Salt Lake City is the cultural and political center of Utah. With a metro area of 1 million residents, Salt Lake is Utah's most populous city by a significant amount, yet remains remarkably pleasant and livable. It has plenty of cultural offerings, numerous parks and some inspiring buildings, including the splendid structures of the Mormon Temple Square and the historic This is the Place Monument.
Some of the other spectacular draws of the city include the Clark Planetarium, which includes Utah's very first 3-D IMAX Theater. Surrounding the Planetarium is Downtown's Gateway, a partly open air shopping center that spans blocks. Hogle Zoo and Tracy Aviary are delightful for wildlife lovers, if the Zoo can be very crowded on the weekends. The Museum of Fine Arts has a beautiful wide range of works and performance landmarks such as Hale Theatre and Ballet West are well worth seeing.
Salt Lake City sits very attractively in a valley beneath the Wasatch Mountains. The mountains provide a wonderful backdrop and a variety of great recreational opportunities. In winter, piles of dry snow smother the Wasatch, providing excellent downhill skiing at 7 large resorts within 45 minutes of downtown, including Alta, Solitude, Snowbird and Brighton. In summer, there is good hiking and mountain biking. Wasatch's Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons are known for their rockclimbing spots. Head a little farther north to the delightful water and amusement park Lagoon to cool off after a day of exercise.
Salt Lake City is located in north central Utah along I-15 and I-80. It is part of the Wasatch Front, the name given to the string of cities and suburbs that forms a continuous urban area along the Wasatch Mountains from Ogden to Provo.
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