salt lake city

From trails to gardens, reaching a sense of peace is within reach in Salt Lake City. (Photos: Kylie Fly)

Salt Lake City

From Sunsets to Hot Springs: Finding Your Zen in Salt Lake City

Traveling can be stressful, disorienting and exhausting. Fortunately, if you’re looking for things to do in Salt Lake City, Utah, you’ll find plenty to help you relax and re-charge. From the snow-covered Wasatch mountains in the east and west to the stunning pink and purple sunsets to 10-acre Temple Square, there’s something for everyone here, no matter how you prefer to find your center.

To take a deeper dive into that Zen state, check out one or more of these serene oases and find your clarity.

Zen in a Garden

things to do in Salt lake City
Wander the trails in Red Butte Garden and Arboretum.

Just twenty minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, Red Butte Garden and Arboretum greets serenity seekers with a glorious parade of flowers, trees and plants. While spring is prime time for flora, each season has a new palette to offer in this 100-acre (40-hectare) park overlooking the valley.

Take a relaxing stroll on eight kilometers of peaceful, well-maintained hiking trails with ponds, waterfalls, streams and charming bridges—not to mention strategically placed benches on which to sit and take it all in.

Red Butte has plenty of spots to relax—a children’s garden, rose garden, fragrance garden and herb garden. For some mid-day meditation, take a seat by the koi pond. And if you’re visiting between May and August, be sure to catch a concert performance at the park’s amphitheater.

Zen on the Trails

things to do in Salt lake City
Work your calves biking SLC’s elaborate trail system.

More than 15,000 years ago, much of the Salt Lake City area was covered by Lake Bonneville. Today a shelf remains from the shoreline of that original lake. For unparalleled views of the city and Salt Lake, take a hike on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, or at least on one leg of it.

Just three miles from the city center, pick up the Salt Lake-Parley’s Canyon section of the trail.his 46-kilometer, well-maintained trail, has plenty of trailheads so you can tailor length and difficulty to your particular tastes. It’s also perfect for bird watching, jogging and mountain biking. Or, if you prefer a leisurely stroll, there are plenty of wildflowers to stop and sniff.

Zen in the Springs

For the ultimate post-hike rejuvenation, check out Fifth Water Creek’s hot springs. About an hour from downtown Salt Lake City, you’ll find the Three Forks Trailhead, where you’ll begin a moderate trek along the swift and steep Sixth Water Creek.

After a little more than 1.5 kilometers, the trail crosses over Sixth Water and leads to a red rock canyon and the steamy hot springs at Fifth Water. Here a dozen soaking areas of stunning blue hues, sectioned off by stacks of rocks, beckon. The closer you get to the waterfall, the warmer the water, up to 50 degrees Celsius near the source.

Zen in the City

things to do in Salt lake City
Tap into the quirky world of arts in Salt Lake City’s Gilgal Sculpture Garden.

For a quirky garden experience, take a stroll through the Gilgal Sculpture Garden. Nestled between two homes on East 500 South Street, this “secret” garden was established in 1945 in the backyard of Mr. Thomas Child, a former bishop of the Latter Day Saints, as a tribute to his Mormon faith and Utah’s cultural heritage.

Stones inscribed with poetry and scripture adorn the garden paths, along with an altar and numerous sculptures depicting stories from the Book of Mormon. The sphinx with the head of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saints movement, is certainly one-of-a-kind as is the sculpture of Child himself, with trousers made of bricks.

Regardless of when you visit or how you choose to relax, the beautiful landscapes of Salt Lake City make it a perfect place to find your Zen.