Five Fun Things to Do with Teens and Tweens in Salt Lake City

Tracy AviaryTeens and tweens can be tough customers to please on a family vacation.  We are back from a week in Salt Lake City where we discovered some fun attractions that appeal to this age set.

Salt Lake City and Utah in general are an outdoor lover’s paradise — but these suggestions mostly focus on quirky attractions of the urban variety.

The Tracy Aviary  

We enjoyed a stroll through this bird zoo at the southeast corner of Liberty Park.  Liberty Park is an 80 acre retreat  in Salt Lake City that offers all manner of outdoor recreation.  The Tracy Aviary displays 400 birds representing about 135 different species in a tranquil wooded setting.

The Aviary is an old-time zoo with large, attractive enclosures.  Our teen was captivated by the strange, beautiful and diverse birds on display.  Plan about an hour for a visit.  If your family includes younger children, they might enjoy the retro amusement rides,including a ferris wheel, adjacent to the aviary.

Snowbird Summer Fun

A beautiful drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon brings you to the Snowbird ski resort high in the Wasatch Mountains.  The resort is hopping in the summer thanks to a full panoply of fun activities for kids.

Adventure oriented activities include:

  • Alpine Slide
  • Mountain Flyer
  • Bungie Trampoline
  • Climbing Wall
  • Peruvian Chairlift
  • Aerial Tram
  • Ropes course
  • Inflatables

You can purchase a day pass and enjoy unlimited rides, or buy tickets on an a la carte basis.

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We liked the aerial tram which climbs up to the 11,000 foot summit of Hidden Peak.  It’s a huge cable car that holds 100 people, though there were far fewer than that when we visited.

The Leonardo and the SLC Public Library

The Leonardo
The Leonardo

The former public library in Salt Lake City has been reinvented as a showcase for science, technology, and art.  The Leonardo, opened in 2012,  hosts traveling exhibits as well as ongoing hands-on activities that will appeal to older kids and teens.  We especially enjoyed an exhibition of Leonardo DaVinci’s inventions and the “Green Porno” film by Isabella Rossallini — a humorous look at animal reproduction featured at the Sundance film festival.  You can make your own animated movie, experiment with neon, make a collage, or dozens of other activities.  There’s a snack bar and a gift shop.   The museum is located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City.

If you have time to spare, you can take in the stunning architecture of the new Salt Lake City Public Library next door.   The library is worth a visit in it’s own right.  You can climb to the roof for a splendid view of the mountains, sit by a fireplace to warm up, enjoy a featured exhibit, or a film in the auditorium.  There is a coffee shop, sandwich shop, gift shop, and used bookstore inside the library, and a modern sculpture garden on the plaza.

Kitty City

The Humane Society of Utah runs a one-of-a-kind animal shelter in Murray that would be a fun stop if you or your children love cats.  Hundreds of residents of Kitty City live in beautiful rooms and enclosures where they can nap in the sun, play with other cats, and meet visitors.  The rooms have videos of mice, birds and fish to entertain the cats. There are four rooms with gigantic play structures for the cats, and a dozen smaller rooms.  Visitors are welcome to cuddle the kitties.  I’ve never seen anything like it!

Atomic Arcade

Atomic Arcade
Atomic Arcade

In Holladay, just outside Salt Lake city you can find the Atomic Arcade.  This place is full of classic video games — everything from Pac-Man to to an original Pong game.

Most of the games are available for play, including Defender, Star Castle, Berzerk, Centipede, Black Widow, Galaga, Blaster, Marble Madness, Gyruss, Discs of Tron,TRON, Tempest, NARC, Operation Wolf, Sinistar, Q*Bert, Burgertime, Battletoads and more.

There’s a retro soft ice cream place across the street.

Have you found any hidden gems or offbeat attractions that you would like to share?

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