With a trip to Salt Lake City, visitors have the opportunity to experience the beauty of nature in public parks, botanical gardens and an aviary, visit world-class art and history museums, and enjoy . To experience all of that and more, get started planning your SLC itinerary with this guide to wheelchair accessible attractions in Salt Lake City, where you can enjoy all the Salt Lake Valley has to offer.
Save money on attractions with the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass
Experience some or the best things to see and do in and around Salt Lake City! The Connect Pass includes admission to 17 of the region’s most popular attractions, all at significant savings. The pass is sold in 1-day, 2-day and 3-day increments and can be stored on your mobile phone! For more information, visit the Connect Pass website.
Learn about the stars and watch an IMAX film at Clark Planetarium
The Clark Planetarium is one of the top planetariums in the United States. Located in downtown Salt Lake City, the planetarium offers free admission to its more than 10,000 square feet of world-class exhibits. Many of the exhibits are interactive, and I found most of them to be wheelchair accessible. After you’ve seen You can even try your luck playing a lunar lander game
In addition to its permanent and rotating exhibits, the planetarium also features the Hansen Dome Theatre and the Orbital ATK IMAX theatre. Tickets to see planetarium shows and IMAX films are available for $7 each; admission is included with the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass.
Take the kids for a fun day at the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum
Located steps from the Clark Planetarium, the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum offers kids of all ages an opportunity to play and discover. The museum’s interactive exhibits “focus on creativity, collaboration, discovery, problem solving, design, and experiential education through art, science, and literacy.”
The cost of admission is $12.50 for adults and children alike, with a discounted rate of $10 for seniors. Children under 12 months are free. Admission is included in the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass. For more information on the children’s museum, visit www.DiscoveryGateway.org.
Tour the stunning Natural History Museum of Utah
Located in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountain Range on the University of Utah campus, the Natural History Museum of Utah is one of the most picturesque museums in the country, if not the world. The multi-story museum building hugs the hillside and offers visitors stunning views of the city below.
The museum’s Rio Tinto Center building offers 163,000 square feet of exhibit space that “illuminates the natural world and the place of humans within it.” Among the museum’s permanent exhibits are “Natives,” a look at Utah’s 8 federally recognized tribes; “Great Salt Lake,” which examines the history of the lake as a remnant of ancient Lake Bonneville; and “Past Worlds,” a gallery of ancient life forms, including dinosaurs.
Museum galleries are wheelchair accessible, with ramps connecting the various exhibits and abundant space to maneuver. Benches are provided throughout the museum for those who may need to take a break. Additional information on the museum’s accessibility features can be found here.
NHMU is integrated into the surrounding environment, and features access to the outdoors on every level. The top floor boasts an outdoor deck with lounge chairs and a fantastic perspective on Salt Lake City below.
The cost of admission is $14.95 for adults, $12.95 for seniors (65+) and young adults (13-24), and $9.95 for children (3-12). Children ages 2 and under are free. Tourists with the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass receive free admission to the museum. The Museum will provide free admission for a paid Personal Care Assistant who is accompanying a guest with a disability. For more information, visit the museum website.
Explore the Red Butte Garden and Arboretum, SLC’s most beautiful botanical garden
Right next-door to the Natural History Museum, the Red Butte Garden is a fantastic activity to complete a “nature day” in Salt Lake City.
My visit to the gardens occurred in November, after many of the colorful blooms had left. The tranquil atmosphere and beautiful vistas from the tiered garden allowed me to find joy in relaxation, and the accessible paths throughout the garden allowed me to see everything I wanted. Most visitors will spend between 1 to 3 hours in the garden and, with more than 5 miles of trails, be sure to pack a fully charged wheelchair!
The cost of admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors (65+) and $7 for children (3-17). Children ages 2 and under are free. During the months of December, January and February, admission is half price. Tourists with the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass receive free admission to the garden. For more information, visit the Red Butte Garden website.
Admire artistic genius at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts
The Utah Museum of Fine Arts, located on the campus of the University of Utah, is Salt Lake City’s largest art museum. The museum’s collection includes more than 17,000 pieces, which are rotated through the exhibit galleries.
Ongoing exhibitions include, but are not limited to, African Art, American and Regional Art, Chinese Art, European Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, and South Asian Art. A number of other temporary art exhibits are on display at any given time.
The cost of admission is $15.95 for adults, $12.95 for seniors and $12.95 for youth (6-18). Children up to age 5 are free. Admission is free to all on the first Wednesday of the month. Tourists with the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass receive free admission to the art museum. For more information, visit the UMFA website.
Come face-to-face with animals at the Hogle Zoo
The Hogle Zoo is home to more than 800 animals of some 250 species and has achieved the coveted accreditation from the Association for Zoos and Aquariums. Spread across 42 acres, the zoo features popular exhibit areas including African Savannah, Asian Highlands, Elephant Encounter, Primate Forest and Rocky Shores, among others.
Each of the zoo’s exhibits have at least one wheelchair accessible entrance and pedestrian paths throughout the zoo are paved. Due to changes in elevation, wheelchair users are encouraged to plan their route using the zoo’s accessibility map, which is available as a downloadable PDF file. The Zoofari Express train ride and Conservation Carousel are both wheelchair accessible using a ramp.
Tickets to the Hogle Zoo are priced according to the season, Summer (May 1 – September 30) and Winter (October 1 – April 30). During the summer season, the admission price is $18.95 for adults, $16.95 for seniors (65+) and $14.95 for children (3-12). During the winter season, every age group receives a discount of $2. Children under 3 years of age are always free. Tourists with the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass receive free admission to the zoo. For more information, visit the Hogle Zoo website.
Relax outdoors in Liberty Park
Liberty Park is the second-largest public park in Salt Lake City, encompassing some 80 acres. During my roll through the park, I came upon a number of people painting the beautiful vista of an island in the center of the park’s pond.
Many paved pathways cross the park, and there are benches to sit on and a lot of shaded areas. It’s a beautiful place to relax. The Tracy Aviary, described below, is also located within the park.
Listen to the birds chirp at Tracy Aviary & Botanical Gardens
Founded more than 80 years ago, the Tracy Aviary is the oldest of only two free-standing aviaries in the United States. The aviary set its mission as “inspiring curiosity and caring for birds and nature through education and conservation.”
Countless exhibits allow visitors to get a case-up view of bird life. Among the aviary’s most popular birds are the Andean Condor, North American Eagle, Chilean Flamingo, Sandhill Crane and Guam Kingfisher. In total, there are more than 400 birds on display.
Accessibility at the aviary is excellent, with wheelchair accessible paths throughout, automated doors to buildings, elevators, family restrooms and wheelchair accessible seating at the live bird shows. Informational signs and displays at each exhibit were easy to read from the seat of my wheelchair, and I had a fantastic time exploring the entire aviary.
The cost of admission is $11.95 for adults (13+), $9.95 for seniors (65+) and $7.95 for children. Infants ages 2 and under are free. Admission is free to all on the first Wednesday of the month. Tourists with the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass receive free admission to the art museum. For more information, visit the UMFA website.
Tour the Utah State Capitol Building
Construction of the Utah State Capitol building began in 1912 and was completed in 1916. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and underwent a major renovation from 2004 to 2008.
Although I was unable to tour the capitol building due to the coronavirus pandemic, virtual tours are available via the state capitol website. When the capitol reopens for in-person tours, I trust it is something you won’t want to miss. In the meantime, visitors are still permitted to walk the grounds outside.
Visit the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine
The Cathedral of the Madeleine is a cathedral church and the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Salt Lake City. Completed in 1909, the cathedral features a Neo-Romanesque design on its exterior and a Spanish Gothic style on its interior.
During my visit to Salt Lake City, I attended Mass several times at this church. The cathedral’s accessibility, with its automatic push-button door, elevator, accessible bathroom and ample space for my wheelchair in the nave, contributed to an inclusive worship experience. This accessibility, paired with the cathedral’s interior beauty, the congregation’s reverence and a beautiful Mass setting, made me feel truly at home. If you are Catholic and visiting Salt Lake City, I highly recommend that you attend Mass at the cathedral parish. A list of current mass times is available on the cathedral website.
See Temple Square and the Salt Lake LDS Temple
The Salt Lake Temple is a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Completed in 1893 after approximately 40 years of construction, it is the largest Mormon temple in the world. Although the temple is open only to members of the church, visitors can still explore the 35 acres that surround the temple, an area known as Temple Square.
A number of historic buildings, a museum and gardens are spread across Temple Square. Tours are offered to the public, and can be booked via the Temple Square website. Guided tours have not been available during the pandemic and most buildings are closed, so I unfortunately wasn’t able to see much. I hope to return in the future for a complete tour.
What’s missing: Salt Lake City in the winter, and attractions closed due to COVID-19
Many people travel to Salt Lake City to participate in winter sports such as skiing, snowmobiling and even dog sledding. Disabled people participate in these activities too, but my trip to SLC occurred prior to winter. If you are interested in learning more about adaptive winter sports in and around Salt Lake City, check out the National Ability Center.
A number of other activities are missing from this guide to accessible things to do in Salt Lake City because of the coronavirus pandemic. I traveled to Salt Lake City at a time when many businesses and tourist attractions were either closed or operating on a reduced schedule due to COVID-19. In the future, I hope to expand this guide with a follow-up trip and look forward to sharing more of this incredible city with you.