Utah is truly a gem amongst the lower 48, boasting staggering mountains and expansive deserts that open up a world of adventure completely different from what many other parts of the USA offer. Without a doubt, one of the best cities in the state is Salt Lake City, which is beautifully nestled between the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountain Range, affording a jaw-dropping mountainous backdrop behind the urban skyline.

Salt Lake City isn't just surrounded by incredible scenery - it also provides ample opportunity for escapism, and is home to a great wealth of things to do and see in and around its metropolis center. Amongst all the activities and attractions available in Salt Lake City, these are some of the very best and offer a unique way to enjoy and explore this significant northern Utah historic and cultural treasure.

10 Temple Square

Temple Square covers 10 acres and five city blocks and features the impressive Salt Lake Temple right in the middle. Located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, it's the alluring headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, whose followers are also known as the Mormons. A site of historical significance, in 1847 the religious leader and politician Brigham Young led a group of pioneers to this spot, declaring “this is the place” - which is still an important center of worship today. Guests to Temple Square can enjoy an intimate and fascinating learning experience about the Mormon history and faith, whilst exploring the site's many beautiful gardens, libraries, events areas, and museums.

Related: You Can Visit The Stunning Salt Lake City Temple, And This Is What To Know Beforehand

9 The Natural History Museum of Utah

For the ultimate family-friendly day out, visitors need to add the Natural History Museum of Utah to their itinerary. Lovers of all things culture, history, and science will be in their element as they explore 500 million years of Utah history dating from the ancient Great Salt Lake to the First People’s Exhibit, with many more important historic events and moments on the rota as well. And the museum isn't solely limited to Utah history either; there are lots of permanent and rotating exhibitions showcasing prehistoric creatures - including the largest collection of horned dinosaur fossils on the planet.

8 Salt Lake City Ski Resorts

Utah's skiing scene is world-renowned, and no visit to the state would be complete without sliding down some of its globally famed slopes. From Salt Lake City, it's super easy to go skiing thanks to four highly-rated ski resorts all situated within an hour and a half, including Brighton, Snowbird, Solitude Mountain, and Alta. If that's too far, then there are also nine other ski resorts no further than an hour away, with Park city offering Olympic history, Ogden Resort being great for families with kids, and others in Cottonwood Canyon providing exceptional snow.

If that wasn't enough wintery action, then the utmost adrenaline junkies will relish the opportunity to indulge in ice climbing throughout the winter months. Not for the faint of heart, this tremendous extreme sport is about as adventurous as it gets in and around Salt Lake City, where many of the best spots at which to try it out are located very close by at Provo Canyon, Maple Canyon, and Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Related: Of All North America's Ski Resorts, These Are Beginner-Friendly

7 AQUA x ZONE And Jordanelle Reservoir

Situated in the lovely Jordanelle State Park, Jordanelle Reservoir offers the ultimate adventure for all the family. It's the perfect day of wet fun, where thrill-seeking guests can rent jet skis, motorized boats, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and so much more. And that's not where the fun ends; the epic AQUA x ZONE is a floating inflatable water park also on the lake that's sure to bring out the inner kid of visitors of all ages. Jordanelle State Park is also great for camping and hiking, which is perfect for those who don't fancy getting wild and wet and are in need of some peace and tranquillity.

6 The Great Salt Lake

The city's namesake Great Salt Lake is the reason for its apt name. The enormous Great Salt Lake is just 20 miles from the city center and is the biggest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere. It's the perfect spot for outdoor enthusiasts with a wide array of awesome activities opening up some truly sensational adventures, including sailing, kayaking, biking, and hiking.

On the other hand, those who prefer a little more peace and quiet will love the lake's boardwalk and 30-foot viewing tower, both of which offer divine views and photography-worthy scenes. Apart from exploring the lake through various epic activities, the area is also popular for bird watchers because of the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve - through which millions upon millions of birds migrate every year.

Related: Great Salt Lake, Utah: What To Do At This Unusual Waterway

5 Liberty Park

80 acres of lush green gardens with ponds and pretty paths await at Liberty Park, as well as the Tracy Aviary, the Utah Heritage Museum, and the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Art all in one place. The park is also situated on the former 1881 estate of Bingham Young, and as such an important cultural and historic site, it was awarded a place on the esteemed National Registry of Historic Places.

Furthermore, the whole park itself is situated in a residential neighborhood, so unless familiar with the area, one of the best ways to explore it and the diamonds within is to opt for a guided cycling tour during which expert guides take visitors through the entire park whilst showing off a number of points of interest, such as the sculpture garden of Gilgal Park, and the old neighborhoods en route to City Creek Canyon in downtown Salt Lake.

4 The Wasatch National Forest

The Wasatch National Forest is irresistibly close to Salt Lake Valley, providing a convenient excuse to venture to the mountains for an overnight adventure. The environment offers glorious scenery and trails perfect for hiking - a memorable way to explore the city's natural surroundings away from its energized urbanization.

The forest has a number of excellent hiking trails to explore, but amongst those highly spoken of is Desolation Lake located in Big Cottonwood Canyon. This 9.5 mile-long hike takes explorers up the canyon and is suitable for beginners and intermediate hikers, it's accessible for most people - not just the fittest few.

Related: The Ultimate Utah National Parks Road Trip Guide

3 Red Butte Garden

Salt Lake City’s Red Butte Garden is the largest botanical garden in the American Intermountain West with 21 acres of display gardens of varying themes, and over half a million spring blooms. The site, which is located at the University of Utah, also hosts an amphitheater for outdoor live music concerts, in addition to an arboretum and five beautiful miles of lush hiking trails all perfect for photography and nature admirers.

2 Salt Lake City Library

It's not just for the 500,000 books and centuries upon centuries of knowledge - it's the architecture that people enjoy visiting the Salt Lake City Public Library for. Designed by a reputed international architect - Moshe Safdie - the library is one of the city's most elaborate attractions featuring stunning displays of modern architecture to marvel at. 240,000 square feet and six stories high, one of the gorgeous building's most striking features is its unique curving walls that are truly a treat for the eyes.

The site is also home to an expansive public plaza with services and shops on the ground floor, as well as an auditorium, reading galleries, and a delightful rooftop terrace with breathtaking views of Salt Lake City that one can take in whilst enjoying the serene solitude granted to visitors here.

1 Park City

The mountain town of Park City isn't at all far from Salt Lake City and is a fantastic place to spend some time when in the vicinity. Sunday is a particularly favorite day in Park City, when “Park Silly" runs, which is the weekly open-air market. Anything and everything is for sale here; from street food and local produce to arts and crafts and handmade jewelry, the immersive and diverse market has something for everyone - as well as plenty of fun street performances for a dose of exciting entertainment.

Next: Destination Utah: What To Expect When Visiting The Largest Salt Lake In The Western Hemisphere