is also here, overflowing with sweet treats. Historic Salt Lake City Cemetery is known for its bright pink crabapple blossoms in the spring and flashes of yellow and red maple leaves in the fall. And though it’s an upscale, quiet neighborhood, it’s just minutes by bus from Downtown.
  • Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife: Downtown and Granary
    Thanks to a series of revitalization projects, Downtown’s Main Street is again the hub of the city’s main entertainment district, anchored by the modern Eccles Theatre. Other highlights include cocktail bars like White Horse Spirits & Kitchen and Bodega and The Rest, no frills pubs and microbreweries like Squatters Pub and the Beehive, piano bar Keys On Main, and heaving nightclubs like Sky SLC.

    To the south, the old warehouse district of The Granary has become a burgeoning neighborhood of microbreweries and bars – Fisher Brewing Company and Kiitos Brewing are solid choices – but there are many more. The State Room is the best venue for live bands. You can stay right in the heart of the district at the new evo Hotel. There are also a couple of cheap hostels – Camelot Inn & Hostel and SLC Hostel – and SpringHill Suites Downtown, right on Granary’s northern edge (W 600 South Street).

  • Best Neighborhoods for Food and Restaurants: Downtown and Sugar House
    The dining scene in Salt Lake City is fairly eclectic, with top spots scattered through the metro area and north and south along the Utah Valley (e.g., the exceptional Log Haven sits by itself halfway up Millcreek Canyon). For visitors, Downtown is probably the best option as there are so many choices within a small area: excellent Italian at Caffé Molise, a convenient branch of popular taco joint Taqueria 27, and the elegant White Horse Spirits & Kitchen.

    Keen foodies should also check out at least one of Salt Lake’s outer neighborhoods. Sugar House is our favorite, with everything from juicy burgers to authentic Italian food and Vietnamese phở. Highlights include the local branch of cult burger chain Burgers Grilled Right, inspired vegan cuisine at Lil Lotus, excellent Vietnamese food at Little Saigon and SOMI Vietnamese Bistro, SugarHouse BBQ, the doner kebabs at Spitz, and a convenient branch of the Wasatch Brew Pub.

  • Best Neighborhoods for Shopping: Downtown and Central City
    Downtown is a good place to start shopping in Salt Lake City, with a couple of major indoor malls – City Creek Center and The Gateway – and a row of popular stores along Main Street like H&M and Macy’s.

    However, it’s also worth checking out Central City, known for its art galleries and Trolley Square, an indoor mall featuring both high street brands and designer stores – check out Himalayan Artswear. There’s also the tiny sub-district in Central City known as 9th and 9th (anchored by the intersection of 900 S and 900 E streets), lined with restaurants and indie stores like The Children’s Hour. The only place to stay nearby is a B&B, the Anniversary Inn 5th South.

    We also like Millcreek, 8 miles south of Downtown, especially for outdoor gear: Black Diamond Equipment. In close proximity in East Millbrook are DaleBoot Custom Ski Boots, REI, IME, and Salty Peaks, Utah’s pioneering snowboard shop. The best hotel nearby is Home2 Suites East.

  • Best Neighborhood for Local Vibe: Sugar House
    Some 6 miles southeast from Downtown, Sugar House is one of the city’s oldest and hippest neighborhoods, with a recent surge of indie shops, restaurants, and boutiques. It’s a great place to wander and check out the local art galleries, bookstores, and small businesses, especially along 2100 South Street and 1100 East Street. There are no real sights to aim for, other than scenic Sugar House Park, featuring a small lake, Parley’s Creek, bike trails, and woods. To avoid tourists, stay down here at Home2 Suites East and SpringHill Suites Sugar House.
  • Best Neighborhood for Skiing: Cottonwood Heights/Canyons
    When it comes to skiing holidays in Utah, most tourists head to Park City. However, to combine some days on the slopes with more urban attractions, there is an alternative: Cottonwood Heights. This suburban neighborhood sits 13 miles southeast of Downtown, with good road and bus links to the city center. But the main draw is its proximity to the Wasatch mountains. Staying here means easy access to Big Cottonwood Canyon, Ferguson Canyon, and Little Cottonwood Canyon, all laced with hiking and biking trails. In winter it also means access to 4 major ski resorts: Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude. They all lie within a 20-minute drive from Cottonwood Heights (a car is convenient). Brighton Resort is the most family-friendly, while Solitude offers a European-style village with posh condos and restaurants. Other than rental homes and condos, these are the best hotels in the area: Courtyard Cottonwood, Hampton Inn Cottonwood, Hyatt Place Cottonwood, and Residence Inn Cottonwood. There’s also a B&B, the Engen Hus. The local Wasatch Powder House offers ski and bike rentals.
  • Unsafe Areas of Salt Lake City
    Central Salt Lake City is generally safe, though the usual precautions should be taken at night. Crime rates have fallen in recent years across the metro area. Downtown’s Pioneer Park has also improved a lot, but should probably be avoided at night (along with the area known as Rio Grande between the park and Salt Lake Central). Take care also if visiting the Ballpark neighborhood and avoid Liberty Park at night.

The 6 Best Neighborhoods in and around Salt Lake City for Tourists

1. Downtown

The business heart of the city, Downtown features the city’s traditional shopping district along Main Street, plenty of restaurants and bars, and in its northern sector, most of the key Mormon buildings (most of which are open to tourists). The spiritual heart of the LDS remains Temple Square where the iconic spire-studded Temple was completed in 1893. Non-Mormons can visit the visitor center in the Conference Center, the 1880s Assembly Hall, the older Mormon Tabernacle, and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, home to the Nauvoo Café and Legacy Theater. There’s also the Beehive House, built in 1854 for Mormon leader Brigham Young, the enlightening Church History Museum, and 2 sites associated with the formidable ancestry research arm of the Mormon church: the Church History Library and the Family History Library.

Non-Mormon attractions include the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, and family-friendly Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum and Clark Planetarium. The Vivint Arena is home to basketball’s Utah Jazz.

2. Capitol Hill & Avenues

Just north of Downtown and Temple Square lies Capitol Hill, primarily an upscale residential area dominated by the Neoclassical Utah State Capitol. The nearby Pioneer Memorial Museum is run by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, with displays charting the early days of Mormon settlement in the region.

Just across City Creek Canyon to the east lies the similarly upscale Avenues Historic District, peppered with beautifully restored Victorian homes. Good examples include the stately Keith Brown Mansion (529 E S Temple St, closed to the public) and the Thomas Kearns Mansion (603 E Temple St), which is now the official Governor’s Mansion and open for tours. Nearby is the Cathedral of the Madeleine, the city’s grandest Catholic church with an incredibly ornate interior. Avenues is also gaining a reputation as an artsy neighborhood, with the Salt Lake Acting Company, hip coffee shops, and craft breweries such as Avenues Proper. Another favorite spot for sweet treats is Hatch Family Chocolates.

3. University/Foothill

Some 3 miles east of Downtown, a handful of sights lie around the attractive campus of the University of Utah and Foothill Drive, the neighborhood’s main drag. On the campus itself, the Natural History Museum of Utah celebrates the culture of Utah’s 8 federally recognized Native American tribes, as well as its prehistoric history, while the Utah Museum of Fine Arts features a huge collection of works from all over the world. The Fort Douglas Military Museum (32 Potter St), inside a 19th-century barracks, covers the history of Utah with special attention to its military contributions. Just beyond the campus, This Is the Place Heritage State Park is a living history museum, displaying historic properties salvaged from around Utah. Opposite, the medium-sized Hogle Zoo is fun for kids.

4. Park City

One of the largest ski resorts in America and one of its most perennially popular ones, Park City’s hotels are priced to match, with an abundance of luxury options, posh condos, and boutiques. There are some cheaper options, however, mostly at the foot of the main Silver Creek Valley along Main Street. Though the Park City Museum does a good job of charting the city’s silver mining heyday in the 19th century, most of Park City’s current downtown is given over to ritzy shop and restaurants.

The resorts actually comprises three main ski areas – Park City Mountain itself, The Canyons (part of the former since 2015), and Deer Valley – each has its own “village” and character, but are close enough to each other to sample on a single trip. The nearby Utah Olympic Park hosted most of the 2002 Winter Olympics events and today houses the free Alf Engen Ski Museum and the Eccles Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum (both daily 9am–6pm). Guided tours of the facilities, used today as a training center, are also available here. The annual Sundance Film Festival also holds most events in Park City (Jan) as well as the nearby Sundance Resort.

5. Provo

Some 45 miles south of Salt Lake City along the Utah Valley, Provo is also backed by the scenic peaks of the Wasatch Front; Mount Timpanogos looms especially high. Today the city is a booming tech and health care industry hub, and it also makes a good base for the attractions of nearby Provo Canyon and Provo River (endless opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and mountaineering). Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University are also based here, with the Brigham Young campus featuring 4 excellent (and free) museums: the Brigham Young University Museum of Art, the BYU Life Science Museum, the BYU Museum of Peoples and Cultures, and the BYU Museum of Paleontology. Elsewhere, the Provo Pioneer Village is a living history museum that recreates 19th-century life in the region every summer.

6. Ogden

The Ogden River tumbles down Ogden Canyon to the city of Ogden, around 40 miles north of Salt Lake City along the Utah Valley. It’s a pleasant place to visit (or to stay in), with a smattering of historic sights and low-key restaurants and bars. Learn about the founders of the city at Fort Buenaventura Park, which includes a replica of the original fort and trading post built here by Miles Goodyear in the 1840s. Union Depot now houses the Museums at Union Station, with various displays of prints, photographs, decorative arts, costumes, paintings, sculpture, toys, and railroad bits and pieces.

Families will want to check out the interactive Treehouse Museum, where kids can make music, dress up, and explore several mini exhibits. Younger kids will also love the Odgen’s George S Eccles Dinosaur Park and Museum.

Back in town, try to catch a show at Peerys Egyptian Theater, decorated in an opulent Egyptian style (it still shows movies and hosts various performances). The mountains east of Ogden are best known for 3 ski resorts: Snowbasin, expansive Powder Mountain, and Nordic Valley, which is the best place to learn to ski (or to experience night skiing).

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About Santorini Dave

Santorini Dave Author Bio. Santorini Dave was started in 2011 by a guy who loved Greece, travel, and great hotels. We're now a small team of writers and researchers on a mission to deliver the most helpful travel content on the internet. We specialize in Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, and Greece and recommend the best hotels, best neighborhoods, and best family hotels in top destinations around the world. We also make hotel maps and travel videos. I can be contacted at dave@santorinidave.com.