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We are now roughly on day 62 of Family Summer Fun Academy. So far, we hope that your kids’ boredom has been crushed to smithereens with explosions of explore-their-own-backyard enthusiasm and that they have unleashed all that pent-up desk-sitting energy upon the Wasatch Range. And while that dreary first day of school is looming on the horizon, you still have a few weeks to plan more exquisite family excursions.

Below we have outlined two one-day itineraries. The first one involves hiking and is better for cooler days; the other has more climate-controlled activities and is suitable for any day. That being said, both options are fulfilling, easy on the wallet and a perfect way to spend a memorable day in Salt Lake City. Enjoy!

SUMMER DAY 1: Trail to grill

MORNING: Hike

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon Salt Lake City Foothills
  • City Creek: 6.3 miles round trip; go as far as you please
  • Ensign Peak: 1 mile round trip; sunset is pretty pretty
  • Red Butte Canyon: 4 miles round trip; city views and end up in the gardens or the museum

Cecret Lake

LUNCH: On the trail

Snacks/bribes

  • Raisins
  • String cheese
  • Cheetos
  • M&Ms (for you to steal a few)
  • Granola bars
  • Potato chips (salt aids water retention)
  • Apple/applesauce
  • Compulsory water breaks.
Lunch
  • Bagels with cream cheese
  • Cheesy Couscous
  • PB & J/honey (pro tip: pack in a hard container to prevent smushing)
  • Pasta salad (with black olives for little fingers).
Other items for backpack
  • Extra bag for trash
  • Wet wipes (always & forever)
  • Sunblock
  • Hat
  • Bandana (dip in river for one of life's greatest pleasures)
  • Band-Aids for blisters
  • Mini first aid kit.
AFTERNOON: Play and rest at a park

Salt Lake City parks

  • Liberty Park: playground, restroom, basketball, tennis, jogging/walking path, drinking fountain, volleyball, pavilion (reservations), picnic tables, swimming pool, horseshoes
  • Laird Park: playground, multi-purpose fields, softball, drinking fountain, picnic tables, sandbox, sand toys
  • Sunnyside Park: playground, restroom, multi-purpose fields, basketball, tennis, softball, baseball, drinking fountain, volleyball, pavilion (reservations), picnic tables
See the full list of parks in Salt Lake City

Liberty Park

DINNER: Backyard BBQ

There are the standard hot dogs + hamburgers + a bottle of ketchup for each child, but here are some other ideas for foodie kids who’ve been eating tikka masala and quinoa since their days livin’ it up in the womb:

  • Grilled pizza
  • Grilled salmon & veggies
  • Hummus & veggies
  • Seasonal fruits & cheese
  • Cherry tomatoes & corn on the cob.
SUMMER DAY 2: Air conditioning and shade

MORNING: Museum, animals or plants

  • Natural History Museum of Utah
  • Bug Brigade: Observe and handle live bugs and learn about arthropods' anatomy, behavior and important ecological roles. (Every second and fourth Saturday from 2-4 p.m.)
  • Tracy Aviary
  • Nature in the City: Nature walks, nature storytime, eco-art, soundscape interpretation, stream exploration, sensing the seasons, and more educational ways to learn more about Salt Lake City.
  • Little Chicks Classes: Preschoolers and kindergarteners do arts and crafts and meet a new special bird guest every week.
  • Red Butte Garden
  • Lil' Buds: Designed for 3–4 year-olds to explore the gardens, do a fun craft or activity and grab a snack and a story.
  • Sprout House Workshops: Customizable workshops for any group of 5–12 year olds. Garden staff lead interactive, nature-themed experiments and hands-on projects that your kid can take home.
  • The Leonardo Museum
  • Science Lab: Kids learn how to slow down, put their screens down, observe the world around them and how to ask questions about what they hear, see, feel, smell and taste.

Natural History Museum of Utah

LUNCH: Nearby restaurants

Burgers, fries & shakes

  • B&D Burgers: Classic burger joint near the University of Utah's Presidents Circle.
  • Hires Big H: SLC's favorite drive-in burger and shake meeting place for generations.
Pizza
  • Este Pizza: New York City style pizza.
  • The Pie: The heartiest pizza in town with thick crusts, lots of cheese and garlic for days.
  • Settebello: The original Napoletana wood-fired pizza in town.
  • Flatbread Pizza: Wood-fired pizza in a charming part of Sugar House neighborhood.
Sandwiches, Soups & Salads
  • The Soup Kitchen: There's no Soup Nazi here. Famous for their tomato soup.
  • Corner Baker Cafe: A menu with everything kids love and things parents will enjoy as well: Mac & cheese, grilled cheese sandwich, pasta salad, salads, grilled sandwiches.
  • Ruth's Diner: Dining in the mountains just 15 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City up Emigration Canyon.
  • Blue Plate Diner: Where sandwiches, soups and burritos abound.
  • Great Harvest Bread Company: Freshly baked breads daily and the heartiest sandwiches around. Their baked goods are tuh-die-for.
All the other stuff
  • Finn's Cafe: Cozy place for breakfast, brunch and lunch.
  • Costa Vida: Fresh Mexican grill willing to whip up a good ol' quesadilla for your pickiest eater.
  • Kathmandu: Nepali food for the adventurous kids and the parents who want to enjoy their meal too.
AFTERNOON: Pick a park and play some games
  • Frisbee
  • Fly's up
  • Freeze tag
  • Mother, may I
  • "Lava" at the playground
  • Crocheting
  • Coloring books
  • Read under a tree.
EVENING: Drive to a pretty sunset point with a picnic