Downtown SLC Walking Tour

August 04, 2020 Written by

As the Covid-19 pandemic has limited many of the activities we are accustomed to, there is no better time to get outside and stretch your legs. Shake up the walking route you’ve become accustomed to and take a tour of Downtown SLC! The streets aren’t bustling like they might be normally, but there are still plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars open for you to enjoy -- adhering to responsible practices, of course. Whether you are coming from out of town experiencing the sites for the first time or a Salt Laker just looking to revisit some of your favorite spots, we invite you to visit our treasured downtown.

The downtown SLC walking tour totals about 3 miles and is estimated to take about an hour to walk, but you may want to plan some additional time in case you want to spend a bit longer checking out any of the destinations. You can also purchase a 24-hour day pass from GreenBike, Salt Lake City’s bike share, which has a number of stations along the route.

There are walking directions between each step listed below, or you can follow the route on Google Maps. Note that a few of the directions include walkways that don’t show up in Google Maps, so you may want to follow along with this post for the best experience!

Temple Square | 50 North Temple
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Undoubtedly one of Utah’s most visited destinations, Temple Square serves as the anchor point for the street layout for the entire Salt Lake Valley. The famous grid system includes numbered streets working north, south, east, and west from the ten-acre site. Temple Square is home to the global headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, primarily centered in the 28-story office tower on the east block. 

Of course, you can’t miss the spired Salt Lake Temple. Completed in 1893, the temple took 40 years to build. It is currently closed for renovations, including a redesign of the visitors’ centers and much of the grounds surrounding the building, scheduled for completion in 2024. From impeccable gardens to holiday lights, there are unique reasons to visit any time of the year.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has temporarily halted tours of the site, you can still view many Temple Square sites, including the Temple, Tabernacle, Assembly Hall, Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the Conference Center to the north, and a number of historic houses in the southeast corner.

From Temple Square, cross the street to the south and you’ll arrive at City Creek Center.

City Creek Center | 50 South Main Street
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This site is historically known as the site of Crossroads Mall and the nation’s first true department store, ZCMI. After years of inactivity, the majority of these two blocks was developed into City Creek Center, which officially opened in 2012, spurring a significant amount of investment and development into Downtown SLC. The mixed-use development features a high-end, open-air shopping center, high-rise condos, and office buildings. The center is known to locals for a premier assortment of upscale retail stores that can’t be found anywhere else in the state. The food court even features a number of local food concepts, like Taste of Red Iguana and Bocata.

City Creek Center is connected by an impressive sky bridge over Main Street, which houses Salt Lake City’s TRAX light rail. Notable elements include a stream designed to emulate City Creek (the center’s namesake) and a spectacular fountain by the designer of Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas. You may appreciate the preservation of many of historic elements on Main Street, most notably the original ZCMI facade and the First Security Building.

Cross the street to the south of City Creek Center at Main Street and continue walking about 200 feet and you’ll see Eccles Theater on the east side.

Eccles Theater | 131 South Main Street
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Salt Lakers are avid consumers of the arts, including Broadway shows and other world-class performances. In response to high demand, Eccles Theater was constructed in the heart of downtown SLC’s historic theater district. Since opening in 2016, the theater has been among the first cities in the world to host shows such as Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen, welcomes renowned performers such as Jay Leno and Lindsey Stirling, and sees a wide range of performances such as the Dancing with the Stars tour and the local favorite, A Kurt Bestor Christmas.

The 111 Main office tower was developed cohesively with the theater, located on the corner to its north. Behind the theater, Regent Street was also simultaneously revitalized, with a storied past as home Salt Lake’s red-light district and newspaper row. Now it boasts a number of local and regional restaurants.

Just to the south of the Eccles Theater property, you’ll find a walkway leading to McCarthey Plaza and Regent Street. If you want to stop for a bite to eat, try out the fried chicken at Pretty Bird or street tacos at Maize. Turn right down Regent Street and continue to cross 200 South, bringing you to Gallivan Center.

Gallivan Center | 239 South Main Street

The urban plaza known as Gallivan Center was opened in 1998, taking the place of dilapidated buildings and parking lots. It quickly became a hot spot for a number of concerts, festivals, and other community events, including many gatherings during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Though largely suspending activation during the pandemic, the center is now home to the summer Twilight Concert Series and an outdoor skating rink during the winter months, as well as a year-round weekly food truck gathering.

Along with Gallivan Center came the development of a number of office and hotel buildings. On the west side of Gallivan Center is Utah’s tallest building, the 26-story Wells Fargo Center, standing at 422 feet. Just south of the plaza is Gallivan Avenue, which is lined with local dining destinations such as From Scratch, a farm-to-table restaurant, and Monkeywrench, an ice cream shop you probably wouldn’t know was vegan if we didn’t tell you.

After crossing the bridge by the Gallivan Center stage, walk west toward Main Street and head to the right toward 200 South. Cross Main Street and continue halfway down the block until you see Capitol Theatre on the north side of the street.

Capitol Theatre | 50 West 200 South
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First opened in 1913, Capitol Theatre was originally named Orpheum Theater. The historic venue has undergone a number of renovations and updates to maintain its extravagant facade and ability to act as a world-class theater. It is home to a number of resident companies, including the esteemed Ballet West and Utah Opera

Continue walking west to the next block and you will see the Salt Palace Convention Center, marked by construction on the corner of 200 South and West Temple.

Salt Palace Convention Center | 100 South West Temple

Historically, the Salt Palace has been the host of professional sports teams, including the Utah Jazz, and major concert tours. It is now the primary site for conventions and other large meetings bringing thousands of visitors Downtown SLC, including the biannual FanX Comic Convention.

You can’t miss the construction on the southeast corner of the Salt Palace property. This marks the development of a 26-story hotel designed to enhance the experience of convention attendees.

Walk again to the west and turn left at the next intersection onto 200 West. You will pass popular eateries including Red Rock Brewing, Settebello Pizzeria, and Zest, a trendy vegan spot. Turn right once you reach 300 South and continue west until you reach Pioneer Park on the south side of the next block.

Pioneer Park | 350 South 300 West
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Pioneer Park officially became one of Salt Lake City’s first five parks on Pioneer Day, 1898. It is now the largest public green space in downtown, occupying a full 10-acre city block. It has hosted a number of concerts and other signature events over the years and is home to the hugely popular Downtown Farmers Market every Saturday during summer months. It recently underwent a significant renovation, adding a multi-use sports field in the center of the park.

Just north of the park, it’s definitely worth checking out one of the local businesses, such as Bruges Waffles & Frites or Carlucci’s Bakery. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit Caputo’s Market to find an impressive selection of curated groceries featuring unique European and local goods. 

From the west side of Pioneer Park, walk north up 400 West. You will find start of The Gateway at the northwest intersection with 200 South. On your way, it may be worth taking a detour down charming Pierpont Avenue halfway up the block.

The Gateway | 400 West 100 South
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The mixed-use development known as The Gateway was one of the most significant urban development projects leading up to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. It houses Clark Planetarium, Discovery Gateway children’s museum, and Megaplex 12, the largest movie theater in Downtown SLC. Though historically viewed as a shopping center, it has recently transformed to be a prime cultural destination not only for shopping and dining but also for entertainment and the arts. 

Walk through the center and you’ll find a variety of murals and other public art. Dynamic office spaces have joined dense residential buildings. The Olympic Legacy Plaza on the north side features a fountain and hosts a plethora of events every summer, ranging from outdoor movies to street festivals. They are even hosting a variety of socially-distanced events during the pandemic.

While at The Gateway, you’ll want to check out some of their shops or local food and drink spots. Grab an indulgent burger at Chedda Burger or a craft cocktail at Seabird Bar & Vinyl Room.

Exit The Gateway by Olympic Legacy Plaza and you will find yourself near the intersection of 400 West and South Temple. Cross the street to reach Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Vivint Smart Home Arena | 301 South Temple
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Best known as the home of the NBA’s Utah Jazz, Vivint Smart Home Arena is also one of Downtown SLC’s premier entertainment venues. You’ll find everything from concerts and ice shows to rodeos and circuses. Don’t miss the statues on the northeast corner commemorating two of the most storied Jazz players, Karl Malone and John Stockton.

Walk east two blocks to find Abravanel Hall near the corner of South Temple and West Temple.

Abravanel Hall | 123 West South Temple
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Another of the premier performing arts venues in Downtown SLC, Abravanel Hall is best known as the home of the Utah Symphony. It has been widely recognized for its remarkable architecture since it was completed in 1979. The concert hall boasts beautiful interiors, including gold leaf covering the sides of stairs and balconies as well as six giant brass chandeliers with 18,000 hand-cut beads and imported prisms of Bohemian crystals. The most striking feature, however, is the 30-foot blown-glass Chihuly sculpture, fittingly titled The Olympic Tower, which can be easily be viewed even from outside the building.

Continue east and you will find yourself back where you started, with Temple Square on the north side of the street. Take advantage of the opportunity to return to City Creek Center to do some shopping or venture down Main Street to encounter a variety of local restaurants and bars spanning all the way down to 400 South.