Attraction: Natural History Museum of Utah
Address: 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108
Cost: $10-$15 per person
Close to: the University of Utah campus which includes attractions like Red Butte Garden, the Utah Fine Arts Museum, and Fort Douglas
The Natural History Museum of Utah is a newer attraction and absolutely worth the price. The visiting exhibits are hit or miss but the permanent exhibits are well-maintained and the volunteers are great sources of knowledge. There’s a special room for young children but most of the exhibits offer something that will capture the attention of even the littlest. The highlight, of course, is the large exhibit on prehistoric life.
If it’s nice outside, don’t miss the digging area just outside the prehistoric exhibit! Just be sure to hang on to your ticket to get back in – we’ve been locked out more than once! There are also working scientists at the museum and you can watch them in a special viewing area.
The backyard exhibit is designed for the youngest museum visitors. There’s a water play area and a tunnel for crawling around. There are also a few little creatures to visit, some dress up, and a couple of sensory experiences. Many of the exhibits have to do with life, biology, and the wildlife that’s native to Utah. Most of them have a touch element or some kind of game to keep kids engaged.
The land exhibits cover everything about the earth and how the land was moved around to form the landscape we enjoy. The gem and mineral exhibit is set a bit apart from the rest but don’t miss it – it’s stunning!
The first peoples exhibit covers the earliest Utah residents. There’s a fun dig site and a cave area that hides a lot of little hands on activities. This is a great place for winding down if kids are getting a little crazy.
The sky area has some exhibits about the solar system and the weather but the big highlight up there is the incredible view of the Salt Lake valley. It’s best at sunset but it can be a little tricky to time that. The good news is that the view of the stars is pretty good. There’s also a good samaritan who often shows up when the museum is open late on summer nights and through his fancy telescopes I got the best view of the moon that I’ve ever seen.
Little side note – there’s a cafe and a great gift shop as well as a huge area with open tables and chairs if you want to bring food in. The area around the museum is gorgeous (the view ain’t bad from down there either!) and the architecture of the building alone is worth the visit.