While this summer is looking very different than what we are used to, excitement and delight still await those who search for it. Let’s put on our rose-colored glasses, readjust our expectations and focus on the simple pleasures of the summer months. Here are 20 ideas for social distancing summer fun in Salt Lake. Remember to follow state and city guidelines for social distancing and wear a mask if you are heading out in public.
Salt Lake COVID-19 Summer Activities
Walk Your Neighborhood
Did you know that Salt Lake City cares for over 150,000 trees in our parks and on our streets? Enjoy the canopied shade of your neighborhood, or discover a local path you haven’t walked before. This SLC interactive map can help you discover trails and parks near your neighborhood.
Lose Yourself in a Good Book
Both Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County library systems are now offering pickup options. You can place an order for books online and schedule a time to pick them up. A friendly librarian will deliver the items to your car. The possibilities are endless: books about crafts, travel guides, or a science fiction novel to transport you to a distant galaxy. It’s not the same as a day at the beach but it’s better than watching another episode of that awful show on Netflix that your kids love.
The Miller Bird Refuge offers a shady escape from the summer heat. The trail is located in the residential Yalecrest neighborhood but feels miles away from the city. Download this Audubon App to discover and track local birds wherever you live. Salt Lake’s many trails and parks are ideal for tracking our neighborhood’s winged friends.
Picnic with the Mt. Olivet Cemetery Deer Herd
One of Salt Lake’s oldest cemeteries is also home to an urban deer herd. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy watching the gentle mule deer amble under old-growth trees planted in 1874. Plenty of squirrels to see as well as a spotted fox that may show itself if you are lucky. A gentle stream flows through the center of the cemetery and is perfect for little ones to float leaves and twigs.
Explore Memory Grove & Surrounding Parks
When it comes to fun in the sun and personal space, the oldest neighborhood in Salt Lake City has no shortages of outdoor activities. Ranging from easy to moderate skill levels, there are a handful of trails right out the front door for hikers, bikers, and trail runners offering panoramic views of the valley. Memory Grove’s creekside path is a favorite among children and dogs. The I Street Bike Park near the Bonneville Shoreline Access Trailhead offers jumps and terrain for the thrill seekers.
Stroll the Avenues
If your cup of tea is more of a leisurely stroll, Salt Lake City’s “Stay Safe, Stay Active” initiative has brought another opportunity for residents to get their daily dose of Vitamin D. With the exception of residents who reside there, 4th Avenue has been closed to thru traffic and dedicated to bikers and walkers. The lush tree lined street heading East offers a beautiful view of the Wasatch front. Like many streets in The Aves, 4th Avenue is an eyeful of Painted Ladies, Victorian, and Tudor style homes representing both the diverse architecture and individuals of Salt Lake City.
Don’t forget to stop by Straw Market on the corner of E St. and 4th for a mouthwatering cinnamon roll, gooey rice krispies treats, or cold beverage. If you really want to work your legs, keep hiking up to Hatch Family Chocolates and treat yourself to a frozen hot chocolate, frozen banana, or fresh limeade. The extra distance is well worth it.
Let Your Kids Run Down Stratford Ave
Tell your kids to go play in the street! Let your kids ride their skateboards and bikes up and down Stratford Avenue between 2000 E and Highland Drive. If they have the energy, cut across 1700 E to Sugarhouse Park and down to Sugarhouse Commons for ice cream at Coldstone or an acai bowl at Aubergine.
Head to Blackridge Pond or Oquirrh Lake Beaches
Enjoy a day at these sunny beaches near the Oquirrh Mountains. Swim, paddleboard and let your little ones play in the sand at either location. Reservations may be required for gazebos and rentals. Grab a slice of pizza at Maxwell’s, a rice bowl at Cupbob or a Rockwell Ice Cream cone on your way to Oquirrh Lake. Blackridge Pond has concessions on site or pack a cooler full of your favorite summer treats.
Schedule an Appointment at Your Favorite Attraction
Salt Lake’s favorite family attractions are open with a few precautionary rules. You and your family can still visit The Hogle Zoo, This is the Place, The Tracy Aviary and Thanksgiving Point. Visit their websites to make an appointment and read about their safety requirements and exhibit closures.
Walk or Bike the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and City Creek Trails
As legend (and science) have it, Lake Bonneville once filled the Salt Lake valley and much of the surrounding region. The old shoreline still forms a perfect indentation in the valley foothills, and it’s the baseline for a hundred-mile trail that hugs the hillside today. Salt Lake visitor bureau recommends these top-ten hiking trails near the city./vc_column_text]
Countless wonders await you on any clear night. Astronomers say the best way to start stargazing is in your backyard with your plain eyes or a set of binoculars. The SkyView app is a stellar tool for beginners to track constellations, planets, stars and galaxies. Some of the country’s best spots for stargazing can be found in Southern Utah if you are looking for a longer adventure. Local experts recommend nearby Salt Lake sites like Antelope Island (check to make sure it’s not biting gnat season), Little Mountain in Emigration Canyon, and the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Cook With Your Family
Now is the perfect time to have your children start cooking for you. America’s Test Kitchen for Kids offers child-friendly online cooking courses and step-by-step recipes for the most novice of chefs. Plus, Farmers’ Markets are still open around the Salt Lake Valley. Set a weekly date to pick up Brigham City peaches or Santaquin tomatoes as a family. Learning to appreciate fresh, local produce together reinforces healthy life habits and is sure to forge lasting childhood memories. Choose from this list of Salt Lake City Farmers’ Markets and Salt Lake County Farmers’ Markets.
Salt Lake COVID-19 Summer Day Trips
Ride Over Guardsman Pass
If you’re looking for beautiful mountain scenery, you can’t beat this backcountry drive which connects Park City and the Heber Valley to Brighton and the Salt Lake Valley. The road is closed between October and May and while most of the surface is paved, the middle portion is gravel. Plan to take some small hikes along the way and pack a picnic lunch. If you can stave off your hunger pains, hold out for a burger and shake at Granny’s Drive In in Heber or plan for a more elevated dinner in Park City.
Drive the Alpine Loop
This 20-mile drive winds through the rugged alpine canyons of the Wasatch Range offering awe-inspiring views of Mount Timpanogos and other glacier-carved peaks. Timpanogos Cave National Monument and Robert Redford’s Sundance are located along the route. Timpanogos Cave has closed its tours until COVID restrictions are eased. Check ahead with Sundance Resort about their dining and on-mountain options. Take a short detour to Cascade Springs if you would like an accessible day hike for all ages.
Paddleboard and Picnic at Jordanelle Reservoir
You don’t need a boat to enjoy the mountain waters of Jordanelle Reservoir. Just a 40-minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City, this 10.5-mile-long body of water is perfect for beginner and expert paddleboarders. In fact, Utah is ranked sixth in the U.S. for amount of boatable water per capita. (Not bad for the second driest state in the nation.) Look to these other lakes and reservoirs near Salt Lake for more paddleboarding adventures.
Visit the Great Salt Lake and Spiral Jetty
If you haven’t had the chance to visit Robert Smithson’s world famous earthwork near Corinne, Utah, this is the summer to do it. The Spiral Jetty is a work of art created by Robert Smithson in 1970. It is a 1,500-foot long, 15-foot coil of basalt rock and earth extending from Rozel Point, a remote shore on the northeast side of Great Salt Lake. The UMFA offers this guide for driving to and learning more about the Spiral Jetty. You’ll be transported to an otherworldly scene of hazy pinks, blues and salt-encrusted formations.
Salt Lake COVID-19 Virtual Fun
Summer at Home Camps with the Natural History Museum of Utah
On-site summer camps are canceled, but the NHMU has hundreds of hours of online curriculum available for children and adults. Some camps require a fee, others are free. Register or find out more about their free Grab and Go science kits here. It’s the perfect solution to hot afternoon doldrums.
Brush-up on Your Art Skills & Art History
Artists around the world are stepping up to provide free online art courses and videos during the coronavirus. Kids can take lessons from fan favorites like Carla Sornheim and Mo Willems. Or delve into free lessons at The Kitchen Table Classroom, Thrive Art School or pay a subscription fee for Nature’s Art School. Adults will find YouTube a friendly place to find how-tos on just about any art subject. Jennysartarama also offers free and paid online courses from certified teachers. Most major museums around the world are offering virtual tours of their exhibits. There’s never been a better time to be an aesthete!
Explore Salt Lake with Our Virtual Neighborhood Tours
Whether you are a longtime resident or thinking of moving to Utah, our neighborhood pages offer photo tours and activity ideas for some of Salt Lake’s best neighborhoods. Our “How To Spend a Day Like a Local” series covers Highland Park, Sugarhouse, Daybreak, Millcreek, Holladay, Cottonwood Heights, Sandy, Farmington & Kaysville, and South Jordan. Or watch our virtual neighborhood videos for Yalecrest, West Jordan, North Salt Lake & Bountiful and Draper. You’ll find plenty of ideas for where to shop, explore and dine (or take out) in Salt Lake.