Salt Lake City
Photo provided by Visit Salt Lake

Salt Lake City: An inside look at the SFMA Conference host city

Just west of conventional and down Highway 89, you’ll arrive at a place that guidebooks can’t explain, and locals struggle to describe. A little bit wild, a little bit settled dust, a little bit hallowed ground, a lot bit breaking new ground. Where cheers for Olympians echo through the valley, and areas of worship take form as majestic buildings and mountains alike. Where proudly peculiar people lead with their hearts to invent a better way. Welcome to Salt Lake, a city that left ordinary behind a couple stops and a couple centuries ago. This is where traditional outlooks mingle with progressive ideals. And tech startups flourish alongside natural vistas. Of snow-capped winters rivaled by sunny, trail-bound summers. Here, things that shouldn’t go together miraculously do.

Salt Lake is located in the center of the American west. The city of more than one million people rests in a valley at 4,330 feet. The majestic Wasatch Mountains surround the city and soar to a dramatic 11,000 feet. As the region’s hub for commerce, transportation, medical services, research, higher education, and cultural attractions, Salt Lake is a vibrant, modern metropolis.

The walkable downtown convention district features more than 200 restaurants, cafes, brewpubs, and bars. There are two large shopping malls, art and history museums, an IMAX theater, planetarium, professional sports teams, theater, opera, ballet and symphony. Historic Temple Square offers numerous admission-free cultural attractions, including the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (formerly the Mormon Tabernacle Choir). A fare-free light rail line runs through the compact convention district.


Deuel Pioneer Log Home

When the pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847, they immediately began constructing simple homes in their new surroundings. Today, more than a century and a half later, only two of these original structures remain intact. One of them, the Deuel Pioneer Log Home, is on display and open to the public on West Temple Street across from Temple Square. The cabin was home to the William Henry Deuel family for less than two years following their arrival in the valley. Today it has been fully restored and furnished with authentic pioneer artifacts, including a cast-iron stove. It offers excellent insight into the lifestyle of the Mormon pioneers and others who settled parts of the American West.

Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square

The centerpiece of this beautifully landscaped 10-acre plot in the heart of downtown is the 6-spired Salt Lake Temple. Also on the square is the domed Tabernacle, home of the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir; the Assembly Hall where free concerts are given most weekends; two visitor centers; and two one-hour films. Free tours are given daily in 30 languages, and start every few minutes at the flagpole.

Salt Lake City
Photo by Ben Crosby

Joseph Smith Memorial Building

This beautifully resorted historic building, the former Hotel Utah built in 1911 and listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings, houses the popular FamilySearch Center, for beginners interested in exploring their family history. The 500-seat Legacy Theater shows an hour-long, free film about the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. There are three excellent public restaurants on site: The Roof and The Garden, both located on the 10th floor, and the Nauvoo Cafe, located in the southwest corner of the Main Floor.

Clark Planetarium

Explore 10,000 square feet of free exhibits and experience incredible visuals in the Northrop Grumman 3D IMAX Theatre or Hansen Dome Theatre.

The Leonardo Museum of Creativity and Innovation

The Leonardo seeks to reflect and respond to this new world by creating an innovative, dynamic space that builds fluency and knowledge, ignites the creative imagination of visitors of all ages, and inspires them to see and act in new and powerful ways.

Utah Museum of Contemporary Art

UMOCA exhibits groundbreaking artwork by local, national, and international artists. Five galleries provide an opportunity for the community to explore the contemporary cultural landscape through exhibitions, films, events and classes.

Utah Sports Hall of Fame

Located in the northwest corner of City Creek Mall the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Museum preserves the state’s sports heritage through fun interactive displays and memorabilia from former Olympians, athletes and coaches.


There are two major retail centers in the convention district featuring more than 200 stores:

City Creek Center

Located across from Temple Square and other tourist attractions, City Creek Center offers a mix of luxury retailers, unique-to-market stores and trusted brands, from Louis Vuitton, Coach, Kendra Scott and Tiffany & Co. to Salomon and Lululemon, as well as Nordstrom and Macy’s. City Creek Center also offers a variety of dining options, including Brio Tuscan Grille and a food court with 12 distinct eateries, including local favorites such as A Taste of Red Iguana and Bocata.

City Creek Center features a fully tractable glass roof that opens and closes. A pedestrian sky bridge over Main Street unifies the center on two city blocks. Water features include a creek that runs through the center, a pond with local trout, and waterfalls. The America First Credit Union Fountain offers hourly shows and feature shows with three choreographed songs at 7 and 9 p.m. Fire elements are added to the fountain shows after dusk.

The Gateway

An eclectic, mixed-use shopping and entertainment destination located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City. With more than 80 unique shops, restaurants, bars and amenities, there’s always something to experience at The Gateway.

Attractions include Dave & Buster’s, La Barba Coffee, MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza Company, Wiseguys Comedy Club, Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theatre, The Depot, Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum, and Clark Planetarium.

Salt Lake City
Photo by Benjamin Lowry Photography


There are a multitude of food and drink options within walking distance in downtown Salt Lake City. From steakhouses like Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops and Tin Angel to local breweries such as Red Rock Brewing Company and Squatter’s Pub Brewery. There are also plenty of places to grab a coffee, some breakfast and a burger for lunch along with fast food options.

Salt Lake City
Photo by Austen Diamond Photography

Salt Lake Brewery Pass

If you enjoy a refreshing pint now and then, you’re going to love the Salt Lake Brewery Pass, which introduces beer lovers and drinkers to the area’s award-winning craft ales, lagers, porters, and ciders at 14 of Salt Lake’s best breweries and brewpubs. Long-known by locals yet surprising many first-time visitors, Salt Lake’s brewmasters have been refining their craft for decades, to create some of the most enjoyable, and awarded, beers in North America.

For more bars and restaurants in the walkable convention district, visit


Olympic facilities

In 2002, Salt Lake hosted the Olympic Winter Games. The Olympic spirit lives on here at attractions and facilities where you can skate on Olympic Ice, take a luge ride, or watch future Olympic athletes in training.

Vivint Arena

Located in downtown Salt Lake City and the home court of the NBA Utah Jazz, the building originally opened as the Delta Center in 1991. With seating capacity of about 20,000, the facility is the largest, most high-tech arena within a five-state radius, and was built faster than any other arena at the time of its construction in 15 months and 24 days. The building has played host to the 1993 NBA All-Star Weekend, two NBA Finals, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the 1999 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, as well as figure skating and short track speed skating events at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

Maurice Abravanel Hall

Located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, Abravanel Hall is celebrated for its acoustical excellence and is an architectural icon in the city. The Hall is adorned with more than 12,000 square feet of hand-brushed 24‑karat gold leaf and its grand four-story lobby offers stunning views of the city. The newly redesigned public plaza complements the original architecture while modernizing the space. Abravanel Hall is also the home of the 27-foot-tall Olympic Tower statue by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.


Utah is one of the most accessible outdoor destinations in the world, encompassing 85,000 square miles of nature’s offerings, from the Rocky Mountains to the southwestern desert. 21 National Parks and Monuments and 13 world-class ski resorts are all within a day’s drive of Salt Lake, making pre- or post-event vacation options easy.

On the edge of the downtown convention district, Memory Grove Park and City Creek Canyon provide scenic walking and biking trails. Farther out from downtown, you can experience all the great outdoors has to offer within 10 to 35 minutes: hiking, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and tram rides that top out at 11,000-feet. And that’s just for starters.

Skiing and snowboarding

Salt Lake is home to all kinds of skiers, riders, revelers, powder fiends, weekend warriors, and more. While the secret about Salt Lake being America’s best ski destination is less of a secret since the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, what few people realize is that this is truly a city for skiers.

The Salt Lake Ski Super Pass is your discounted lift ticket to Salt Lake’s four world-class resorts—Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude. For more information, visit

Salt Lake City
Photo by Austen Diamond Photography

The Great Salt Lake

As the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River and the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere, the Great Salt Lake is perhaps the best-known geologic feature in the area. The city even takes its name from the lake – originally it was Great Salt Lake City, but the “Great” was dropped from the name in 1868. The lake has a rich history, interesting features, plays an important role in the ecosystem and provides abundant recreational opportunities.