Salt Lake City is Utah’s capital and the world centre of Mormonism. It’s also known for its skiing – but there’s an abundance of parks and gardens here that offer a gentler alternative to winter sports. Culture Trip’s local insiders can you get you in the know.
If you’re looking for a glimpse into one man’s eccentric collection of religious views and personal beliefs, then Gilgal Sculpture Garden certainly does the trick. This patch of land has approximately 12 sculptures – all made by Thomas Battersby Child Jr in the mid-20th century – and more than 70 stones engraved with scriptures, poems and literary texts. From disembodied heads to sphinxes and stone arches, his hope was to encourage the public to come and “ponder the unsolved mysteries of life.” Recommended by local insider David Smurthwaite
Founded in the 1950s, the International Peace Gardens were meant to encourage peace and understanding between nations in the decade following World War II. Each nation (there are 26 in total) was allotted a plot of land where native sculptures, plants and twee bridges were built. The park, on the banks of the Jordan River, is accessible all year round. Recommended by local insider David Smurthwaite
It’s the largest botanical garden in the Intermountain West, more than 21 acres (8.5ha) in size and home to mile upon mile of hiking trails. This living museum is best known for its collections of daffodils, roses, lilies, conifers, penstemons and ornamental grasses, plus there’s a large medicinal garden featuring healing plants. Visitors can take part in horticulture classes, bird watching, summer camps, art exhibits and summer performances. Recommended by local insider David Smurthwaite
Just 25 miles south of Salt Lake City, Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point is home to 55 acres (22ha) of stately gardens, 35 statues and the largest man-made waterfall in the western hemisphere. It’s self-described as an oasis in the desert. Utah’s annual tulip festival takes place here every spring, and during the holidays, the gardens host a massive outdoor light display called Luminaria. Recommended by local insider Whitney Brown
Based in Liberty Park, one of Salt Lake City’s biggest and most popular parks, Tracy is the oldest aviary in the US. It provides visitors with a close-up of birds all year round, including swans, pelicans, peacocks, Andean condors, Chilean flamingos and South American pelicans. Recommended by local insider Whitney Brown