During the winter we get a little bit stir crazy when we are stuck at home so we try and get out on an adventure at least once a week. One of the ways we've made winter more enjoyable for us is to explore museums, activity centers, pools, and aquariums around town. Of course, we always prefer to be outside (even in the snow) but some days it is just too cold or the air quality is bad. Below we've listed a few of our favorite Salt Lake City area spots and why. Before you go, you should always check hours and admissions prices in case they've changed (We've linked to their websites). For the few spots that we visit really often we like to get a annual pass/membership. Hopefully some of these ideas will help you survive and thrive this winter in Salt Lake City!
Natural History Museum of Utah: This museum focuses on the natural history of Utah and the Intermountain West and also is home to some amazing rotating exhibits. The last time we went there was one on poison. We especially love learning about dinosaurs, the organisms in the Great Salt Lake, and watching paleontologists at work. This museum is very hands-on for kids and interactive. The "Our Backyard" exhibit is particularly fun for little hands and lets kids use their senses to learn about species they might find in their own backyard (it's also a great place for parents to take a little break from chasing kids around). Hours: 10am-5pm except on Wednesdays they are open til 9pm. Fees: Adults $14.95, Kids (3-12) $9.95 Under 2 is FREE.
The Leonardo: We just visited this science, art, and technology museum a few weeks ago for their LEGO Family Day and we are already wanting to go back for their new exhibit about Alien Worlds and Androids. This museum has something for all ages and genders -- from a giant airplane you can climb in, to an exhibit about where children sleep across the world, to hands-on art and science activities. I enjoyed the museum as much as my kids. Our very favorite exhibit was the "Where Children Sleep" exhibit by James Mollison that displays photos of children and their beds from across the globe. It was eye-opening to say the least how diverse bedrooms can be. The exhibit also includes some actual beds that children can climb on to get a sense of what it might be like to live like the children in the pictures. Hours: 10am-5pm except on Fridays they are open til 10pm. Fees: Adults $12.95, Kids (3-12) $8.95, Under 2 is FREE.
LDS Church History Museum: This is one of our go-to museums for rainy days because it is FREE. On top of it being free, it has recently been redone and it is perfect for small children. The first floor has exhibits you can walk through and it has interactive screens and hands-on activities to learn about the Mormon pioneers and how the church began. You can also watch a movie about Joseph Smith, but we haven't taken our littlest kids to that yet. The second floor has a beautiful art exhibit that changes periodically and interactive touch pads throughout the rooms. There is also a children's exhibit called "I'll Walk Where Jesus Walked" where kids can watch videos about Jesus, view nativity scenes from all around the world, build temples out of blocks, read books, dress in period costumes, color, and play in a large ship. The museum is currently offering a 30 minute interactive program where kids and adults can be museum detectives and discover artifacts, documents, and artwork around the museum. Hours: 9am-9pm except on Saturdays they are open from 10am-5pm. Closed Sunday. Fees: None
Discovery Gateway Children's Museum: This downtown children's museum is constantly adding new exhibits, workshops, and programs for the whole family. My girls love their weekly Creative Kids arts classes and occasional puppet shows. We also love the "Kid's Eye View" exhibit where they can pretend to be construction workers, grocery managers, farmers, homemakers, mechanics, etc. When we visited last month they had a large-scale Pinewood Derby race track and kids could make cars to race. We've been going to this museum since my first child was born and it continues to surprise us every visit with new and innovative fun. We like to go on Friday evenings when it stays open later and isn't very crowded. Hours: Monday - Thursday 10am - 6pm, Friday/Saturday 10am - 7pm, Sunday 12pm - 6pm. Fees: General Admission $9.50, Sunday Admission $6, Under 2 is FREE
Salt Lake County Recreation Center Indoor Pools: Our favorite is Dimple Dell Recreation Center because it is close to us, but there are tons of recreation centers in the Salt Lake City area to choose from. We especially love the open swim hours because most of the recreation centers have amazing indoor pools with play structures and water slides. Dimple Dell has life jackets and puddle jumpers available for kids. You'll want to check each individual recreation center for hours and rules. Keep in mind, if you have kids under 5 years old you must be in the water with them at all times. Dimple Dell Pool Hours: 5pm - 8:30pm Monday through Thursday, 3:00 - 7:30pm on Friday, 11am - 7:30pm on Saturday, 10am - 2:30pm on Sunday. Fees: Adults $7, Children (3-17) $4.
Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point: This museum is about 25 miles south of downtown Salt Lake City but it is well worth the drive. We just went this week and we stayed for two hours and barely scratched the surface of everything the museum has to offer. The museum features a Rainforest climbing area, a Water Works exhibit where you can explore how wind, sun, and water works, a Kidopolis town, and a Geometry playground. The museum can be a bit overwhelming when it is crowded (lots of places for kids to disappear) so we prefer early evenings or afternoons to weekends or holidays. We were surprised to learn the museum stays open until 8pm on weeknights so we went this week afterschool and it was fabulous. We've been to a lot of children's museums, and this one is one of the very best. Hours: 10am-8pm Monday though Saturday. Closed Sunday. Fees: Adult $15, Children (3-12) $12, Under 2 is FREE. **If you get a membership to Thanksgiving Point you get access to this museum plus the Museum of Ancient Life, Farm Country, and Ashton Gardens.**
The Living Planet Aquarium: This beautiful aquarium is a fabulous place for kids to see and learn about sharks, penguins, otters, Rainforest ecosystems, and mammals and marine life unique to Utah. The aquarium has a new exhibit that we are looking forward to seeing soon called "Expedition: Asia" that features leopards, small-clawed otters, red Asian Arowanas, Oriental Pied Hornbills, and Binturongs. One of my very favorite places at the aquarium (after seeing all of the exhibits) is Tuki's Island Play Center where moms can rest and chat and kids and climb and run around in an enclosed space. The play area is free with a membership and costs $3 for kids ages 3-12. We don't go to the aquarium very often because it is a little pricey if you don't have a membership but we are thinking about getting a membership this year! Hours: 10am - 6pm daily, Fees: Adults $17.95, Children (3-12) $12.95, Under 2 is FREE.
Jump Around Utah: This is a traditional bounce house kinda place BUT I love that I can sit and see my kids from anywhere that I am and there is free WiFi. This is a great place to meet friends. The play area has a large trampoline in the middle and then is surrounded by climbing structures and bounce houses, mazes, and slides. This place can get a little bit crazy on weekends and holidays, but is usually great right when it opens on weekdays. They also have an inexpensive snack bar with kid-friendly treats. Don't forget to wear socks (even adults). Hours: Open jump times change regularly so it is best to check the website for the latest schedule. Fees: Children (3-up) $10, $4 for 2 year olds, $2 for 1 year olds, Under 1 is FREE.
Classic Fun Center: If your kids like roller skating, bounce houses, laser tag, and climbing, this is the place for you. It is a catch all for fun indoor activities. We like to bring our scooters with us and use them on the rink. We like the location in Sandy but there are fun centers throughout Utah. Check your location for discounts and special events. The Sandy location has special deals for Family Night and has an Early Bird Special on Mondays - Fridays from 10am-4pm for unlimited skating, bouncing, and jungle for $7.50 and on FunLimited Wednesdays you can do unlimited activities from 4pm-9pm for $7.50. Keep in mind there are extra fees for skate rentals. Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10am-9pm, Tuesdays from 10am-10pm, and Fridays 10am-midnight and Saturday 12pm-midnight, Closed Sunday. Fees: Most individual activities are $7 per person, so it pays to go on a discount day. Skate rentals are $3.00.
Jungle Jim's Playland: Either you love or hate Jungle Jim's, and we love it. It is like an indoor amusement park with small rides and arcade games. It isn't very big but my girls love the freedom to run and explore and go on rides over and over again without waiting in a long line. It has recently been revamped and has bounce houses and a toddler area. My girls are obsessed with the roller coaster (it goes forwards and backwards) and the bumper cars. Hours: 11am-9pm Monday - Thursday, 11am - 10pm Friday, 10am - 10pm Saturday. Fees: $10 unlimited rides for kids ages $1 and older. Adults get in free. We love $2 Tuesdays.
If we missed any of your favorite spots, or you know of anywhere new we should check out in the Salt Lake City area, let us know!! We are always looking for new indoor activities and adventures!